Joining forces and reaching agreements is key in the fight against piracy
Madrid, October 28th, 2020. This year, the International Book Exhibition (LIBER), which is being held online for the first time..
Madrid, October 28th, 2020. This year, the International Book Exhibition (LIBER), which is being held online for the first time between October 27th and 29th due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hosted the panel ‘Highways against content fraud: Voluntary agreements as an effective and necessary instrument’, organized by The Coalition of Creators and Content Industries, in which they have discussed the great effort that these agreements represent to promote access to legal content and a great opportunity they provide in the fight against piracy.
The roundtable was kicked-off with the presentation of the report ‘How voluntary agreements among key stakeholders help combat digital piracy’, by its author, Nigel Cory, the expert and analyst of Commercial Policy of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)*. Among the main conclusions of this study, he states that although “there is no single, simple solution to combat this scourge» of Internet piracy, voluntary agreements between the main stakeholders – rights holders, access providers, advertising managers or domain name registrars – «can serve as an important complement to the efforts, both in legislative and other areas, made by governments”, playing a key role in the fight against Internet piracy.
This study shows that these agreements can directly affect services and processes that allow websites with illegal content to benefit from access to such content as if they were legal businesses. Likewise, study points out among its conclusions that, despite differentiating per country and the content in question, there is significant evidence that demonstrates the ability to modify consumer behavior, reduce piracy and increase legal sales if this type of self-regulation agreements are activated.
In this regard, report notes that governments should «proactively» encourage more voluntary agreements along with other anti-piracy policies to be included into the debate in order to support intellectual property as a highly strategic part of the global digital economy.
“Working together, firms from different parts of the digital economy can disrupt the supply side of the digital piracy equation to make it harder and costlier for illicit operators to function”, Cory argues in his report. «Legitimate industry players, in the interest of defending an innovative and prosperous digital economy, can work together to make life more difficult and costly for illicit operators who profit from piracy,» he says.
As Cory claims, these agreements result, among other things, in websites with illegal content being «blocked or removed so that they cannot operate and make a profit as if they were legitimate businesses¨. At the same time, he believes they have a «significant effect on consumer habits, reducing piracy consumption and increasing legal sales¨.
Cory argues, in his report, that governments should «support voluntary agreements as a tool at their disposal to combat digital piracy»; and that the United States, the European Union and its member states, as well as other countries, should support «research and discussions on how voluntary agreements should be a regular component of the anti-piracy toolkit.¨ He also advocates that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) should establish basic principles and processes needed to create a format for such voluntary agreements; and that Australia, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States, among others, should encourage other countries to use such voluntary agreements.
CHALLENGES IN THE FIGHT AGAINST PIRACY
In addition, during the second part of this roundtable, representatives and experts of the sector discussed challenges that need to be identified today in the mid-term in order to fight against piracy of contents protected by intellectual property rights. Moreover, the EGEDA’s Director, Octavio Dapena, defended the need to seek «rapid solutions to content fraud» in view of the «immediacy of the demand for audiovisual content«.
«We are witnessing a change in the instruments of fraud, but also in the business models that contribute to it, and we need new tools to combat this,» said Dapena, referring to «one of the most revealing and worrying data points from the recently presented Piracy Observatory 2019,» according to which 29% of Internet users have an IPTV decoder and 21% have accessed a VPN for personal use, in addition to the increase of access to illegal content through social networks which went up to 23%.
Along these lines, and also in reference to the results of the 2019 Piracy Observatory, Pérez Llorca’s lawyer and AEVI advisor Andy Ramos highlighted that «the legal fight against piracy in the videogame industry has made great progress” but he believes that it is necessary to continue fighting «with legal and private means» such as «deindexation of contents, approach of judicial or administrative procedures and awareness campaigns to achieve a greater appreciation and respect for intellectual creations».
COLLABORATION BETWEEN TECHNOLOGY PLATFORMS
CEDRO’s Director, Javier Díaz de Olarte, thinks that it is «essential» to count on «collaboration» of people in charge of social networks or instant messaging, where the «massive and uncontrolled diffusion» of books, newspapers, magazines and music scores takes place. «The files containing illicit digital copies of our works are small in size, so their massive and uncontrolled dissemination through social networks or instant messaging service groups such as WhatsApp has become an everyday occurrence,» he said.
Furthermore, Díaz de Olarte highlights the importance of having the support of «key agents» such as Apple or Google, and sees the forthcoming transposition of ¨Directive 2019/790 as “crucial in order to consolidate the collaboration between representatives of rights holders, authors and publishers in the case of CEDRO and these technological platforms».
The Director of Promusicae‘s legal services, Beatriz Sánchez Eiguíbar believes that, in order to achieve results in the fight against piracy, a combination of measures such as «awareness campaigns, legal actions and self-regulation agreements» is necessary. With reference to the latter, she points out that «the ones that have shown greatest effectiveness in reducing online music piracy are aimed at blocking illegal websites through Internet access service providers» which, in addition to «reducing costs and time», cover aspects that «are not adequately covered by legal actions», such as «dynamic blockades», which «extends to any domain that uses that website in the future, as well as mirrors and proxies«.
Meanwhile, the Coalition’s advisor and GCLegal‘s lawyer Gilberto Pérez del Blanco, relies on «alternative means of conflict resolution», which have shown «proven effectiveness» in other sectors and areas, and considers that «it should serve to advance in the implementation of self-regulation and co-regulation in the field of digital content dissemination. These are ideal and appropriate measures for guaranteeing transparency and respect for legality in the digital content market in the coming years, since they make it easier for all the players in the market – intermediation service providers, users and right holders – to assume their share of co-responsibility in the matter», he explained.
Furthermore, he believes that «suitability and advantage over other means of protection is based on the voluntary nature of these measures, which implies commitment, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and the non-injurious or burdensome nature of the solutions implemented, resulting in institutions that are very well adapted to the digital environment in which they intend to operate«.
It must be pointed out that according to data collected by the Observatory of Piracy and Digital Consumer Habits, in 2019 alone, illegal digital access to content protected by intellectual property rights caused a damage of 2,437 million euros to the sector, while the State lost a total of 673 million euros of income (which adds up to an accumulated 4,658 million since 2012), also preventing the creation of almost 120,000 new direct and indirect jobs only in Spain.
The meeting was brought to an end by Carlota Navarrete, managing director of The Coalition, who stated that «the instrument of voluntary agreements or codes of conduct between stakeholders involved in the digital economy is absolutely topical and very strategic. It can be the ideal complement to the set of means and measures that put a brake on the devastating illegal offer of digital content». “This is why” she concluded, “we have been working on these initiatives for a long time at the Coalition. However, it is crucial that the public authorities and the government believe in them and support them as well; only in this way will it be possible to consolidate what would be a groundbreaking step forward in our country and highly relevant on an international level.”
*About Nigel Cory and the ITIF
Nigel Cory is an associate director covering trade policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. He focuses on cross-border data flows, data governance, intellectual property, and how they each relate to digital trade and the broader digital economy. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a politically independent, non-profit educational and research institution focused on the confluence of technological innovation and public policy. Renowned as one of the world’s leading scientific and technological think tanks, its mission is to formulate and promote public policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity, as a stimulus to growth, opportunity and development.
Cory holds a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in international business and commerce from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. He has published reports and op-eds relating to these issues in the United States, the European Union, Australia, China, India, and New Zealand, among other countries and regions, and he has completed research projects for international bodies such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and the World Trade Organization. Prior to that, he worked for eight years in Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and held diplomatic positions in Malaysia and Afghanistan.
As previously done with Per Strömbäck (Netopia, Sweden), Giovanna Da Sanctis (AGCOM, Italy) or Paulo Santos (MAPINET, Portugal), the Coalition invited Nigel Cory to participate in its program of international experts who, through a heavy agenda of meetings, share their thoughts with the key players in the sector and with the institutional heads of the legal supply of content and the fight against fraud in political parties, the Spanish National Parliament and the Government, offering strategic keys to the evolution of the intellectual property protection around the world.