Letter from Companies
November 4, 2020
Mr. Jacque Santer
President of the European Commission
Dear President Santer:
The companies and organisations listed below are at the forefront of conceptualising, building, using and providing access to the Global Information Infrastructure (GII). Major entities that will provide content for the GII also are among those listed below.
Without exception, we strongly support strong intellectual property protection. We also share, however, a deep concern that the true commercial and social potential of networked digital technology may never be fully realised if the international laws of copyright are modified in a way that fails to adequately appreciate the very essence of how the GII actually functions, and the respective business models and organisational missions under which it would operate.
A Diplomatic Conference has been set for Geneva in December 1996 at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) with the aim of adopting an international treaty that will, among other things, address copyright in the networked digital environment (through the proposed treaty s so-called Digital Agenda). Although consensus has been reached on other aspects of the proposed treaty through a negotiation process that began in 1991, the proposals for the Digital Agenda, some of which were tabled as late as May of this year, are, in our view, incomplete and place at risk a successful digital future.
Specifically, if adopted in their present form without significant modification, Article 7, dealing with the right to reproduction, Article 10, dealing with the right of communication to the public, and Article 13, dealing with protection-defeating devices, will:
- expose the providers of data networks, on-line services and other forms of access to the GII to potentially unquantifiable copyright infringement liability for the actions of their users. Such significant contingent liability will inhibit those who would build the Information Infrastructure, including many of the signatories of this letter, from investing the huge sums required to make the GII a reality;
- render the simple viewing of digital images through the GII, i.e., browsing, a potential infringement of copyright;
- potentially narrow dramatically the scope of exceptions to the copyright/author rights conferred by international law that individual Berne member nations have adopted or may adopt for the benefit of emerging industries, education, libraries and other valued enterprises;
- adversely impact the production and distribution of the next generation of many beneficial computer and consumer electronic devices; and
- undermine the long-standing European Union commitment to the interoperability of digital networks and devices as recently embodied in the Software Directive of 1991.
Given the shortness of time left until the Diplomatic Conference, we are concerned about the ability to reach consensus within and among all of the industries and other stakeholders eager to bring the benefits of the Information Society to the world. Without this consensus, which does not now exist, the legal clarity sought by the Protocol cannot be achieved. We are committed to working tirelessly to reach the necessary consensus by the Diplomatic Conference scheduled for December. As strong supporters of the WIPO process, we ask your assistance in amending the proposed treaty language, so as to prevent either the intended or unintended compromise of the GII. We would appreciate your good offices in achieving an appropriately balanced compromise on the controversial proposals for the Digital Agenda, so we can avoid the necessity of deferring action on the existing unripe proposals.
We are of course available at your convenience to discuss the views expressed in this letter and the attached paper. We would stress, however, that time is truly of the essence, as the European Union may express its collective view of these issues as early as the WIPO meeting set October 14-15 in Geneva, and the time remaining until the Diplomatic Conference is short.
AMDAHL CORPORATION INC.
AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR INTEROPERABLE SYSTEMS
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
BRITISH TELECOMMUNICATIONS PLC
CANADIAN ASSOCIATION FOR INTEROPERABLE SYSTEMS
COMPUTER AND COMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
EUROPEAN COMMITTEE FOR INTEROPERABLE SYSTEMS
EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF CONSUMER ELECTRONICS MANUFACTURERS
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF LIBRARY ASSOCIATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS
MCI COMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION
PHILIPS INTERNATIONAL B.V.
PRODIGY SERVICES COMPANY
STORAGE TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION
SUPPORTERS OF INTEROPERABLE SYSTEMS IN AUSTRALIA
TELECOM FINLAND LTD
TELECOMMUNICATIONS MANAGERS ASSOCIATION
INFOMEDIA CONTENT CENTER AB
THE EUROPEAN ELECTRONIC MESSAGING ASSOCIATION