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This article explores the potentially adverse impact that the emerging legal infrastructure could have on scientific, technical, and educational users of factual data and information-as well as on other sectors of the information economy-unless suitable adjustments are made. It begins by explaining how efforts to accommodate the networked environment to the publishers' fears of market failure will impose a daunting array of legal and contractual restraints on the ability of scientists and engineers to access factual data and information in the near future. It then goes on to examine the most recent efforts to devise a sui generis intellectual property right in noncopyrightable collections of data that would suitably balance public and private interests. It also emphasizes the need to reconcile legal protection of databases with fundamental constitutional mandates concerning free speech and the progress of science. The article concludes with a warning that overly protective initiatives could compromise the research-based institutions that currently ensure the technological predominance of U.S. industry in the global marketplace

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