What Copyright Can Learn from Cyber-Security

Recently, I had the chance to moderate a panel on industrial cyber-security. That’s right, industries have control systems for all kinds of processes: boilers, turbines, valves… you name it. A lot of them are connected to the internet and many of those are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. According to one of the panelists the business of cyber-attacks is a 500 Billion-dollar business. Cyber-crime is lucrative.

The European Union sees this as a problem, the threat of cyber-attacks make industries hesitate to go digital and therefore opportunities are lost for productivity increase and new revenue streams. Figures vary, but the potential for digitalization of industry is Billions of Euros per year. The Commisson’s conclusion is to make online a safer space for industries and the answer is the NIS Directive – the Network and Information Security Directive – which was adopted by European Parliament on July 6th this year. The idea is to increase the level of development and coordinate efforts and information sharing among cyber-security authorities. That’s good, let’s hope it works well and makes the internet a safer place for companies.

I can’t help but compare with another digital debate with a similar departure point, but completely different conclusions. That’s right: copyright. Rights-owners who do not give discounts to digital services are called “conservative”. If they are concerned about piracy and illegal commercial-scale distribution, it’s “fear of change”. When they ask for better legal support or help from intermediaries, they need to “update their business models”.

Why doesn’t the EU Commission tell those power grid operators or paper pulp makers or aluminium smelters to “update their business models”? Because the Commission is smart. It understands that no new business model can beat $500 Billion illegal competition. Instead, it brings in legislation and government agencies. Now, apply those smarts to digital content and I promise you growth, jobs, tax revenue, quality culture, better media and soft power for Europe. It should not be difficult, the answer is already there.

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