ARCHIVED: AALL Announcement: Action Alert

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August 5, 1999

Dear AALL Members,

A quick update on today's Commerce Committee mark up of H.R. 1858, the database bill that includes AALL language excluding primary legal materials. Chairman Bliley's opening remarks noted that there is opposition to the bill from realtors and the legal publishing industry.  He added that Commerce staff would work over the August recess with staff of the House Judiciary Committee, who have already reported out H.R. 354, the database legislation which we oppose.

Our language, Sec. 104(f), came under heavy attack from several Commerce Committee members, which was not unexpected.  Ranking Member John Dingell (D-MI) noted that the bill provides  unfettered access to facts in the public domain.  Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) reiterated that one of the purposes of the legislation is to make more government information available to the public.

The Committee unanimously voted in support of Chairman Bliley's substitute amendment that broadens the definition of government database and does include Sec. 104(f).   However, Mr. Tauzin pointed out that the bill is a "work-in-progress" and that it is important to find the proper balance with the publishers.

So, we must continue our efforts to urge support for H.R. 1858 and to raise the consciousness, particularly of the Committee leadership, about the need to retain the language of Sec. 104(f).

Our membership has done a marvelous job in responding to our grassroots alerts on this important issue.  Thank you!  As Bob and I continue negotiations here in Washington, please continue with your important advocacy work and keep those letters and phone calls coming.

FYI, AALL's August 4th letter to Commerce Committee members is at:

Thank you, Mary Alice