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September 13, 1995

EC FUNDS STUDY INTO UNIFICATION OF WORLD’S COPYRIGHT LAWS

By CBR Staff Writer

The European Commission is funding Imprimatur, a project to establish a common approach to copyright between Europe and North America. It hopes to get around the problem of conflicting laws in an increasingly international electronic world. The project will run for three years from December. It aims to achieve agreements on identification data numbers for electronic intellectual property rights, similar to the ISBN identification number applied to all books, which details who published them and when. This will be more complicated than for books because more information needs to be included to reflect the greater number of people that are involved in developing software. Legal issues to be addressed include the differences between the continental droite d’auteur system, which deals with the moral rights an author has to his work, and the Anglo-American legal system. A server will be established in Italy by the University of Florence and partners will communicate via it using electronic mail. To test out the real complexity of electronic copyright issues, all messages will be treated as copyrighted and may not be bounced on the next person without prior permission. The idea is to invent a trading system to see how we get round [copyright] and how pissed off we get with it, said Chris Barlas, chairman of the Author’s Licensing & Collecting Society. The server will integrate some of the electronic copyright software on the market and promote some kind of interoperability between Imprimatur consists of a spectrum of 16 partners from rights holders to users, technology providers and legal and standards experts from both continents. Participants include the Bertelsman Group representing publishing interests; EUSIDIC, the association of the information industry in Europe representing information suppliers and users; and the British Library representing libraries. Technology suppliers include Compagnie des Machines Bull SA; Teles GmbH, a Berlin software house with expertise in electronic copyright management; Telia AB, the Swedish telephone company; Thomson Broadcast Systems Ltd; Digicash BV, the Dutch electronic money specialist; the University of Florence; and Imperial College, London. The US Interactive Multimedia Association and the Japanese Institute of Intellectual Property are also taking part to ensure that international interests are taken on board.

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