Web caching liability

At the WIPO meeting in December 1996, the consensus was that mirroring
ran afoul of copyright and license issues, and that caching did not.
Caching was deemed an automated (no human intervention required) response
to demanded traffic, and mirroring was considered a proactive human act.

I believe that there was a formal recommendation to this effect. Should
the constituent bodies of WIPO agree with this notion, we could see civil
law supporting it as early as 2007 (in the United States anyway). On the
other hand if someone invokes the WIPO recommendation in defense of a civil
suit (brought by a content provider who was losing advertising revenue) and
wins, then the effect of the WIPO recommendation would make it into the law
books even sooner.

Note that RFC 2227 does more to resolve this issue than the WIPO
recommendation does, since once it has been widely implemented, the content
people are largely just going to put a restricted rights legend on their
text to the effect that all copies must be unmodified, especially including
the ad anchors, and that RFC 2227 must be implemented on all servers who
hold such identical copies. The content people know that they will benefit
hugely from caching and mirroring and anything else that offloads their web
servers and primary links without requiring expensive mirrors and Cache
Directors and whatnot. But at the moment the ad revenue they lose is worth
more to them than the cost of doing their own mirroring.

Another interesting question than the intellectual property issue, is the
question of what a NSP/ISP might do with the statistics on proxy traffic --
the numbers on hits, bytes, etc -- and the usage profiles of individuals
using the proxy.

I think it is only a matter of time and opportunity before some ISPs would
begin to exploit revenue opportunities associated with this new gatekeeping
role, should it develop.