November 1, 1999
It is very possible that H.R. 354, the "Collections of Information Antipiracy Act," which we strongly oppose, may go to the House floor this week or next. H.R. 354 tilts the historic balance between publishers or distributors of information and users in favor of industry -- and in ways that will harm the American public and raise costs for our libraries.
We need immediate action from every member of AALL and our Chapters. Please call your Representative and urge opposition to H.R. 354. Our opponents are in high gear trying to get more cosponsors for this bad database bill, and are even telling members of Congress that H.R. 354 will protect non-profit educational, scientific, and research use of the materials. That is simply not true.
The library community must be equally vocal in opposing this legislation. Calls to your Representative asking them to oppose H.R. 354 are needed today!
Tell your Representative that H.R. 354 risks altering our nation's fundamental policy of open access to information. More specifically, H.R. 354:
- defines many terms in overly broad and ambiguous language;
- establishes a whole new legal protection regime for collections of factual information outside of copyright law;
- does NOT exclude primary legal materials (AALL's amendment is in the competing Commence Committee legislation, H.R. 1858, which we support);
- 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;
- would give publishers of collections of information unprecedented control over the downstream use of factual information;
- and contains language that could result in the perpetual protection of a database or collection of information, potentially diminishing the public domain.
FYI, the House switchboard number is 202-225-3121, and you can contact your Representative by e-mail at http://congress.org/elecmail.html.
Please redistribute this alert to our Chapters and to any other listservs as appropriate. It's going to take calls from every librarian in the country to stop this bill, and it's wonderful to know that we can count on the support of each and every member of AALL and our Chapters to pick up the phone and make that important call as soon as possible.
If you prefer to send a message to your Representative via e-mail, please be sure to include AALL's Issue Brief on the Rule of Law at: http://www.ll.georgetown.edu/aallwash/ib069901.html
Thank you very much,
Mary Alice Baish