February 24, 1998
Honorable Henry J. Hyde
House Judiciary Committee
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-1306
Dear Chairman Hyde:
On behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries, I write to you today to urge you to co-sponsor H.R. 3048, the Digital Era Copyright Enhancement Act. The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), an active member of the Digital Future Coalition, is a nonprofit educational organization headquartered in Chicago with over 5,000 members nationwide. Our members respond to the legal and governmental information needs of legislators, judges, and other public officials at all levels of government, corporations and small businesses, law professors and students, attorneys, and members of the general public.
Introduced by Representatives Rick Boucher and Tom Campbell, H.R. 3048 is a critically important piece of legislation for the law library community. When enacted, it will preserve the necessary balance between creators and users that exists today in current copyright law, while extending the law's provisions for fair use, preservation copying, distance education and first sale to the digital arena. It is vital that American citizens--your constituents--have the same access to digital information through their libraries and educational institutions, or in their own homes, as they have had in the past for materials in print and other tangible formats.
The growth of the Internet offers Americans of all ages exciting new opportunities to access electronic information for education, research and scholarly endeavors, and for lifelong learning, through libraries, schools and universities. The Boucher-Campbell legislation offers a framework for updating the Copyright Act to promote the American public's access to electronic information through the Internet and to ensure that digital information will be preserved for future generations. Specifically, H.R. 3048 provides a comprehensive and balanced approach to updating the copyright law that will:
- Allow students, researchers, scientists and others to continue to make limited fair use of copyrighted works in digital formats for educational, research and other beneficial purposes.
- Allow educators in all settings, from elementary schools in remote rural areas to large research universities, to take optimum advantage of powerful digital technologies to develop new and exciting distance education programs, just as today they conduct distance learning activities in every corner of our nation using television.
- Permit libraries and other institutions to use digital technology to make preservation copies of deteriorating books, photographs and manuscripts so that our nation's heritage is not lost for future generations.
- Encourage the continued development of personal computers and innovative software that will allow the Internet to flourish and grow, producing new lifelong learning opportunities for all Americans and economic benefits to business communities all across America.
Mr. Chairman, AALL opposes the approach taken by the Administration in H.R. 2281 to ratify the World Intellectual Property Organization's copyright treaties. That legislation fails to address important issues of concern to us that H.R. 3048 provides for, such as fair use, preservation and distance learning. The Boucher-Campbell bill will implement the international treaties by strengthening enforcement where we believe it properly belongs, with the individual who performs an act of infringement, while at the same time preserving public access to digital information in a balanced way.
The American Association of Law Libraries fully endorses H.R. 3048, the landmark legislation introduced by Representatives Rick Boucher and Tom Campbell that will provide the legal framework for the American public's access to and use of digital information. Its balanced approach is entirely consistent with current copyright law. If our citizens are to reap the full benefits of the Information Age, it is imperative that the widespread use of new technologies to improve education and learning, business and economic opportunities, be promoted. We urge you to become a co-sponsor of H.R. 3048 today. Thank you for your consideration in this matter and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Robert L. Oakley
Washington Affairs Representative
American Association of Law Libraries