11 CEO's write about WIPO flaws.

Ewald (ewald@ctaz.net)
Wed, 11 Dec 1996 18:48:01 -0700


Yet another dispatch from Mr. James Love at the Center for Responsive
Law, Washington, D.C. on the repercussions of the proposed WIPO database
treaty. For more info, go to: http://www.public-domain.org/

Shawn Ewald
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The following is a letter by CEO's from 11 important Internet and
Telecommunications firms. It focuses on the sections in the WIPO
treaties that would make Internet Service Providers liable for
unauthorized transmissions of copyrighted works.

The key point of the letter are:

- The exclusive rights created by these Articles could result in
making service providers liable without knowledge for every
potentially infringing communication on the Internet.

- Such potential liabilities would force us to monitor third-party
communications.

- Not only is this technically and economically impractical, it would
require us to violate individual citizens' privacy rights.

- The result would be sharply increased prices for Internet/online
services, reduced privacy for users, and reduced connectivity among
"information have nots" in our society and throughout the world.

The letter follows

-----------------------------------------------------------
December 10, 1996

President William J. Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

As CEOs of America's leading Internet, online, and communications
companies, we write to express our great concern about draft language in
the "Basic Proposal for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works" and
the so- called "New Instrument," supported by your Administration,
currently under consideration at the World Intellectual Property
Organization ("WIPO") Diplomatic Conference in Geneva.

Our companies have significant intellectual property interests to
protect on the NII and GII, and we strongly support the development of all
future technological measures that will help to prevent infringements of
copyright in the online environment. We are supportive of the
Administration's goal of updating the Berne Convention for the digital
age. However, this goal must not be achieved in a way that severely
limits development of the Internet/online medium as a widely accessible,
low-cost means of communication.

Our companies build and operate the "Information Highway" that
figures so prominently in your vision of the 21st Century. We provide the
facilities for hundreds of millions of Internet communications that flow
over our networks each day. These transmissions travel in digital form
and are often compressed, split among separate packets, and/or encrypted,
each of which forecloses any practical way of knowing their content.
Unfortunately, in their current form, Articles 7 and 10 of this draft
treaty would create and codify new and significant exclusive rights over
transmission of information and over the operation of computer servers
that relay information on the Internet by making an automatic, ephemeral
copy of a communication while sending it toward its destination.

The exclusive rights created by these Articles could result in making
service providers liable without knowledge for every potentially
infringing communication on the Internet. Such potential liabilities
would force us to monitor third-party communications. Not only is this
technically and economically impractical, it would require us to violate
individual citizens' privacy rights. The result would be sharply
increased prices for Internet/online services, reduced privacy for users,
and reduced connectivity among "information have nots" in our society and
throughout the world.

We have negotiated with all stakeholders in an attempt to address
these concerns, while preserving all the important substantive features of
the draft treaty. Unfortunately, our attempts to seek a balanced
resolution have thus far been rejected by the Administration. _Unless
Articles 7 and 10 of the draft treaty address these critical concerns, we
will have no choice but to work to prevent its ratification by Congress._

Some members of your Administration understand that we are correct on
the merits of this debate. Others contend that the treaty would not
affect the issue of liability. It is important to understand, however,
that the proposed treaty would be self-executing in many countries.
Further, Articles 7 and 10 may be perceived as precluding protections from
liability for conduit providers and limitations on liability for service
providers who act in a timely fashion to "take down" material to protect
the rights of content owners.

We urge you to reconsider the Administration's current position
before the WIPO Convention makes a final determination on the issue.
Rational policy, simple fairness, and consistency with your
Administration's many positions on the importance of the Internet require
nothing less.

William L. Schrader
Chairman, President and CEO
PSINet, Inc.

Steve Case
Chairman and CEO
America Online, Inc.

Raymond W. Smith
Chairman and CEO
Bell Atlantic Corporation

John L. Clendenin
Chairman and CEO
BellSouth Corporation

Robert Massey
President and CEO
CompuServe Incorporated

Gerald H. Taylor
CEO
MCI Communications Corporation

James Q. Crowe
Chairman and CEO
MFS Communications Company, Inc.

David W. Garrison
President, CEO and Chairman
Netcom On-Line Communication Services, Inc.

Ivan Seidenberg
Chairman and CEO
NYNEX

Paul W. DeLacey
President and CEO
Prodigy, Inc.

John Sidgmore
President and CEO
UUNet Technologies, Inc.

cc: Vice President Albert Gore, Jr.
Secretary Mickey Kantor
Ira Magaziner
Greg Simon
Dan Tarullo

----- End Included Message -----
__________________________________________________________________________
"Political rights do not originate in parliaments; they are rather forced
upon them from without. And even their enactment into law has for a long
time been no guarantee of thier security. They do not exist because they
have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have
become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them
will meet with the violent resistance of the populace."

--Rudolf Rocker
__________________________________________________________________________
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