Press Release - 9/19/97
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CPSR Urges Internet Community Support of Ashcroft Legislation
The bill is designed to bring the United States into conformity with the 1996 WIPO treaties on intellectual property while working within the public spirit of U.S. copyright law by asserting fair use rights for digital resources. It exempts network service providers from liability for transmitting the communications of others and protects content providers by laying out clear steps for the reporting of copyright infringements. "In addition, Coyle said, "it protects against the use of frivolous allegations of infringement, which could be used to deny public access to content."
Of particular interest to the Internet community, this bill states that the act of linking or providing navigational tools such as search engines or browsers cannot be considered an infringement of copyright. It also clarifies that digital copies made in the incidental operation of a device, such as copies that a computer makes in RAM when data is accessed, are not infringing copies.
According to CPSR's Coyle, "The bill clearly distinguishes between the act of infringement and the means or device used in that infringement, and makes only the act of infringement a violation of the Copyright Act. In comparison, the bills introduced as S.1121 and H.R. 2281 would make illegal devices that can be used to circumvent technological protection of copyrighted works, and allow for the impounding of any device or product that the court believes was involved in the violation. These measures would greatly increase the risk for anyone providing network access to others, including schools, libraries and other public institutions. In essence, any computer on the Internet would be at risk of confiscation."
CPSR is a public-interest alliance of computer scientists and others interested in the impact of computer technology on society. CPSR's goal is to direct public attention to difficult choices concerning the applications of computing and how those choices affect society.
Axsom * Executive Director