Copyright, a Hard Nut on the Internet

Dissertation from Graz

From: "Kleine Online"
Wednesday, January 20, 1999

A special open point on the commercial internet is the question of copyright law. Who has access to which pages under which (financial) conditions?

Bernhard Tonninger, an attorney from Graz, has compiled material (including that of the dbv-Verlag of the Technical University of Graz) to address a dissertation on "Copyright and copyright law on the internet." "The copyright law is not yet suited for the internet," says Tonninger, who could study the problem first hand on sabbatical in the USA. The States are far ahead of the rest of the world in being the largest producer of copyright laws.

On the net, the desire of the surfers for free material clashes with the desire of the publishers to make money.

Tonninger sees several trends. For instance, there is the danger that data banks "will be protected to infinity." In this regard, he mentions US laws which are meant to protect Disney products. Because of rapid development, closing clauses for 50 or 70 years "will no longer be observed."

On the other hand, the publishers must be protected. Publications on the net can become completely worthless "within days." Tonninger suggests that internet providers establish a sort of liability pool for copyright offenses.

Bizarre forms of copyright protection also arise. For instance, the Scientology Church fights criticism with this clause - one prohibits the use of original quotes as copyright violations.

The book combines, in detail, the current situations worldwide and in Austria. It gives numerous case studies and attempts to point out solutions.

Norbert Swoboda