Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 09:30:49 -0800
From: David Green <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Database Bill Vote Today--Tues May 12
May 12, 1998
As many of you will already know, the controversial "Collection of
Information Antipiracy Act" (H.R. 2652) is being voted on today. This will
create an entirely new body of protected material that can not be protected
under copyright law and will result in more material being taken out of the
I reproduce two "calls-to-action" from the American Library Association and
the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
>Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 09:20:33 -0400
>>From: ALAWASH E-MAIL (ALAWASH E-MAIL) (ALAWASH E-MAIL) <ALAWASH@alawash.org>
>To: ALA Washington Office Newsline <email@example.com>
>ALAWON Volume 6, Number 46
>ISSN 1069-7799 May 12, 1997
> American Library Association Washington Office Newsline
>In this issue: (76 lines)
> DANGEROUS DATABASE LEGISLATION ON HOUSE FLOOR TONIGHT;
> ASK FOR A -NO- VOTE TODAY ON H.R. 2652
>DANGEROUS DATABASE LEGISLATION-H.R. 2652-ON HOUSE FLOOR TONIGHT;
> PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IMMEDIATELY AND
> ASK FOR A -NO- VOTE TODAY ON H.R. 2652, THE COLLECTION OF
>INFORMATION ANTIPIRACY ACT.
>BACKGROUND: LATER TODAY, May 12, the House of Representatives
>will debate and vote on H.R. 2652, the Collection of Information
>Antipiracy Act, under a procedure that requires it to pass with a
>two-thirds majority usually reserved for non-controversial bills.
>H.R. 2652 is backed by the relatively small, but very powerful,
>group of companies of the Information Industry Association (e.g.,
>West Publishing, Reed-Elsevier and others). They are seeking
>sweeping new legal protection for databases that would restrict
>access to and excerpting of their factual compilations, even if
>those compilations did NOT qualify for copyright protection.
>Moreover, the definition of a protected database in the bill is
>so broad that almost any collection of information --even if
>entirely gathered from the public domain --would be entitled to
>this new protection. The legislation contains no meaningful fair
>Accordingly, H.R. 2652 is strongly OPPOSED by ALA, every other
>major national library and educational organization, the American
>Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Research
>Council, the Information Technology Association of America, MCI,
>AT&T, Dun & Bradstreet, and the several hundred member companies
>of the Commercial Internet Exchange.
>THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WILL VOTE ON H.R. 2652 TONIGHT.
>IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED:
>Because H.R. 2652 must pass the House with two-thirds of the
>vote, this over broad and unjustified bill could be defeated by
>fewer than 150 Representatives!
>* PLEASE CALL THE CAPITOL SWITCHBOARD IMMEDIATELY AT
>* Ask for your member of the House of Representatives by name;
>* Once connected, ask for the staff member who handles
>* Please tell them that you OPPOSE H.R. 2652 and that you urge your
>Representative to VOTE A -NO- ON H.R. 2652 when it comes to the
>House floor later today;
>* Please refer them to the ALA Washington office for more details
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>ALA Washington Office 202.628.8410 (V)
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>Lynne E. Bradley, Editor <email@example.com>
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>Contributors: Adam M. Eisgrau
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>Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 16:32:01 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Stanton McCandlish <email@example.com>
>To: firstname.lastname@example.org (effector mailing list)
>Subject: EFFector 11.06: IMMEDIATE ALERT: Stop House passage of database bill
> EFFector Online Newsletter
> Vol. 11, No. 6 May 11, 1998 email@example.com
> A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
> IN THIS ISSUE
> * IMMEDIATE ACTION ALERT, MAY 12 DEADLINE: CONTACT REPRESENTATIVES
> AGAIN TO OPPOSE DATABASE BILL
> 1. SUMMARY
> 2. IMMEDIATE ACTION TO TAKE
> 3. SAMPLE PHONE "SCRIPT" & SAMPLE FAX
> 4. BACKGROUND
> * ADMINISTRIVIA
> See http://www.eff.org for more information on EFF activities &
> IMMEDIATE ACTION ALERT, MAY 12 DEADLINE
> CONTACT REPRESENTATIVES AGAIN TO OPPOSE DATABASE BILL
> The Electronic Frontier Foundation May 4, 1998
> Please distribute widely to appropriate forums, no later than May 20,
> 1. SUMMARY
> * Latest News:
> Please call your Representative on Tue. May 12 to oppose
> anti-science, anti-journalism bill H.R. 2652. House "Collections
> of Information Antipiracy" bill, which would create a new property
> right in databases and make criminal many uses of uncopyrightable
> public-domain information without express permission from a
> database supplier, was scheduled to be voted on by the House last
> week. That vote was postponed, and is to take place Tue., May 12.
> Bill is on the fast track in the House and dangerously likely to
> be passed!
> * What You Can Do Now:
> Follow the directions below and call/fax your own Representatives.
> Ask them to oppose creation of copyright-like protections for
> public-domain information that cannot be copyrighted. Explain that
> no new legislation is needed - the database industry is more
> lucrative now than ever - and that this bill harms all citizens'
> fair use rights and undermines scientific and other inquiry,
> simply to give database companies a new "right" to own and control
> information itself.
> 2. IMMEDIATE ACTION TO TAKE
> Free speech and fair use supporters are asked to IMMEDIATELY contact
> their own Representatives, as well as House leaders, and ask them to
> to vote against the database bill, H.R. 2652, expected to pass or fail
> on the House floor on May 12, 1998. This contact shouldn't take more
> than TWO MINUTES per office.
> Urge your Representatives to refrain from voting away your right to
> know and use plain facts because some companies demand special
> privileges to control and charge for the use of public-domain
> Feel free to make use of the sample fax and phone "script" below.
> (We regret that some readers, due to Net-related delays or for other
> reasons, may not receive this alert in time to act. Sometimes Congress
> moves quickly, leaving us with insufficient warning to issue an alert
> early enough for all readers to receive it in time.)
> LOOKING UP YOUR REPRESENTATIVE'S CONTACT INFO
> See EFF's Contacting Congress factsheet at http://www.eff.org/congress
> which provides links to places to look up who your legislator is if
> necessary, and to obtain their phone and fax numbers. Please PHONE
> first, FAX second. Time is short enough that some of the faxes may
> simply not make it in time.
> If you can spare a few extra minutes, try working your way down this
> list of House leadership, as well as contacting your own Rep:
> Party Last Name, First Name Voice Phone Fax
> R GA/06 Gingrich, Newt 1-202-225-4501 1-202-225-4656+
> R TX/26 Armey, Richard 1-202-225-7772 1-202-226-8100+
> D MO/03 Gephardt, Richard 1-202-225-2671 1-202-225-7452+
> R TX/22 DeLay, Tom 1-202-225-5951 1-202-225-5241
> D MI/10 Bonior, David 1-202-225-2106 1-202-226-1169
> R OH/08 Boehner, John 1-202-225-6205 1-202-225-0704
> R CA/47 Cox, Christopher 1-202-225-5611 1-202-225-9177
> D CA/03 Fazio, Vic 1-202-225-5716 1-202-225-5141
> D MD/05 Hoyer, Steny 1-202-225-4131 1-202-225-4300
> (+ These are the most important to contact - call/fax them first.)
> House leaders are, respectively: Speaker, Majority Leader, Minority
> Leader, Maj. Whip, Min. Whip, Republican Conference Chair, Rep. Policy
> Committee Chair, Democratic Caucus Chair, Dem. Steering Cmte. Chair
> 3. SAMPLE PHONE "SCRIPT" & SAMPLE FAX
> If you would like to both call, and send a fax, this extra action
> would certainly help.
> For best results, try to put this in your own (short!) words, and be
> calmly emotive without being hostile.
> IF YOU ARE A CONSTITUENT (i.e., you live in the same district as the
> Rep. you are contacting) make sure to say so. For example "I am a
> constituent, and I'm calling/writing because...."
> IF YOU REPRESENT A COMPANY OR ORGANIZATION, say so: "I'm Jane Person
> from Personal Technologies Inc. of Austin. I'm calling on behalf of
> Personal Technologies to ask the Representative to...." Business
> interests carry a lot of weight with many legislators, especially if
> they are in the legislator's home district. Legislators also generally
> heed organizational voices over individiual ones. On this issue
> especially, legislators needs to hear a commercial viewpoint OPPOSING
> this bill.
> PHONE "SCRIPT"
> You: [ring ring]
> Legislative staffer: Hello, Representative Lastname's office.
> You: I'm calling to urge Representative Lastname to REJECT the
> so-called "Collections of Information Antipiracy Act", H.R. 2652.
> This bill is missing key definitions and creates new property
> rights in databases and the raw data contained in them, at the
> expense of ALL citizens' rights to know and use plain facts and
> information. This bill threatens fair use and freedom of speech and
> press. The database industry has not proven any need for this
> legislation, and it is simply yet another attempt to extend
> copyright-like protection to public-domain material that can't be
> copyrighted. The bill is not responsive to WIPO treaty language and
> it provides for excessive and injust penalties. There is no need
> for this legislation, and I urge Representative Lastname to REJECT
> H.R. 2652. Thank you.
> Staffer: OK, thanks. [click]
> It's that easy.
> You can optionally ask to speak to the legislator's technology &
> intellectual property staffer. You probably won't get to, but the
> message may have more weight if you succeed. The staffer who first
> answers the phone probably won't be the tech/i.p. staffer.
> SAMPLE FAX
> See above for how to get relevant Congressional fax numbers. Please,
> if you have the time, write your own 1-3 paragraph letter in your own
> words, rather than send a copy of this sample letter. (However,
> sending a copy of the sample letter is far better than taking no
> Dear Rep. Lastname:
> I'm writing to urge you to reject the excessive intellectual
> property protections for database maintainers as contained in H.R.
> 2652, the "Collections of Information Antipiracy Act." This bill,
> while being touted as as a piece of antipiracy legislation,
> actually makes most uses of pure information contained in a
> database illegal without prior permission from the database
> maintainer. The Act does not create useful exceptions for the fair
> use of information, and key definitions of crucial terms, such as
> "collection" and "substantial part" are missing. Furthermore the
> penalties called for - up to $500,000 and 10 years in prison - are
> excessive and injust.
> The database industry is booming and is quite lucrative for
> companies collecting and disseminating information. At present, the
> law requires database collectors to add some originality to the
> information collected before the collectors receive a legally
> recognized property right in the database. H.R. 2652 would change
> this, giving collectors property rights in raw information that has
> traditionally and properly been in the public domain. This assault
> on the public's fair use rights and freedom of speech and press
> will have dire consequences for science, medicine, journalism,
> political campaigning, and legal research. Additionally, the bill
> is simply not responsive in any way to the requirements of recent
> WIPO treaties. WIPO rejected such a "database giveaway".
> The database industry has not demonstrated a clear need for this
> legislation, and the public interest is harmed by giving these
> companies additional rights to control plain facts and information.
> H.R. 2652 represents an attempt by some information collection
> owners to fortify their markets through manipulating the legal
> system (instead of through fair competition and the addition of
> value) by raising fears of electronic piracy of information over
> the Internet and through new information technologies. Congress
> should wait until specific and definable market failures become
> apparent before acting to correct them, and even then not in a way
> as broad and vague as that attempted in H.R. 2652.
> My Name Here
> My Address Here
> (Address is especially important if you want your letter to be taken
> as a letter from an actual constituent.)
> For brief tips on writing letters to Congress, see:
> http://www.vote-smart.org/contact/contact.html The most important tip
> is to BE POLITE AND BRIEF. Swearing will NOT help.
> Note for non-US activists: You may wish to contact the House
> leadership listed above, but focus on the argument that WIPO rejected
> the approach taken by this bill because it was highly controversial.
> Perhaps suggests that passage of this bill will simply undo WIPO
> efforts to synchronize intellectual property law around the world, and
> further harm trade between the US and the EU (and other areas.) Avoid
> the argument that non-US interests, especially commercial interests,
> need access to information in American-owned databases (unless you are
> writing to describe a situation in which US interests are thwarted
> because your company or organization will be harmed by the bill, and
> you are working with US companies in some kind of joint effort). US
> legislators see the US as an intellectual property leader, in
> competition with the globe, and would probably like the idea that US
> monetary interests are boosted at the expense of foreigners.
> 4. BACKGROUND
> THE LATEST NEWS
> H.R. 2652, the "Collections of Information Antipiracy Act", introduced
> by Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), expands the rights of database creators
> and maintainers, at the expense of YOUR rights to know and use plain
> and available facts and information. The bill has been put on the fast
> track, and is up for a "suspension rules" vote, by the entire House in
> which it cannot be amendmed to fix its flaws (but can only pass with a
> 2/3 majority vote.) An exception is that the principal sponsor can
> amend it at will (probably not for the better). A lot of big money is
> behind this legislation, so the danger of its passage is high.
> Concerns that it would undermine science were enough to get the vote
> postponed last week, but this argument seems to have been insufficient
> to kill the bill. Congress needs to hear from YOU, and especially
> needs to hear from US companies that would be harmed by this
> The bill, the latest in a long series of efforts by certain commercial
> interests to extend copyright-like protections to that which belongs
> to the public and cannot be copyrighted, authorizes enormous civil and
> criminal penalties (up to $250,000 and/or 5 years in prison for a
> first offense; $500,000 and/or 10 years in prison for subsequent
> convictions!) against anyone who uses uncopyrightable, public domain
> data collected in a database without the express consent of the
> company that controls that database.
> The Act, backed by major database maintainers such as Microsoft, Reed
> Elsevier, and West Publishing, is designed to create a new crime
> against those who extract or commercially use a "substantial part" of
> a collection of information gathered, organized or maintained by
> another person "through a substantial investment of money or other
> resources" so as to harm the data collector's "actual or potential"
> market for a product or service that incorporates that collection of
> The main problem with the bill is that key terms are either not
> defined or are poorly defined, leaving huge loopholes that render
> literally all information, data, and facts vulnerable under the Act.
> For example, even though the bill is titled the "Collections of
> Information Antipiracy Act," the term "collection" is not defined.
> "Substantial part" is not defined. The terminology is vague enough
> that just about anything could be considered a "substantial part" (cf.
> court decisions regarding digital sampling of one song for sound
> effects in another; generally if the sound bite is recognizable at all
> it is considered "substantial" and still owned by the original
> creator. It is unlikely that we can rely on the courts to narrowly
> interpret this legislation should it pass.)
> And "information" is defined as "facts, data, works of authorship, or
> any other intangible material capable of being collected and organized
> in a systematic way," an extremely broad definition that could include
> just about anything! The legislation amounts to a roundabout form of
> censorship that could severely harm journalism, medicine, scientific
> inquiry, academia, consumer watchdogging, the Freedom of Information
> Act, the democratic political process itself, and many other areas and
> avenues of inquiry about, and/or use of, raw information and facts.
> Unfortunately, while Congress has been feeling intensifying pressure
> from the database maintainers to pass this legislation, they have not
> been hearing from those opposed to the bill. YOUR immediate action is
> needed to stop it from passing the House.
> EFFector is published by:
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