David Kappos addresses the digital copyright principles for creative content

The creative economy is experiencing a period of unprecedented change and growth. As we move to increasingly digital forms of creative expression, global intellectual property practices need to adapt to keep up.

Some of this is brought on through new technologies. Big data, the increasing complexity of virtual content and new technologies such as 3D printing, are reshaping the creative landscape. Distribution models are shifting towards instantaneous, ubiquitous access, often using social networks. These technologies are also unlocking new business models, including the shift in focus from content ownership to content access, and zero marginal cost of production for content distributors.

We are also experiencing challenges arising out of the large number of works which are becoming available: the atomization of content and a larger number of derivative works are causing increased fragmentation of Intellectual Property (IP) ownership. This is also creating new challenges in terms of orphan works, where the copyright owner cannot be found or contacted.

And finally, the market for these creative works is evolving. There are many more opportunities for users to engage in both the creation and consumption of content, and to be involved in co-production of content. At the same time, the freer movement of goods and services creates a tension between the national nature of legal systems and the global nature of commerce in creative works.

For all these reasons, the Global Agenda Council on the Intellectual Property System has been working on issues concerning copyright in the digital age. As part of this effort, the Council recently published a set of Digital Copyright Principles for policy-makers to consider as they strive to adapt the traditional balances in the copyright system in a changing world. The Council also identified a set of overarching trends driving these changes.

The Digital Copyright Principles promote a balanced view of public benefits and private rights, with copyright as a means to achieve important societal ends. By focusing on what we ultimately want copyright to accomplish, the Principles seek to emphasize the common ground between different groups, with the aim of moving a principle-based discussion forward.

Author: David Kappos is Partner at Cravath, Swaine and Moore LLP. He is the Former Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property; Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). He is also the Chair of the Global Agenda Council on the Intellectual Property System

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