Net regulation tops G8 agenda in communique

Copyright While the European Commission may have punted for now on stepped up enforcement of copyrights online, the G8 countries have put the issue front and center on the global economic agenda. The official communique from Deauville, France, where the G8 summit was held this week, makes Internet regulation, including copyright enforcement, the lead item after a pro forma statement of solidarity with Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami there in March.

Here are the money grafs:

9. The openness, transparency and freedom of the Internet have been key to its development and success. These principles, together with those of non-discrimination and fair competition, must continue to be an essential force behind its development.

10. Their implementation must be included in a broader framework: that of respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, the protection of intellectual property rights, which inspire life in every democratic society for the benefit of all citizens. We strongly believe that freedom and security, transparency and respect for confidentiality, as well as the exercise of individual rights and responsibility have to be achieved simultaneously. Both the framework and principles must receive the same protection, with the same guarantees, on the Internet as everywhere else.


12. The Internet and its future development, fostered by private sector initiatives and investments, require a favourable, transparent, stable and predictable environment, based on the framework and principles referred to above. In this respect, action from all governments is needed through national policies, but also through the promotion of international cooperation.


15. With regard to the protection of intellectual property, in particular copyright, trademarks, trade secrets and patents, we recognize the need to have national laws and frameworks for improved enforcement. We are thus renewing our commitment to ensuring effective action against violations of intellectual property rights in the digital arena, including action that addresses present and future infringements. We recognize that the effective implementation of intellectual property rules requires suitable international cooperation of relevant stakeholders, including with the private sector. We are committed to identifying ways of facilitating greater access and openness to knowledge, education and culture, including by encouraging continued innovation in legal on-line trade in goods and content, that are respectful of intellectual property rights [emphasis mine].

Credit (or blame) for forcing the issue onto the economic agenda of the world’s eight largest industrial democracies belongs to French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the spiritual father of France’s own “three-strikes” anti-file sharing law. Sarkozy was able to take advantage of France’s presidency of the G8 this year to make Internet regulation a major focus of this year’s summit, reportedly over the objections of the Obama administration.

France is also organizing this year’s larger G20 summit, where Sarkozy is again expected to press for greater cooperation on Internet regulation.

How strongly the U.S. has resisted Sarkozy’s push is unclear. It seems unlikely that the final G8 communique would contain language the U.S. really couldn’t live with. The G8 is an informal group that operates by consensus, which means there was at least a rough consensus around what went into the final document. Of course it also means the group’s resolutions are non-binding, which makes any such language easier to live with.

The presidency of the G8/G20 passes to the U.S. next year, which may also have been a factor in how firm a stand the Obama administration took in Deauville.

Further reading:

Zuckerberg, Schmidt Say Governments Should Avoid Over-regulation of Web

CEA: Obama Should Resist Sarkozy’s Quest to Regulate the Internet