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U.S. Copyright Office, Project Looking Forward - Sketching the Future of Copyright in a Network World (Final Report) (May 1998) (full-text).


This report looked at the Internet as it existed in 1998, as well as trying to project developments on the Internet over time, and looked at the impact that technology will have on copyright law. As noted by the author:

The Copyright Office asked me to look at the future evolution of the Internet and related digital technologies, and then to try to predict what new copyright issues that future will raise. This should help the Office to be informed and hence to be prepared to address tomorrow’s issues and controversies.

To accomplish that goal, one need not accurately predict a single "future." One can predict many futures, or many different aspects of "the future" and then suggest some, perhaps even differing, copyright consequences. To that end, I have not tried to sketch out a single vision of digital communications of tomorrow, but rather looked at various pieces of digital communications technology: different mechanisms, functions, user capabilities, and so on. Nor have I tried to ensure that all these various elements are consistent with each other and with a single evolutionary path; perhaps they are, perhaps they are not. My assumption is that it will help the Copyright Office to know what it can about the possible copyright issues of tomorrow, not what the world of tomorrow will look like in general.