White Paper on Intellectual Property in Cyberspace Released

By Neal J. Friedman

A federal government task force has released its long-awaited report on "Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure." The task force was charged with making recommendations for revising the law of copyright and other intellectual property to keep pace with the nation's growing computer communications system. It found existing copyright law "fundamentally adequate and effective," but suggested changes to bring it in line with current technology.

The task force noted that technology had altered the copyright balance in favor of copyright owners in some instances and in favor of users in others. Its principal recommendation was to classify transmissions over computer networks as "copies," which would expressly include them under copyright law.

It also addressed a concern of libraries and archives by permitting them to make a limited number of copies of a work for preservation purposes without being liable for royalties or infringement claims.

The report's other major recommendations include:

The report is advisory only. It will now go to Congress, which is not likely to act on the proposed changes in the law until next year. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has made the entire document available as a single, 1 MB, PDF file, a Microsoft Word 6.0 file, as well as in ASCII form.

Copyright © 1996 Neal J. Friedman

Reproduced with permission of
Neal J. Friedman
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