CCIA Releases Research Paper on Online Liability and Trade

BY CCIA Staff
September 9, 2013

As the economy shows increasing signs of recovery and growth, many Internet companies see overseas markets as the next stage of that growth. But to fully realize that growth for the technology industry, laws would need to be modernized so companies can expand trade deals rather than lawsuits.

This matters because the tech industry is a bright spot in the economic recovery. Existing research indicates that the Internet accounted for 21 percent of the GDP growth in mature economies, during a five-year span, with 75 percent of the benefits captured by companies in more traditional industries.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which has promoted open markets for the technology industry for 40 years, released a research paper Monday that shows how harmonizing liability rules can help ensure open markets. The paper outlines the legal landscape in various countries and the policies that could hamper growth of technology companies and the small businesses in other industries that utilize the Internet for commerce.

The following can be attributed to CCIA Vice President Matt Schruers:

“A key barrier to 21st century trade is not other nations protecting domestic products, but 20th century policies that perpetuate outdated liability rules not reasonably tailored for the Internet era of cross-border commerce.

“It is also worth noting what’s right: some governments have recognized that unreasonable liability rules would impede Internet innovation, and have taken steps to ensure that technology growth is not hindered. Modern trade policy must promote rules that enable companies to respond to complaints about Internet content, without fears of unreasonable liability.”

The following can be attributed to CCIA Policy Counsel Ali Sternburg:

“Many Internet companies see overseas markets as key to economic growth. But to fully move into those market opportunities, liability laws will need to be updated so companies are growing sales of products and services – not increasing their exposure to lawsuits for activities that are legal in many countries. There are legal actions and interpretations of laws in countries including Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, and throughout Asia that could slow the growth of both domestic and international tech companies.

“To make Internet information more available and searchable, laws must make it clear that indexing and using snippets is ‘fair use,’ and therefore not copyright infringement, and provide safe harbors to limit services’ liability for user conduct and content. In the absence of changes to international trade policy, liability risks will delay the growth of Internet commerce and imperil jobs.”

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