Appendix 1-07 

A Brief History of the Internet 

Web site by Gifcom.

On March 8, 1995, Project Gutenberg completed its 250th offering
to the Internet Public Library, as many have come to call it.

A great number of changes have come to the Internet since we got
the Complete Works of Shakespeare out as out 100th publication--
some of them extraordinarily good, some of the of more moderated
goodness, and some on the other end of the spectrum

Probably the most exciting two recent events are the 20,000 year
old cave paintings discovered in France in January, released for
the news media in February, and posted as #249 on March 8th with
several versions of each painting having been collected, in both
.GIF and .JPG formats.

This is particularly exciting when you realize that the Dead Sea
Scrolls were discovered in 1947 and that no one outside a select
few ever even saw them or pictures of them until just a few were
smuggled out on Macintosh disks a couple years ago; four decades
went by without the public getting any view of them.

The French Ministry of Culture has been very swift in getting an
extraordinary event such as this covered by the general media on
a worldwide basis only one month after their discovery, and also
has taken only a week or two to grant Project Gutenberg a permit
to post these wonderful paintings on the Internet.

On the other hand, the future of the Internet Public Library may
be in serious danger if we do not insure that information may be
continually forthcoming to the public.  As many of you know, the
Project Gutenberg Etexts are 90% from the Public Domain with 10%
reproduced by permission.  However, there is a movement to cease
the introduction of materials into the Public Domain in Congress
[of the United States] which would effectively stop the entry of
this kind of information into general Internet circulation.  200
years ago the US copyright was established at 14 years according
to the speeches of Senator Orrin Hatch, sponsoring one bill, and
then extended another 14, then another 28, then extended to life
of the author plus another 50 years after, and 75 years for that
kind of copyright which is created by a corporation.

This means that if you took your 5 year old kid to see "The Lion
King" when it came out, the kid would have to be 80 years old to
have lived long enough to have a copy that was not licensed by a
commercial venture.  The fact that the average person will never
reach the age of 80 effectively creates a permanent copyright to
deny public access during the expected lifetimes of any of us.

However, this is not enough. . .the new bill is designed to kill
off ANY chance that even 1% of the youngest of us will ever have
our own rights to an unlicensed copy of any material produced in
our lifetimes because if these bills are passed, our young kid a
paragraph above will have to reach the age of 100 to have rights
to the materials published today, while the rights of inventors,
protected by patent law, will still expire in 17 years.

Why is it more important that we all can buy Public Domain legal
copies of the latest supersonic toaster less than two decades of
production after the original, but it is not as important for us
to be well read, well informed and well educated?

A Book by Michael Hart