W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > ietf-http-wg-old@w3.org > January to April 1997

copyright issues for proxy caches and archival services

From: Fred Douglis <douglis@research.att.com>
Date: Tue, 04 Mar 1997 20:14:16 -0500
Message-Id: <199703050114.UAA24756@raptor.research.att.com>
To: http-wg@cuckoo.hpl.hp.com
X-Mailing-List: <http-wg@cuckoo.hpl.hp.com> archive/latest/2595
I understand the issue of copyright and caching has come up on this list in 
the past, before I subscribed.  I don't want to open a can of worms, but I'd 
like to get a sense of how people think this will go.  

I'm interested in two respects: one that's probably been debated, and is being
debated, and another more obscure case.  The obvious debate is whether proxy
caches (and browsers, for that matter) violate copyright by caching documents.
See for instance http://www.ipmag.com/schlacht.html for a discussion of this,
and a compelling case for why it's not a trivial issue. I don't believe an ISP
or other organization has been sued for copyright infringement for running a
cache, but if there's a case of this I'd like to hear about it.  And of course
the question is whether people will be more tempted if they think they can go
after a bigger organization (like mine).

I understand that folks on this list have discussed using headers to state 
explicitly that something can or can't be cached.  Of course some headers do 
this already in one way or another, but a big question is what the default 
should be.

Then there's another aspect of copyright, which in some sense is a more obvious
question of copyright infringement, but which is equally amenable to a
technological solution.  I have a system called AIDE that tracks changes to
pages and marks up the differences.  It's extremely useful (IMHO :) on an
intranet, or for a content-provider to make its own changes visible, but is 
clearly not appropriate for arbitrary pages on the Internet because it both 
archives pages and highlights changes to them.

I'm not the only one interested in archival (c.f. the Internet Archive), 
though I am the only one to my knowledge with an interest in applying our 
HtmlDiff program to others' pages.

I would be very interested in having some standard for controlling caching, 
archival, and markup, with respect to copyright.  This makes sense as optional 
HTTP headers, rather than (say) embedding them in the content -- though I 
suppose that would work too.  While such optional headers could be established 
de facto by coming into common use, defining them in the standard should lead 
to more widespread use as well as perhaps having a greater weight should 
issues actually arise (how does an optional header with no predefined meaning 
actually waive one's copyright and give permission to do anything?).

Comments are solicited.  I do hope this doesn't turn into a flame war; I 
certainly am not advocating strict copyright enforcement and I dearly hope 
that copyright law will catch up with the technology at least as far as 
caching goes.  But in the meantime, and with respect to the other copyright 
issues, I would like to push forward.


Fred Douglis 		    MIME accepted	  douglis@research.att.com
AT&T Labs - Research				     908 582-3633 (office)
600 Mountain Ave., Rm. 2B-105 			        908 582-3063 (fax)
Murray Hill, NJ 07974                http://www.research.att.com/~douglis/
Received on Tuesday, 4 March 1997 17:21:06 UTC

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