Press Release - 9/4/97
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September 4, 1997
Introduction of Ashcroft Bill Advances Goal of Preserving Important Copyright Balance
In a move that was welcomed by many in the high-tech industry, Senator John Ashcroft (R-MO) yesterday introduced the Digital Copyright Clarification and Technology Education Act of 1997 (S. 1146). The bill consists of three titles dealing respectively with the issues of online service provider liability; measures to bring some of the rights, limitations and exceptions of the Copyright Act into the digital age; and the implementation of the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Copyright Treaty adopted last year in Geneva. The bill's provisions represent a comprehensive and well-balanced approach to the task of updating U.S. copyright law and policy.
The American Committee for Interoperable Systems (ACIS) applauds Senator Ashcroft's efforts, and welcomes his bill as a positive effort to maintain the balance between fair use and the rights of copyright owners. ACIS particularly commended the bill for its rational treatment of the issue of technological protection measures. The Ashcroft bill takes care to focus provisions prohibiting the circumvention of technological protection measures on acts performed for illegal purposes. In contrast with other recent legislative efforts, this bill does not proscribe lawful research and testing, nor does it target technological devices themselves.
"This bill recognizes the fundamental fact that the technology itself is neutral," said Peter M.C. Choy, ACIS Chairman and Deputy General Counsel for Sun Microsystems, Inc. "It would be completely misguided to outlaw devices willy-nilly like the Administration's bill (H.R. 2281, S. 1121) does. All that accomplishes is to stifle innovation." Choy also praised the Ashcroft bill for requiring that liability for circumvention be tied to an act of copyright infringement, and for providing needed protection for intellectual property while safeguarding the interests of the public in getting access to information.
"The Ashcroft bill delivers a win-win scenario -- fair use and fair protection in one package," Choy declared. Christine Owens, Government Relations Manager for Storage Technology Corporation, agreed. "Senator Ashcroft's bill is pro-copyright, pro- innovation, pro-competition, and pro-education," Owens said. "It preserves the values that have made our current copyright system such a great success."
ACIS is a voluntary organization of more than 30 corporations in the computer industry. Members include: Advanced Micro Devices; Amdahl Corporation; Bull HN Information Systems Inc.; NCR Corporation; Seagate Technology Corporation; Storage Technology Corporation; Sun Microsystems, Inc; and 3Com Corporation. The organization supports policies and principles of intellectual property law that provide a balance between rewards for innovation and the belief that computer systems developed by different vendors must be able to communicate fully with each other. This ability to communicate is termed "interoperability," and involves the interchange of information that benefits all computer users.
For more information about ACIS, you can access the group's World Wide Web homepage at http://www.sun.com/ACIS/