June 14, 2000
Albert Burstein, Chairman
New Jersey Law Revision Commission
153 Halsey Street
Newark, New Jersey 07101
RE: Library Exclusion to the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act
Dear Mr. Burstein and Members of the Commission:
I wrote to you in late April on behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries regarding the strong opposition of the library community to the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) which the Commission currently is analyzing. As you are aware, this very controversial legislation is enormously complex and even experienced practitioners disagree about how to interpret UCITA and how it would actually work in practice. Libraries are a major stakeholder in the outcome of the debate over UCITA because we are among the largest consumers of software and fee-based electronic databases and services. We are very grateful to the Commission for the time and attention that you are expending on the review of UCITA because of the impact it will have, if enacted, on New Jersey consumers, businesses, educational institutions and libraries.
I write to you today on behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries, the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries. Together we represent more than 70,000 librarians, information professionals, and institutions committed to librarianship. We have been following closely the work of your staff in documenting their analyses of numerous and substantive concerns with provisions of UCITA, as articulated in staff memoranda to the Commission made available through your web site. We are very pleased to note that the memorandum dated June 5, 2000 includes the following language based on 17 U.S.C. 108 that would exclude transactions involving libraries from the scope of UCITA.
SECTION 103 SCOPE; EXCLUSIONS
(d) This [Act] does not apply to:
[new sub-section] A transaction with a library or archives that is (A) open to the public, or (B) available not only to researchers affiliated with the library or archives or with the institution of which it is a part, but also to the other persons doing research in a specialized field.
Our organizations fully support this well-crafted exclusion for libraries from the scope of UCITA and we strongly urge you to endorse it during the Commission�s meeting tomorrow afternoon. As noted in the memorandum, the proposed language neither expands nor contracts any rights that libraries currently have under federal copyright law. By sustaining the status quo, it preserves the historic balance inherent in copyright law between the interests of producers and end-users which we strongly believe must be maintained in the electronic environment. Chairman Burstein, we thank you, members of the Commission and your staff for your diligence in analyzing the complex provisions of UCITA and for drafting the exclusion for libraries that will allow our institutions to continue their historic role in serving the public good by meeting the information needs of our nation�s citizens in the digital age. Please feel free to contact any one of us if you have questions or would like additional information. Thank you.
Mary Alice Baish
Associate Washington Affairs Representative
American Association of Law Libraries
Carol A. Roehrenbeck
Associate Dean and Director of the Law Library
Rutgers University Law School Library
Miriam M. Nisbet
American Library Association
Assistant Executive Director, Federal Relations and Information Policy
Association of Research Libraries