ARCHIVED: Need for Legislation to Update Distance Education for the Digital Environment

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November 1, 1999

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee Member:

I write on behalf of the undersigned education and library organizations to urge the Judiciary Committee to move quickly to amend the Copyright Act to update the distance learning exception for digital networks.

The "Report on Copyright and Digital Distance Education" presented to the Committee by the United States Copyright Office last spring presents a compelling factual record in support of its conclusion that changes in the law are needed. The report makes clear that the law must be modified in order to maintain the balance in the law between protection of content owners and the dissemination of knowledge. The report further identifies the modest changes in current law that are needed to ensure robust growth of distance learning in the next century.

With the online environment fast becoming the preferred medium for commerce and entertainment, it is critical that we assure that the information resources of the next century are equally open and available for the acquisition of knowledge and the education of future generations. We urge the Committee to act on the recommendations of the Copyright Office as soon as possible so that legislation can be enacted during this Congress.

Thank you for your consideration of our views. We look forward to working with you on this important initiative.


Stanley O. Ikenberry

On behalf of the undersigned education and library organizations:


American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers
American Association of Community Colleges
American Association of Educational Service Agencies
American Association of Law Libraries
American Association of School Administrators
American Association of State Colleges and Universities
American Council on Education
American Library Association
Association of American Universities
Association of Community College Trustees
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
Association of Research Libraries
Consortium for School Networking
Council of Graduate Schools
Council of Independent Colleges
International Society for Technology in Education
Medical Library Association
National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
National Association of College and University Business Officers
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
National Association of Independent Schools
National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges
National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
National Education Association
National Education Knowledge Industry Association
National Rural Education Association
National School Boards Association
Special Libraries Association
United States Catholic Conference
University Continuing Education Association