ARCHIVED: Legislative and Regulatory Update - February 1998

PrintEmail

Dateline: December 18, 1997

Mary Alice Baish
Assistant Washington Affairs Representative
Edward B. WIlliams Law Library
111 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-1417
202/662-9200 * FAX:202/662-9202
email: baish@law.georgetown.edu

More Support Needed for Digital Copyright Bills

Long before you read this column, you will have received a AALL Action Alert to contact your Senators and Representative and urge them to co-sponsor S.1146 or H.R. 3048. I briefly reported on Sen. Ashcroft's (R-MO) "Digital Copyright Clarification and Technology Act" (S. 1146) in the last issue and its strong provisions on fair use, preservation and distance learning. The landscape became greener with the introduction of the "Digital Era Copyright Enhancement Act" (H.R. 3048) by Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Tom Campbell (R-CA) just before Congress adjourned in November.

The Boucher/Campbell bill includes provisions for fair use, preservation, ephemeral copying and distance education that are similar to those proposed in S. 1146. However, 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, so that users and librarians don't unknowingly sign away their fair use rights when using "shrink-wrap" or "click-on" licenses. Both bills are of critical importance to the law library community. They offer the best approach to amending the Copyright Act to meet the challenges of the digital environment while, at the same time, preserving the balance between copyright owners and users.

We heartily thank those of you who have already responded to our action alert to get additional co- sponsors for both bills. If you have not already done so, it's not too late and you'll find the alert posted on AALLNET. Please don't hesitate to join this critically important grassroots lobbying effort. There is a lot of opposition to these bills from other constituencies, and unless they have strong backing by the time hearings are held next year, they have little chance of passage.

UCC2B Update

Bob Oakley attended the November meeting of the drafting committee in Memphis, TN. Library representatives had been meeting with industry representatives for several months to see if it was possible to reach an accommodation. Although no agreement had been reached, the library community did submit language for discussion in Memphis. While some members of the drafting committee welcomed the library proposal, it was firmly rejected by representatives of the publishing industry and the information industry. The library community will get together again before the February meeting of the drafting committee to try to craft some new ideas.

TITLE 44 Revision

The fragility of the Washington political process was well illustrated last month when the AFL-CIO took on the White House for failing to include union representatives at the table for discussions on the revision of Title 44, as had been promised by Vice President Al Gore. Until the labor issue is resolved, Sen. Wendell Ford (D-KY), ranking minority member of the Senate Rules Committee, will not sign onto the bill. In addition, Sen. Ford has many concerns about the latest draft by the staff of the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP), particularly the enforcement provisions and its failure to deal specifically with some of the problems of the transition period to a more electronic program. His staff is meeting regularly with the JCP to negotiate these provisions.

In addition, as a member of the Inter-association Working Group (IAWG) on Title 44's drafting committee, I have been working on a revision to our own proposed language for Chapter 19 that was transmitted to Congress last June. We are redrafting the bill to strengthen certain provisions, particularly those regarding permanent public access and enforcement. The IAWG has created an Web site where you can find all our documents, including the draft bills. (http://library.berkeley.edu/GODORT/iawgpage.html)

Assessments Study Finally Approved

In a December 1, 1997 letter to the Government Printing Office (GPO), Chairman John Warner of the Joint Committee on Printing finally approved the standards assessment that had been envisioned in 1995 as part of the GPO Study, but was not funded until now. Although constrained by a budget of only $175,000, the assessment will survey about 30 federal agencies and collect data on from 300-500 individual products which agencies already disseminate electronically, or plan to migrate from print to electronic in the near future. Since standards are voluntary within the federal government, the purpose of the study will be to find common trends and patterns to assist GPO in planning the transition to a more electronic depository program. We have been consulted regularly throughout the process of developing the assessment, and at our urging, it will survey select federal courts, the Supreme Court, and the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Fran Buckley Installed as New SuDocs

Harding Hall at the Government Printing Office was filled to capacity for the December 1, 1997 swearing-in ceremony at which Fran Buckley became the new Superintendent of Documents. Following a brief history of GPO and the SuDocs by Public Printer Mike DiMario and the official ceremony, Fran noted that this was the culmination of his long career that began as documents librarian at the Detroit Public Library. He summarized four key objectives for his tenure: first and foremost, to focus on the mission of his office by supporting the depository library and sales programs; to improve the quality and efficiency of customer service; to direct efforts at reducing the number of fugitive documents; and to manage the transition to a more electronic depository library program, including efforts to energize agency participation.

NARA Unveils New Online Systems

The National Archives and Records Administration is developing a nationwide, integrated online information delivery system, the NARA Archival Information Locator (NAIL) that will become an electronic card catalog of all NARA holdings as well as a digital collection of the agency's most popular and important documents, photographs, and sound recordings. The prototype is available at http://www.nara.gov/nara/nail.html. The second new prototype system recently unveiled on the agency's Web site is ARDOR (Agency Records Disposition Online Resources) that currently contains agency record disposition schedules. Although not fully comprehensive nor yet guaranteed totally accurate, ARDOR will be expanded into a comprehensive system to assist agencies in tracking the life cycle of their federal records and to provide users with a helpful finding tool to federal records. Both initiatives reflect goals described in NARA's Strategic Plan for 1997-2007.