++ Copyright Enlargement Likely ++ Links ++
The recent U.S. District Court decision concerning the
controversial file-sharing service Napster has once again
fueled the debate about copyright and digital media (for
more information on the Napster case see: http://www.wired.com/news/mp3/0,1285,41784,00.html .
Although the decision has caused a big stir it is very
much in line with recent developments in the field of
Over the centuries copyright law - originally tailored to
the technology of print - has been adapted several times,
in order to respond to technological changes. Now it is
yet again challenged by the advance of digital technologies.
These represent something completely new in respect of the
fact that they allow the entire information (text, sound
and visuals) to be generated, altered and used by and on
one and the same device irrespective of whether it is provided
online or offline. As a result creators of intellectual
property are afraid of an increase in the unlawful reproduction
of works, and also Internet service providers (ISP) as well
as private and public (libraries, archives etc.) content
providers are confronted with a variety of problems.
Questions such as which legislation applies to the violation
of copyright in global computer networks, how to handle
features such as frames and links that result from the
hypermedia structure and are characteristic of digital
content, or if ISPs can be held liable for content put
online by their customers are yet to be solved. In general
the actual discussion about the future of copyright is
dominated by two opposing positions:
- Tightening of copyright: Especially the big content
production and distribution industries as the main
beneficiaries of royalties support the idea of enlarging
copyright. Like that they could acquire more control for
- Relaxation of copyright: Besides a small group, which is
in favor of eliminating copyright altogether, others believe
that only a relaxation of copyright can guarantee that
information is not monopolized, but in the public domain
and accessible for everybody.
Although there exists a countermovement, the general tendency
is towards an enlargement of copyright. Developments such as
the increased use of copyright management and control systems
(e.g. CPRM) and new legislation or draft bills e.g. the U.S.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act or the proposed EU Directive
on Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society
can be seen from this perspective. Concerns and critique
regarding this trend have arisen especially among the library
and archive community, but also amongst Internet Service
Providers, who see the rights of copyright holders
considerably strengthened at the expense of a free access
to information by all.
++ LINKS ++
Information Age: For Whom? by Michael S. Hart
Roundtable: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Copyright?
Cultural Economics: Copyright C.P.U.: Creators, Proprietors &
Users by Harry Hillman Chartrand
Open Code and Open Societies by Lawrence Lessig
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)