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  • Writer's pictureNick Redfearn

Indonesian President Jokowi Spots Digital Copyright Challenges As ASEAN Builds Its Digital Economy Rules

Updated: Jul 4

Indonesian President Joko Widodo called copyright issues for artists a "big homework" that must be resolved. He was speaking at the launch of Indonesia's digital event licensing system. His specific concern was how licensing for events intersects with artists, songwriters and other copyright creators. More specifically, the government-integrated licensing & permits (OSS) system makes it easier to obtain permits for businesses, including events, but this doesn’t overcome the complexities of copyright licensing. Due to red tape, many event organisers struggled to hold concerts and international sports championships in Indonesia. He gave the example of the difficulties securing Coldplay music licensing for the Lombok Mandalika MotoGP race and compared how easy it is for major artists like Taylor Swift to appear in Singapore.


This raises several issues. One is the complexity of securing all kinds of business permits in Indonesia, and the new business licensing system (OSS) seeks to speed that up. The other is the complexity of music copyright licensing. Huge improvements through collecting societies have been a focus of the government in recent years. The third issue is the digital economy, which operates virtually in many senses and relies on copyright for many of its rights.


This illustrates a broader challenge for the digital economy. ASEAN has produced its Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA), a regional treaty designed to enhance digital cooperation and integration of data and regulations in Southeast Asia. DEFA has various goals focused on improving e-commerce, helping cross-border data flows and protecting data privacy, improving cybersecurity and safety, and emerging topics (e.g., AI). However it contains no IP provisions; and that gap is mentioned repeatedly as a gap. If the digital economy depends on IP rights, how can digital economy rules be separated from IP laws?


In a recent Trademark World article, various commentators argued that the lack of DEFA IP provisions to stop counterfeit goods in e-commerce conflicts with the goal of improving e-commerce. Another example is the lack of clear ISP liability consistency for secondary liability - which varies by country and for different IP rights. Copyright licensing and other areas apply equally. Much of the reason for this problem is the confusion about who is responsible for IP in the digital world. In some countries IP departments are heavily involved, in others Ministries of Communication, even Trade lead on the digital economy. As a result, huge gaps appear in legislation without close cooperation.


Many ASEAN countries face a similar challenge. Amending DEFA to add IP issues offers a chance to integrate IP into the digital economy.




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