Todd Troutner 202-628-6048
Washington, D.C. -- September 3, 1997: The Digital Future Coalition (DFC), representing 38 leading national associations of companies and non-profit organizations, today praised Senator John Ashcroft (R-Missouri) for introducing S. 1146, the Digital Copyright Clarification and Technology Act of 1997. Peter Jaszi, Professor of Law at American University, speaking on behalf of the DFC, called the bill introduced today "a crucial step toward ensuring that the copyright-related interests of educators, librarians, high-technology businesses, and other information consumers are balanced with the protections afforded to copyright owners and proprietors in the age of digital information."
Prof. Jaszi also emphasized the timeliness of the introduction of the bill, just as Congress is about to begin the ratification and implementation process for the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. "Senator Ashcroft recognizes that the interests of the diverse array of non-profit and commercial communities who rely on access under existing copyright law, which includes builders of the Internet infrastructure and providers of significant copyrighted content, must be taken into account," Jaszi said.
The DFC believes that to ensure continued balance in the Copyright Act, any legislative package implementing the WIPO treaties should address the related issues of fair use, library preservation, distance education, and temporary reproduction -- all of which are included in Senator Ashcroft's bill. In addition, the DFC strongly endorses the approach the legislation takes on the issue of on-line service provider liability -- one which guarantees that both commercial and not-for-profit providers of Internet access will not be held liable for activities of which they have no knowledge or over which they have no control. The DFC also believes that Senator Ashcroft's proposed solution regarding the issue of "circumvention" of technological safeguards, which emphasizes additional civil penalties for copyright infringers, is clearly preferable to a ban on useful multipurpose computers and consumer electronic devices.
Unlike Senator Ashcroft's bill, WIPO implementing legislation recently introduced at the Administration's request as S. 1121 and H.R. 2281 would upset the balance that has characterized U.S. copyright law throughout its history. The DFC, therefore, though supporting the WIPO treaties, strongly opposes S. 1121 and H.R. 2281 and is urging the Senate to hold off on ratification of the treaties until agreement is reached on comprehensive, balanced legislation.
Since its inception, the DFC has urged policy makers domestically and internationally to recognize the importance of both information creators and users to the successful development of the digital, networked environment. The DFC believes that, just as the WIPO treaties recognize the principle of balance between the interests of copyright owners and information consumers, so should domestic law.
The Digital Future Coalition (DFC) is the result of a unique collaboration of 38 of the nation's leading non-profit educational, scholarly, library, and consumer groups, together with major commercial trade associations representing leaders in the consumer electronics, telecommunications, computer, and network access industries. The DFC is committed to striking an appropriate balance in law and public policy between protecting intellectual property and affording public access to it. Please visit the DFC website at www.dfc.org for further information.