September 24, 1997
Honorable Howard Coble
Dear Mr. Chairman:
I write to share my appreciation for the courtesies you extended in inviting me to testify on behalf of the Digital Future Coalition, as well as to provide additional materials for the record with respect to H.R. 2281.
As you may recall, the Digital Future Coalition urged the Subcommittee to adopt a conduct-oriented approach to Section 1201 in lieu of the device-oriented approach recommended by the Administration. We were thus pleased that, in answer to a question from Mr. Boucher, Commissioner Lehman agreed that the WIPO treaties do not require a device-oriented approach. We think it important for the record to show that this view is shared by 60 respected law professors, who in a recent letter to you (copy enclosed) stated:
"[T]he Diplomatic Conference conclusively rejected the proposition that the duty to provide protection and remedies against "circumvention" must take the form of a general prohibition on devices...."
If any new legislation is required now to fulfill the mandate of the treaties, it should be of the kind that those treaties specifically anticipate -- a measure providing protection and legal remedies against the act of circumvention itself, when that circumvention is undertaken for an unlawful purpose.
We understand Mr. Boucher intends to offer an alternative to Section 1201 that would be conduct-oriented and that would fulfill any U.S. obligations under the treaties. We urge you to consider his alternative formulation as a means of resolving what could otherwise be a contentious and lengthy debate.
We support your decision to consider H.R. 2281 and H.R. 2180 as a package. We think it important to consider as well as part of such a comprehensive bill the issues raised by Mr. Boucher and other Subcommittee Members during the hearing, such as fair use, first sale, library preservation, and related issues. Given that Congress faces an historic opportunity to modify the Copyright Act for the next millennium, we hope it will do so in a way that will maintain balance between the interests of creators and users through enactment of a comprehensive bill.
We look forward to working with you and your staff to craft a comprehensive bill that updates the Copyright Act for the digital era.
cc: Members of the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property