Cybercopyright, take II

Subject: Cybercopyright, take II
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 1997 11:38:16 -0600

Sabahat Ashraf responded to my quote re. copyright of
e-mail text: <<I believe the legalese usually sounds like
"fixed in a tangible medium" -- and just as cassette tape
is good enough for songs being intellectual property,
floppy and hard disk [which are made of the same material]
are good enough for software -- and words.>>

That's exactly the words I was seeking. In theory, I agree
with you 100%. In practice, unless you can somehow
demonstrate that the message text is in fact stored
somewhere for more than a few weeks, or is likely to be so
stored for that long, you're still on shaky legal ground.
My point remains: you're relying on a judge to draw a
logical conclusion (i.e., to agree with _us_ <grin>), and
that's not a safe bet. It's going to depend on how good
your lawyer is. And broad precedents still don't exist.

I stated that "there are no clear legal precedents", and
Sabahat responded <<I would be careful with that blanket
statement. There is an increasing body of legal precedents.
For example, CNN tells me Time or someone is suing a news
site that "re-packages" their "content" by presenting it in
frames.>>

I'd agree I probably should have said "very few" instead of
"none". But the point remains: what _is_ the jurisprudence?
Time hasn't won its suit yet, have they? The law professors
(Alan Levine et al.) who are running a neat little mailing
list on this subject ("cyberspace law for non-lawyers")
believe that broad precedents do not exist. Yes, there have
been a few court cases, but as yet there is no standard.
The specific problem with jurisprudence is that it's an
oxymoron: if you look hard enough, you can find a legal
decision to support darn near any conclusion you like. The
best lawyers seem to be those with the best research
staffs, not the ones with the truth on their side.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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