Searching through old emails recently, I found this excerpt from an email I sent in November 1996, with the subject “Re: Proposed letter to be sent by JISC re WIPO Copyright”. I had been asked to comment on a draft of the proposed letter; I don’t know if it was indeed ever sent (or to whom, if it was).
“[…] given the ‘little knowledge’ aphorism, here goes.
On reading it through, I think [the] early part should make more of copyright as a balance between conflicting interests, and the point that in the end this balance provides more for all parties than if it is distorted in the interests of one or the other. So for example, if libraries do not exist then not only is a significant part of the market gone, but a significant means of finding out about and assessing publications which in future one might buy also goes. And of course, the access by the public and academia to the contents of copyright material is irreparably damaged. So, I’d like to see para 3 extended.
I don’t know if it is worth commenting that the worst of the extensions of the treaty are being driven by an american lobby which has already failed to get these amendments through congress and now seeks to impose them on the rest of the world, or that they are aimed at the disney model of edutainment and ignore completely the realities of scholarly communication with completely separate economics…”
Fifteen years later, they’re still at it!