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It’s a safe bet that the words “Metallica” and “Charles Dickens” were never used in the same sentence before David Post came along. The Temple University law professor’s talk on solutions to the digital music copyright dilemma at the MP3 Summit in San Diego last Thursday might have been more sparsely attended than some other events at the conference. But the solution he proposed — that consumers need to decide for themselves that fair compensation for intellectual property is in their best interest — was one of the most compelling, clearly articulated arguments at the event. It’s easy to see why Post was invited to speak at the MP3 Summit. Besides being an impassioned speaker, his credentials are simultaneously impressive and quirky: He’s the co-founder and co-director of the Cyberspace Law Institute, ICANNWatch and Disputes.org, with a previous career as a physical anthropologist, during which he spent years studying the feeding behavior of yellow baboons in Kenya. In his current guise, he frequently comments about Internet law on programs such as TV’s “Lehrer News Hour” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” As if that weren’t enough, his bio proudly concludes that he “plays guitar, piano, banjo and harmonica in the band Bad Dog.” While we’ll leave the merits of his banjo-picking aside for now, Post makes a strong case for looking to the past when it comes to the future, at least as far as the intricacies of digital copyright are concerned. Take Charles Dickens, for example. In the United States in the mid-19th century, copyright laws of other countries did not apply and, consequently, work by English writers such as Dickens was freely reproduced, distributed and shared. Post’s view is that the author was as angry about copyright smuggling then as Metallica is today about pirated music in cyberspace. At the same time, the lack of international copyright laws was quashing competition in the U.S.: “American authors were finding it was hard to compete with Dickens here in the United States,” Post argued. “Who would pay a dollar for Melville when you could get Dickens for a nickel?” He said that ultimately Americans were persuaded that Dickens’ copyright should be respected in the U.S.; Congress passed the International Copyright Act in 1891, which for the first time, protected the rights of foreign works in the U.S. He says the same should eventually happen in the current debate on copyright in the physical world vs. cyberspace. “The moral of the story is that the inhabitants of cyberspace have to be persuaded that it’s in their interest to grant recognition to the foreign copyrights of Metallica.” He suggests a way to speed up the process: If people refuse to recognize physical-world copyrights on works in cyberspace, then works created for the Web should get the same treatment. For example, he says, if you make Napster’s software freely available to everyone — with or without the company’s consent — a call for reciprocal copyright protection of intellectual property might well follow. While that scenario sounds far-fetched, it’s clearly time to take a break from the bombast and come up with some workable solutions to the copyright conundrum. And Post has come up with a good jumping-off point. Related Articles from The Industry Standard: Kodak, FileNet Settle Lawsuit Deadlines Set in Napster Appeal FullAudio Signs EMI Copyright � 2001 The Industry Standard

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