The Pre-Internet Downloading Controversy: The Evolution of Use Rights for Digital Intellectual and Cultural Works
The Information Society 27: 69-91 (2011)
38 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2014 Last revised: 20 Sep 2014
Date Written: August 18, 2014
This article describes and explains the shift in the database industry's treatment of downloading. Downloading began as an unwanted by-product of new technology and became a product feature. The authors explain this shift in terms of shifts in "use-regimes," or changes to market practices, legal rules, user expectations, and technology-based tools that shape the use of intellectual and cultural property. In the early 1980s, citation database users did not have the right to "download," or save, citations from bibliographic databases, but by the early 1990s, citation database publishers had partnered with bibliographic citation software developers (e.g., ProCite) to make easy downloading of citations a product feature. In this article, the authors tell both the lost story of the pre-Internet downloading controversy and how and why the meaning of downloading changed over a twenty-year period. In doing so, they present a theoretical framework that is useful for analyzing changes in use rights for a variety of types of intellectual and cultural goods. Finally, the authors compare lessons from this historical case study to contemporary use right debates in the intellectual and cultural property literature.
Keywords: downloading, intellectual property, citation databases, bibliographic databases
JEL Classification: K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation