Copyright for the Information Society

Copyright for the Information Society

In the third initiative of the Internet & Society Co:llaboratory, we will study the required characteristics of regulatory framework for intellectual property, i.e. copyright for the information society of the 21st century. Such a framework should encourage both creativity and innovation, and allow for new business models. It should thus, generally speaking, fulfill the requirements of a "Magna Carta for the information society".


Copyright is no longer exclusively of interest for the field of law and legal policy – civil society and large parts of the economy have become aware of its significance. Copyright probably is the most important legal instrument for the information or knowledge society. Criticism of the current system is pervasive and stems from many diverse sources. However, criticism alone changes nothing and does not bring about change. The current discussion in Germany is mostly lacking the constructive element: a basic debate on the development of copyright, i.e. regulatory alternatives to the current system, without hesitating to re-examine the very principle of copyright itself.

Goal of the Initiative

In contrast to many other projects, the initiative’s approach is not limited to solutions that are consistent with the rules of current national, European and international copyright law. On the contrary, it is crucial to especially consider perspectives that are consciously independent of the existing regulations to formulate a new regulatory framework.
In this context, some fundamental principles (the critical points) of copyright law should be examined from a conceptual point of view:
  • the rationale of copyright (the idea and purpose of copyright),
  • the relationship of copyright and limitations & exceptions,
  • the extent of copyright applicability,
  • personal rights and their relationship to exploitation rights,
  • the timeframes of protection.
These aspects essentially define both the conceptual organization as well as specific regulations of copyright.
As part of this initiative, the points listed above will be analyzed regarding the current and, if possible, the future requirements of copyright law. Working groups and workshop participants, staffed according to the principle of multiple stakeholders, will ascertain if and to what extent the named critical points need to be changed and which issues related to the further development of copyright must be clarified. The findings will be collected in a report name “A Blueprint for Copyright for the Information Society” (working title).
Based on these new models, the experts will examine how the actual implementation of the individual aspects could be undertaken. The required national and international processes are to be described in roadmap, identifying the various phases and institutional lines as well as setting milestones against which progress can be measured.

Schedule of Events (October 2010 to the end of March 2011)

Mostly, the group of experts will collaborate online. Additionally, the following events are scheduled in Berlin:
  • During a workshop on November 15, the Co:llaboratory experts gathered to pass an operational program (10:30 am to 6 pm at the New Thinking Store, Berlin).
  • On December 14, we invited selected renowned progressive thinkers to contribute to the discussion and to provide initial feedback on our approach and plans during a deliberation event in Berlin for approximately 50 guests.
  • On January 19, during a second workshop for the body of experts, we discussed the preliminary results based on our intermediate report. Additionally, we discussed the further process.
  • On Wednesday, March 16, 2011, we will present the developed goals and objectives to politicians and policymakers in order to discuss a specific roadmap for medium- and long-term implementation.