Copyright 1995 Information Access Company, a Thomson Corporation Company
Copyright 1995 Cardinal Business Media Inc.
February 24, 1995
SECTION: Vol. 8 ; No. 4 ; Pg. 36; ISSN: 1041-8237
LENGTH: 759 words
HEADLINE: Burning libraries over copyrights; proposed copyright rule changes
address digital information threaten the free exchange of information; Law &
BYLINE: Ubois, Jeff
When it first released recommendations intended to make copyright law fit
new realities posed by digital networks, many charged the Clinton
administration's Information Infrastructure Task Force Working Group on
Intellectual Property Rights with oversimplifying issues. It tried to fit round
pegs in square holes rather than look at new possibilites. Its final report, due
out this spring, will likely be the basis for new copyright legislation. Some
recommendations, however, could throw American business into a tailspin.
Past concepts of copyright are hard to apply to digital works. Computers and
networks cut reproduction and distribution costs nearly to zero, which is a
double-edged sword for publishers. While major cost reductions are possible, it
also threatens the core of their business because anyone who buys one copy of
their product has the ability to resell an infinite number of copies at a lower
While there is no right solution to the new copyright issues, the Working
Group seems to believe that decapitation is a cure for baldness. Rather than
look to new possibilities, the report attempts to solve emerging problems by
extending new and extraordinary protection to copyright owners.
"Not since the King of England in the 16th century gave a group of printers
exclusive rights to print books in exchange for an agreement not to print
heretical or seditious material has a government copyright policy been so skewed
in favor of publisher interests and so detrimental to the public interest," says
Pamela Samuelson, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who
specializes in intellectual property.
The American Library Association echoes Samuelson's concerns. "Copyright
should balance the interests of the owners of intellectual property with the
needs of the public to use information without regard to its form or medium,"
said Edward Valauskas in testimony on behalf of the ALA before the Working
Group. "Any attempt to expand the rights of owners of intellectual property
should not dilute the limitations on those rights already enjoyed by the public,
such as fair use, classroom use, and library use."
Valauskas asked the Working Group to rethink its position. "It is
fundamentally wrong to assume that in the digital environment users' rights
MIDRANGE Systems, February 24, 1995
disappear, that every use of a copyrighted work is criminal," he said.
Specifically, the report urges that publishers be granted new rights over
digital transmission of their works, making digital transmission an act of
infringement. That could make reading any document at a remote site a copyright
infringement, because reading or browsing a digital work requires that a copy be
made on the machine displaying work. In addition, digital works would no longer
be subject to the "first sale rule," which allows owners of a book to resell,
rent, or lend the book to someone else without the copyright holder's
The report urges that on-line information services be held responsible for
the actions of their users. "The report takes a very harsh view of the potential
liability of on-line service providers for any infringement that takes place on
their system," Samuelson says. The only way online service providers can ensure
no copyright infringement takes place is to monitor private traffic of every
Just in case all that isn't enough protection, the report recommends making
it a crime to build or sell any product designed to bypass copy-protection
schemes. While the report didn't suggest that high quality Xerox machines should
be outlawed, it did ignore case law - Vault vs. Quaid - that established the
user's right to make backup copies, even of protected software.
Rather than leap to conclusions about the proper way to deal with problems,
Samuelson suggests the Working Group encourage a vigorous public debate.
"Instead they wrote something they thought everyone would accept and public
would never understand until well after legislation passed."
Reading the administration's draft, one gets the feeling today's copyright
lawyers would have cheered the burning of the library at Alexandria and worked
to prevent Ben Franklin from founding the first public library. This is the
first time the government defined its primary duty to publishers as making
knowledge private property, and the probable consequences to the open exchange
of information are chilling.
Jeff Ubois writes about computers and computers and communications for the
trade, business and popular press. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Copyright 1995 Guardian Newspapers Limited
January 26, 1995
SECTION: THE GUARDIAN ONLINE PAGE; Pg. 4
LENGTH: 1787 words
HEADLINE: COMMUNICATIONS: PICTURE THE SCENE;
Wendy Grossman looks at a technology that makes possible video broadcasting over
BYLINE: Wendy Grossman
CORNELL University has been a breeding ground for mavericks. Carl Sagan
teaches there and Robert Morris unleashed his famous Internet worm from there.
So it makes sense that technology to support video conferencing over the
Internet should have been developed at this university in Ithaca, about 250
miles northwest of New York City. CU-SeeMe is a clever piece of technology that
is, as usual, being used in ways its developers never intended or expected.
The idea came from Richard Cogger, who thought you could write software that
would run on a Macintosh, connect over the Internet to another Mac, and send
video, audio, and still images back and forth in real time. The first version of
CU-SeeMe, which only handled video, came out in 1993. One of its first uses was
to hook a group of London-based Cornell students to Cornell, to a school in Los
Angeles, and to the University of Pennsylvania so they could look in on a
weekend conference scheduled alongside the annual Cornell-Penn football game.
That was just the beginning. Nasa uses CU-SeeMe to broadcast live and pre
-recorded video footage of shuttle missions. On New Year's Eve, the Electronic
Cafe in California linked with sites in New York, Moscow and Paris using
CU-SeeMe, as well as Internet Relay Chat, MOOs, and various other packages to
host a global, day -long party. And at any time, users can connect to WXYC, a
student-run radio station at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
This has started using CU-SeeMe to simulcast its normal output of what UNC
graduate student David McConville calls "everything from hip-hop and new weirdo
grunge to experimental 20th-century composers and local stuff", around the
Back at Cornell, Cogger - who in October landed a $ 500,000 grant from the
National Science Foundation to develop CU-SeeMe further - is somewhat bemused by
"It's a confined technology," he says, "designed as such for
conferencing. The video that you get is a small, black-and-white picture."
Indeed, CU-SeeMe broadcasting on the Internet is not going to kill commercial
broadcast television. The uses Cogger had in mind were things like inexpensive
video conferences for small groups of people scattered around the world, and
audio/visual interviews between journalists and subjects, or prospective
employers and job candidates, without anyone having to travel.
The Guardian, January 26, 1995
But just as the Internet makes electronic publishing something almost anyone
can afford, this kind of technology makes it possible for anyone with an
Internet connection to broadcast (or narrowcast). In the US, Cogger says, you
can buy a digital camera that plugs into a Mac's serial port and gives you a
video feed for as little as $ 90. If all you want to do is listen to WXYC or
watch Nasa TV, you need even less: download CU-SeeMe, which is free, set it to
"lurk", and log in.
At least that's the theory. Your mileage will vary depending on the speed
your connection, the speeds of the other conference members, the type of machine
you're using, and the type of material that's being sent.
To create large conferences, or to broadcast to large numbers of people, CU
-SeeMe depends on "reflectors": programs running on UNIX boxes around the Net.
Users log on to the reflector, which makes copies of everything they send in and
distributes it to everyone who's logged on. That's how you get a multi-party
conference. Network several reflectors together and you have an even bigger
conference - or a small broadcast facility. This is essentially what Nasa is
doing: funneling its satellite TV channel through a Mac into a reflector.
Anybody can watch by logging on to it in receive-only mode.
There are some caveats. The 14,400bps most home Internet users have
available over a dial-up SLIP or PPP connection is too slow for the amount of
data that has to be sent. This is especially true for film or TV quality video,
which use techniques like panning and cutting, because CU-SeeMe's heart is an
algorithm that sends only the differences between adjoining frames, rather than
each individual frame. In continuous footage of a talking head, the changes from
frame to frame are comparatively small: you don't have to resend every pixel.
At the moment, also, the reflectors have trouble handling a mixture of
people with different speeds of connection. Cogger says this is going to be
fixed so that a reflector can custom-design participants' feeds.
THE QUESTION everyone asks is: won't video kill the Internet by swallowing
up all the available bandwidth, especially if everyone wants to do it? Cogger's
view is, on the whole, no: "Running video on the Internet - and showing that
it's useful to people in spite of the compromised quality compared to TV - is a
way to demonstrate that it's worthwhile upgrading the infrastructure." He thinks
that increased demand will lead to increased capacity.
He'd get no argument from David McConville, whose goals in setting up WXYC's
Internet broadcasting facility were rather different. McConville cites one
example where the lower-quality signal just didn't matter: the day of the IRA
ceasefire, McConville logged onto a reflector in Northern Ireland where someone
had one camera pointed out of the window at the live event, and another pointed
at the BBC's actor-dubbed coverage. "I was happy to settle for low bandwidth for
that," he says, adding that in WXYC's case, "a lot of people are willing to deal
with the decline in signal quality for an increase in content quality." This
kind of service is, he thinks, more properly called "narrowcasting", since the
footage is only sent to those who request it, rather than being sprayed all
round the Net at random.
McConville, a graduate student in journalism and mass communication, says
there were two goals in setting up the WXYC experiment. The first was the
obvious one of just wanting to see how it would work and what kind of audio
The Guardian, January 26, 1995
quality they would get. But more important than that, he says, "we wanted
people to think about different ways of communicating. We wanted to introduce
them to the concept of everybody being able to broadcast. It's important that
people not accept the pay-per-view paradigm, accepting canned images. It's like
the DTP (desktop publishing) revolution - it could be the same with music,
video, and everything else." It matters now, he says, because proposals to
rewrite US intellectual property laws work from the presumption that all digital
transactions are the same - that any time you're transmitting data, you're
reproducing it. WXYC, by contrast, is broadcasting in real-time, and McConville
thinks it's ludicrous to claim that someone logging on to a reflector site and
playing the transmitted feed over speakers is reproducing anything. Part of what
we're doing," he says, "is showing that the issues are not as straightforward as
CU-SeeMe comes in versions for the Macintosh and Windows PCs, and can be
downloaded by anonymous ftp from: gated.cornell.edu You can find out how to tune
into WXYC from: http: / /sunsite.unc.edu/wxyc/
LOAD-DATE: January 28, 1995