Information that is posted on the Internet will be subject to copyright law. After three weeks of discussions in Geneva, a package of treaties was agreed by the 160 member nations of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) shortly before Christmas.
As soon as the rules are put in place in each country the 100-year-old Berne Convention - the foundation of international copyright law - will be extended to work appearing in digital format. The treaties address electronic transmissions of copyrighted work, temporary reproduction and the protection of databases.
The prohibiting of temporary reproduction, such as copying Web information on to a computer, has caused huge controversy. Last month US pressure groups campaigning for freedom on the Net slammed the proposals for constricting Internet use.
However, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which fights against software piracy, does not believe that the temporary reproduction right will halt growth of the Internet. A BSA spokesperson said: ?Temporary reproduction rights are currently protected by judicial decisions in the US and statutes in Europe, and the Internet is growing at a huge rate in both places. Although there may be some legitimate questions relating to the application of this right to the Internet, these are more appropriately addressed by crafting an exception to the temporary reproduction right, rather than by eliminating the right in its entirety.?
BSA president Robert Holleyman said: ?Recognising that the Internet is evolving, the treaties leave ample room for national laws to adapt to changing circumstances and to meet the needs of users and consumers. The treaties provide strong reassurances for authors that make their works available on the Internet. These international accords will ensure that content will continue to flourish on the Internet, and that the Net does not become a mere ?digital curiosity?.?
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