Although the Internet has brought about challenges to intellectual property protection, it also promotes creativity, according to officials, scholars and industry insiders at an intellectual property forum during the second World Internet Conference last week in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province.
"The Internet is a big animal for copyright owners. They don't know how to handle it," said Edward Sigei, executive director and chief legal counsel of the Kenya Copyright Board. "The Internet is full of technologies that brings new challenges all the time.
"Copyright is a delicate balance between the authors and public rights," he said. "We already have seen many new models developed to pay the authors, but the system borrows heavily from the physical era, and probably needs to be changed."
"The Internet has revolutionized the way we access and use copyrighted works, presenting challenges to governments, lawmakers and enforcement officials alike," said Armando Benitez, legal general director at Televisa, the largest mass media group in Mexico. "At the same time, the Internet has increased the opportunities to develop new markets and to expand geographical boundaries traditionally set up for the use of such copyrighted works."
The effort to fight piracy has involved huge amount of resources, "which could have been invested in the creation of better and newer content or in the production of innovative and creative works", Benitez said.
"The reasons to protect creative works go beyond economic reasons," he said. "The works subject to copyright protection are part of the way we build our own culture and knowledge, and are essential to create local and universal values. They extend beyond borders, and shape the way we see ourselves and the way the world sees us."
Benitez said the history of copyright laws is one of continuous evolution and change in the phases of technological advances, and the development of the Internet should not be seen as a deterrent or threat. "On the contrary, copyright and the Internet should be seen as complementary and interlinked with respect to each other, and with respect to the potential growth that one may offer the other.
"Retaining a meaningful copyright system that continues to drive the production of creative works, while preserving the innovative power of the Internet and the free flow of information are key policy issues that remain at the forefront of several jurisdictions that seek to maintain an appropriate balance of these policies," he added.
Segio Branco, executive director of the Institute for Technology and Society of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, used case studies to show that some websites are becoming emerging distribution channels for creative works by offering licensed content.
About 120 long-length movies are made in Brazil each year, but only about 40 are seen by more than 10,000 people in the cinema. "We have a serious distribution problem. Movies are made but not seen," he said. "Independent distribution (on the Internet) is a viable alternative in this case," he said.
"Crowdfunding and general public licenses are simple resources that are available to everybody to help us build a more creative world."