NCC report on copyright news [from H-Net@h-net.msu.edu]

From: H-Net Central [Richard Jensen, Executive Director] <H_NET_DIR[_at_]APSU01.APSU.EDU>
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 13:18:06 -0600 (CST)

NCC Washington Update, vol. 2, # 29, September 12, 1996

   by Page Putnam Miller, Director of the National Coordinating

      Committee for the Promotion of History <pagem[_at_]capaccess.org>

  1. National Archives' FY'97 Appropriations
  2. Update on Copyright Legislation
  3. Copyright Conference on Fair Use

[snip]

2. Update on Copyright Legislation -- Despite a number of hearings by this Congress, indications are that action is stalled on both the copyright extension legislation, HR989 and S483, and the National Information Infrastructure Copyright Protection Act, HR2441 and S1284, legislation to adapt copyright law to the digital, networked environment of the information highway. One of the thorniest and unresolved problems in the cyberspace legislation was over who would be liable when copyrighted products are illegally copied. Some, however, felt that legislation on this was unnecessary since laws are currently in place that adequately protect copyrighted works in the digital environment.

The copyright debate has now shifted to S1961, the Omnibus Patent Act of 1996, which was introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on July 16 and which calls for the creation of a U.S. Intellectual Property Organization in the executive branch. The Patent and Trademark Office, which is in the Commerce Department (an executive branch agency), and the Copyright Office, which is in the Library of Congress (a legislative branch agency), would be merged to form the new executive branch agency. In introducing this bill Hatch stated: " Under current practice, the role of the Copyright Office in international policy formulation has diminished. Under this bill, with the elimination of the bifurcation of intellectual property policy between the legislative and the executive branches, it is likely that its role would be enhanced."

The registration of copyright, which requires the deposit of two copies of the work with the Copyright Office, has played a major role in building the Library's collection. While Hatch claims that "this bill makes no change in the deposit requirement," there is concern about the adverse affects this legislation could have on the Library's collection development which is intertwined with the work of the Copyright Office. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on S1961, the Omnibus Patent Act, for September 18 at 10 am.

3. Copyright Conference on Fair Use - On September 6 the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) met to continue its work toward developing guidelines for
"fair use" in educational and library settings for the electronic use of
copyrighted material. Bruce Lehman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, addressed the group. Lehman commended CONFU on its work and stressed how important "fair use" in the digital environment is to many of the Administration's educational initiatives. In response to a question about pending international negotiations and "fair use," Lehman stressed that the U.S. would never consent to an international agreement that would require our giving up
"fair use." He noted that it took 200 years before "fair use" became a
part of U.S. law and that the international community is evolving toward our view of "fair use."

Having met regularly for the last two years, CONFU continued at this meeting to seek consensus among publishers, librarians, scholars, and teachers for guidelines that address "fair use." Work is now being completed on guidelines on multimedia classroom use, distance learning, visual image archives, and scenarios on the use of copyrighted computer programs (software) in libraries. Throughout the process, there have been many who felt that the various guidelines being development were too restrictive or not restrictive enough. To the extent that a consensus can be reached, it will be the result of considerable compromise. However, it is unclear at this point whether enough organizations from both the publisher and the library communities will endorse the individual guidelines to justify the conclusion that there is a consensus of support for the guidelines.

The guidelines on electronic library reserves which have the support of the American Council of Learned Societies, the Association of American University Presses, as well as a number of library associations, was strongly opposed by the Association of American Publishers and other publisher organizations. Thus it appears that there will not be a consensus of the CONFU participating organizations for supporting the electronic reserves guidelines. There were also strongly differing views on the topic of digital transmission of Interlibrary Loan material. Despite the seemingly fundamental different views on interlibrary loan, a small working group will meet again prior to the next CONFU meeting to see if some understandings can be reached.

As CONFU's work nears completion, the group decided to hold the final meeting in November. At that time there will be discussion of a draft of CONFU's "Final Report" and of plans for submitting the final drafts of the guidelines to organizations for their endorsements.

Received on Thu Sep 12 1996 - 20:08:20 GMT

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