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Authors

Stephen Fraser

Abstract

This article discusses intellectual property rights on the Global Information Infrastructure (GII) as affected by the evolution of the Internet. It outlines the battle between the advocates of total copyright protection and the advocates of minimal copyright protection. The article examines all of the proposed national and international laws affecting copyright protection on the GII, beginning with the minimal protections outlined in the Berne Convention and the problems involved in its enforcement and continuing with its successors, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)/World Trade Organization (WTO). The article reviews the history of international copyright protection and the different interpretation of copyright and neighboring rights held by different countries, namely, the United States, Canada and the European Community. It examines the most recent treaties promulgated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) concerning the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works ("Protocol"), the Protection of the Rights of Performers and Producers of Phonograms ("Neighboring Rights Instrument") and Intellectual Property in Respect of Databases ("Database Instrument") and analyzes how these treaties and other international legislation could prohibit browsing on the Internet and adversely affect all of the users of the Global Information Infrastructure. The article compares the ideas espoused in the United States' White Paper and the European Commission's Green Paper including differing ideas about the forum of enforcement of copyright laws, privacy, reproduction rights, private versus public use and moral rights. It also discusses the possible liability on Internet Service Providers and the dangerous negative influence which international regulation based on current copyright ideas will have on the Internet. The article describes the inherent differences between the Internet and other forms of communication and concludes that the uniqueness of Internet publishing as compared to conventional publishing may be a sufficient reason to force the world to abandon old ideas regarding the protection of copyrights on the Global Information Infrastructure and begin anew.