EFFector Vol. 11, No. 15 Oct. 5, 1998 email@example.com
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
IN THE 143nd ISSUE OF EFFECTOR:
* ALERT: Join Blue Ribbon Campaign and Fight "Son of CDA"
* ALERT: Contact Copyright/Database Bill Conference Committee - Last
Chance! (Oct. 6 deadline!)
+ LATEST NEWS
+ IMMEDIATE ACTION TO TAKE
+ FURTHER DETAILS
* ALERT: Contact Senators to Demand Online Access to Public
+ WHAT TO DO
See http://www.eff.org for more information on EFF activities & alerts!
Electronic Frontier Foundation Sep. 5, 1998
ALERT: Join Blue Ribbon Campaign and Fight "Son of CDA"
Please redistribute this alert to friends that would appreciate it,
and to APPROPRIATE forums.
No less than three versions of the Coats/Istook "Son of CDA" or "CDA
II" Internet censorship bills are being considered soon for passage by
Congress. Please join the Blue Ribbon Campaign today to help spread
the word and raise opposition to this unconstitutional, unhelpful and
If you support free speech on the Net, please show that support
visually and actively by posting the Blue Ribbon for Online Freedom of
Expression on YOUR web pages. It's really easy. Full instructions are
available (along with sample HTML you can just copy-and-paste right
into your Web page), along with action alerts and background
information, at the Blue Ribbon Campaign site, at:
Next, please contact your own Representatives and Senators and urge
them to vote against ANY Internet censorship provisions. The
committees and hearings have run their course, and Congress only has a
few legislative days left in which to pass - or abandon - all pending
legislation. Don't waste any time! If you are unsure who your
legislators are or how to contact them, you can simply follow Action
Item #1 at the Blue Ribbon page to send a free fax to your legislators
via the web, or for phone and other contact info, see EFF's
"Contacting Congress" Factsheet, at:
Even after the CDA II battle is over, threats to the intellectual
freedom online will surely continue to appear, locally, nationally,
and globally. So please keep your Blue Ribbons up. Our Blue Ribbon
icon automatically changes to an "ALERT" icon when censorship threats
are afoot, and will instantly update on your page, if you link to our
copy as per the instructions on the site.
If you run a commercial web site, please also consider joining the
campaign. There is probably no better way of spreading the word than
by online organizatoins and companies providing this grassroots action
network on their own sites for all of their visitors to notice. If
your site would like to contribute banner ad space in the style of an
online public service announcement, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Non-U.S. activists: A) Keep track of Net censorship issues locally,
and publicize them. Let us know, and we'll help spread the word. B)
Consider working with other concerned Net users in your area to set up
your own localized Blue Ribbon Campaign page, and let us know about it
so that we can link to it. Make sure it is regularly maintained. C) To
help stop the U.S. censorship laws, there's not a whole lot you can
do. About the only foreign voice Congress will pay much heed to in
this debate is going to be from members of the business sector that
are working in close partnership with U.S. companies - stress that
your company has U.S. partners, and that that these bills would impede
the growth and utility of the Internet and increase transborder
liability and legal uncertainty, threatening not only your business
but that of your U.S. partners. If you aren't in such a situation, try
pressuring your government to in turn pressure the US government to
stop trying to gag and blindfold the Net. It's a long shot, but
perhaps worth a little effort. Most of your activist energy, however,
should probably be spent in your own area. If your lawmakers have not
already passed a censorship law, it's a safe bet they are thinking
Cutoff date: Please do not distribute this alert after Jan. 1999.
Check the Blue Ribbon Campaign site for newer information.
Oct. 5, 1998 DFC/EFF
ALERT: Contact Copyright/Database Bill Conference Committee - Last Chance!
URGENT!!! HELP PRESERVE THE FUTURE OF FAIR USE AND DATABASE ACCESS:
IT'S "NOW OR (PERHAPS) NEVERMORE"
Tentative Deadline: Oct. 6, 1998 - If you receive this alert after
Oct. 6, please check http://www.dfc.org for the status of this
legislation and/or an updated alert.
It's official. The "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" (H.R. 2281/S.
2037) is now before a Senate/House Conference Committee that's poised
to act fast. It could meet for the LAST time as early as Tuesday, Oct.
IMMEDIATE ACTION TO TAKE:
Even if you've never contacted Congress before, now is the time to
phone and fax all members of the Conference Committee listed below
(especially if you are a constituent) to ask that they:
(1) SUPPORT **no less protection for fair use** than that afforded by
the House's version of the bill (H.R. 2281). the Senate's version (S.
2037), contains no fair use protection at all); AND
(2) OPPOSE the inclusion of any "database protection" legislation in
the final version of the bill. Title V of the House bill attempts to
grant intellectual property legal protection to databases and the
information they contain, even if they are just basic, public facts.
The Senate bill does not meddle in this area.
It's also urgent that both of your Senators -- even though neither may
be on the Conference Committee -- be asked to contact Senate
conference committee leaders Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy
(D-VT) immediately to relay the two critical messages above. For
on-line sample letters, e-mail connections to your Members of Congress
and more background information, please visit the ALA Washington
Office Web site at:
With your help this past week, we have made headway, especially on the
"database protection" front: 15 Senators have now written Conference
Committee members urging that the database bill be "delinked" from the
larger and substantively unrelated WIPO copyright package. They are:
Senators Bond (R-MO), Burns (R-MT), Conrad (D-ND), D'Amato (R-NY),
Dorgan (D-ND), Kerry (D-MA), Lieberman (D-CT), Mikulski (D-MD),
Moynihan (D-NY), Rockefeller (D-WV), Sarbanes (D-MD), Shelby
(R-AL), Snowe (R-ME), Warner (R-VA) and Wyden (D-OR).
If you live in any of these Senators' states, please be sure to fax
and phone your thanks to these Senators right away. They are under
heavy pressure from database protection proponents to withdraw their
objections to this seriously flawed legislation. Your immediate
support and thanks will help them hold the line! For more information
on how to find out who your senators are and contact them, see:
"DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT" CONFERENCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS
ST PARTY SENATOR PHONE FAX
SC R Strom Thurmond 224-5972 224-1300
UT R Orrin G. Hatch 224-5251 224-6331
VT D Patrick J. Leahy 224-4242 n/a [*]
ST-DST PARTY REPRESENTATIVE PHONE FAX
CA-26 D Howard L. Berman 225-4695 n/a [*]
LA-03 R W. J. Tauzin 225-4031 225-0563
MI-14 D John Conyers 225-5126 225-0072
MI-16 D John D. Dingell 225-4071 225-4637
NC-06 R Howard Coble 225-3065 225-8611
VA-06 R Bob Goodlatte 225-5431 225-9681
VA-07 R Tom Bliley 225-2815 225-0011
(All country & area codes are +1 202.)
[* These legislators have changed their fax numbers and the new
numbers are not yet publicly available. Constituents may be able to
coax a new fax number out of staffers during a voice call.]
With less than two weeks, and even fewer "legislative days", remaining
in the 105th Congress, now is the time that the wheels within the
wheels either mesh to produce legislation that gets to the President's
desk . . . or don't. NEA, together with its many partners in the
library community, and the Digital Future Coalition are fighting hard
to assure that the last minute deals that are the hallmark of this
end-of-Congress environment don't reverse progress made to date in
protecting public access to information or catapult unripe proposals
into law which could jeopardize such access. Both of these dangerous
scenarios could easily become reality with respect to the major
intellectual property legislation on which libraries have worked so
hard in this Congress. That's why your letters now are so critical.
The details of database protection and WIPO treaty implementation
legislation can be complicated, but the key concepts underlying
educators' work on these bill are as familiar as common sense:
(1) DATABASE: Both the Departments of Commerce and Justice and the FTC
have submitted analyses to Congress expressing major concerns,
including potential unconstitutionality, with the "Collections of
Information Antipiracy Act" (S. 2291/H.R. 2652/H.R. 2281 Title V).
This database protection legislation could radically restrict access
to non-copyrightable information. Thus, it should not be rushed
through Congress at the last minute without Senate hearings, whether
as a separate bill or as part of the "Digital Millennium Copyright
Act" (H.R. 2281), a bill to implement the World Intellectual Property
Organization (WIPO) copyright treaties, with which it was merged by
the House in August. ALA other public- and private-sector
organizations and companies wrote to Judiciary Committee Chairman
Orrin Hatch last week asking him to defer action on this controversial
measure until the next Congress. A copy of this joint letter is posted
on the Internet at:
(2) WIPO: Legislation to implement the WIPO treaties was first passed
by the Senate as S. 2037 without any provision for the future
protection of fair use and various other kinds of lawful access to
information now afforded by the Copyright Act. In the House, however,
efforts by key members of the Commerce Committee succeeded in writing
basic access safeguards into H.R. 2281 as approved by the full House
in early August. When the Senate and House meet to determine the final
form of WIPO treaty legislation, as they will soon, the House bill's
protections for fair use and other kinds of lawful access to
information must be incorporated in the finished product.
For detailed assessments of the pending database legislation (S.
2291/H.R. 2652) and of the pluses and minuses of the version of the
WIPO treaty bill adopted by the House in early August (H.R. 2281)
please point your browser to the Digital Future Coalition Web site:
The Digital Future Coalition (DFC), of which EFF is a member, is 42
non-profit and for-profit entities that are committed to fighting for
balanced intellectual property law (copyright) in the digital era.
This Electronic Frontier Foundation alert is based on a DFC alert.
As always with short-notice alerts, we regret that some readers will
not receive this in time to act. Congress is moving *very* quickly on
many issues of late, and it is not always possible to issue alerts
with several days of lead time, unfortunately.
Sep. 4, 1998 CPT/EFF Alert
ALERT: Contact Senators to Demand Online Access to Public Documents
U. S. Senate Bill (S. 2288) to "Reform" Laws on Distributing
Government Information to the Public Needs Strengthening
Please Call Your Senators to Urge Them to Amend the Bill to Require the
Federal Government to Place its Most Important Documents on the Internet
The U. S. Senate may vote soon on a bill, the Government Publications
Reform Act (S. 2288), that would re-write much of the federal law
governing the distribution of federal government information to the
public. The bill boasts of its purpose to "broaden, strengthen, and
enhance public access to all Government publications," and would set
federal government policy for the 21st century. However, it would do
little to expand public access to the most important federal
government documents, and would not require the federal government to
place these documents on the Internet.
Although Congress was quick to put the Starr report on the Internet,
Congress keeps off the Internet many of the most useful congressional
materials, including the most important texts of bills and committee
reports (especially draft versions) Congressional Research Service
(CRS) documents, full congressional voting records and many
congressional hearing records.
The Government Publications Reform Act would not place these important
materials on the Internet. That's right. The bill aiming to be our
Twenty-First Century government records policy amazingly simply
"forgets" that the Internet exists! Senators need to amend the bill on
the Senate floor to require the federal government to place these
documents online for public access, as well as create and make
available a database of all federal court decisions since the founding
of the United States, using a public (not commercial and monopolized)
Taxpayers deserve to read the federal government documents that we pay
for. Americans ought to have easy access to the laws that we are
supposed to obey. Fortunately, the Internet is an efficient and
inexpensive technology for distributing government information to the
public. The marginal cost of disseminating government information over
the Internet is essentially zero. Congress ought to use this
technology to distribute the core documents of our democracy to the
public, and without additional cost to readers.
Although the Government Publications Reform Act would provide some
executive branch documents to federal depository libraries, it would
do little to fix Washington's two-tiered system of information
distribution. That system provides many Washington lobbyists, and
their predominantly corporate clients, with excellent access to
important congressional documents. Meanwhile, most citizens cannot
easily, if at all, obtain the congressional documents they need to
advocate on their own behalf.
An ironic example of the bill's loopholes came to light this week
during its consideration before the Senate Rules Committee. On
September 28, the bill was voted out of the Rules Committee, as
amended by a Chairman's Mark. However, the Chairman's Mark, which made
significant changes to the bill, was not available on the Internet,
nor would the bill require that chairman's marks be placed on the
Internet in the future.
We must urge our Senators to amend the Government Publications Reform
Act to heed the warnings of James Madison: "A popular Government,
without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a
Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will
forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own
Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
On September 28, the Senate Rules Committee amended S. 2288 to remove
a serious flaw in the bill which would likely have given the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) authority over the U. S. Government
Printing Office (GPO). OMB has a dismal record of ensuring that
government documents are distributed to the public. OMB authority over
GPO could have injured the distribution of government documents via
the Internet and to the federal depository libraries. The new version
of the bill would establish the new GPO "as an independent entity in
the Federal government, independent of executive agencies" which would
make GPO less vulnerable to the destructive meddlings of OMB.
WHAT TO DO:
Please call your senators to urge them to amend S. 2288 to require the
federal government to place its most important documents on the
* all federal court decisions since the founding of the United
States, with a public domain citation system;
* the most important texts of bills, such as chairman's marks,
discussion drafts, and committee prints, as soon as they are
printed or made available to lobbyists or members of a committee
* draft committee and conference reports;
* Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports and products;
* a non-partisan, easily searchable database of congressional voting
* all Congressional hearing records.
The Congressional switchboard phone number is (202) 224-3121. For more
information on contacting your Senators, see EFF's "Contacting
Congress" Factsheet, at:
Cutoff Date: Please do not distribute this alert after Nov. 1, 1998.
See the CAP Web site for updated information on public access to
Congressional and other documents.
This Electronic Frontier Foundation alert is based on an original by
the Congressional Accountability Project (CAP). CAP can be reached at:
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