ARCHIVED: "Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998," H.R. 2281

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Below is a DFC alert regarding H.R. 2281, the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998," that passed in the House on August 4th with many new and very controversial provisions that had been added on at the last minute by the House Judiciary Committee. Since the conference committee will be meeting soon (possibly as early as next Monday), we are asking all our members to contact their Senators as soon as possible, urging them to oppose these extraneous provisions and to support the narrow elements of H.R. 2281 that are needed to implement the WIPO treaties.

Among these extraneous provisions on which there has been no public debate is Title V, which reverses the Supreme Courts decision in Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Corp., reflecting provisions of H.R. 2652 (the "Collections of Information Antipiracy Act" that AALL and the DFC have long opposed). In fact, a letter from the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel dated July 28, 1998 expresses grave concerns that H.R. 2652 may create a new form of intellectual property protection in factual information. Another last-minute change by the House Judiciary Committee in Title IV, Section 414, potentially guts the "fair use" doctrine.

A DFC letter sent to all members of the Senate on August 24, 1998 analyzes the complexities of H.R. 2281, both the new extraneous portions which we oppose as well as the narrow provisions needed to implement the WIPO treaty that we continue to support. You'll find the letter at:

AALL members have responded tremendously to our previous alerts, and we thank you in advance for your help today. Timing is everything, and we're quickly moving closer to the last remaining weeks of the 105th Congress--please help us out so that all the hard work of the library community and the DFC over the past year and a half in negotiating a balanced WIPO implementation bill will be rewarded.

Please send me a copy of your letter, either by e-mail or fax. Thank you!

Mary Alice Baish
AALL Assistant Washington Affairs Representative
FAX: 202/662-9202


Digital legislation will have a profound impact on the Internet --Act Now!
You must act now! Contact your U.S. Senators.

Digital Millennium legislation will have dramatic impacts on the Internet. Nearly every netizen will feel the "bite" of Congressional legislation aimed at the digital environment.

Over the last year, the U.S. Congress has been debating legislation that will have a profound impact on the Internet. This broad legislation covers everything from works transmitted over the Internet such as books, movies, and audio recordings, to computer software, computer hardware, and consumer electronics such as digital VCR's. Anyone who teaches, researches, develops software, browses or records using the Internet will be affected by this far reaching legislation.

The House of Representatives and the Senate have passed bills referred to as the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act." While they have the same name, the two pieces of legislation aim to accomplish very different things. The House bill (H.R. 2281) recognizes the importance of personal privacy and the "fair use" of copyrighted works and safeguards consumer products such as digital VCR's and personal computers. It also permits encryption research. Unfortunately, H.R. 2281 also contains harmful and unnecessary last-minute additions that do everything from overriding three consumer-oriented Supreme Court decisions to creating new legal rights for the owners of databases and other collections of information. In contrast, the Senate version of the legislation (S. 2037) does not protect fair use or encryption research, and includes incomplete protections for personal privacy.

Before H.R. 2281 and S. 2037 can become law, the two pieces of legislation must be reconciled by a conference committee, allowing Senators and Representatives to make significant changes to the bills. However, if the wrong changes are made the fundamental consumer protections established in H.R. 2281 could be stripped away in favor of the less consumer friendly provisions of S. 2037. Further, the harmful late "additions" to H.R. 2281, including those that override the recent Supreme Court decisions, could be left in the bill.

The Digital Future Coalition is a group of 42 non-profit and for-profit entities, including AALL, that has long been committed to fighting for balanced copyright in the digital era. We are asking you to write and fax a letter to your Senators today to let them know that you want to protect the fundamental consumer protections of H.R. 2281. You may also use the digital contact system at to write an e-mail letter, where you will also find more information about both these bills


Membership of the Digital Future Coalition:

Alliance for Public Technology
American Association of Law Libraries
American Association of Legal Publishers
American Association of School Administrators
American Committee for Interoperable Systems
American Council of Learned Societies
American Historical Association
American Library Association
Art Libraries Society of North America
Association for Computers and the Humanities
Association of American Geographers
Association of Research Libraries
Chief Officers of State Library Agencies
College Art Association
Committee of Concerned Intellectual Property Educators
Computer & Communications Industry Association
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Conference on College Composition and Communications
Consortium on School Networking
Consortium of Social Science Associations
Consumer Federation of America
Consumer Project on Technology
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Home Recording Rights Coalition
International Society for Telecommunications in Education
Medical Library Association
Modern Language Association
Music Library Association
National Association of Independent Schools
National Council of Teachers of English
National Education Association
National Humanities Alliance
National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage
National School Boards Association
National Writers Union
Society for Cinema Studies
Society of American Archivists
Special Libraries Association
United States Catholic Conference
United States Distance Learning Association
Visual Resources Association