Archives and Research

The Internet and Intellectual Property

AHA Staff, October 2004

In the Internet world, there is no clear definition of how a digital copy is "loaned" or "returned," so the legal standing of loaning news segments is in a gray area. Legal advice suggests that streaming video is performance and not covered under the current law. When the 1976 law was constructed, the drafters understood that technology would change and stated in the law that other media could be used to capture and store the news. Nevertheless, the drafters could not and did not foresee the emergence of the Internet and the legal issues it will raise with regard to the creation and distribution of intellectual property. The hope, however, is that as intellectual property rights legislation evolves, the original intent of Congress will be kept in mind: that the need to access the cultural history of society by individuals, scholars and researchers should in this instance override content owners’ interests, especially when those owners do not offer comparable access to previous newscasts; and, unlike the case of peer-to-peer file sharing and the music industry, the activities of the archive do not impinge on revenues of content owners.