GRC Report - September 2000

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The Government Relations Committee has concentrated this year on improving legislative advocacy by increasing grass roots participation. Those efforts got a major boost at the Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, where many new advocates joined us at the second Legislative Advocacy Workshop. Details of the workshop are outlined in the Washington Affairs Office column elsewhere in this issue. In addition to thanking Mary Alice Baish for lining up the speakers and preparing the program, the Committee also takes its collective hat off to outgoing President Margey Axtmann, whose support (including that most critical ingredient, funding) made the workshop possible.

The well-attended 2000 Legislative/Regulatory Update program at the Annual Meeting featured Marybeth Peters, the Register of Copyrights, who reported on current issues facing the Copyright Office. Ms. Peters described various studies that the Copyright Office has been working on, including distance education; a joint study with NTIA on encryption; and an upcoming study on the first sale doctrine. She also talked about ongoing hearings and several cases of interest to the copyright community. Ms. Peters was followed by Bob Oakley, who provided an Intellectual Property Scorecard to assess the year's progress. Bob noted some success -- such as holding at bay the database protection bills -- while also pointing out there is less to celebrate on such issues as copyright term limits and relief from anticircumvention measures. Both Oakley and Peters noted the importance of Tasini v. New York Times, a Second Circuit decision that reversed a grant of summary judgment by S.D.N.Y.; the lower court had favored the publishers' claim that they had the right to redistribute freelance writers' works to electronic databases. Mary Alice Baish brought attendees up to date on database protection and UCITA, and urged members of the Association to join our advocacy efforts.

The Committee bid farewell to the following outgoing members: Rita Reusch (whose work on several of the Committee's annual Legislative/Regulatory Update programs was outstanding); Sally Wiant (whose testimony against the UCITA legislation was very effective); Jim Heller, whose wise counsel as our Board Liaison helped throughout the year; and Meg Collins, Shaun Esposito, Anne Grande, and Nancy Thoms, whose active participation throughout the year furthered our work on many fronts.

The incoming Committee, with Board Liaison Margey Axtmann, and new members Steve Anderson, Anne Burnett, Charlene Cain, Bobbie Denny, Rebecca Frank, Suzanne Kaufman, and continuing members Sam Trosow (thanks, Sam for agreeing to serve a second year as secretary), Diana Gleason, Melanie Nelson, Cathy Lemann, Larry Meyer, look forward to a productive year -- but we need your help! Please join the AALL Advocacy Listserv (through the Washington Affairs Office or Online Discussion sites on AALLnet) and get involved in our work!

Keith Ann Stiverson, GRC Chair