Washington Brief - October 2000

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Dateline: August 31, 2000

December Teleconference on UCITA
AALL, the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the Medical Library Association and the Special Libraries Association are jointly sponsoring an extremely important teleconference on what you need to know about the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA). Scheduled for December 13, 2000, it will provide you with the basics about UCITA�which has been enacted already in Maryland and Virginia and will be introduced in about 20 states next year�as well as strategies for advocacy efforts. The four very talented presenters (including AALL's own Sally Wiant) have been very active in speaking out against the anti-library provisions of this very controversial legislation in their states. More information, including how to register as a host site for the teleconference, will be forthcoming in a AALL broadcast e-mail.

A New Federal Chief Information Officer?
Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va-11) introduced legislation just before the August recess that would create a federal chief information officer responsible for advising the President on information technology and security. The Federal Information Policy Act of 2000 (H.R. 5024) establishes a federal CIO in charge of a new Office of Information Policy within the executive branch. The legislation centralizes information technology management powers currently in the Office of Management and Budget in a single office responsible for coordinating and managing information technology policies and practices government-wide. The legislation also creates within this new body an Office of Information Security and Technical Protection (IN STEP) to develop a framework for implementing efficient government information security controls. H.R. 5024 also revises the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. We will be actively engaged in the progress of this legislation, particularly regarding the need for strong provisions on public access, when it is taken up by the 107th Congress next year.

First Sale Doctrine-Joint Library Comments
Joint library comments regarding the future of the first sale doctrine in the digital age were submitted to the Copyright Office on August 4, 2000 as part of a study mandated by Section 104 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Our comments reiterated many of the points raised in our earlier comments regarding the anticirumvention provisions of the DMCA in that fair use, preservation and the first sale doctrine are as important in a digital environment as they are in the print world.

Ever-new and sophisticated technological measures, coupled with restrictive licensing terms that limit uses that are lawful under the first sale doctrine, present new barriers to access to information for our users. These restrictive practices negatively impact interlibrary loan, offsite use of digital information and archiving. Our joint comments request that the Copyright Office recommend legislative changes to update the first sale doctrine for digital works, and that public hearings be held before the Copyright Office issues its report to Congress. (http://www.aallnet.org/aallwash/letters.asp)

More on FirstGov
Since our annual meeting and the Hot Topic presentation on FirstGov, I have attended meetings with Sally Katzen, Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget, and high level officials at the General Services Administration as we try to learn more about the new FirstGov locator that is due to be unveiled the end of September (http://www.firstgov.gov/). While the development of a comprehensive search engine as powerful as FirstGov purports to be is welcome indeed, among the more troubling aspects are the very unclear plans under which companies become FirstGov "Certified Partners."

This "branding" process allows companies direct access to the FirstGov database while requiring that they: use the government information "as is"; provide uninterrupted free access; not track any personally identifiable information; not associate federal government information in an inappropriate context or content; attribute it to the federal government; ensure access to persons with disabilities; and establish methods for user feedback. The incentives for a company to participate under these conditions, to access what is public domain information, remain blurry at this time.

Second NCLIS Study on NTIS
I am participating in one of four panels on the future of the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) and an assessment of government information dissemination policy in a study underway by the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) at the request of the Senate Commerce Committee. This study builds upon NCLIS' "Preliminary Assessment" on NTIS completed last March and is due to the President and Congress by December 15, 2000. Panel 1 is reviewing the NTIS Business Model and changes that may be necessary given the e-government environment; Panel 2 is looking at Internal Government Reforms; Panel 3 is examining External User Needs (including libraries, universities, public interest groups and individual users); and Panel 4 on Public-Private Sector Partnerships is looking at redefining public-private sector roles and initiatives.

Panel 4, of which I am a member, is planning to report on the following issues: preservation and permanent public access, authentication, locator tools, user assistance, and channels of distribution. We also are reviewing a 1982 NCLIS report on public/private roles in providing government information. As part of our charge, we will be examining each of these issues in light of the potential roles for the government, the private sector and non-profit institutions.


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