A Right to Read Anonymously: A Closer Look at Copyright Management In Cyberspace

A Right to Read Anonymously: A Closer Look at Copyright Management In Cyberspace

Cohen, Julie E., "A Right to Read Anonymously: A Closer Look at "Copyright Management" In Cyberspace" . 28 Conn. L. Rev 981 (1996)

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    It has become commonplace to say that we have entered the age of information. The words conjure up images of a reader's paradise ~ an era of limitless access to information resources and unlimited interpersonal communication. In truth, however, the new information age is turning out to be as much an age of information about readers as an age of information for readers. The same technologies that have made vast amounts of information accessible in digital form are enabling information providers to amass an unprecedented wealth of data about who their customers are and what they like to read. In the new age of digitally transmitted information, the simple, formerly anonymous acts of reading, listening, and viewing ~ scanning an advertisement or a short news item, browsing through an online novel or a collection of video clips ~ can be made to speak volumes, including, quite possibly, information that the reader would prefer not to share. This Article focuses specifically on digital monitoring of individual reading habits for purposes of so-called "copyright management" in cyberspace, and evaluates the import of this monitoring for traditional notions of freedom of thought and expression.

Facts on copyright

  • Copyright subsists for a variety of lengths in different jurisdictions, with different categories of works and the length it subsists for also depends on whether a work is published or unpublished. In most of the world the default length of copyright for many works is either life of the author plus 50 years, or plus 70 years. Copyright in general always expires at the end of the year concerned, rather than on the exact date of the death of the author.
  • Copyright may subsist in a wide range of creative or artistic forms or "works". These include poems, plays, and other literary works, movies, choreographic works (dances, ballets, etc.), musical compositions, audio recordings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, software, radio and television broadcasts of live and other performances, and in some jurisdictions industrial designs.
  • Brief comparison with other forms of intellectual property In general, copyright law covers the creative or artistic expression of an idea, patent law covers inventions, trademark law covers distinctive signs which are used in relation to products or services as indicators of origin, registered designs law covers the look or appearance of a manufactured or functional article and the law of confidential information covers secret or sensitive knowledge or information.

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