Internet intermediaries are key drivers in the development of the Internet as well as in distributing creative content. They host, locate and search for content and facilitate its distribution. Their increasing influence in recent years, as well as their evolving role has led to a debate regarding their liability in relation to online copyright infringement. This controversy is a direct result of the Internet’s phenomenal development – the web 2.0, user-generated content (UGC) websites, the wide spread of online streaming websites, and free hosting of large files are just some of the many examples of the constantly evolving online environment.
Internet intermediaries play a key role in both considerations of web content responsibility as well as in developing new ways to offer users legal access to copyright content – whether paying or free.
In addressing this controversial topic in a way that takes into account member states and various stakeholders, WIPO organized a 2005 Seminar on Copyright and Internet Intermediaries. As a result of subsequent developments – including new national legislation on the subject, as well as new solutions for the legal exploitation of copyright content – there is a need to reassess the issues at stake and to provide up-to-date information on the relationship between copyright and Internet intermediaries.