We've all gotten a temporary--and likely short-lived--reprieve from front-page news stories about the lawsuit against Napster, the popular Internet music-sharing service. Events in that case so far illustrate the complexities of protecting and sharing copyrighted information in the digital age: Although a district judge ordered the site to shut down, an appeals court granted an emergency stay the next day, indicating that significant questions remain to be answered.

Whatever the eventual legal outcome, the issues at the heart of the case promise to be with us for some time. The case is just the latest example of the "digital dilemma" that new technologies pose for copyright and patent law. Digital information, computer networks, and the World Wide Web have radically changed the nature of information replication, distribution, and publication. As a result, law, business, technology, and human behavior are all intersecting at breakneck speeds. In this context, approaching problems solely...

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