Washington Brief - July 2000

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Dateline: May 25, 2000

Mary Alice Baish
Associate Washington Affairs Representative
Edward B. WIlliams Law Library
111 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-1417
202/662-9200 * FAX:202/662-9202
email: baish@law.georgetown.edu

See you in Philly!

The Washington Affairs Office, the Government Relations Committee and the Copyright Committee have lined up a series of exciting programs for the Philadelphia Annual Meeting. Our goal is two-fold: to bring you the latest news about policy issues that will have an impact on your ability to provide digital information and services to your patrons and to engage you in the important advocacy work of the association.  

  • Legislative Advocacy Leadership Training, Saturday, July 15 (Delegates only.)
    Special thanks to Brent Bernau and our Chapter Presidents for naming the chapter and state "delegates" who will attend this special training session, and for the special support of President Margie Axtmann. Participants will learn firsthand the complexities of our most pressing federal and state policy issues and will acquire new advocacy skills to enable them to be more effective when engaging in grassroots efforts.  
  • D-4 Legislative and Regulatory Update
    Program coordinator and GRC member Rita Reusch has once again brought us an outstanding guest speaker for this annual event at which Bob and I have the opportunity to highlight the activities of the Washington Affairs Office during the past year. Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters will address the important copyright issues of the day, including distance learning, database protection and the fair use rulemaking currently underway by the Copyright Office. Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to learn firsthand about the activities of the Copyright Office and to understand--and ask questions about--their impact on your library.  
  • E-6, F-6 Librarians Taking the Lead in Copyright Reform in the New Millennium
    The first session of this two-part program brought to you by the Copyright Committee focuses on the demonstrated role of law librarians in providing national leadership on copyright issues. The panel for part two consists of three very savvy AALL members who will explain how the recent changes to copyright law--the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act--and contract law-- UCITA--will impact the core functions and services of your institution.  
  • K-4 Privacy Issues in Personal Data Records: Walking the Tightrope with the IRSG
    Another not-to-be-missed policy program, coordinated by Michael Saint-Onge, focuses specifically on the voluntary self-regulatory principles developed by the Individual References Service Group (IRSG) to provide personal data service resources while protecting consumer privacy.
  • Current congressional efforts to enact legislation to protect consumer privacy in the online environment will also be discussed. 

FY 2001 Legislative Branch Funding Crisis

The Washington Affairs Office issued its first alert about potential devastating cuts to legislative branch agency budgets for FY 2001 in early April when it became clear that the House Subcommittee on Legislative Appropriations had targeted a $94 million cut from the FY 2000 budgets of legislative branch agencies. The House Appropriations Committee reported H.R. 4516 (H.Rept. 106-635) on May 23rd, imposing an 11% cut to GPO's Congressional Printing and Binding (CB&P) budget and a draconian 61% cut to the Salaries & Expenses (S&E) that funds the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The House cuts to the CP&B and S&E would effectively end the print publication and distribution of such key titles as the daily Congressional Record, the Federal Register, the Code of Federal Regulations, congressional reports, documents and hearings, and the 2000 version of the official U.S. Code. House Republicans maintain that Congress should no longer fund government publications in dual formats and that all information is to be made available only on the Internet or, if there is public demand for a print version, through sales. AALL has long believed that the government must not end the print distribution of core titles to depository libraries until it addresses the two most challenging issues of the digital environment:  

  • assurance of permanent public access, which is critical to guarantee that government information available today only through the Internet will be available continuously and permanently in the future; and  
  • assurance of authenticity, which is critical to guarantee that the electronic version of all government publications, especially primary legal materials, are certifiable as authentic.  
The House legislation, which also severely cuts funding for the Capitol Police, the Congressional Research Service and the General Accounting Office, has proven to be so highly contentious that the leadership is trying to find ways to add some $70 million back into the bill. Ignoring the House proposed cuts and in a show of strong support for its legislative branch agencies, the Senate reported S. 2603 (S.Rept. 106-299) on May 23rd that provides basic level funding for GPO's CP&B and S&E. We are very grateful for the Senate's strong support of the FDLP and our only concern with the Senate bill at this time is whether it provides adequate additional funding to ensure the print publication and distribution to depository libraries of the 2000 U.S. Code.

AALL members have been magnificent in responding to the alerts about this crisis sent out by the Washington Affairs Office and the GRC. Thank you, one and all! The fact that the Senate overwhelmingly rejected the House cuts and that House leadership recognizes that H.R. 4516 will not pass in its current form demonstrate the effectiveness of our lobbying efforts. The time frame for a House vote is uncertain, although it appears likely that S. 2603 may go to the Senate floor on June 6th, following the Memorial Day recess. Since members will be back in their home states and districts, this recess gives all of us additional opportunities to contact our representative and meet with them and their staffs. It is critically important that House members understand the unique role that law libraries play in providing legal and government information to our citizens. We need your help now to educate them on the important value of the depository program or we will face continued threats to the program year, after year, after year. Thanks again!

New FTC Report on Online Consumer Privacy

The Federal Trade Commission has just released its most recent analysis of the effectiveness of industry efforts to self-regulate in protecting consumer privacy on the Internet. Privacy Online: Fair Information Practices in the Electronic Marketplace: A Report to Congress (May 2000) notes that while self-regulatory efforts have achieved some real progress, the lack of broad-based implementation of such consumer protections requires legislation in order to fully protect consumers' interests and build public confidence in the fast-growing electronic marketplace. The Commission concludes that legislation would set out the basic standards of practice governing the collection of information online and that industry self-regulation would continue to play an important role under this statutory structure. The report is available as a pdf file at www.ftc.gov. Single copies are available upon request to the FTC's Consumer Response Center at 877.382.4357.