Controlling Technology: Political Narratives of Copyright
In 1976, the National Commission on New Technological Uses (CONTU) recommended that computer programs be included as "literary" works under the Copyright Act, making them subject to copyright law. With no legislative debate, Congress amended Section 102 of the Copyright Act to include computer programs as "literary" works. 1 Although the courts were left to determine the applicable degree of protection, the CONTU report set the stage for the absorption of new technology under copyright law. Much has happened since the CONTU report, including the development of the Internet. The Internet represents the most significant challenge to property rights in this century and the CONTU report provides an integral framework for understanding how this challenge will be confronted.
President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore made the construction of a National Information Infrastructure (NII) a priority for their administration during the 1990s. Among the important issues associated with the NII are privacy rights, who should regulate and own the NII, obscenity, and the applicability of the First Amendment. When Congress became obsessed with the issue of children's access to pornography via the Internet, public attention turned toward issues of censorship. 2 The debate over privacy rights, security, and encryption technology has been highly politicized and is of great concern to those interested in the future of the Internet. However, while public attention has been turned toward pornography and encryption technology, an equally important aspect of the NII has failed to garner much public interest. This debate concerned the recommendations of the working group on intellectual property presented in July 1994 and the subsequent treat-