Caching Servers and possible copyright violations
Tue, 23 Aug 1994 04:10:06 +0200

> From: "Steven D. Majewski" <>
> On Aug 22, 18:08, "Rob Raisch, The Internet Company" wrote:
> > The copyright issue is the more difficult one. In light of the previous
> > argument, you are archiving an original work. This is called "copying"
> > in copyright law and if it is done without permission, is against the law.
> The data is likely to get "copied" numerous times in transit from the
> provider to the client. ( And probably cached on the client - and what
> if my client provides cross-session global caching ? )
> The only technological fix is for the copyrighted data to be encrypted
> and viewable only by the authorized client/customer. ( i.e. cached and
> encrypted data is useless for another client with a different key.
> This could be an argument for (#1) above. Trying to overload too many
> functions onto Expires may make erroneous results ambiguous. )

Is this issue resolved in the law? Is possession of an
encrypted copy less of a violation of copyright law than
possession of unencrypted copy? Would these servers even want
to have a large amount of encrypted data that would be used
by a relatively small number of users? I think I have not
been following this list long enough, as it seemed to me that
the general www goal was to make the maximum amount of information
available to the maximum number of people. If that is the case
is use of the system to distribute materials meant to have a
limited circulation even wise? There will never be just ONE
information network, in any event.

> > (I'm ignoring any arguments that copyright law must be redesigned in light
> > of digital distribution. I don't think anyone would disagree with this.
> > However, I doubt that copyright is going away and in fact, I expect the
> > body of law will be strengthened not diluted.)

That will almost certainly be the case.

> I would take this, and the implication of legal culpability on the part
> of the server for copyright violation, as an argument for specifying
> "reasonable behaviour" or semantics more strongly: to distinguish that
> the server (and it's maintainer) can't be responsible for things that
> the client doesn't tell it! True - RFC's carry no legal weight in any
> courts I know of, but specification in an internet standard, plus a
> couple of expert witnesses to testify on what the "community" considers
> to be prudent behaviour might just make the difference in a court
> deciding on what exactly constitutes negligent behaviour.

It might; on the other hand, what difference does it make
if the illegal copy was made on a computer instead of a xerox
machine. If you have unlicensed software running on your machine
and the software police come and find it, can you get out of it
by saying you didn't know it was there? (I don't know the
answers to those questions, but these matters are not so different
and courts have been deciding them one way or another...)

> > I expect that most professional publishers will not serve content to any
> > site which caches unless they can enter into a business relationship with
> > that site. Unfortunately, this presents a very interesting N by N
> > problem, as publishers and caching servers proliferate.
> I don't think the WWW is "ready for prime time" commercial use yet -
> better authentication, security, encryption, etc. needs to be
> standardized, implemented and deployed ( i.e. in *common* use )
> first. But I think you are wrong in picking caching servers as the
> scapegoat that would prevent it. I think, rather, that they are going
> to be a useful and (practically) necessary piece of technology to
> bring the Web to the (commercial) masses.

+ Virginia Metze, not speaking for anyone but herself. + "Don't lock yourself +
+ + into open systems" +
+ "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in a rather + --Aaron Leonard +
+ scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to + Ever notice how soon +
+ mean,--neither more nor less.'" Alice in Wonderland + people who defend +
=======================================================+ UNIX resort to +
I'd rather be discussing horse racing/handicapping. + personal attacks?? +