Re: System administrators to be help responsible for content [cr-95/11/07]


Henry Huang

On Nov 7, 13:50, Cyber Rights wrote:
> [This is the third of a series of articles discussing recommendations made in
> the report issued September 5, 1995 by President Clinton's Information
> Infrastructure Task Force. The report is entitled "Intellectual Property and
> the National Information Infrastructure (NII)," and is commonly referred to
> as the White Paper.]

> [...]

> One area where the White Paper's analysis rises to the level of
> "recommendation" relates to whether a sysop or online provider should be held
> liable for unknowingly facilitating the distribution of materials that
> infringe someone's copyright. This infringment occurs when users of the
> system upload and download material without permission from the copyright
> holder.
> Where such infringement is occurring, the online operator, theoretically,
> could be found liable for direct infringement, vicarious infringement, or
> contributory infringement. Or, the online operator could also be found not
> liable at all.

> [...]

> Although the Playboy case found the operator to be directly liable for the
> infringement, the type of liability, or whether there would even be
> liability, is currently an unsettled and unclear issue. However, the White
> Paper gives the impression that this issue is settled and that operators will
> be directly infringing when subscribers upload and download copyrighted
> material without their knowledge. The White Paper states affirmatively that
> "[a]ltering the standards of liability for infringement [for online
> operators] would be a significant departure from current copyright principles
> and law and would result in a substantial derogation of the right of
> copyright owners."

This is frightening, and it supports the notion that the Clinton
Administration is either neutral or gung ho for the Exon/Hyde/Christian
Right Net Censorship provisions.  In fact, if you replaced all mentions
of "copyright violations" in this article with "indecency", you'd see
the SAME logic that's being used to justify the CDA.

In fact, one could argue that if Clinton really buys into the logic in
this White Paper, then he MUST support the CDA and similar proposals by
default -- because if he doesn't, he contradicts his stated logic.
Granted, he didn't write the paper ... but his Administration did, so
that's a mighty thin excuse.

> By assuming this position,
> the Administration has been viewed as seeking to influence the following
> currently pending cases to adopt this position.  

> [...]

> In third case (Religious Technology Center
> v. NETCOM), the Church of Scientology is suing a BBS operator and an Internet
> access provide for allowing the unauthorized uploading of copyrighted
> materials.

This is really frightening as well.  Somebody needs to hit Clinton with
a 2x4 and point out exactly WHAT sort of interests he's supporting.
The CoS may well have a case that the guy who *uploaded* violated copyright,
but they also have a vile habit of using copyright threats to intimidate,
threaten, and silence their critics (among other things).

It would really disgust me if those are the kind of interests the
Administration wishes to protect.


P.S. Here's a new way to convince your friends that the CDA is a really
     stupid idea.

     Ask your friends if they support fining people $100,000 and jailing
     them for 2 years if some high school kid walking by on the street
     happens to hear you say a dirty word.  Then ask them if they favor
     doing the same thing if some high schooler happens to stumble on
     a posting with identical language.

     If people won't stand for that kind of silliness in the real world,
     then why would they stand for it in the virtual one?