Crowdsourced Agenda for Free Expression



While media conglomerate interventions in copyright and intellectual property law have envisioned (and sometimes created) regimes where the needs of these conglomerates trump the possibilities of the open Internet, our crowdsourcing participants envision a regime where both sharing and creativity flourish. From their input, and the many other elements of the “Our Digital Future” process, we’ve distilled three key recommendations:


Participants in our crowdsourcing process indicated strong support for those in the creative industries – a significant majority (67 percent) wanted to see creators receive at least 75 percent of the revenue from their work, and an amazing 89.2 percent of respondents noted that we should always give credit to the creator of a work when sharing.11 Given the strong beliefs of our community, our first recommendation focuses on the need to respect creators. We outline ways to respect creators by ensuring they have access to: new ways to share their work; to fair use/fair dealing; to any compensation resulting from copyright infringement; and finally, to a rich public domain. By first ensuring creators have access to the tools they need to create and share in the digital age, we can design a copyright regime that serves the needs of 21st century knowledge and culture creators.



When asked to rank a list of six priorities for copyright laws in the digital age, the majority of participants in our crowdsourcing process (i.e. 26,894 out of 40,079) selected “Protecting Free Expression” as their first priority. As such, in this report, to prioritize free expression we propose an agenda for copyright with four components: prevent censorship; protect fair use and fair dealing; promote access and affordability; and create clear rules to govern the sharing of knowledge and culture online.



The results of our crowdsourcing process were clear: over 72 percent of respondents wanted to see copyright laws created through “a participatory multi-stakeholder process...that includes Internet users, creators, and copyright law experts.” We therefore strongly recommend that political leaders abandon closed-door processes like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and instead focus on designing participatory, democratic and transparent forums for the creation of copyright laws that can keep pace with our rapidly changing technology and culture.
We believe that by fostering the key elements of free expression in the digital age outlined above, we can truly unlock the potential of the open Internet to democratize knowledge and culture. There are undeniable challenges that come with a rapid shift to a new medium of expression; but what we’ve found is that, in contrast to stereotypes, Internet users are very respectful of the unique needs of creators and knowledge producers in the digital world.
As digital technology is increasingly a driving force in the way we interact as a society, copyright rules will play a more fundamental role in our lives. Making rules that are fair, easily understood by everyday Internet users, and created with the input and approval of the many groups and people whose lives will be directly affected, is the best way to ensure that the digital future belongs to all of us.

11. See “Appendix: Methodology” for full results for the drag-and-drop crowdsourcing tool.