At its Wednesday meeting, the Securities and Exchange Commission voted to allow companies to deliver mutual fund materials, corporate annual reports and proxy materials to investors or their brokers over the Internet, Dow Jones reports.

And once it reviews comments from firms, it might make Internet delivery a required option for large companies by 2008 and for small companies by 2009.

As far as the upcoming July 2007 proxy season is concerned, the new rule won’t apply to proxy deliveries until the following proxy season, since not all brokers and financial planners who hold shares on behalf of investors will be able to handle online deliveries by that time. To supply annual reports and proxies online, companies must notify shareholders of the website address 40 days before the company’s annual meeting.

But should an investor require paper documents, a fund company must be able to oblige them, said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. Investors should be able to make those requests through a toll-free telephone number, mail, e-mail or on the Web, the SEC said.

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