Within this sphere of uncertainty, electronic networks generate special concerns, and indeed the Internet itself is playing a significant role in changing the nature of publication.2 For example, in the research community, professional societies are investigating ways to offer their journals through the Internet, and some have already begun to do so. Many researchers would like to effectively circumvent the traditional publication process, which can lead to years of delay, and make their work available on the network for free. In other instances, many individuals hesitate to use the Internet at all, fearing—with some arguable justification—that material they created may be appropriated by others without permission.

The research community is not the only one affected. The on-line availability of various publications raises questions regarding the limits of electronic redistribution of print articles in general. In June 1994, the ClariNet Communications Corporation, publisher of an Internet newspaper, was asked by Knight-Ridder Tribune and its Tribune Media Services Division to cease its electronic publication of syndicated columns written by Dave Barry and Mike Royko, due to concerns about too much information piracy occurring on "the net." It seems that a subscriber to ClariNet, the electronic newspaper, sent a copy of a Dave Barry column from the ClariNet, presumably by e-mail, to a nonsubscriber mailing list, where it then reached a Knight-Ridder employee who reported it to executives at Knight-Ridder. In July 1994, the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights of the administration's Information Infrastructure Task Force released a draft report on how copyright law and practices may need to be updated in an age of highly interconnected electronic networks. The report proposes, for example, that existing law be clarified to ensure that copyright law protects the creator of works that are disseminated through electronic networks.3

Although intellectual property is traditionally the domain of copyright, patents, and trade secrets, most of the discussion of intellectual property

2  

For example, a recent CSTB study, Realizing the Information Future: The Internet and Beyond (National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1994), found that "there is … broad appreciation that a robust market for networked information and resources is fundamental to the success of the evolving National Information Infrastructure." Nevertheless, it is "much less certain … how intellectual property protection can or should evolve to fit the networked environment" (p. 160).

3  

See Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure, a preliminary draft of the report of the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights, Information Infrastructure Task Force, July 1994. A revised version will be developed after public comment and input are received.



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