Who Owns Information?: From Privacy to Public Access / Edition 1

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Drawing on eleven case studies, a communications lawyer addresses the issue of who owns information, explaining the ramifications of the ownership of medical records, telephone numbers, personal names, culture, computer software, and more.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Legal battles pitting individuals seeking privacy against information-based businesses have erupted over unwanted direct-mail solicitations, intrusive telemarketing phone calls and personal medical reports. Harvard-based policy analyst and lawyer Branscomb tackles these and other issues in a valuable, succinct guide to struggles over information assets in our electronic world. In nine case studies, she delves into fuzzy legal areas such as the new realm of electronic messages (e-mail, online information networks), protection of computer software, privacy issues engendered by the advent of Caller ID phone services and the clash between backyard satellite dish owners and cable TV programmers who scramble their images. Chapters also cover the rights to videocassettes and photographs, the federal government's computerized databases and scholars' struggle to gain access to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Demonstrating the glaring inadequacy of current laws to protect information assets and to safeguard individuals' rights, Branscomb urges readers to voice their concerns to their elected representatives so that more comprehensive and humane laws can be passed. (June)
Library Journal
What could be, to put it mildly, an extremely dry and confusing topic-the rights of persons both to access information and to maintain private ownership of it at the same time-has instead become the basis of an engrossing volume. Communications lawyer Branscomb focuses on several questions of information access, showing how personal rights conflict with those of society and what remedies should be available. She confronts problems that everyone can identify with in such areas as direct mail and telephone marketing, credit reports, and medical and personal records. The author then moves on to computer software and, in the most fascinating and thought-provoking chapter, religious information (who really owns the Dead Sea Scrolls? Can they be copyrighted?). Extremely well researched with an abundance of citations to statutes and major cases, yet immensely absorbing and written for lay readers, this is highly recommended for all collections.-Sally G. Waters, Stetson Law Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
WomanSource Catalog & Review: Tools for Connecting the Community for Women
Having evolved at a time when print was the main vehicle for storing and exchanging information, the current legal structure no longer effectively meets the needs created by new technology. Problems have already surfaced regarding intellectual property and copyright laws, as in the case of consumers copying software or videos. Privacy, too, is seriously threatened. Even in the normal course of transacting business, information about you is electronically stored, packaged and sold to other companies. Anne Wells Branscomb, a communications and a computer lawyer, poses intriguing and disturbing questions on these issues, such as who should own your medical records (you don't), how should copyright issues for computer software be handled (the current laws certainly haven't been effective) and who should access to TV and cable signals (anyone with a satallite dish can pull down broadcasts)? The challenge to us lies in protecting our right to privacy and in balancing the rights of both the creators of information and of individual citizen's access to it. This book is a revealing look at what living in the "information age" really means. We all need to understand it.
—Ilene Rosoff
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465091447
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/1995
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Lexile: 1710L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Wells Branscomb a communications and computer lawyer, is a legal scholar-in-residence at Harvard University’s Program on Information Resources Policy. A frequent contributor to both popular and professional journals on the relationship of information technology to the law, she is the editor of Toward a Law of Global Communications Networks.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Control of the Legal Infostructure 1
1 Who Owns Your Name and Address? 9
2 Who Owns Your Telephone Number? 30
3 Who Owns Your Medical History? 54
4 Who Owns Your Image? 73
5 Who Owns Your Electronic Messages? 92
6 Who Owns Video Entertainment? 106
7 Who Owns Religious Information? 119
8 Who Owns Computer Software? 138
9 Who Owns Government Information? 159
10 Conclusion: Information as an Asset: From Personal Autonomy to Public Access 174
Notes 187
Index 231
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