NRC Releases IP Study

Subject: NRC Releases IP Study
From: Barbara Schleihagen (
Date: ma 15 marras 1999 - 11:10:43 EET

Forwarded from for your information
Regards, Barbara Schleihagen

Subject: NRC Releases IP Study
From: Ann Okerson <>
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 1999 20:15:09 -0500 (EST)

Today, November 3rd, the National Academy of Sciences presented
the report of the Committee on Intellectual Property Rights and the
Emerging Information Infrastructure. This report was created under
the aegis of the National Research Council's Computer Science and
Telecommunications Board.

For more information, the Chair's Statement, today's Press Release,
and Report Summary and Conclusions, visit the web site at:

Chairman Randall Davis (Professor, Computer Science Department,
MIT), introduced the report, which is not silent on licensing. For
example, from the Dr. Randall's opening statement:

"The trend toward licensing also is making a substantial difference in
access to digital information. In the hard-copy world, purchasing
individual copies of a work has been the dominant mode of acquisition
hundreds of years. In the digital world, licensing is becoming the
dominant mode.

"This has several important consequences. For example, it offers a
flexibility that traditional sale does not - licenses can and are being
written to customize the product and its terms to the needs of the

"But increasing use of licensing also means that information is more an
event to be experienced, rather than an artifact to be kept. When you
a subscription to a traditional journal, you own the back issues when
subscription expires. With an online journal, what do you own when
subscription expires?

"If licensing of information products becomes widespread, we may
see contract law taking the place of copyright law. While there a
number of carefully thought-out public policy concepts built into
copyright law, such as the first-sale rule, licenses are contracts and as
such are under no obligation to conform to the letter or spirit of public
policy in copyright.

"Licensing also has an impact on archiving: Archiving is allowed only if
it is explicitly authorized in the terms of the license. While some
publishers facilitate such provisions, particularly those who publish
scholarly journals, many others have not. The committee recommends
establishing a task force on electronic deposit, charged with
the desirability, feasibility, shape, and funding requirements of a system
for placing digital files in depositories."

Also see an MSNBC article about the report, written by Alan Boyle,
Science Editor, at:

There's too much in this report to summarzie; it's a must read for those
who care about intellectual property. Some of the key
recommendations are
that policy makers should not be in a hurry to overhaul IP laws until
society has had a chance to experience more fully the digital
in a variety of ways. The report also recommends that policy makers
create a system of electronic depositories to preserve digital

Ann Okerson Yale University Library

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