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January 3, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:50pm


By CBR Staff Writer

In what Netscape Communications Corp senior counsel Peter Harter billed as a victory for the Internet, Article 7 of the treaty that tried to make temporary copies of documents a breach of intellectual property rights has been scrapped (CI No 3,069). It will not be part of the final draft that emerges from the three week long meeting of the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, which finished just before Christmas. Temporary copies of copyright material are made automatically by the computer as users browse the Web, and this would have been considered copyright violation if Article 7 had gone through. There are still question marks over how much flexibility individual countries should have over how much or how little of the recommendations they implement locally. Harter said that non-technical business interests were still trying to muscle in with their narrow views on technology. He said companies such as his own wanted to keep the language of the treaties technologically neutral. Articles 10 and 13 of the protection of literary and artistic works treaty have been decided upon. They deal with the potential liability of internet service providers and the manufacture of devices that could be used to violate copyright protection, respectively. The resolution of Article 10 means that liability for any copyright infringements will lie with the user, rather than the service provider. The liability will flow to the bad actor, as the legalese goes. The language of the amendment to Article 13 calls for a balanced treatment that leaves it up for reasonable interpretation at the nation-state level. Observers present in Geneva say the companies in support of the treaties are the old media companies trying to prop up their analog distribution systems, while the companies opposed are new companies looking for more time to educate people as to what is involved. They need to start building up relationships with governments to make their voices heard, Peter Harter said of the younger companies. At the start of the meeting, three treaties were on the table, dealing with databases, performance and recording rights, and the protection of literary and artistic works. But the database treaty was removed from the discussion after it was decided that more regional consultation was required. Harter said the database treaty has raised significant concerns in the scientific community, and there is now talk of addressing the database treaty at another meeting next June or July, possibly in Helsinki, Finland, though nothing has been decided.

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