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Re: annotation review

From: Ron Zohar-Zalman <ronron@techunix.technion.ac.il>
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 10:55:31 +0200
Message-ID: <36F36283.8055E0C4@tx.technion.ac.il>
To: "Rolf H. Nelson" <rnelson@w3.org>
CC: ronron@techunix.technion.ac.il, www-annotation@w3.org

"Rolf H. Nelson" wrote:

> >>>>> "Ron" == Ron Zalman <ronron@techunix.technion.ac.il> writes:
>     > Hi, I've just put the first draft of my paper "Web Annotation -
>     > An Overview" online.  Please refer to:
>     > http://www-ee.technion.ac.il/~ronz/annotation/
> >From section 3.2.1.:
>    Publicity costs lots of money and annotation of commercials is very
>    cheap, and may cause sever implications. Annotations are likely to
>    get a lot of people with a lot of money really annoyed. This means
>    that generally, not too many people who have the funds to support
>    the global annotation system have great interest in it. Moreover,
>    third-party web annotation may become the issue of many copyright
>    lawsuits. It is unclear who wins these trials, but the
>    inevitability of these is surely a deterrent.  It may be
>    appropriate to head this controversy off by providing a way for
>    companies to put up a `No Annotations Here' marker on their web
>    site. This could be similar to the robots.txt file that is already
>    used to limit the activities of web spiders. The down side of have
>    a 'no annotations' marker is that there are some sites out there
>    that really should be annotated [Gr99].  On the other hand, the
>    control of a global annotation system gives lots of power to the
>    firm who owns it. Negative publicity can be filtered out, and a lot
>    of other publicity may be put in. This means that having a web
>    annotation system on commercial hands may be worse than not having
>    one at all.
> You make two points: that annotating pages could be perceived as a
> copyright violation, and that the controller of a global annotations
> system could filter out negative publicity.  Do you believe these
> points apply to all annotation systems, or only to "in place
> annotations" where the actual content of the original document is
> modified?
> I would argue that "off place annotations" like alexa uses, where it
> is clear what the original document says and what the annotation adds
> as editorial, do not have this problem.  Adding commentary that is
> obviously delimited from the main text would probably not be a
> copyright violation, in my non-expert opinion.  Otherwise many many
> companies would currently be fighting massive lawsuits.

I'm not as sure as you are regarding the lawsuits.
Big companies have lawyers on their pay-roll, which means
it is almost impossible to believe that they don't sue...
I agree that the problem is more sever with in-place annotations, in the
sense that a new 'virtual document' is created based on a copyrighted
doc.  However, off place annotations still have the problem that they use
a copyrighted document as an anchor. I'm also not a lawyer, but it seems
to me that legal arguments can be made on both parties, especially since
not all slander annotations can be filtered out, and since most of them
will be impossible to track. This means that the annotation service will
probably be sued on negligence, and for supporting slander.

> Furthermore, I would prefer a world with a single tightly controlled
> "off place" annotation system to a world with no annotation systems
> whatsoever.  (Of course, I would prefer a world with many competing
> distributed annotaton systems to either choice.)

I feel the same.

> Rolf
> p.s. Great paper!

Thanks !

Ron Zohar-Zalman
Received on Saturday, 20 March 1999 03:47:15 UTC

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