The Exclusive Right to Read

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The hottest of hot topics in the copyright community these days is the information superhighway, officially dubbed the National Information Infrastructure. Copyright specialists are attending conferences, writing articles and speeches, convening advisory councils, holding public hearings, and caucusing over the Internet about how the information superhighway will, indeed must, be paved with copyright asphalt. Some view the coming of the information superhighway as an opportunity to redesign intellectual property policy before stakeholders acquire vested interests; others see an occasion to consolidate the advantages they currently enjoy under the copyright law or to close copyright "loopholes" that they feel have inadvertently sprung up in their way. The federal government's Information Infrastructure Task Force has, with·much fanfare, issued a Draft Report containing its preliminary analysis of copyright issues affecting and affected by the Information Infrastructure; and its suggestions for copyright revision. The Draft Report recommends what it characterizes as minor clarifications of well-settled principles, and modest alterations to better secure copyright owners' control over works they produce. The minor changes it recommends, however, would amount to a radical recalibration of the intellectual property balance.