Page 200

society, resulting in a corresponding diversity of interests, motivations, and values. Some stakeholders see the issues in economic terms; some in philosophical terms; others in technological terms; and still others in legal, ethical, or social policy terms. There are also a variety of important forces at work—regulations, markets, social norms, and technology—all of which must be considered and all of which may also be used in dealing with the issues. Knowing about the full range of forces may open up additional routes for dealing with issues; not every problem need be legislated (or priced) into submission. Individuals exploring these issues are well advised to be cognizant of all the forces at work, to avoid being blind-sided by any of them; to avail themselves of the opportunity to use any of the forces when appropriate; to be aware of the process by which each of them comes about; and to consider the degree of public scrutiny of the values embedded in each.

The committee believes that the issue of intellectual property in the information infrastructure cannot be viewed as solely a legal issue (as it was, for example, in the white paper Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure, IITF, 1995)1 or through any other single lens. Such an approach will necessarily yield incomplete, and often incorrect, answers. One of the committee's key contributions is to urge an appropriately broad framework for use by policy makers, one that acknowledges the full spectrum of stakeholders and forces.

The first two sections of this chapter focus on the implications for society and individuals that arise from the everyday use of the information infrastructure, with an emphasis on intellectual property that has been published in the traditional sense.2 The next two sections address research and data collection that are needed and near-term actions that can be initiated to help in getting beyond the digital dilemma. The last section offers guidance on and principles for the formulation of law and public policy.

A significant portion of the committee's deliberations can be characterized as spirited and energetic discussions expressing a range of perspectives on controversial issues. For some of those issues, a summary of alternative perspectives is provided, with the intent of exposing the core issues to aid future discussion. That this committee, a diverse and balanced group of experts, had difficulty in achieving consensus in many areas, despite extensive briefings, background reading, and deliberations,

1When the IITF's white paper was written, the Web was only beginning to be widely used by the general public; hence some aspects of the digital dilemma touched on here (e.g., business models) had yet to develop.

2The committee was unable to address some important subjects (e.g., the cable television industry) thoroughly because of the limited time and resources available.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement