Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

July 20, 1998

Report on Future of Copyright in a Networked World

The Copyright Office today released a report titled "Project Looking Forward- Sketching the Future of Copyright in a Networked World." The report, commissioned from Professor I. Trotter Hardy, is part of a continuing effort by the Copyright Office to examine the future of the Internet and related digital communications technologies, and to identify the legal and policy issues that might arise as a result.

The Internet and other digital technologies raise new issues for copyright law because they permit new ways of creating, using, and duplicating works of authorship. The report describes three "patterns" that arise as copyright law confronts changing technology: new subject matter, new uses, and decentralized infringement. The report finds that decentralized infringement - where copies can be made cheaply and distributed widely by individuals, as is possible on the Internet - presents the most significant challenge today for copyright law's accommodation of new technologies. In spite of these challenges, the report concludes that copyright law has had a long history of adapting to technological advances, and that the possibilities of digital exploitation will not render copyright law obsolete.

The report presents a thorough explanation of the Internet as it works today, and describes how it will likely evolve. It then examines the legal issues raised by some of the features of digital technologies, such as Web posting, caching, and RAM copying. Besides these issues, which are widely recognized and discussed today, the report also addresses less commonly discussed issues. The report describes as "tomorrow's issues" such topics as non- public posting, protection of factual information on Web sites, Internet broadcasting, computer-generated works, and metered use of information.

I. Trotter Hardy is a Professor of Law at the College of William and Mary School of Law. He specializes in intellectual property law as it relates to copyright, computers and other technologies, and has written numerous articles on these issues.

The report is available on the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at under the heading "What's New." After mid-August, copies of the report also will be available for purchase for $23 through the Government Printing Office at (202) 512-1800. Please refer to stock number 030-002-00191-8.

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PR 98-111
ISSN 0731-3527

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