ARCHIVED: Legislative and Regulatory Update - June1998

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Dateline: April 30, 1998

Mary Alice Baish
Assistant Washington Affairs Representative
Edward B. WIlliams Law Library
111 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-1417
202/662-9200 * FAX:202/662-9202

It hardly seems possible that this is my last column before our "New Horizons"Annual Meeting in July. Bob and I are very excited about the excellent array of programs selected by Michael Saint-Onge and the hard-working Anaheim Program Selection Committee. As we've done in past years, we'd like to personally invite you to the following programs that will give an up-to-date perspective on the important information policy issues that we have been involved in during the past year. We look forward to seeing you in Anaheim!

Join us for the annual Legislative and Regulatory Update (A6) on Sunday, July 12th. at 10 a.m., coordinated by Lisa Peters and Shirley David of the Government Relations Committee. This year GRC chair Jackie Wright will tell you about all the exciting things the GRC has accomplished over the past year, including very successful outreach to our chapters. The guest speaker is California Assemblywoman Debra Bowen (D-Torrance/Marina del Rey) who has been a leader in advocating a more open state government and has authored several bills to improve electronic access to California's public records. Ms. Bowen will discuss how librarians and legislators can work effectively together to draft and get enacted important legislation. And Bob and I will of course be on hand to talk about our activities over the very hectic past year, including up-to-the-minute news about where we are in the legislative process to implement the WIPO copyright treaties and to reform Title 44, among other issues. We're pleased that we have been given a full two hours for this year's program and you're certain to find it a very valuable session.

On Monday afternoon, Bob will moderate a lively debate on Information Privacy and Data Protection: Debating the New Horizon in Law and Technology (E6) that puts Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Karen Coyle of the California Digital Library up against Tim Davies of LEXIS-NEXIS and Jerry Cerasale of the Direct Marketing Association. This session will provide information about privacy issues, both national and international, and contain lots of "hot news" particularly since the White House and the Department of Commerce are preparing to issue new privacy reports in June and early July. Try to find time in your hectic schedule to read the speakers' submissions in the proceedings handbook before attending this program so that you'll be ready with questions!

Other programs that are on my personal not-to-miss list are New Initiatives in the Nation's Library (B5) coordinated by Marie-Louise Bernal of the Law Library of Congress. This program will provide a great opportunity to learn the latest about the Library's digital initiatives and its plans for a Bicentennial international legal conference on constitutional law. Charlene Cain, chair-elect of the Government Documents (GD) SIS, is coordinating two excellent programs. Policy, Guidelines and "Gentleman's Agreements"--Government Information in the Shadows (C5) includes a trio of fabulous speakers--Tom Blanton, Shelley Dowling, and Gregory Harness--to talk about the treasure trove of government information that is hard if not impossible to track down. Discover a New Horizon for Government Information Resources (D8) coordinated by Cecily Giardina will provide tips on locating government information during this somewhat confused and chaotic transition between print and electronic formats, with a special emphasis on foreign and international documents. My Dinner with GPO (E4), the second program coordinated by Charlene Cain, stars GD-SIS chair Paul Arrigo and Superintendent of Documents Fran Buckley in an informal take-off of "My Dinner with Andre." The topic of discussion will be the transition to a more electronic Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and how changes in the delivery of government information affect law libraries, particularly in terms of service to the public. Greta Boeringer is coordinating another program on the FDLP, Law Libraries and the FDLP: Balancing the Interests (G8) at which Pat Kehoe will examine the pros and cons for law libraries of participating in the depository library program. Another fine session on foreign documents is The Information Society: European Union Documents in the United States (H7) that Anne Burnett has planned. You'll learn all there is to know about the valuable resources of the fifty European Union depository libraries strategically located throughout the U.S.

For those following the drafting of a new Uniform Commercial Code Article 2B, don't miss Negotiating License Agreements: The Pitfalls of UCC 2B (F9 and G9). This two-parter coordinated by Anne Jennings is critically important and provides both the policy and the practical information you need when dealing with licenses. Part I will provide background on how Article 2B relates to copyright as well as an update on the current drafting status. Part II will be a practical demonstration by librarians and representatives from the commercial sector to help you learn how to develop good license-agreement negotiation strategies. Another valuable program offered by the Copyright Committee is Encryption and Watermarks: The Future of Copyright? (H4), coordinated by Steven Anderson. This program will delve into new policy issues brought about by cyberspace while examining how current copyright law fits into the equation. Of special interest will be the discussion on the fair use and first sale doctrines, and how you should be preparing for this brave new world.

EFOIA Report

The non-profit public interest group OMB Watch recently issued a report on federal agency compliance with the Electronic Freedom of Information Act (EFOIA) enacted in 1996. The EFOIA mandates that agencies respond to FOIA requests for electronic information, including e-mail and databases, and that agencies provide "reading rooms" and reference guides to assist the public in obtaining both print and electronic information under FOIA. The deadline for agencies to develop these guides was the end of last year.

Of the 135 Internet sites throughout 57 agencies examined for this report in January, OMB Watch concludes that not one single agency is fully compliant with the law. The report lays some of the blame on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for failing to give adequate guidance to agencies and for "a pattern of apathy toward public access to government information." Even while criticizing OMB and most agencies, the report does commend a handful of agencies, including the Department of Justice, for providing helpful information guides to users or for permitting online FOIA requests. The report, Arming the People "...with the power knowledge gives": A Report on the Implementation of The Electronic Freedom of Information Amendments of 1996, is available at /ombw/info/efoiareport.pdf.