|Johan Speckens on Tue, 10 Dec 1996 15:15:56 +0200
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|nettime-nl: that astounding intellectual property treaty
------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date forwarded: Mon, 9 Dec 1996 21:47:33 -0800 (PST) Date sent: Mon, 9 Dec 1996 21:47:03 -0800 (PST) From: Phil Agre <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: that astounding intellectual property treaty Forwarded by: email@example.com Send reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org [I may seem like a hardened political animal, but in reality I'm a naif who is surprised all over again every time somebody lie to me. That's partly because I find it more intellectually challenging to theorize about politics without permitting myself the easy explanation that it's all a pack of lies. But large parts of me genuinely resist such explanations. That's why I find the Clinton Administration's copyright policy so hard to get my mind around. I don't even have categories in my mind for the kind of brazen sleaze that has issued from that quarter from the start. The best I can understand it, Clinton, knowing full well that he couldn't take complete control of the government, pre-sold various parts of his Administration to the highest bidder during his campaign. The copyright interests purchased a controlling interest in his copyright policy; having gotten an early start, they hit the ground running on day one. Only the work of a few law professors and activists kept the principle of fair use from disappearing in the electronic domain. Having failed to pass their legislation in domestic politics, the copyright interests are trying to pass an even more extreme version of that same legislation through the back door -- as a treaty that would take precedence over US law. This might seem like a bizarre situation, but in reality all that's exceptional about it is its ability to arouse indignation. We stood by impotently while the political action surrounding the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996 was narrated in terms of cliff-hanging negotiations and last-minute compromises between the RBOC's and the long distance companies, with the Senators all hanging around in their offices, ready to sign off on whatever they came up with. Now we're making the awkward transition to the next level of the privatization of the public policy process. I am reminded of an old Saturday Night Live parody of Dickens in which one David Copperthwaite got his first job feeding parts of his body to dogs.] =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= This message was forwarded through the Red Rock Eater News Service (RRE). Send any replies to the original author, listed in the From: field below. You are welcome to send the message along to others but please do not use the "redirect" command. For information on RRE, including instructions for (un)subscribing, send an empty message to email@example.com =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= From: James Love <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: WIPO Conference - Press Briefing ----------------------------------------------------------------- Info-Policy-Notes - A newsletter available from email@example.com ----------------------------------------------------------------- INFORMATION POLICY NOTES December 5, 1996 The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is meeting from December 2 to 20 on three treaties that would greatly restrict the public's rights to use information. The following is the annoucement for a press briefing I gave on the treaties at the United Nations, in Geneva, thrusday, December 5, 1996. IMHO, the briefing went well. jamie James Love, Director, Consumer Project on Technology Center for Study of Responsive Law, Washington, DC In Geneva, until Sunday, at 734-9813; thereafter 01.202.387.8030 Intellectual Property is the "capital stock" of the next century, and the rules are important -- too important to decide in a hastily convened conference such as this WIPO meeting. The WIPO delegates are being asked to ratify proposals for every country, which have never been tried in any country. The U.S. Government, a major force pushing for the treaties, hasn't moved the Internet copyright legislation out of a single Congressional Committee yet, due to strong domestic opposition from a wide coalition of data users and computer companies. The U.S. Congress has never held a public hearing on the database proposal, and almost no one in the U.S. government has a clue what it actually does. In Europe, no country has yet found a way to implement the EU database directive, without causing a meltdown in their domestic information industry. The three proposals being considered at the WIPO meetings would severely restrict the public's traditional rights to use information. In countless areas of controversy, they resolve thorny questions about user rights against the users, and in favor of the new supercharged "right-owners." The treaties are so poorly conceived as to raise questions about the competence of the drafters. People are alarmed that the drafters do not understand computers or the Internet. No one who used and understood the Internet would propose strict rules making RAM and temporary cache copies of documents a presumed infringement of copyright. No one who understands the information industry would propose the sweeping new property rights on facts and other public domain information (So broad that daily newspapers would have to obtain a license to report the box scores from sporting events). No one who considers privacy important would have proposed strict liability for Internet Service Providers (which would predictably lead to very intrusive surveillance of Internet transmissions). The early "anti-circumvention" provisions of the treaty were so extreme that they would have made general purpose personal computers illegal. Errors of these magnitude reflect a lack of understanding about the very technology the WIPO delegates are being asked to regulate. The Conference organizers are deliberately misleading the public about the status of copyright law on the Internet. Some press briefings imply that without the treaties, rampant infringements of copyrighted works would be legal. This is patently false. Courts routinely hear cases about the application of current copyright laws on the Internet. New issues are raised, and these issues are resolved through normal court processes. These treaties are not designed to bring copyright to the Internet. They are designed to change copyright law, and to create very restrictive rules for the use of information. Reports on the Internet about the WIPO proceeding illustrate the hypocrisy of the meeting. Faxed copies of news stories about the conference from the New York Times, the Los Angles Times, the Financial Times and other newspapers are widely distributed at the same WIPO meeting where delegates seek to make similar "fair use" transmissions on the Internet illegal. Last month I asked a U.S. State Department official, who was standing at a xerox machine, making a copy of an article on the Treaty, how long the State Department could function if it didn't routinely engage in endless coping and faxing of copyrighted materials from U.S. and foreign sources. News reporters are typically surrounded by stacks of faxes and xerox copies of copyrighted materials, which are circulated without permissions from copyright owners. These are mostly considered "fair uses" of copyrighted materials, and not infringements. A zero tolerance for unauthorized use of copyrighted materials would be a disaster for news reporting, and for most research and management activities. Do we really want to live in a world where governments from the U.S. to Burma insist on precise paper trails of who receives, forwards and shares information with whom? The existing frameworks for copyright law in most countries is surprisingly robust to changes in technologies, and provides a much better framework than the untested and unbalanced treaties considered at this diplomatic conference. These and other issues will are being discussed. APPENDIX A Examples of groups opposing one or more of the WIPO Treaties Sun Computers 3Com STATS, Inc. (Sports Statistics) The American Committee for Interoperable Systems (ACIS) Home Recording Rights Coalition (Consumer Electronics) Ad Hoc Copyright Coalition (Telecom and Computer) The U.S. National Academy of Sciences The U.S. National Academy of Engineering The U.S. Institute of Medicine American Association for the Advance of Science (AAAS American Library Association Digital Futures Coalition National Writers Union (U.S.A.) Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility Union for the Public Domain (UDC) Consumer Project on Technology Genealogists Against the WIPO Treaties (GAWT) Appendix B - Unauthorized Copying It isn't that the Internet has led to large scale unauthorized reproductions of copyrighted materials -- that happens every day off the Internet. It is simply that the Internet makes it extremely easy to detect unauthorized reproduction of works. For examples, thousands of persons make unauthorized copies of cartoons with xerox machines or for overhead slides, to decorate offices or assist in presentations. But when a few individuals post unauthorized copies of Far Side Cartoons on their personal Web pages, the New York Times reports this in a page one story as evidence that the Internet needs to be regulated. It is only that the Internet makes such unauthorized uses very transparent - and hence, easy to police. The daily examples of unauthorized reproductions of copyrighted works (much of this appropriate and legal under current fair use doctrine) OFF the Internet exceed that occurring ON the Internet by staggering margins. What is important to police are inappropriate uses of copyrighted materials, and the current copyright law provides ample tools to accomplish this task. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ INFORMATION POLICY NOTES is a free Internet newsletter sponsored by the Taxpayer Assets Project (TAP) and the Consumer Project on Technology (CPT). Both groups are projects of the Center for Study of Responsive Law, which is run by Ralph Nader. The LISTPROC services are provide by Essential Information. Archives of Info-Policy-Notes are available from http://www.essential.org/listproc/info-policy-notes/ TAP and CPT both have Internet Web pages. http://www.tap.org http://www.essential.org/cpt Subscription requests to info-policy-notes to firstname.lastname@example.org with the message: subscribe info-policy-notes Jane Doe TAP and CPT can both be reached off the net at P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036, Voice: 202/387-8030; Fax: 202/234-5176 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ -- * Verspreid via nettime-nl. Commercieel gebruik niet toegestaan zonder * toestemming. <nettime-nl> is een gesloten en gemodereerde mailinglist * over net-kritiek. Meer info: email@example.com met 'info nettime-nl' in de * tekst v/d email. Archief: http://www.v2.nl/nettime-nl. Contact: * firstname.lastname@example.org. Int. editie: http://www.desk.nl/~nettime.