FRIDA Program

The Right to Share on a Free Internet

28/01/2021

The purpose of the Right to Share on a Free Internet project by Fundación Vía Libre (FVL) is to reduce potential negative impacts of the implementation of copyright law in online networks and platforms and to provide information that will allow organizations and users to defend their content when unduly reported.

The initiative received a grant from LACNIC’s FRIDA Program to further its work on online freedom of expression in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Alexia Halvorsen, one of the persons responsible for the initiative, pointed out that the first step of the project was to conduct a comparative study of legal frameworks across the region and to determine the best way to use them in favor of access to information, strengthening strategies to defend online freedom of expression. In turn, the project will work with platforms with presence in the region to help them reflect and promote content regulation policies that are more respectful of access to information and culture.

Do you believe that the right of Internet users to share on the Internet without being penalized is above copyright law?

Our frame of reference is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Their various application mechanisms make it clear that the rights to access and participate in culture are human rights and that commercial intellectual property policies should not obstruct the exercise of these rights. If we understand the right to share culture, news, comments and general information within the framework of these rights, it is clear that regulations such as copyright laws should not operate in a strictly restrictive sense, let alone generate mechanisms to censor legitimate speech protected by freedom of expression. Based on this reference framework and supported by the very committees for the enforcement of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on which we work, intellectual property can never be above Human Rights.

What was your diagnosis of the knowledge of users and platforms regarding the use of published content subject to copyright?

Generally speaking, users find out about the enforcement of regulations such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the worst possible way, which is when they receive a notification that their accounts have been suspended, their posts removed, or part of their content deleted (audio or video). They know very little about how intellectual property works and the resources ordinary people have against its application, particularly because messages informing of breach of copyright can be intimidating to those who do not wish to be involved in a criminal case. This causes a dissuasive effect that often keeps people from defending legitimate content. Our diagnosis shows that this situation is very common on social media. Users know that copyright exists, at this point it is difficult to find social media users who have not encountered these policies at some time or another. The important thing is to learn to use the resources included in legislation itself in favor of access. Let’s not forget that copyright laws were originally intended to promote culture, not to limit it as we are seeing today.

What initiatives will you promote to achieve greater balance between copyright holders and users without the ability to validate their right to share content?

This project includes a series of varied proposals, from research and a comparative analysis of existing legislation to workshops and training events for key actors such as journalists, cultural institutions, teachers of all levels, and others.

At the same time, we will work with the platforms to find a way to prevent the growing use of DMCA to remove content regardless of its legality. Abusive applications of DMCA are the order of the day and it is essential that the platforms themselves devise strategies to prevent these abuses by providing users with better complaint mechanisms, clearer information on the reasons for the reports, and a more efficient handling of appeals.

Ultimately, we are going to continue the important work that Vía Libre has been doing for years and that this project has allowed us to take up once again: the promotion of a legislative debate to expand copyright flexibilities in Argentina 

How do you think this project will impact the exercise of freedom of expression?

Our goal is to minimize the abusive uses of DMCA in online networks and platforms, to provide institutions and users with the appropriate knowledge to defend misreported content and, finally, to achieve a commitment on the part of companies to improve notification and appeal processes to protect legitimate speech in online platforms. All this with the conviction that the tension between freedom of expression and copyright is more present than ever and that it is essential to work so that companies do not end up applying DMCA to the maximum without users having the right to a legitimate defense.

Why did you decide to apply to the FRIDA Program and what do you expect from this experience?

The possibility of submitting a project to the FRIDA Program seemed extremely interesting to us, as FRIDA is a consolidated space that facilitates interaction and collaboration with regional actors who are part of the Internet governance ecosystem, a key aspect for the promotion of strategies with a high likelihood of having an impact in Latin America and the Caribbean.

We hope to execute the project with a high level of professionalism, in conjunction with regional actors from various sectors, while developing different training tools, information and protecting the Right to Freedom of Expression online.

The purpose of the Right to Share on a Free Internet project by Fundación Vía Libre (FVL) is to reduce potential negative impacts of the implementation of copyright law in online networks and platforms and to provide information that will allow organizations and users to defend their content when unduly reported.

The initiative received a grant from LACNIC’s FRIDA Program to further its work on online freedom of expression in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Alexia Halvorsen, one of the persons responsible for the initiative, pointed out that the first step of the project was to conduct a comparative study of legal frameworks across the region and to determine the best way to use them in favor of access to information, strengthening strategies to defend online freedom of expression. In turn, the project will work with platforms with presence in the region to help them reflect and promote content regulation policies that are more respectful of access to information and culture.

Do you believe that the right of Internet users to share on the Internet without being penalized is above copyright law?

Our frame of reference is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Their various application mechanisms make it clear that the rights to access and participate in culture are human rights and that commercial intellectual property policies should not obstruct the exercise of these rights. If we understand the right to share culture, news, comments and general information within the framework of these rights, it is clear that regulations such as copyright laws should not operate in a strictly restrictive sense, let alone generate mechanisms to censor legitimate speech protected by freedom of expression. Based on this reference framework and supported by the very committees for the enforcement of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on which we work, intellectual property can never be above Human Rights.

What was your diagnosis of the knowledge of users and platforms regarding the use of published content subject to copyright?

Generally speaking, users find out about the enforcement of regulations such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the worst possible way, which is when they receive a notification that their accounts have been suspended, their posts removed, or part of their content deleted (audio or video). They know very little about how intellectual property works and the resources ordinary people have against its application, particularly because messages informing of breach of copyright can be intimidating to those who do not wish to be involved in a criminal case. This causes a dissuasive effect that often keeps people from defending legitimate content. Our diagnosis shows that this situation is very common on social media. Users know that copyright exists, at this point it is difficult to find social media users who have not encountered these policies at some time or another. The important thing is to learn to use the resources included in legislation itself in favor of access. Let’s not forget that copyright laws were originally intended to promote culture, not to limit it as we are seeing today.

What initiatives will you promote to achieve greater balance between copyright holders and users without the ability to validate their right to share content?

This project includes a series of varied proposals, from research and a comparative analysis of existing legislation to workshops and training events for key actors such as journalists, cultural institutions, teachers of all levels, and others.

At the same time, we will work with the platforms to find a way to prevent the growing use of DMCA to remove content regardless of its legality. Abusive applications of DMCA are the order of the day and it is essential that the platforms themselves devise strategies to prevent these abuses by providing users with better complaint mechanisms, clearer information on the reasons for the reports, and a more efficient handling of appeals.

Ultimately, we are going to continue the important work that Vía Libre has been doing for years and that this project has allowed us to take up once again: the promotion of a legislative debate to expand copyright flexibilities in Argentina 

How do you think this project will impact the exercise of freedom of expression?

Our goal is to minimize the abusive uses of DMCA in online networks and platforms, to provide institutions and users with the appropriate knowledge to defend misreported content and, finally, to achieve a commitment on the part of companies to improve notification and appeal processes to protect legitimate speech in online platforms. All this with the conviction that the tension between freedom of expression and copyright is more present than ever and that it is essential to work so that companies do not end up applying DMCA to the maximum without users having the right to a legitimate defense.

Why did you decide to apply to the FRIDA Program and what do you expect from this experience?

The possibility of submitting a project to the FRIDA Program seemed extremely interesting to us, as FRIDA is a consolidated space that facilitates interaction and collaboration with regional actors who are part of the Internet governance ecosystem, a key aspect for the promotion of strategies with a high likelihood of having an impact in Latin America and the Caribbean.

We hope to execute the project with a high level of professionalism, in conjunction with regional actors from various sectors, while developing different training tools, information and protecting the Right to Freedom of Expression online.

We hope to execute the project with a high level of professionalism, in conjunction with regional actors from various sectors, while developing different training tools, information and protecting the Right to Freedom of Expression online.