“A game of three”, that’s how Gustavo Schotz, Head of the Argentinian National Copyright Directorate (DNDA) defined the current scenario of content copyright disputes. Who are the big three involved? Owners, producers and platforms.
In an interview with Brands+, the executive offered all the details on the power of “opt out” platforms and the damage caused to content creators, as well as the potential of the orange economy, one of the ways to protect copyright and encourage creativity.
What are the main problems regarding copyright infringement in the country?
A problem that remains to be solved is how the rights holder, who has made the creative effort or financial investment, can maintain control over the product when its unauthorized distribution is so simple and cheap, especially on the digital arena. Uploading content takes no money or time, but taking it down can take weeks or even months and a major effort on the part of the owner who has to adapt his business model. The idea is to see how, through a more up-to-date international regulatory framework, we can make it easier for the rights holder to cash on his rights.
How important is the advance of technology when it comes to this? Have new factors emerged that influence copyright protection?
We had two conflicting interests: the owner and the producer. The owner that gives his rights to an editor in exchange of money and the producer, who were fighting to see who wanted more. But now we have a third party involved: platforms. Platforms that do not ask for authorization and where third parties can upload content without authorization from the owner or the producer. It is now a game of three. And in this game of three, “opt out” platforms have the most power. Those who upload the content are third parties, and rights holders have to specifically take it down, otherwise the content will remain there. Right now, it seems the rights of the right holders are what is forcing them to act when in fact the ones who should be acting are those uploading the content; they should approach right holders and ask for permission.
Within this debate there are two major discussions. The first is if platforms are responsible or not and what measures can be taken in regards to the actions of third parties, or if the platforms must exercise some type of control. It’s not necessary to control all the time, but we do need to distribute the income and monetization that comes from the platforms, because they earn money thanks to ads, and they have to share that with rights holders. It’s about getting rid of responsibility, in schemes that are usually called a safe harbor where the platform says “I am not responsible”, or of responsibility plus remuneration – European directive – which establishes that whoever administers a large amount of intellectual property rights must remunerate accordingly or should allow rights holders to unsubscribe and to take the content down, not to take it down once and then to upload it again a minute later.
What would be the path to a solution?
The retail sector, linked more to brands than to copyright, has found solutions that are more practical and more efficient against piracy of counterfeit products. In the case of intellectual property, linked to copyright, it is more difficult because it is not always possible to identify the work or the owners. The orange economy allows creators, without significant investment capacity, to be able to inform the public of their creation, facilitating and making things easier for entrepreneurs, who do not necessarily depend on a large company.
What examples can you mention of good practices or success stories?
MercadoLibre and other national and foreign platforms have a system where the rights holder enrolls his brand and the platform uses search engine systems that inform the rights holder if the brand is being used. That is one possibility, the other is that the same rights holder informs the platform that they are selling fake goods and they should therefore get rid of the stock. As they are distributors they are responsible for the sale of counterfeit goods.
These mechanisms are simpler with brands because brands can quickly identify counterfeits, because of the words used, the packaging, some certificate of origin or by their presence on an unauthorized distribution channel. In this sense, these would all be voluntary actions where retail platforms together with brand owners and those who do retail trade establish a mechanism to prevent illegal traffic.