S1961: Call to Action

From: ASJA/Alexandra Owens <75227.1650[_at_]CompuServe.COM>
Date: 17 Sep 96 08:39:59 EDT

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AMERICAN SOCIETY OF JOURNALISTS AND AUTHORS 1501 Broadway
New York, New York 10036
tel 212-997-0947
fax 212-768-7414
e-mail 75227.1650[_at_]compuserve.com
http://www.asja.org

                                         For immediate release:
                                         September 17, 1996

               CONTROVERSIAL PLAN TO OVERHAUL COPYRIGHT OFFICE
                 COMES BACK TO LIFE--AND BACK UNDER ATTACK--
          AS WRITERS COMPLAIN OF BEING FROZEN OUT OF SENATE HEARING
                                     
                     * NEW URGENT CALL TO ACTION ISSUED *

        Writers' groups have been told there's no room for them on the
witness list for Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a plan to revamp the U.S. Copyright Office. The proposal, which critics say could quintuple copyright registration fees and stunt the growth of the Library of Congress, is back from a near-death experience and under attack again by authors.

        The bill (S.1961), sponsored by committee chairman Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, would uproot the Copyright Office from the Library of Congress, where its registration copies of published and unpublished works have built the Congressional library into one of the great research centers of the world. Copyright operations would be merged with the patent and trademark offices, now in the Commerce Department, in a new superagency to be called the U.S. Intellectual Property Organization.

        When Hatch first proposed the legislation in July, the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) broadcast an Internet appeal, asking its members and other freelance writers to press for a delay. Other organizations for writers and photographers and bar associations joined in criticizing the speed and secrecy surrounding the plan and in recommending extensive public study and discussion of the idea of including the Copyright Office in the new agency. Senators' offices were flooded with messages urging that the plan be delayed. The hearing was scrapped--for a while.

        Now it's on again, but extensive public study and discussion seems not to be on the agenda. Committee staffers have been telling authors' representatives they're welcome to send written testimony, but don't bother dropping by. ASJA President Claire Safran says her request for a spot on the hearing calendar has been met with silence. Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, says he was told not to hold his breath.

        "It's a shame the committee seems uninterested in hearing from the very people who would be most affected by this proposal," said Safran. In written testimony filed with the committee today, she recommended a delay until next session, adding, "At that time, should you want to bring this bill forward, we hope that you will schedule hearings that will allow for the voices of all interested parties to be heard."

        Meantime, faced with rumors that the bill may be rushed into the Senate machinery right after the hearing on Wednesday, ASJA again this week suggested that writers and others interested in copyright issues immediately weigh in with a message to Senators Hatch and Joseph R. Biden, telling them to pull the Copyright Portion of the bill, at least until there can be substantial discussion by the interested and the affected. For those from committee members' territories, ASJA provides contact information:

                              
           Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee
                        (202 area code)

                       tel      fax      e-mail

AL Howell T. Heflin    224-4124 224-3149 administrator[_at_]heflin.senate.gov
AZ Jon Kyl             224-4521 228-1239 info[_at_]kyl.senate.gov
CA Dianne Feinstein    224-3841 228-3954 senator[_at_]feinstein.senate.gov
CO Henry Brown         224-5941 224-6471 senator_brown[_at_]brown.senate.gov
DE Joseph R. Biden Jr. 224-5042 224-0139 senator[_at_]biden.senate.gov
IA Charles E. Grassley 224-3744 224-6020 chuck_grassley[_at_]grassley.senate.gov
IL Paul Simon          224-2152 224-0868 senator[_at_]simon.senate.gov
MA Edward M. Kennedy   224-4543 224-2417 senator[_at_]kennedy.senate.gov
MI Spencer Abraham     224-4822 224-8834 michigan[_at_]abraham.senate.gov
OH Michael DeWine      224-2315 224-6519 senator_dewine[_at_]dewine.senate.gov 
PA Arlen Specter       224-4254 228-1229 senator_specter[_at_]specter.senate.gov
SC Strom Thurmond      224-5972 224-1300 senator[_at_]thurmond.senate.gov
TN Fred Thompson       224-4944 228-3679 senator_thompson[_at_]thompson.senate.gov
UT Orrin G. Hatch      224-5251 224-6331 senator_hatch[_at_]hatch.senate.gov
VT Patrick J. Leahy    224-4242 224-3595 senator_leahy[_at_]leahy.senate.gov
WI Russell D. Feingold 224-5323 224-2725 russell_feingold[_at_]feingold.senate.gov
WI Herbert H. Kohl     224-5653 224-9787 senator_kohl[_at_]kohl.senate.gov
WY Alan K. Simpson     224-3424 224-1315 senator[_at_]simpson.senate.gov

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Received on Tue Sep 17 1996 - 12:51:37 GMT

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