Information on the line

An international copyright treaty could decide what information can and cannot be transmitted over the Internet. In a special report, NEWS.COM examines the issues and forces involved.

CNET News staff
The future of information is being debated in Geneva. Dozens of nations are assembled at the United Nations-sponsored negotiations to discuss three landmark treaties aimed at amending copyright conventions for the digital age. Under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization, the negotiations touch on everything from education and privacy to encryption technology and law enforcement. Of the three pacts on the table, one--under the deceptively boring title of "The Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Databases"--stands out as a harbinger for the Internet, effectively deciding what information can and cannot be transmitted in cyberspace. In this special report, NEWS.COM examines the issues and the forces behind them.

Crisis over copyrights
By Margie Wylie
In an increasingly wired world, proponents are hoping that the international database treaty's strict protections on information ownership will make the development of intellectual property commercially viable on the Net. Opponents, however, charge that it unfairly favors those interests that already own the bulk of information and could freeze the free flow of information across fledgling networks.
Policing the Internet
By Mike Yamamoto
ISPs protest a provision to make them liable for illicit material sent on their networks.
Safety in technology
By Courtney Macavinta
Software security companies want to make it illegal to break their codes.
Designing protection
By Rachel Powell Norton
Digital watermarking is quickly becoming a popular way to protect images.