More than Sixty Percent of Businesses Have Been Involved in Digital Copyright Disputes Over the Past Half Decade, New Survey Shows

September 7, 2021

More than 60 percent of the respondents to a recent WIPO survey have been involved in B2B digital copyright- and content-related disputes in the last five years, with software, musical works, advertising, and literary works being the most common types of disputes.

The World Intellectual Property Organization’s Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO Center), with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea (MCST) has conducted a survey on the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms for Business to Business (B2B) digital copyright- and content-related disputes. The results presented in the report are based on over 1,000 responses and interviews conducted with key stakeholders from 129 countries across all regions.

The survey targeted copyright- and content-intensive companies of all sizes, online intermediaries and platforms, creators, entrepreneurs, collective management organizations, in-house and external counsel, and government bodies.

Marco M. Alemán, Assistant Director General, IP and Innovation Ecosystems Sector noted, “Individuals and businesses need access to effective dispute resolution to ensure they are fairly rewarded for their works. Court litigation is not always suited to copyright- and content-related disputes, shifting attention to the benefits of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.”

“Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms can offer a viable alternative in a rapidly changing content environment. Compared to court litigation, ADR is more affordable, faster and easier when trying to settle cross-border, international disputes”, said Oh Yeong-Woo, Vice Minister, MCST.

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Selected survey results:

  • Survey respondents’ top priorities were the cost and speed of resolving these disputes.
  • According to the survey findings, while court litigation was the most commonly used mechanism to resolve these disputes, mediation/conciliation was frequently used and was perceived to be the most suitable.
  • Damages was the most common remedy pursued by claimants in these disputes (70 percent). Claims for royalties were also frequently pursued (60 percent).
  • While the value of the disputes in which the survey respondents were involved varied, the majority (59 percent) fell into the bracket of USD 10,000–100,000.
  • Settlement was the most common outcome of these disputes.
  • Survey respondents were more often involved in non-contractual (57 percent) disputes than in contractual disputes (43 percent). The most common contracts concluded by survey respondents were software-related contracts, followed by audiovisual, publishing and advertising.

Recent international regulatory developments point to the need for effective mechanisms that provide an alternative to the courts for resolving B2B digital copyright- and content-related disputes. ADR procedures have the potential to significantly enhance the resolution of digital copyright- and content-related disputes by promoting accessibility, affordability, transparency, neutrality and fairness.

For example, the use of ADR is encouraged to negotiate and reach agreements on licensing rights for audiovisual works on video-on-demand services. The use of ADR is also encouraged to provide expeditious complaint and redress mechanisms for users over the removal of uploaded content involving copyright-protected works.

In the last five years, the WIPO Center has noticed the growing use of ADR for digital copyright and content disputes. WIPO ADR cases are predominantly based on contract clauses, where the parties select the ADR option(s) in advance. However, WIPO ADR cases increasingly arise from submission agreements concluded by the parties after the dispute has arisen and proceedings may already have commenced before courts or copyright authorities.

Taking into account the results of the survey, the WIPO Center, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, is currently tailoring its ADR procedures to the specific dispute resolution needs of users, right-holders, and online content sharing service providers (OCSSPs).