August 4, 1999
The Honorable Tom Bliley
Chairman, House Committee on Commerce
2328 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-6115
BY FAX: 225.1919
Dear Chairman Bliley:
The American Association of Law Libraries fully supports H.R. 1858, the Consumer and Investor Access to Information Act of 1999, as amended by the Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection. We urge members of the Commerce Committee to approve this balanced legislation and to oppose efforts to weaken any of its provisions.
The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) was founded in 1906 to promote and enhance the value of law libraries to the legal and public communities, to foster the profession of law librarianship, and to provide leadership in the field of legal information and information policy. Today, our 4,800 members nationwide respond to the legal information needs of legislators, judges and other public officials at all levels of government, small businesses, law professors and students, attorneys, and members of the general public.
AALL supports H.R. 1858 because it does not overturn the Feist decision, thereby affirming a basic tenet of U.S. information policy that facts are in the public domain. We recognize the need to exclude primary legal materials and are very pleased with the new language of Section 104(f). We fear that if legal information falls under a new database protection regime, then Congress will have denied all Americans one of the most fundamental rights of our democracy, access to the law of the land. We are pleased that academic users and others would benefit from H.R. 1858's permissible uses, patterned after traditional copyright �fair use� provisions, and that this legislation permits transformative uses of data that are critically important to electronic commerce and to the creation of new information products.
Mr. Chairman, AALL urges you and members of the Committee to approve H.R. 1858, and we thank you very much for your commitment to the public's right to access legal information.
Robert L. Oakley
American Association of Law Libraries
Washington Affairs Representative
cc: Members, House Committee on Commerce