Digital Rights Defended
Strong measures such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which help safeguard creative property rights in cyberspace, are absolutely essential to the future of electronic publishing and indeed to all electronic commerce, former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder told an international gathering in Geneva recently.
Speaking at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Second International Conference on Electronic Commerce and Intellectual Property, Schroeder, who is President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), derided "an Internet culture which opposes the idea of ownership," explaining, "People are having sobering second thoughts about the e-economy, rethinking the Internet, and acknowledging that an effective way to protect intellectual property is needed before the Internet will reach its potential." The AAP is itself a national trade association for the U.S. book publishing industry, claiming approximately 300 members, including most major commercial book publishers, as well as smaller and non-profit publishers, university presses and scholarly societies. The protection of intellectual property rights in all media, the defense of free expression, and the promotion of reading and literacy, especially among the young, are among the Association's primary concerns.
Honoring AAP's stance, Schroeder pointed out that the publishing industry supports the DMCA because hacking through encryption of copyrighted works to use without consent is "analogous to making keys to a bookstore or library and selling them to others so that they can go in after hours and help themselves."
She also explained that in its early stages amid the dot-com boom, "Many technology companies opposed the DMCA, calling it a 'publishers' model that would destroy the 'open model' of the Internet. That meant our insistence that intellectual property owners be protected from piracy made us the enemies of 'openness.' The technology companies' definition of 'open' was 'free.' Our opponents started advocating that everything on the Internet should be free. The popularity of Napster shows that people like to get things free and will take whatever they can access. They don't feel like pirates if they take it in their own home."