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Report on Copyrights Published

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Educational and library access to copyright materials published on the Internet and other electronic networks should be safeguarded, and even broadened somewhat, a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce concludes.

But the white paper also calls for a broad educational effort to teach students at an early age that unauthorized reproduction of electronic materials is stealing.

The report,"Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure," was released this month by the department's working group on intellectual-property rights.

It tackles the thorny issues of how to protect copyright holders who publish in a medium where perfect copies of lengthy documents can easily be made with a few keystrokes.

Officials of the Clinton administration, which has championed the growth of the information infrastructure, believe that unless meaningful copyright protection is extended to computer networks, innovation in the development of electronic media will suffer.

Looser Library Rules?

The report urges that educational use of electronic materials continue to be governed by the "fair use" doctrine that applies to traditional texts. Under the doctrine, students may, for example, use copyright material in their own work if they cite the full copyright information.

But it also recommends loosening restrictions on libraries, including those in schools, so that they may create up to three copies of a work in a digital form as long as only one copy is in use at a time. Such a change in copyright law would have to be approved by Congress.

The white paper also notes that the U.S. Department of Education is working with education associations, media organizations, copyright owners, and others to draft model curricula to inform students at all levels about the importance of honoring copyrights, particularly when using electronic media.

Single copies of the report may be ordered free of charge from Terri A. Southwick, Attorney Adviser, Office of Legislative and International Affairs, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Box 4, Washington, D.C. 20231.

The full text is also available on the Internet's World Wide Web at http://www.uspto.gov and on a Gopher server at gopher://iitf.doc.gov.

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