Dateline: May 29, 1997
Oakley Testifies on GPO before House Committee
Bob Oakley appeared before the House Government Reform and Oversight's Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology on behalf of six library associations on May 8, 1997. Presenting the testimony drafted by the Washington Affairs Office on "The Government Printing Office and Executive Branch Information Dissemination," Oakley's statement covered three areas:
- library participation in the Federal Depository Library Program, including the significant investments made by participating libraries and some of the innovative electronic services that FDLPs have created to enhance public access;
- the challenges and opportunities brought about by new technologies, and the need for a strong, centralized and coordinated program that will ensure preservation and permanent public access to electronic government information;
- increased agency non-compliance with Title 44.
During the question and answer period, Subcommittee Chairman Steven Horn (R-CA) noted with regret that it's hard to browse online. Horn in fact enjoys paging through the daily Congressional Record, and said that he would contact members of the appropriations committee about the elimination of the bound CR. Oakley was asked about the impact of electronic information on libraries, and used the opportunity to discuss the significant new burdens on both libraries and users, as well as the cost-shifting.
Senate Rules Hearing on JCP Draft Bill
On the same day, Chairman of the Inter-Association Working Group on Title 44 Francis Buckley testified before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, accompanied by representatives from the Association of Research Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and myself. The joint library statement for this second hearing was also drafted by the Washington Affairs Office. In it, we stressed the need to strengthen the depository library program; to ensure permanent public access by empowering the Superintendent of Documents to coordinate this responsibility governmentwide; and to ensure participation and compliance by agencies in all three branches. We attached to the testimony the IAWG's proposed enforcement language that would hold each branch responsible for ensuring compliance. The draft bill, unveiled in April, addresses the separation of powers problem that is one of the key goals for this revision of Title 44 by:
- taking away the remedial powers of the Joint Committee on Printing;
- empowering the Public Printer to promulgate regulations;
- moving the Government Printing Office into the executive branch as an independent regulatory agency.
Our testimony expressed strong reservations about this third point, and the independent status for GPO were it to be moved into the executive branch. Opposition to this provision from many others, along with the recent opinion from the American Law Division of the Library of Congress that removing the JCP's remedial authority solves the separation of powers problem, appears likely to have killed this provision. At the same hearing, OMB Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Sally Katzen was grilled relentlessly about specific titles produced by agencies that are not made available to depository libraries. Ranking minority Sen. Wendell Ford (D-KY) said that the notion of moving GPO into the executive branch "would be like putting the fox into the hen house."
U.C.C. Article 2B
AALL expressed serious concerns with the draft proposal of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) to revise Article 2B of the Uniform Commercial Code that applies to the licensing of information products and computer software. In a March letter to the drafting committee, Bob Oakley and Copyright Committee Chairman Jim Heller stated that, "...widespread licensing of information is likely to give creators and publishers far greater rights than Congress conferred upon them in the Copyright Act and, at the same time, limit the ability of libraries and their users to use information in the ways they have come to expect." In addition, Oakley was invited to speak from the floor at the May 20th annual meeting of the American Law Institute to express the concerns of the library community on this issue. Speaking in support of a motion that these mass market licenses be consistent with copyright law, Oakley also raised the question of whether it is lawful to contract away rights with a "unilateral" contract. The motion passed by an 86-83 vote, and the draft revision will be considered next during a summer meeting of the NCCUSL in Sacramento.
Bob Oakley attended the final meeting of the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) on May 19, 1997. Of the three guidelines proposed by CONFU, AALL endorsed only the Distance Learning Guidelines. The Copyright Committee decided not to endorse the Multimedia or Digital Image Guidelines because they did not reflect a fair balance between the rights of creators and users, and their fair use provisions were inadequate.
See you in Baltimore!
Bob and I are looking forward to the 90th Annual meeting, and especially the GRC's annual Legislative and Regulatory Update (E5) that this year will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22. Program coordinators Jackie Wright and David Gay have invited Eric Peterson, Staff Director of the Joint Committee on Printing, as the guest speaker.
Keeping with the nautical theme of this year's meeting, Bob will moderate a very timely and important program on "A Sea Change in Access to Federal Government Information: Revising Title 44 and the Role of the Government Printing Office" (H6). Jointly sponsored by the Government Relations Committee, the Government Documents SIS, and the Washington Affairs Office, this program takes place at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23rd. Join us to hear firsthand from top government officials how the plans of the 105th Congress to revise Title 44 and the Federal Depository Library Program will impact their agency. Speakers are Michael F. DiMario, Public Printer, GPO; Ms. Sally Katzen, Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB; Dr. Lewis Bellardo, Deputy Archivist, National Archives and Records Administration; and John Hehman, Chief of the Appellate Court and Circuit Administration Division, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
Last but far from least, the informal get together a year ago in Indianapolis for chapter liaisons to the Washington Affairs Office proved so popular that this year it is part of the new "AALL Chapter Alliance" series of meetings. Each chapter president has been invited to send at least one representative for an issues and advocacy update that will take place on Tuesday, July 22nd, at 5:15 p.m. We hope to have representatives from all the chapters and as many states as possible. Please join us to learn more about our government relations program and how you can become part of our exciting efforts!
Mary Alice Baish
Assistant Washington Affairs Representative
Georgetown University Law Library
111 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001