Remarks of Rep. Boucher from the Congressional Record

DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT -- HON. RICK BOUCHER (Extension of Remarks - October 14,2020)

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                                      HON. RICK BOUCHER

                                   in the House of Representatives

                                    MONDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2020

     Mr. BOUCHER. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of the conference report on H.R. 2281.

     Through this legislation, we extend new protections to copyright owners to help them guard against the theft of their works in the digital era. At the same time, we preserve the critical balance in the copyright law between the rights of     copyright owners and users by also including strong fair use and other provisions for the benefits of libraries, universities, and information consumers generally.

     I am pleased to advise my colleagues that many of the compromises achieved in this legislation reflect the work of the Commerce Committee. I want to underscore my appreciation for the leadership of Chairman Bliley and Ranking Member Dingell in successfully crafting balanced legislation both in the Committee and as conferees.

     I want to highlight briefly several provisions addressing fair use and the effect of this legislation on consumer electronics devices, computers and other technologies. These provisions are fundamental to the balance that the conferees have achieved in this measure.

     First, the conferees included a provision which ensures that the legislation's prohibition against circumvention of copy protection technologies in digital works does not thwart the exercise of fair use and other rights by all users. This safeguard requires that the Librarian of Congress, in consultation with the Register of Copyrights and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Commerce Department, conduct proceedings periodically to determine if these rights are being adversely affected by copy protection technologies in the digital age. If the Librarian of Congress determines that noninfringing uses of certain classes of copyright works are, or are likely to be, adversely affected, then the measure's prohibition against circumvention of copy protection technologies shall not apply to users with respect to those works.

     Second, with respect to consumer electronics devices and other equipment, the conferees included a `no mandate'  provision which should reassure manufacturers of future digital telecommunications, consumer electronics and computing products that they have the design freedom to choose parts and components in designing and building new equipment. Read together with other provisions of the measure and other parts of the relevant legislative history, the `no mandate' provision confirms that Congress does not intend to require equipment manufacturers to design new digital telecommunications equipment, consumer electronics and computing products to respond to any particular copy protection technology.

     Third, the conferees also clarified that manufacturers, retailers and professional services can make `playability' adjustments to their equipment without fear of liability. Recognizing that, whether introduced unilaterally or after a multi-industry development process, a copy protection technology might cause playability problems, the conferees explicitly stated that makers or servicers of consumer electronics, telecommunications or computing products can mitigate these problems without being deemed to have violated the measure's prohibition against circumvention of a copy protection technology.    Equipment manufacturers should thus be able to make product adjustments without fear of liability, and retailers and professional servicers should not feel burdened with the threat of litigation in repairing videocassette recorders and other popular products for their customers.

     Taken together, these provisions demonstrate that the legislation is not intended to diminish core fair use and other rights that have always been recognized in our copyright law. These provisions confirm that the measure does not limit the development and use of consumer electronics, telecommunications, and computer products used by libraries, universities,    schools and consumers everyday for perfectly legitimate purposes.

     In short, with these and the other changes made to preserve the rights of information consumers, the conferees have produced a bill worthy of our support. I commend their efforts in achieving this careful compromise.

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