There are many types of arguments that can be made against copyright on the Internet. One of the most extreme would be to get rid of all copyright laws as they regard to the Internet. However this view is much to extreme in light of what the ramifications of such an act would be. Commercial institution would have no part of this. Even individuals who were inclined to share their work would be hesitant because of the lack of control they would have regarding their works. One alternative to copyright is the idea of Xanadu proposed by Ted Nelson. Another similar concept is the idea of Transcopyright.
Xanadu is a concept first proposed by Nelson and is the culmination of his work since the 1960's. According to the Xanadu Project web page the basic objectives of Xanadu are as follows:
- High-power hypertext (much richer structures than "pages")
- Any number of overlapping, publishable two-way links made by any number of people
- EVERYTHING ANNOTATABLE (special case of the above)
- VERSION MANAGEMENT, with surviving portions viewable side by side
- RIGHTS MANAGEMENT by:
- Generalized permission for on-line re-use (now called transcopyright)
- Payment by each user for any downloaded quotation
- All quotations back-traceable to their original contexts
- EVERYTHING FREELY REPUBLISHABLE (Nelson).
This is to be achieved using a system that is widely different from HTML in several ways. First every media (web page, picture, sound file, or other file online) gets a permanent address. All links would then reference the original no matter where they are used. In addition to this complete referencing there would be two types of connections used. One is called a link. This is similar to HTML. A link connects two media which are different. A transclusion is a second type of connection. A transclusion is different from a link in that it connects to things which are the same(Nelson).
This type of system is highly intriguing and would provide a way of giving credit to those to whom credit is due. It would also stimulate the intellect of the researcher or creator of new ideas creating an explosion of new information(Nelson).
The idea of Xanadu is a utopian idea that would be great if it could be implemented but the way that congress is acting it could get harder to implement. If a new system could be created separately from the current version of the Internet using Xanadu that would be very beneficial.
Another idea that is included in Xanadu is that of Transcopyright. This would be a great tool with or without the whole of Xanadu. It allows anyone to freely use any picture or text as long as it is transclusioned "linked" to the original. This right is extended as long as the original is available at the source. If the original is removed the copy should also be removed (Nelson*).
The idea of Xanadu and transcopyright seem like great solutions to any problems seen in current copyright laws with their restrictiveness. These systems seem contingent on the honesty of the user and producer of information to link to the original. This may seem like a difficult task however with so many violations of copyright today what do we have to lose?
Even without creating a whole new system the idea of transcopyright could allow individual in both academic and other fields free share information. It is understandable that big industries: music, movies, and computer software companies would not want any slack in the copyright noose. However many people in these industries are making their works available to the public free via the Internet. It is important to take steps like transcopyright to help create an explosion of knowledge that is both qualitative and quantitative.Main Page