OECD Draft Internet Communiqué Sacrifices Freedoms to Copyright

Paris, June 28th, 2011 – La Quadrature du Net adds its voice to the 80 global civil society groups that have declined endorsing the OECD's communiqué on Principles for Internet Policy-Making. Although the text puts forward positive recommendations, rights and freedoms online are severely undermined by the call for private policing of the network, opening the door to automated censorship in the name of copyright.

The 80 global civil society groups represented at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) under the umbrella of CSISAC have rejected the draft communiqué on Principles for Internet Policy-Making. La Quadrature du Net adds its voice to that of CSISAC, and regrets the OECD member countries' stubborn defense of the entertainment industries' obsolete business models, which is bound to undermine the very principles that the communiqué rightly puts forward.

OECD LogoThe draft communiqué unfortunately shows that the OECD member countries are pushing for the same flawed online copyright policies as the ACTA agreement1, the G8 conclusions2 and the EU strategy3 for the future of copyright. The draft communiqué contains crucial elements of wording seeking to weaken the liability exemptions enjoyed by Internet companies such as search engines, hosting or access providers4, to turn them into a private copyright police and justice. The OECD draft 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 rightsholders to bypass citizens' right to a fair trial.

Thus, the OECD communiqué legitimates policies bypassing the judicial authority for online law enforcement, particularly in the name of an obsolete copyright regime. It also mentions 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 would determine what is lawful or not, rather than a judge.

“If left unchanged, the OECD communiqué is poised to promote a decade-long war on sharing, which has already had disastrous consequences on freedom of expression and privacy worldwide. Under the pressure of the entertainment industries, the OECD is undermining the good principles laid in its framework for Internet policy-making. Fundamental freedoms and the rule of law should prevail over any private interest, and that means guaranteeing a fair trial to all Internet users rather than pushing for private policing and censorship”, concluded Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson of the advocacy group, La Quadrature du Net.