US Intellectual Property update

Subject: US Intellectual Property update
From: Emanuella Giavarra (
Date: ma 04 elo    1997 - 01:10:57 EEST

Dear list members,

The enclosed issue of the American Library Association Washington Office
Newsline contains an update on the IPR developments in the US.

Kind regards,
Emanuella Giavarra

> =================================================================
> ALAWON Volume 6, Number 67
> ISSN 1069-7799 August 1, 1997
> American Library Association Washington Office Newsline
> In this issue: (154 lines)
> _________________________________________________________________
> Even as Congress winds down for its August recess, the national
> debate over how best to update copyright law to reflect the
> invention and use of digital network technology was shifted into
> high gear this week with several related developments of note.
> ALAWON readers will recall that ALA, and its partners in IFLA and
> the Digital Future Coalition played a prominent role in last
> December's World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaty
> negotiations in Geneva.
> For the past eight months, the Clinton Administration has
> deferred transmittal of the WIPO treaties to the Senate while the
> nature and scope of legislation to implement them was hotly
> debated within the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and at high
> levels within the Department of Commerce. In recent months,
> Congressional leaders and proponents of rapid adoption of the
> treaties have called with increasing vehemence on the
> Administration to permit the domestic digital copyright debate to
> begin in earnest by transmitting the treaties, and its proposals
> to implement them, to Congress before the end of this month.
> On Monday of this week the President complied, as expected,
> formally sending two treaties to the Senate for referral to the
> Committee on Foreign Relations led by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) and
> Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE). They were accompanied by associated
> "implementing legislation," which will be referred to the
> Judiciary Committees of both houses of Congress. As anticipated,
> the Administration's implementing bill was promptly introduced in
> the House on Tuesday as H.R. 2281 by the senior members of the
> full Judiciary Committee -- Reps. Henry Hyde (R-IL) and John
> Conyers (D-MI) -- and of the Subcommittee on Intellectual
> Property -- Reps. Howard Coble (R-NC) and Barney Frank (D-MA).
> Although the legislation was not immediately introduced in the
> Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) -- the Judiciary Committee's
> most senior Democrat -- entered a brief statement into the July
> 29 Congressional Record characterizing the Administration's
> proposals as "an excellent start for moving forward," and
> indicating that he and Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch
> (R-UT) were reviewing the bill for possible introduction later
> this week.
> While comparatively limited in scope, this year's Administration
> bill is substantively very similar to its "White Paper" proposals
> in the last Congress, which were strongly opposed in their
> original form by ALA and its fellow members of the Digital Future
> Coalition. Specifically, as H.R. 2441 did last year, H.R. 2281
> would make it illegal to manufacture, import or distribute "any
> technology, product, service, device, component or part thereof
> that . . . is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of
> circumventing" any technological system employed effectively to
> control access to copyrighted material.
> >From ALA's perspective (and that of many other library,
> educational, and consumer organizations, as well as electronic
> device manufacturers) the basic flaws in the Administration's
> approach remains that it outlaws the manufacture of beneficial,
> multi-purpose devices (such as personal computers and VCRs)
> needed by the public to exercise "fair use" and other privileges
> for the use of copyrighted material protected and encouraged
> under current copyright law. Moreover, unlike last year's
> proposals, violators of the bill just proposed would be subject
> to both civil fines and criminal penalties.
> In related news, legislation also was recently introduced
> pertaining to the second "digital copyright" issue which
> commanded the lion's share of legislators' and the public's
> attention last year: on-line service provider liability. As
> previously reported, many information proprietors wish to hold
> liable for copyright infringement any party (including a school
> or library) who provides network facilities to someone who
> misuses them to violate a proprietor's copyright, or who provides
> a link to a site on the Internet where infringing material may be
> accessed. This matter was the subject of intense negotiation in
> the last Congress and much discussion at the WIPO treaty
> conference last December.
> To begin this year's debate, Chairman Howard Coble (R-NC) of the
> House Intellectual Property Subcommittee has authored H.R. 2180.
> Although still under study, the bill appears to represent a
> constructive and improved starting point from which to commence
> negotiations on this critical issue in September. While no OSP
> liability bill is pending in the Senate, Judiciary Committee
> Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) scheduled a hearing on the subject
> for July 29 at which Prof. Robert Oakley of Georgetown University
> Law Center and the Director of its library was to have testified
> on behalf of 17 major national library and educational
> organizations. The hearing was postponed, however, to permit
> Committee members to attend the funeral of the late Justice
> William Brennan. It is expected to be held shortly after
> Congress returns from its August recess.
> Finally, in addition to the anti-circumvention issue at the
> center of the Administration's new bill, and the on-line service
> provider controversy addressed by Rep. Coble, several issues
> championed last year by ALA and the DFC are expected to take
> center-stage in the digital copyright debate when Congress
> reconvenes. These vital matters concern how best to defend and
> update the Fair Use and First Sale Doctrines on which so much
> research and library lending itself are based, permit educators
> to take full advantage of computers in the classroom, and enable
> librarians and archivists to use the latest technology to
> preserve deteriorating works.
> There clearly will be a full agenda on intellectual property
> issues for library supporters this fall.
> For more information on the digital copyright debate and its
> tremendous importance to libraries and the public they serve,
> please consult the ALA Washington Office website at
> and the Digital Future Coalition's
> home page at Specific questions also may
> be addressed to Adam Eisgrau, the ALA Washington Office's
> Legislative Counsel, at 800-941-8478.
> _________________________________________________________________
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> Contributors: Adam M. Eisgrau
> Claudette W. Tennant
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> =================================================================

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