Washington Brief - September 2000

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Dateline: July 27, 2000

It's very gratifying that the challenges involved in preparing for yet another busy Annual Meeting quickly dissolved as soon as I arrived in Philadelphia and saw so many familiar faces anxious to hear the latest news about the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) or the depository library budget crisis. Thanks to all who have joined AALL's advocacy bandwagon during the past year-our improved visibility as an association and our legislative impact are a direct measure of your successful advocacy efforts!

We got off to a great start in Philadelphia on Saturday, July 15th, when the Government Relations Committee and the Washington Affairs Office hosted more than fifty "delegates" representing forty-two states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, at the Legislative Advocacy Leadership Training: Challenges, Opportunities and Strategies for Success. Kennie Gill, Minority Counsel of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, and Sally G. Reed, Director of the Norfolk Public Library, were with us again this year to share tips on how to develop a successful relationship with your legislators. This year's updates focused on three legislative issues: database legislation, FY 2001 appropriations for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), and UCITA. Another legislative issue brought up by participants is the perennial challenge of getting state support for improved funding for county law libraries.

This year, we also talked quite a bit about how chapters can successfully develop a strategic grassroots plan to influence legislation. Strategies include setting goals and objectives; targeting legislators; developing key contacts and a grassroots network; generating materials on the issues; and finding allies or creating a coalition. Following the presentations, participants were asked to roll up their sleeves, select one of the legislative "scenarios" dealing with a specific issue, and work with a small group to write up their goal, objectives and tactics. Each group then reported back on their strategies, and the results were thoughtful, creative and very impressive. We're now counting on all our participants to return to their chapters as enthusiastic advocacy leaders! To learn more about other policy events in Philly, please see GRC Chair Keith Stiverson's column on page ***.

Hot Topic-The Virtual Depository Library
In response to the mandate to end the dual distribution of titles to depository libraries that is part of the House report on H.R. 4516, the FY 2001 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, the GD-SIS sponsored this very timely and well-attended Hot Topic program. The question being asked was how well, with today's challenges of locating web-based information, permanent public access and authenticity, would an all-electronic FDLP serve the public interest? Three government panelists-Superintendent of Documents Francis Buckley; Tom Freebairn, Director of the FirstGov project at the General Services Administration; and Ken Thibodeau, Director of NARA's Electronic Records Archives Program-all addressed their agency's efforts to manage electronic government information. Former GD-SIS chair Paul Arrigo served as the AALL Reactor to each presentation.

Buckley spoke of the need to ensure permanent pubic access to publications on agency websites, noting that electronic publications on the GPO Access servers will be permanently available. Freebairn described the new White House initiative to develop a major portal to all electronic government information and services by mid-September. FirstGov software that will allow full-text search capabilities is being provided free of charge by Eric Brewer, owner of Inktomi, under a unique public-private partnership plan the details of which remain very vague. Arrigo raised serious questions about funding for FirstGov, redundancy and sustainability of this project (http://www.firstgov.gov ). Thibodeau talked about NARA's five year plan to build the archives of the future, including the "Persistent Object Preservation" project being jointly carried out with the San Diego Supercomputing Center that will wrap articles in metadata and preserve them for access.

While we were enjoying our Philadelphia meetings and programs, conferees began negotiating the differences between H.R. 4516 and S. 2603, which funds the FDLP at just over $30 million, a slight increase over the FY 2000 appropriations. At the conference committee mark-up this week, conferees agreed to split the dollar difference between the bills and to fund the program at $27.9 million-$6 million below the Public Printer's request--but to allow the transfer of unexpended funds of approximately $800,000 into the FY 2001 budget. In return for this compromise by the Senate, the conference report (H. Rept. 106-796) does not contain the earlier House language that would have prevented GPO from continuing dual distribution. More on the effects of these cuts and our advocacy strategy for the coming year in next month's column!

Anticircumvention-Final Comments
AALL participated in the Joint Library Community Final Comments re: Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems submitted to the Copyright Office on June 23, 2000. Our comments, available on the Copyright Office's web site, articulated three major points:

First, that it must be made very clear that works in the public domain, works of the federal government and databases of factual information fall outside of the scope of § 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act since they are not protected by copyright law;

Second, that an exemption should only apply to persons making noninfringing uses of a copyrighted work to which they had initial lawful access;

And third, that a "particular class of works" should span all categories of copyrighted works but that it could be defined according to ceratin criteria, such as is it only available in a digital format.

An exemption from the 1201 anticircumvention language is necessary to ensure that the public continues to enjoy uses of information provided by libraries. Failure to get an exemption will lead to a pay-per-view, pay-per-use future. The content community has been well-represented during the proceeding and adamantly opposes any exemption. The Librarian of Congress will issue the new rules on October 28, 2000.

On June 29, 2000, Lyn Warmath, Library Director, Hirschler, Fleischer, Weinberg, Cox and Allen, testified in opposition to UCITA on behalf of AALL and VALL before the new Advisory Committee #5 of the Virginia Joint Commission on Technology and Science. Lyn's statement includes AALL's proposed language to exempt Virginia's libraries from the effects of UCITA (tm06292000.asp). UCITA was enacted this spring in Virginia but does not become effective until July 1, 2001 pending review by the new committee. Two librarians have been appointed to the new advisory committee, State Law Librarian Gail Warren and Ruth Kifer from George Mason University.

Since January 2000, UCITA has been enacted in only two states-Maryland and Virginia-and has been tabled in six other states. AALL members have been very helpful in alerting us to state UCITA activity, and our members have testified and/or served on advisory committees in Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia. We expect UCITA to be introduced in twenty states in the coming year and already have begun working with several chapters to coordinate statewide opposition efforts with our 4CITE coalition partners in the business community. Please contact me as soon as possible if you are aware of any UCITA activity in your state. Thanks!


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