Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft
May 10, 2000
The Concept of Copyright Fights for Internet Survival
By JOHN MARKOFF
While American courts struggle over the recording industry's challenge to digital music swapping, Ian Clarke, a 23-year-old Irish programmer, is moving on to the next battleground. He is finishing a program that he says will make it impossible to control the traffic in any kind of digital information -- whether it is music, video, text or software.
His program, known as Freenet, is intended to make it possible to acquire or exchange such material anonymously while frustrating any attempt to remove the information from the Internet or determine its source.
Mr. Clarke and his group of programmers have deliberately set themselves on a collision course with the world's copyright laws. They express the hope that the clash over copyright enforcement in cyberspace will produce a world in which all information is freely shared. In any case, the new programs could change the basic terms of the discussion about intellectual property.
The swapping of music files over the Internet, through services like Napster and MP3.com, has already raised the hackles and mobilized the lawyers of the recording industry and some musicians, who say the practice amounts to piracy. They hope either to halt the services or to collect royalties on the digital works being swapped.