Re: Copyright issues - The Superhighway Steamroller

Tue, 28 Jun 94 11:01 BST

Philip M. Hallam-Baker writes @ Tue, 28 Jun 1994 11:08:44 +0200

>There is no absolute copyright in the sense Hart is claiming. The relevant
>acts specificaly permit `fair use'. In the context of the internet annotation
>of selected potions (not the whole work!) would almost certainly be considered
>fair use, especially when posted to ten million people. You can't use the
>copyright laws to prevent reviews

I speak as a programmer/part time law student who has just finished the
Intellectual Property modules of my course.

This is a *big* complicated area. A number of Council of Europe
directives, some still merely proposals, will change the face of copyright
in this part of the world and, as reciprocity is specified for third
countries, perhaps beyond as well.

Copyright. Is a group of rights mostly moral and economic. In England,
for example, the moral rights attaching to a work require that the author
of the piece be acknowledged as the author in any quotation. In France,
for example, the moral right can extend to forbidding the use of a piece or
an extract in any context the author disagrees with. The economic right in
France allows, for example, the breeder of a horse to claim a "cut" from
the sale of his horse's foals - even after the original horse has been
sold. This would not be allowed under English contract law.

So, the directives.

93/C 308/01, The proposed Database Directive, creates a "right to prevent
the unfair extraction from a database". The new right is independent of
copyright and is *not* subject to *any* of the tests for copyright. No
"sweat of the brow" etc. Database is defined as "a collection of data,
works or other materials stored and accessed by electronic means". *All*
the contents of every computer will one day be covered by the Database
Directive. Why? There are no tests for eligibility, there is a
cast iron right to prevent "unfair extraction" (read fair and unfair
dealing) and the only exception I can think of to the definition is vinyl
recordings which are primarily a mechanical and not an electronic process
- the first phonographs were clockwork.

So - fair dealing? I am reminded of an English case (copyright is
different everywhere despite Berne) where the entire contents of a
government memo was printed in a national newspaper. The government sought
to use copyright to protect themselves and sued. The result was that "fair
dealing" could, in certain circumstances, extend as far as full
reproduction in another form or media provided that the intention is to
enlighten, inform, criticise the *subject matter* of the disputed text.

The key word here is "intention" and because of this Prof. Hart's copyright
notice is extremely arrogant and flimsy *but* if you feel unsure about what
you are doing then you may be in danger. I am 100% sure, however, that a
free and fair discussion of the issues, with large and small extracts is
totally llegitimate.

If this carries on much longer I might end up reading the article and I
really don't think I'm very interested. As I said privately when this
started, I remember when videotext was the cheapest method of data storage
and dissemination. Yeuch.

Al. <-:< (