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Foreword to the Original Edition

The development and use of new communications and information technology progresses rapidly. In a number of years one may expect a convergence of computer and telecommunications technology.

These developments emphasise the importance of the enforcement of intellectual property rights in general and of copyright in particular. Copyright ensures authors and producers the control over and participation in the proceeds of the commercial exploitation of their works. Yet how is it possible to provide effective protection for intellectual property and acquired rights if just a few mouse clicks are necessary in order to make perfect copies of works by using digital technology and to distribute them throughout the world? Authors, rights holders and politicians are called upon to respond to this situation. On the one hand, legislation must provide sufficient legal certainty to promote creative activities and investments in this field. On the other hand, a strengthening of copyright law in the digital context must not lead to the exclusion of users, e.g. of public libraries, from the enjoyment of works.

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation commissioned Dr. Thomas Dreier, senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Patent, Copyright and Competition Law, Munich, to analyse the effects of new technologies on copyright law and to pinpoint the areas in which the legislature is called upon to react.

The author views copyright law as an essential instrument of cultural and economic control in the digital environment, an instrument, however, which requires precise tuning in order to contend with the changing technological possibilities of exploiting protected works.

It is important to obtain clear guidelines not only at a national level; the participating circles are called upon to work towards achieving a global harmonisation of copyright law.

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The changes in society engendered by the advances in digital communication and information cannot be foreseen fully at this point in time.

The studies commissioned by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation are intended to provide impetus and contribute to the discussion among participants in and observants of these developments.

Dr. Jürgen Burckhardt
Executive Member of the Board of Directors,
Friedrich Ebert Foundation

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Juli 1999

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