Washington Brief - February 1999

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Dateline: December 21, 1998

OUTLOOK FOR THE 106TH CONGRESS

Saturday's action by the House of Representatives in passing and delivering to the Senate two articles of impeachment against President Clinton will affect the legislative agenda of the 106th Congress when it convenes on January 6, 1999. As of this writing, acrimonious partisanship and the specter of a Senate trial and possible removal of the President, combined with changes in the top House leadership position, may make this one of the most extraordinary Congresses in our history. Rather than focusing on the uncertainties of these unsettled times and legislative logjams, however, AALL will continue to promote a strong agenda in the information policy areas described below.

Leadership Changes
Although the final official listings are not yet available, there are some noteworthy changes that will require your help in educating new members on our issues. On the Senate side, although Sen. John Warner (R-VA) has resigned as chairman of Senate Rules to become the new chairman of the Armed Services Committee, he will remain on Rules under the leadership of the new chairman, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Ranking Minority Member Sen. Wendell Ford (D-KY) has retired and will be replaced by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT).

The most significant change in House leadership is of course the resignation of Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), followed this weekend by the surprise resignation announcement by his likely successor, Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA). At the moment, Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) appears to have an early lead to become the new House Speaker. In addition to these extraordinary moves, another key leadership change is that Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) has been named new chairman of House Rules. Also on the House side, we regret the departure of Chairman James Walsh (R-NY) from the Appropriations Subcommittee on Legislative. Walsh has a solid knowledge of technology and has been a strong advocate of the digitization efforts of the Library of Congress and the Law Library. He has also demonstrated strong support for the depository library program. Walsh and his staff have been fine to work with, and his departure after only two years is a real loss. He will be replaced as chairman by Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC).

I've already contacted many of you who are in states and districts represented by these new congressional leaders because now is the time to initiate important connections that will pay off during the 106th Congress. If you haven't been involved in our lobbying efforts in the past and are ready to start now--but aren't quite sure what the first steps should be--please drop me an e-mail at baish@law.georgetown.edu. We need your help!

AALL Legislative Day, July 16, 1999
Speaking of our lobbying efforts, mark your calendar now for Friday, July 16th, when AALL will hold its first advocacy training and legislative day, "Law Librarians Meet the 106th Congress." Co-sponsored by the Government Relations Committee, the Copyright Committee, the Government Documents SIS and the Washington Affairs Office, this is your opportunity to meet with your elected representatives and voice the concerns of the law library community on important policy issues. The morning session of presentations by congressional staff, federal policy makers, advocacy trainers and committee members will update you on the current issues, help you develop your message, and energize you as you head off for afternoon visits with your Senators and representative. The legislative day will conclude with a debriefing and a lovely reception. Don't miss it!

Database Protection
One fairly sure guarantee is that the handful of publishers who have promoted new protections for databases during both the 104th and 105th Congresses will be ready to move quickly in January with a new legislative proposal. During conference committee negotiations over the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) last fall, the Senate stripped out H.R. 2652, the Collections of Information Antipiracy Act, that had been a last minute add-on in the House. Despite that action, Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) promised Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) that a database bill would be a top priority for the committee early in the 106th Congress.

S. 2288--the Aftermath
Staff for the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP) vacated their office space on the 8th floor of Hart last week and dispersed to the House Oversight and Senate Rules Committees. Linda Kemp, JCP Staff Director during the 104th, will resume those responsibilities from House Oversight on behalf of returning JCP Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA). On the Senate Rules side, we're very pleased that former JCP Staff Director Eric Peterson will be on Chairman Mitch McConnell's staff, and that Kennie Gill will stay on as minority staff director and general counsel for Ranking Minority Member Chris Dodd. Both Eric and Kennie were tireless in their efforts on S. 2288 during the 105th.

We--the Washington members of the Inter-Association Working Group on Government Information Policy (IAWG)--continue to regroup and to meet with those who openly opposed (and successfully killed) this important legislation so that we will be ready in early January with a new plan of attack. The broad scope of S. 2288 in rewriting the print procurement laws, added as a package to our strong provisions strengthening the depository library program, brought opposition our of the woodwork in the waning weeks of the 105th Congress, thereby dooming the bill. Our sense now is that we need to proceed on a smaller scale and gain fuller support from all constituencies for our dissemination provisions. With the presidential election only two years away, it is highly unlikely that the Administration would support any movement towards a total revision of Title 44.

DMCA--the Aftermath
The Washington Office has been engaged in two areas directly relating to the enactment of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The first is the Copyright Office's study and report back to Congress on distance education, including a possible legislative proposal, by April 28, 1999. We submitted a letter on December 7th (lt120798.asp) noting AALL's desire to participate in the process, and we are working together with the library and educational communities to have a united voice on the complex issues of the use of digital materials in distance education. The library community has asked to participate in the first hearing that will be held here in Washington on January 26-27, following a full day of demonstrations of model distance education programs. A second hearing will be held at UCLA on February 10-12th.

The second issue in which we are already engaged is the rule-making proceeding by the Librarian of Congress, with input from the Copyright Office and the National Telecommunications Information Administration, regarding the implications of technological protections on the exercise of fair use rights. While we received a two-year postponement of the effective date of the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA's Sec. 1201(a)(1), we have already begun to plan a data collection process about the nature of technological protections and their specific effects on unauthorized but non-infringing access. The library community, along with our partners in the Digital Future Coalition, need to impact the course of this unprecedented proceeding so that it will be effective and informed.

For more information about the DMCA and a concise summary of its key provisions, be sure to read " ***** " by Copyright Committee member Jonathan Franklin (page ***).

IMLS 1999 National Leadership Grants
Last year was the inauguration of the National Leadership Grants, discretionary funds amounting to $6.5 million awarded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for projects in four categories. Two of the categories are especially relevant to the law library community: first, research and demonstration projects that emphasize access to improved library and information resources; and second, projects that preserve unique library resources useful for the broader research community or that address the challenges of preserving and archiving digital materials. The new 1999 guidelines, along with additional information and a list of last year's grant winners, are available at: http://www.imls.fed.us/gdlns.html. The application deadline is March 19, 1999.

Final CONFU Report and new NARA Standards Released
In November the Patent and Trademark Office released The Conference on Fair Use: Final Report to the Commissioner on the Conclusion of the Conference on Fair Use (http://www.uspto.gov/). Several of our members participated in the conference, and while there was disappointment that more was not accomplished during CONFU, the fair use proceeding and distance education study currently underway in the aftermath of the DMCA are logical extensions of its work. On another front, the National Archives and Records Administration has just endorsed a new standard for use by Federal agencies to effectively manage growing quantities of e-mail, word-processing documents, and other electronic records: the Department of Defense Standard 5015.2. NARA's announcement notes that this is not an exclusive standard, but just one possible approach to managing electronic records in conformance with the Federal Records Act and implementing records management regulations (http://www.nara.gov/).

 

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