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[FYI] Copyright vs. Freedom Of Distribution: Who Prevails?


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Copyright vs. Freedom Of Distribution: Who Prevails?

by Judith N. Mottl (01/16/01; 9:00 a.m. ET)

URL: http://www.PlanetIT.com/docs/PIT20010116S0015 

It's an argument that will be debated during the 107th Congress, in 
state supreme courts and in federal courts nationwide: Who can 
dictate what users, distributors or manufacturers can do with 
Internet content? The reason this is an argument and not just a 
discussion is that the issue is riddled with one of the classic 
ingredients of the spy novel: terrific technology, technology that 
lets today's computers perform better than some stereo systems and 
turns a copper line and a 17-inch computer monitor into a fulfilling, 
TV-like experience. But there's also big money -- not only in the 
form of revenue from the sale of rights to online broadcasts, 
simulcasts and content publication, but also in the form of awards 
from verdicts, trial settlements and punitive damages attainable from 
the violation of those rights.  

"The envelope has become forced at this point," says Eric Scheirer, 
an analyst at Forrester Research who tracks copyright issues in the 
Internet industry. "It's about money and about control. There are 
millions of users, and the parties involved can't afford to ignore 

Today, powerful media industry coalitions -- including the National 
Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the Motion Picture Association of 
America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America 
(RIAA) -- as well as top media outlets such as The New York Times and 
NBC, to name just two, are deliberating in and out of court over 
whether the distribution of content through the Internet, as well as 
through digital media such as CD-ROM, is protected under current 
copyright laws and enforceable through royalty contracts.  


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