Publishing information on a Web page seems like an invitation for everyone to look at it. But if international copyright lawyers have their way they could change the Net beyond recognition. The Berne Convention on copyright is due to be updated at a meeting next month to take account of technologies like the Net, and software publishers want to add clauses that will make it illegal to view a Web page unless you have permission from the page's creator. The agenda of the meeting can be found on the home page of the World Intellectual Property Organization at http://www.wipo.org/.
The Net is a perfect channel for canvassing opinion and gathering information, and the government is not the only organisation using it in that way. Survey Net endeavours to be strictly nonpartisan in its surveys. You can see if there's anything you fancy participating in at http://www. survey.net/. And for commercially sponsored surveys, the Greenfield Online Research Center runs dozens of them. You can join in on http:// www.greenfieldgroup.com/survey. htm. You have to fill in a few details to get started, but by way of reward this entitles you to an entry into a cash draw.
Experts looking for a way to break the deadlock between software publishers and freewheeling netizens believe the answer lies with electronic copyright management systems (ECMS). These programs can keep a log of who has looked at a page or downloaded a document and send them a bill. Even if the cost were a fraction of a penny per page, surfing would certainly be more expensive than it is now. One of the most serious attempts to produce a workable ECMS can be found at http://www.imprimatur.alcs.co.uk/.The site is ver well laid out and takes you gently through the problems it is trying to solve.