October 12, 1999
The Honorable David Dreier
Chairman, House Committee on Rules
H-312 Capitol Building
Washington D.C. 20515-6269
BY FAX: 202.225.7018
Dear Chairman Dreier:
I write to you today on behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries to voice our strong opposition to H.R. 354, the Collections of Information Antipiracy Act of 1999. 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. Today, with 4,800 members, the Association represents law librarians and related professionals who are affiliated with a wide range of institutions: law firms; law schools; corporate legal departments; courts; and local, state and federal government agencies.
AALL strongly opposes H.R. 354 because it risks altering our nation's fundamental policy of open access to information. More specifically,
- it defines many terms in overly broad and ambiguous language;
- it establishes a whole new legal protection regime for collections of factual information outside of copyright law;
- it is overly restrictive of traditional scholarly communication, and would present new barriers to a wide range of currently reasonable and customary research and education activities;
- it would give publishers of collections of information unprecedented control over the downstream use of factual information;
- and it contains language that could result in the perpetual protection of a database or collection of information, potentially diminishing the public domain.
Representative Dreier, despite hearings on this legislation and hours of negotiations among stakeholders, H.R. 354 continues to be flawed because it fails to achieve a proper balance between the rights of publishers and the rights of users that is fundamental to the progress of science and knowledge in our nation. Thank you very much for your consideration.
Robert L. Oakley
American Association of Law Libraries
Washington Affairs Office