Cyber Securities believes that the economic stakeholders in this discussion include:
Copyright holders who are seeking assurance that their content is reproduced and distributed only when authorized. They seek to identify infringers, and to get unauthorized reproductions removed expeditiously.
Internet access and service providers who seek to establish "on-ramp," network connection functions without excessive and unreasonable exposure to copyright infringement liability. They seek to deliver content to their customers without being required to monitor the billions of bits of information (unidentifiable and never transmitted in one piece) being transmitted every day.
Online providers who operate bulletin boards, chat rooms, home pages and related facilities which may – absent legitimate copyright holder notification –have an unauthorized reproduction of a digital work posted by a user without knowledge of the provider.
Internet software companies who provide applications like Internet navigation and browsing products, and have no control over or knowledge of transmissions which may violate copyright.
Common carriers who simply transmit packets of content from a content provider (whether authorized or unauthorized) to an end user.
These groups are the immediate community of interest when considering digital copyright protection. Additional interested parties in the outcome will include lawmakers, government officials, the media, "fair use" entities such as libraries and universities, and, of course, end users.
We believe that a "delicate balance" involving a combination of legislation, education and technology is required to satisfy this varied collection of stakeholder interests. To date, too much attention has focused on government’s role in attempting to "settle" the dispute, on both the federal and global levels. While there is a legitimate and potentially useful role for the government to play, the ultimate success of the Internet rests on agreement within the digital community.
At a minimum, this agreement must incorporate three principles:
Clarification and enforcement of current copyright law.
Education of end users to reduce dramatically inadvertent copyright infringement.
Utilization of copyright protection technologies. The marketplace already offers a variety of technology-based solutions, responding to a variety of copyright protection requirements. The richness and diversity of these offerings will only increase in the near future.
Section One of this discussion paper elaborates on these principles. The discussion centers on a series of important questions, including:
How do current legislative proposals - both nationally and internationally - balance stakeholder interests?
How can cooperation among the interested parties be achieved?
What is the desired "end state" for copyright protection on the Internet, and how can the "delicate balance" of interest groups be achieved?
What human behaviors can be stopped, and what individual freedoms must be preserved?
What role can an effective consumer education program play?
Assuming that technology solutions do provide protections sought by content providers and do gain wider currency, what adjustments to current law are necessary?
If technology is the answer, what functions must this copyright protection technology perform?
Too often, discussion surrounding digital copyright protection fails to take into account the physical and practical limitations imposed by the Internet itself. Section Two outlines the "architecture of the Internet" and the technological difficulties presented by various proposals to reduce the transmission of infringing works, such as: monitoring, taking down, identifying without knowledge, and other such proposals. The IT industry is concerned that attempts to legislate sanctions to digital copyright protection and infringement may ignore technical realities.
The physical operation and working dynamics of this "network of networks" defy traditional legal notions of enforcement, boundaries, and liability. This portion of the paper attempts to put the situation in perspective.
For instance, the interested parties in this debate need to ask:
Is "take down" - even if given "compliant notification" - always economically and/or technologically feasible?
What if the access provider has no ability to effectively "take down" the unauthorized transmission?
Which, if any, access providing parties along the chain of distribution have any reason to know (absent notification) what is contained in the package being sent? What is the content? Who is authorized to send or receive it? And does an access provider have any ability to control its transmission?
If there are a series of "acceptable" reproductions of digitized transmissions, e.g. through routers and browsers, and into cache and random access memory, how is an access provider to know when a particular transmission is not authorized?
How much "control" is lost because of the transparent nature of the Global Information Infrastructure, and the fact that national boundaries are non-existent?
While not offering definitive answers to each of these questions, this section cuts through simplistic solutions and advances a more realistic discussion by introducing an important, and oftentimes missing, technical context.
Just as people can use technology to infringe copyrights, people can use technology to stop it. Section Three documents the abundance of technology-based copyright protection choices. This extensive (but not exhaustive) compendium identifies and categorizes specific products, explains how each is used, and provides related company contact information. While this varied range of products strongly suggests that the marketplace is responding to the digital copyright protection needs of copyright holders, users and others, this initial collection is only a starting point. ITAA will continue to identify products, maintain this list and provide it to all interest parties.
Industry-led, technology-based solutions can be helpful in reducing the transmission of infringing works and restoring a sense of balance and clarity to an otherwise difficult situation. Through a discussion of principles, an exploration of what is technologically feasible, and a review of products and promising technologies that can protect copyright, CS seeks to move the state of thinking forward. Stakeholders should place the focus of discussion where it properly belongs and where corrective steps will be most effective: on industry self-regulation and copyright owner self-protection.