Culture

01.12.1995

Kim H. Veltman

New Media and Copyright from an International Viewpoint

Protecting and Exploiting Copyright in Multimedia, New Problems...New Solutions, Toronto: The Canadian Institute, 1995, section II, pp. 1-10.

1. Introduction
2. Economics
3. Visions of Control by Intermediaries
4. Steps of Content Producers
5. Security
6. New Scanning Methods and Recording Devices
7. Content vs. Interpretation
8. Cultural Heritage
9. Systematic Access
10. Sanctity of the Original
11. Conclusions.

1. Introduction

Copyright conventions vary enormously. When printing was invented in Korea in the early eighth century there was no copyright. By the eleventh century printing was used in China but its role was limited to printing a standard copy of laws for each of the provinces. Printing was a means of control, not an intrument for dissemination of knowledge.1 It could be argued that not much has changed. In March of 1995, China announced the publication of a CD-ROM version of the People's Daily on 92 discs for $27,900.2 It is noteworthy that China operates without its own copyright rules and ignores the three chief international copyright conventions: the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Paris 1971) and the Rome Convention (1951). As a result China is not a very rich publisher and even on the Internet China remains very closed. There are, for instance, no Chinese libraries accessible on the world wide web.

By contrast, in Germany, the home of western publishing, there has from the outset been a commitment to disseminating knowledge through printing, rather than simply using the medium as an instrument of power. Perhaps not co-incidentally there are elaborate arrangements with libraries such that authors, in addition to the usual royalties accruing from books sold, are potentially reimbursed annually on the basis of the number of readers. Some of these monies are collected in a central fund, the equivalent of an author's union (Verwertungs Gesellschaft Wort) and used to provide generous subsidies for major books which would otherwise prove too expensive to be economically viable. As a result Germany has one of the richest publishing traditions.


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