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Wednesday, March 17, 1999 Published at 19:28 GMT


Sci/Tech

Opposition grows to web caching ban

Anti-piracy measures will slow down the Net say campaigners

By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall

The music business is joining with the Internet industry in campaigning against a European copyright directive which both say is flawed.


Mirror Image's Martin Alsen on a caching ban
The two had been on opposite sides last month when they lobbied the European Parliament before its vote approving an updating of the directive to deal with a digital revolution.

The Internet industry came off worst with clause 5.1, effectively banning caching - the temporary storage of data on servers which helps to speed up the Net.

Strasbourg going 'too far'

British Music Rights, which has been leading the campaign in the UK for copyright protection on the Internet for musicians, composers and their publishers, says Strasbourg has gone too far in banning caching.

"In our view, caching should be seen as merely as part of a process, ie as a means to an end," it said.

"Therefore, it is the licensing of the process that is the issue, not caching itself. If the process from A to B is properly licensed, there is no debate to be had about whether caching infringes copyright."

Ban the ban

BMR is supporting a Ban the Ban campaign launched last week by the Silicon.com IT news Website, with the backing of the music and IT industries and politicians.

Ban the Ban had targeted the European Commissioner responsible for copyright, Mario Monti, for a lobbying campaign.

But it was dealt a blow with his resignation this week along with other commissioners, as a result of a report saying they had lost control of the activities of their staff.

The parliament's draft copyright directive bans the caching of copyrighted materials, where royalties have not been paid.

Mr Monti was expected to submit his redraft to thee EU Council of Ministers in June, but this now seems unlikely.

Mirror Image reflections on caching

Other industry leaders feel a ban on caching will never be imposed. Martin Alsen, marketing vice president at Mirror Image, says he is pretty confident that a "totally clueless" decision will be overturned.

"It will not be ratified by the national parliaments, I am pretty sure of that," he said.

"The issue here is whether you want the Internet to work or not, and protect copyright holders' rights, or want to take it further and make problems for them in distributing their content."

Mirror Image provides central caching services that accelerate access to information over the Net from twice to ten-times normal speeds. It currently has central caching in Frankfurt, London, Washington and St Louis and plans another 30 centres worldwide in the next 18 months.





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