Not long ago, the Internet’s ability to provide instant, inexpensive and perfect copies of text, sound and images was heralded with the phrase ”information wants to be free.” Yet the implications of this freedom have frightened some creators — particularly those in the recording, publishing and movie industries — who argue that the greater ease of copying and distribution increases the need for more stringent intellectual property laws. The movie and music industries have succeeded in lobbying lawmakers to allow them to tighten their grips on their creations by lengthening copyright terms. The law has also extended the scope of copyright protection, creating what critics have called a ”paracopyright,” which prohibits not only duplicating protected material but in some cases even gaining access to it in the first place. In addition to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the most significant piece of new legislation is the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, which added 20 years of protection to past and present copyrighted works and was upheld by the Supreme Court a year ago. In less than a decade, the much-ballyhooed liberating potential of the Internet seems to have given way to something of an intellectual land grab, presided over by legislators and lawyers for the media industries. [The Tyranny of Copyright?]
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