Re: Developing Online Doc

Subject: Re: Developing Online Doc
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 23 Mar 1996 10:01:00 EST

At 12:26 AM 3/23/96 -0500, you wrote:
>Karla McMaster (mcmaster -at- cti-pet -dot- com) writes:

>> I also was wondering about putting the manuals on the Web. I've tossed
>> this idea out and been pooh-poohed, as several have commented that the
>> first to access them would be our competitors.

>Protect your proprietary documents behind a firewall. Assume your direct
>competitors already own a copy of anything you sell commercially.

>--Stacey Kahn
>stacey -dot- kahn -at- neteast -dot- com Copyright 1996
>Washington, DC all rights reserved

What were the details of the pooh-pooh, aside from competitors getting hold
of them?

I know there are issues that have arisen specific to the Web. One is
updating costs, which can be enormous, due to the need to constantly update
not only the content, but the technology. Another worry is the added step
that will usually have to be undertaken of moving what will presumably still
be print documentation into HTML or PDF format, requiring more time and money.

I, too, would worry even about a firewall. Hackers have shown enormous
resilience in penetrating even the best security. And it isn't always the
choicest protected information that's the motivation, but rather the depth
of the security. Paradoxically, many companies have been the targets of
feverish hacking efforts just because they set up the most advanced
security. Catch-22.

One issue I'll be following with particular interest is that of copyright.
Ostensibly, whatever you write and put on the Web is protected, but the
practical issues are enormous, and a case can be made that the Web culture,
being unprecedentedly international and unfettered, is legitimately
communistic. I expect there may come a day when a suit is brought against
somebody who's filched text from the net, put there on HTML for the world to
see, take and download, and the copyright holder will lose. There are ways
to lose copyright, even when you have a notice slapped on the page. If you
print a million copies of a novel and hand them all out for free on street
corners, it's problematical for you to then try to sell another million
copies and restrain anybody from reusing your original materials. I wouldn't
be surprised to see the courts rule eventually that whatever you put out
there on the Web is intended for the public use of our audience, and can be
rebroadcast without permission from anybody.

Tim Altom
Vice President
Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice)
317.899.5987 (fax)

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