FAIR USE IN THE DIGITAL ERA
Carlos M. Correa
Director, Programme on Science and Technology Policy and Management
Specialist in Intellectual Property Rights, University of Buenos Aires
Different proposals have been made to restrict the “fair use” exception in a digital context. Digitization provides tools to detect private digital copying of a protected work and to limit it. This may allow title-holders to prevent practices that have been important for educational and scholarly purposes. Given the power conferred by the technology, “fair use” exceptions established by the law may become inapplicable and substantially affect access to information, particularly in developing countries. The protection of databases, as established or proposed in some jurisdictions, may aggravate this problem. The development of new principles for the application in this context of “fair use” needs to be considered, including possible approaches to deal, under special rules, with the case of developing countries.
The digitization of information and the development of computer networks, such as Internet, are posing a new and far reaching challenge to copyright. The way in which it is finally resolved may have important implications for the access to and the use of information worldwide.
The main technological change behind this "new revolution" (G-7 Ministerial Conference, 1995), are improvements in data storage, manipulation and transmission of data. With digitization, all kinds of data and copyright works may be recorded and compressed in the same, binary, format. While this allows to reproduce copies without any degradation (every copy is perfect), developments in software permit to manipulate data, images, voice, make "sampling" and otherwise alter works by interactive techniques (Pearson, 1996).
The power of digital technology has transformed the way creators work and how authors and publishers deliver copyright works. It has...