Press Release for the Senate Judicary Committee Hearings

May 7, 1996
Contact: Ephraim Cohen
Digital Future Coalition
(202) 628-6048


Digital Future Coalition Says Amendments Needed to Balance NII Copyright Protection Act of 1995

Washington, DC, May 7, 2020

Calling for Congress to ensure that cyberspace copyright law remains appropriately balanced between the interests of copyright holders and users of copyrighted material, a Digital Future Coalition (DFC) spokesman today outlined a seven-point package of amendments to S.1284, the NII Copyright Protection Act of 1995. The changes were recommended during hearings on the Clinton Administration's proposal before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch(R. Utah) and Patrick Leahy(D. Vermont), S.1284 is based on recommendations made by the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights after two years of study of consumers' use of copyrighted works on the Internet.

DFC Spokesman Robert L. Oakley, Professor of Intellectual Property Law, Director of the Georgetown Center Law Library and Washington Affairs Representative for the American Association of Law Libraries, told the committee, " Congress now has a golden opportunity (and a responsibility) to bring all of the critical precepts at the core of copyright law into the digital future together and in balance."

DFC recommended several clarifications to S.1284 to ensure that the nature and scope of the Fair Use Doctrine would be made clear in the legislation, that there would not be overbroad restrictions on the manufacture of devices and systems needed to make fair use rights real, and that commercial and non-commercial use of the NII and GII would not be "dramatically chilled by the potential for crippling legislation and liability." It also offered new provisions on the Fair Use and First Sale doctrines and recommended that Section 1201, regarding "Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems" be stricken from the bill.

To "better assure that the critical balance in the copyright law is maintained," the DFC's seven-point proposal included new provisions to:

  • Make clear that RAM and other "ephemeral" reproductions are not "copies" within the meaning of the bill
  • Clarify that the Fair Use doctrine applies to the transmission of copyrighted works
  • Maximize libraries' ability to preserve the nation's cultural and scholarly heritage
  • Affirm that the "First Sale" doctrine applies to digital copies lawfully acquired by electronic transmission to the same extent that it applies to physical analog copies
  • Assure that the public is not deprived of advances in "distance education" for elementary, secondary and higher education
  • Adopt product-specific, industry developed solutions to questions of reproduction of intellectual property, and abandon the current anti-technology approach

Focus criminal prosecutions only on actions with the intent to infringe copyright, and study carefully the potential for compromising network users' privacy imposed by "copyright management information" systems.

Oakley said the imbalance of copyright protection included in S.1284, "not only threatens consumer interests and to inhibit or preclude the emergence of new business models in cyberspace, but also promises to retard the very 'Progress in Science and the useful Arts' that led the Framers of the Constitution to grant Congress the power to award copyrights over two centuris ago."

The Digital Future Coalition's membership is drawn from both the public and private sectors. The DFC members collectively represent more than 2.2 million individuals, corporations and organizations with direct interests in the continued growth and development of the National Information Infrastructure. The members of the DFC are committed to supporting proposals which promote innovation in the information and technology industries, personal privacy in electronic communication, and public access to information resources, as well as appropriate protection for copyrighted content in the digital environment.




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