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A Little Intellect Is a Debatable Thing

July 15, 1996

Intellectual property rights are at the heart of products ranging from motion pictures to computer software. And as the economy becomes more global--and the Internet makes it easy to move words and data over national borders--the need for international rules on intellectual property grows.

The debate over what those rules should be will be examined at the Intellectual Property Conference of the Americas, sponsored by the U.S. Commerce Department's Patent and Trademark Office and running today through Wednesday at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel.

Among the thorny issues on the table is whether online service companies such as America Online and CompuServe should be held responsible for the actions of their subscribers. Hollywood studios and U.S. software developers think so, but Internet user groups and librarians worry that such strict rules would curtail their ability to learn and freely communicate in cyberspace--and new copyright legislation before Congress supports their position.

Decency Discussion: Representatives from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Interactive Services Assn. and the Museum of Tolerance will meet for a panel discussion on the Communications Decency Act of 1996 on Thursday at New Media Hollywood. For more information, call (310) 313-5664.

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