Copyright Interests Force Private Censorship into OECD Communiqué

Paris, June 29th, 2011 – The final OECD communiqué on Internet Policy-Making Principles has been published. The entertainment industries and a few governments ultimately let blind copyright enforcement repression undermine the text's support of fundamental freedoms and the Net's openness. La Quadrature du Net supports the civil society coalition's rejection of a bad compromise and of the final document.

OECD LogoDespite last minute negotiations led by the US government, the final communiqué1 on Principles for Internet Policy-Making includes dangerous breaches to the Internet's openness and to the protection of fundamental freedoms2. The civil society coalition, CSISAC, took the right decision in refusing to endorse the final communiqué.

The text's good opening principles are deeply undermined by copyright-related provisions3 calling for Internet actors to participate in an endless “war on sharing” and granting them private police and justice missions4.

Let's hope that future OECD works will offer a better opportunity for the civil society to be heard. The multi-stakeholder process is the right approach and should not be incompatible with a determined defence of freedom of expression and the rule of law.

“It is unsurprising yet alarming that the OECD member countries chose to side with the entertainment industries, undermining the very rights and freedoms that they rightly seek to promote. Transforming hosters, search engines, domain name registrars and others intermediaries into a private police of the Net would profoundly alter the Internet's architecture and harm its founding principles. Deciding Internet policy against the opinion of civil society is like sticking to a copyright regime turned against the public: it is bound to fail and undermines fundamental freedoms.", said Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson of La Quadrature du Net.

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  • 2. See our press release on the draft communiqué for more details about the text's dangerous language:
  • 3. The communiqué reads that “users should have the ability to access and generate lawful content”, thus limiting free speech, and paving the way to private, automated censorship where machines or private parties would determine what is lawful or not, rather than a judge.
  • 4. The OECD communiqué reads: “Internet intermediaries could take steps to [...] assist rights holders in enforcing their rights or reduce illegal content,[...], respecting fair process [...]”, with “fair process” being explicitly defined with no reference to the judicial authority. It is clearly designed to allow rights holders to bypass citizens' right to a fair trial.
    Also, rather than strongly affirming liability exemptions and why there are important, the draft calls for the active involvement of intermediaries in law enforcement. The communiqué reads: “Internet intermediaries, like other stakeholders, can and do play an important role by addressing and deterring illegal activity, fraud and misleading and unfair practices conducted over their networks and services as well as advancing economic growth.”