ACRL

Association of College & Research Libraries

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Lynne E. Bradley

A recess wrap-up

The 104th Congress recessed for August as we went to press. Copyright initiatives remain pending while action has been taken on some key legislative branch appropria- tions.

NII Copyright Protec- tion Act (S.1284/H.R. 2441).It is widely regarded that this bill is “dead” after three unsuccessful attempts to “mark up” this controver- sial legislation in the House’s

Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee, coupled with an “indefinite postponement” fol- lowing the Senate Judiciary Committee’s sec- ond hearing on the bill. Staff on both sides of the Hill put the odds of a bill clearing both chambers and reaching the president at virtu- ally zero percent, although retiring House Chair- man Carlos Moorhead (R-CA) recently held out some hope for action in September.

The debate now moves to the international arena where the U.S. delegation to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) still strongly advocates adoption of comparable proposals in an international treaty to be forged this coming December in Geneva. ALA (in conjunction with the Digital Future Coalition that ALA helped establish) continues to actively urge international delegates to the coming Diplomatic Conference to defer action on the so-called “Digital Agenda” until more of an international consensus has formed regarding how international copyright laws should deal with these complicated and rapidly evolving issues and industries. ACRL members are invited to forward information about WIPO’s upcoming diplomatic conference to library and other academic colleagues here and abroad.

ACRL members can find out more about this critical matter through the ALA Washington Office and the Digital Future Coalition, whose Web site is at: http://www.dfc.org/dfc or contact Adam Eisgrau, ALA’s legislative counsel in the Washington Office: e-mail: ame@alawash. org or phone: (800) 941-8478 for further information.

Copyright Term Exten- sion Act (S. 483/H.R. 989).Legislation to extend the length of copyright protec- tion by 20 years remains pending in Congress and may be one of the few bills acted upon when the House and Senate reconvene in September prior to adjourn- ment of the 104th Congress around October 4. Although the bill remains before the

House IP Subcommittee, the full Senate Judi- ciary Committee voted in June to report this bill to the full Senate.

The legislation approved by the Senate committee included a preliminary version of a so- called “library exemption” from the 20-year extension under specified circumstances. ALA will continue its efforts to achieve a negotiated resolution of this important matter throughout the August recess and to assure that the final version placed before the House and Senate includes a balanced exception for libraries, archives, and nonprofit educational institutions.

Omnibus Patent Act(S.196l).ALA, in concert with other major library associations, opposed S. 1961 which was introduced on July 16 in the Senate by Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT). A hearing originally scheduled to be held on the bill on July 23 was postponed to September. The legislation includes a proposal to create a new, fee-funded government corporation called the Intellectual Property Organization (IPO) headed by a presidential appointee responsible to the secretary of commerce. IPO would replace both the existing Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office.

ALA will continue to actively express to Congress its longstanding opposition to separation of the Copyright Office from the Library of Congress as well as its opposition to any measure that would jeopardize the continued growth and comprehensiveness of the Library’s extraordinary collection.

Legislative Appropriations Bill Approved (H.R. 3754/S.Reρt. 104-323).On July 30 the Senate passed the legislative branch appropriations bill for FY 1997; the House passed its version on July 10; $2.17 billion was appropriated to pay for the operations of the House, Senate, and legislative branch agencies, including the Library of Congress and the Government Printing Office.

Lynne E. Bradley is deputy executive director of ALA’s Washington Office; e-mail: leb@alawash.org. This column was prepared with Adam Eisgrau, ALA Washington Office legislative counsel

The House report language stressed the use of electronic format and telecommunications technologies and that the Legislative Branch was “striving toward a CyberCongress mode whereby information can be shared more easily among the agencies and with the public at large.”

Government Printing Office. The .Senate accepted the spending levels approved by the House: $29,077,000 for the Office of the Superintendent of Documents. The largest share of this goes for the operations of the Federal Depository Library Program. This is a reduction of $1,230,000 from FY 1996 and $1,750,000 less than the Public Printer requested. Congress denied the $500,000 requested for technology grants to help depositories make the transition to a more electronic program.

The report also reflects the House acceptance of a five- to seven-year time frame for the move to electronic format recommended by the Government Printing Office, the library community, and others (reversing last year’s push by the House for a two-year transition to a more electronic depository program).

Library of Congress. The Senate passed a total of $331,758,000 for the Library of Congress in FY 1997. This includes $62,641,000 for the Congressional Research Service; $44,964,000 for books for the blind and physically handicapped; and a total of $33,402,000 for the copyright office (including the authority to spend $22,269,000 in receipts.) The Senate included $928,000 for the American Folklife Center (same level as FY 1996). The Senate passed its version of H.R. 3754 reauthorizing the Folklife Center for two years. In passing its version of H.R. 3754, the House instructed the Library of Congress to prepare a plan to transfer the Folklife Center to the Smithsonian Institution. Differences in the two versions of the bill will be resolved in conference between the Senate and House. The House version of the bill includes a total of $330,758,000 for the library. ■

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