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Internet Society Pressures Europe

March 08, 1999|KAREN KAPLAN

The Internet Society is urging the European Parliament to modify a proposed directive aimed at protecting copyrights that could make Web caching illegal.

Internet service providers make caches, or copies, of popular Web sites and store them close to end users to reduce overall traffic on the Internet. Otherwise, the route to a popular site can clog up, resulting in slower transmission speeds and hogging the resources of the network.

But those cached pages appear to violate the broadly worded copyright directive currently under consideration by the European Parliament, said Marty Burack, executive director of the Internet Society, a Reston, Va.-based group that represents Internet users.

The ban would directly apply to ISPs that serve European customers, but its effects are likely to ripple around the world and slow traffic throughout the computer network, Burack said.

"The Internet does not need laws that slow its performance, clog its arteries and reduce value received," said Don Heath, the Internet Society's president and chief executive.

Besides, the group said, the copyright rules need not apply to information on the Web because the hypertext transfer protocol--the set of rules governing the language of the Web--already allows copyright owners to place restrictions on caches of their work.

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