ARCHIVED: Seek Co-Sponsors for Digital Copyright Bills

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[THIS RELEASE IS BEING CROSS-POSTED TO THE LAW-LIB LISTSERV AND SENT VIA E-MAIL TO AALL MEMBERS; PLEASE EXCUSE THE DUPLICATION]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 1998

CONTACT: Robert L. Oakley, AALL Washington Affairs Representative 202/662-9160

ACTION ALERT: AALL PRESIDENT JUDY MEADOWS URGES ALL MEMBERS TO SEEK CO-SPONSORS FOR DIGITAL COPYRIGHT BILLS

AALL President Judy Meadows, along with the presidents of ALA, ARL and SLA, have released the joint letter below requesting members of all four associations to contact their Senators and Representatives to urge their co-sponsorship of two very important digital copyright bills. These are S. 1146, the "Digital Copyright Clarification and Technology Act" introduced by Sen. John Ashcroft (R-MO), and H.R. 3048, the "Digital Era Copyright Enhancement Act," introduced by Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Tom Campbell (R-CA).

BACKGROUND:

Since the release of the White Paper in 1995, the Administration has sought, through both domestic and international negotiations, to amend the Copyright Act to bring it into the electronic age. After years of opposing many of these initiatives, the library community now has the opportunity to support and actively promote two digital copyright bills that preserve the balance between copyright owners and users in the digital age.

Both these bills are of critical importance to the law library community. They include provisions for fair use, preservation, ephemeral copying and distance education that are critical to libraries in the networked environment. H.R. 3048 contains two strong provisions that are not in the Senate bill: one covers the digital equivalent of the First Sale doctrine; the other is a preemption provision that would negate the use of state contract law to override federal copyright law, such as the proposed revision to the UCC. As the presidents' letter below indicates, taken together, these bills provide the best means of updating the Copyright Act while at the same time, preserving the balance between copyright owners and users in the electronic age.

ACTION NEEDED NOW:

Sen. Ashcroft and Representatives Boucher and Campbell are personally committed to the concerns of the library community. However, recognizing that substantial support for these bills is necessary if they are to make their way successfully through the legislative process next year, Ashcroft, Boucher and Campbell have personally asked us to initiate a broad grassroots lobbying effort so that when Congress reconvenes in January, these bills will have a long list of co-sponsors.

Your help during the Congressional recess is absolutely critical to this end. Please call your Senators and Representative, or fax a letter urging them to co-sponsor S. 1146 or H.R. 3048, as appropriate. In addition, take advantage of the recess to reach them through their district offices or to meet them at any public functions that may be scheduled this month. Let them know how important it is for you, your library, and indeed for all Americans, that the copyright law be updated in this balanced approach.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For analyses of both bills, what they do and why we support them, go to the Digital Future Coalition's home page at http://www.dfc.org. For sample letters sent by Jim Heller to his representatives, Senator Charles Robb and Rep. Herbert Bateman of Virginia, go to the Washington Office home page at lettest.asp.

We would appreciate some feedback from you, particularly if you sense interest or support for the bill, have an especially positive response, or succeed in securing a co-sponsor. Please contact Mary Alice Baish at 202/662-9200 or baish@law.georgetown.edu with that information. Thank you!


AN OPEN LETTER TO THE LIBRARY COMMUNITY . . .

December 5, 1997

Dear Library Supporter:

As the presidents of four of the nation's major library associations, we write to ask for your assistance in garnering support for two pieces of federal legislation of critical importance to the library community, indeed to libraries in every community. These bills are Sen. John Ashcroft's (R-MO) "Digital Copyright Clarification and Technology Act" (S. 1146) and the "Digital Era Copyright Enhancement Act," jointly introduced by Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Tom Campbell (R-CA) (H.R. 3048).

In our view, these proposals present the best approach to updating the Copyright Act to meet the challenges of the digital environment while, at the same time, preserving the critical balance between copyright owners and users in the electronic age. Both bills include provisions which are essential to libraries if we are to effectively serve our patrons, scholars, researchers, and students in the networked environment. We seek your immediate help in assisting Sen. Ashcroft and Reps. Boucher and Campbell to persuade other members of the Senate and House to cosponsor S. 1146 and H.R. 3048, respectively.

WHY THIS EFFORT IS IMPORTANT TO ALL LIBRARIES
Each year, millions of researchers, students, and members of the public benefit from access to library collections -- access that is supported by fair use, preservation programs, interlibrary loan, and more. We must ensure that the Copyright Act continues to serve the public who rely upon these collections and services. The Ashcroft and Boucher-Campbell bills seek to update the Copyright Act by extending the balance that we currently enjoy so that owners, creators, and users alike may benefit fully from the opportunities of the digital environment. These bills appropriately extend the balance by clarifying or updating selected privileges granted to libraries, researchers, educational institutions and others under current law.

ACTION IS NEEDED NOW! Accordingly, we are asking the members of our Associations -- and all other library supporters -- to:

  • study the attached fact sheets and sample letter detailing the intent and provisions of S. 1146 and H.R. 3048;

  • write to your House and Senate delegations requesting co-sponsorship of these bills; and

  • call and visit the members of your Congressional delegation and ask them to cosponsor S. 1146 or H.R. 3048, as appropriate.

Senator Ashcroft, and Representatives Boucher and Campbell, would appreciate our help in achieving passage of this potentially landmark legislation. The most critical first step in this process is to engage members of Congress and seek their endorsement of these bills. Let Congress know now the importance of updating the Copyright Act for your institution, your users, and of ensuring that libraries will be able to effectively serve the nation in the information age.

Thank you. Our associations stand ready to assist you in any way that we can. Please do not hesitate to call upon us and to let us know of your efforts.

Sincerely,

Judith A. Meadows, President
American Association of Law Libraries

Barbara J. Ford, President
American Library Association

James G. Neal, President
Association of Research Libraries

Judith J. Field, President
Special Libraries Association


The American Association of Law Libraries was founded in 1906 to promote and enhance the value of law libraries to the legal and public communities, to foster the profession of law librarianship, and to provide leadership in the field of legal information. Today, with over 4,800 members, the Association represents law librarians and related professionals who are affiliated with a wide range of institutions: law firms; law schools; corporate legal departments; courts; and local, state and federal government agencies.

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