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Intellectual property in a digital world

Intellectual property in a digital world

Forum d'Avignon 2011 : Engaging for intellectual property, 16 countries analyzed - Ernst & Young study

From Napster to Deezer : more than 10 years separate those two music platforms, with on the one hand a symbol for piracy, since then transformed into a legal platform, and on the other hand a streaming service allowing the listening of music without buying it, based on a funding through advertisement or subscription. The world has changed as the web grew taking on a new dimension. Halfway through the path, intellectual property has been confronted with new challenges: adapting itself to the technical context, taking into account the emergence of disrupting uses , promoting innovation and the apparition of new offers – and above all allowing the artists to finance their projects and creation to keep developing. These stakes are, among others, the ones described in the international study carried out by Ernst & Young for the 2011 edition of the Forum d’Avignon.

Focusing on 16 countries, this study on intellectual property in the digital age reminds us that intellectual property is a universal value. International agreements exist as most countries acknowledged. However, differences appear in the way of enforcing laws. An example: the Berne Convention protects copyrights up to 50 years after the death of the author, this minimal threshold is established in Saudi Arabia, in Canada in China, in South Korea and in Japan; it goes up to 60 years in India and reaches 70 years in Germany, Australia, Brazil, the USA, France, Italy, the UK, Russia and Turkey. Mexico thwarts all analysts’ expectations with a protection going up to 100 years after the author’s death.

If intellectual property is recognized by everyone, the legal frameworks differ from a country to another. All have in place ways of fighting piracy out, in order to symbolically switch from Napster to Deezer. Yet, innovations, fines, flexible responses, limitation or even disconnection of broadband accesses, closing down of websites, do not have the same effects everywhere : China and Russia have strengthen their set of laws against piracy to better protect intellectual property – a fundamental immaterial good for all of the most advanced economies, but it has not consequently hit piracy. Enforcing the law required a control of flows and questions the responsibility of Internet access suppliers, at the heart of the debate in many countries. This is a difficult balance to find: most countries also want to foster the diffusion of artworks which could be as free as possible in order to promote imagination and culture.

Without any surprise, it is possible to see that the set of laws cannot solve all issues. This is the superimposition of measures that guarantees efficiency. Technology has its assets thanks to digital imprint or to the control of flow related to artworks accessible in the “cloud”. Similarly, partnerships between distributors and aggregators are at the heart of the innovating systems: frameworks and content go together. These alliances can preserve reputations. The method used can also avoid legal risks and make possible the optimization of the management of license fees and a better distribution of artworks. Orange cooperates with DailyMotion and Deezer, Google works with Hachette, Facebook and Apple with the American studios; new alliances are an early sign of the emergence of a new ecosystem in which copyright could be respected and artworks exhibited in a better way? Everyone has its responsibility, designed as “accountability” by Americans and that the French language cannot translate without being ambiguous: the best distribution system to finance the best of creation, hand in hand.

In conclusion of the study: it is time to step in! Beyond common principles, all should now engage and stick to their engagements, so that the Internet remains attractive, because of the multiplicity of choices and cultural diversity granted to consumers.

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2011
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