Sen. Leahy's remarks concerning the House delay of voting on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Conference Report.

[Congressional Record: October 20, 2020 (Senate)]
[Page S12730]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access


Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I am glad that the House Republican leadership relented and after several days' delay allowed the House to consider and adopt the conference report on the landmark Digital Millennium Copyright Act, H.R. 2281. Just two weeks ago, the Senate unanimously passed the Conference Report on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, H.R. 2281. This important legislation is based on the implementing legislation recommended by the Administration and introduced last year by Senators Hatch, Thompson, Kohl and me, to implement the new World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) copyright treaties. The bill provides the protection necessary to encourage copyright owners to make their works available over the Internet and in other digital formats. This legislation sets a standard for other nations who must also implement these treaties.

The Senate bill was reported unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee and passed the Senate without opposition. The House-Senate conference over the last several weeks also led to all conferees signing the conference report and supporting the final version of the legislation. As the only Senate Democratic conferee I was pleased to serve on this conference and participate in working out agreements with House Republican and Democratic conferees.

With the approval of the chairmen and ranking Democrats on both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Commerce Committee, this landmark legislation--which Senator Hatch has called the most important bill we will pass this year--seemed to have finally cleared the last hurdle and be ready to be sent to the President for enactment. On Thursday, October 8, Senator Hatch and I were both present on the Senate floor for Senate final passage and had been informed that the House leadership had determined to take up and pass the bill that very day.

Surprisingly, the bill was not taken up in the House on Thursday or Friday or Saturday or Sunday. There was a threat that it would not be brought up by the House leadership at all, and I think that the Senate and the American people are entitled to an explanation.

It turns out that the House Republican leadership had decided to hold this critical legislation hostage to petty partisan politics. According to reports in Roll Call on October 8 and 12, Reuters on October 10 and the Washington Post on October 14 and 15, House Republicans were mad that a pal of theirs was not hired to head the Electronic Industries Alliance. The hold on this legislation is to ``send a message.''

Apparently, in the world of Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey and Tom DeLay, trade associations better hire their Republican friends or there will be retribution, including stalling action of important bipartisan legislation that promotes the national interest. This is childish behavior beneath the dignity of those who hold leadership positions in a House of Congress. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a good bill on which so many of us have worked so hard and cooperated so closely across the aisle, was finally allowed to be considered by the House and did pass. I thank the House Republican leaders for ending their pout in time for this landmark legislation to be adopted.

This bill should help create jobs and economic opportunities to America's leading copyright-based industries. We all recognize that because the U.S. is the world-wide leader in intellectual property, the U.S. will be the main beneficiary if Congress enacts this legislation.

Protecting and encouraging the intellectual creations of our citizens has always been a fundamental priority for our country and a responsibility of our national government. Our creative industries produce the material that makes the global information infrastructure something worth having. I want to ensure that the creators of movies and television and cable programming and recordings and books and computer software and interactive media continue to create, that their creativity is rewarded, that their creations are not stolen or pirated, and that those basic tenets are followed in all the world's markets.

The 1998 report of the International Intellectual Property Alliance confirms the importance of copyright-based industries to our American economy and our economic future. The report demonstrates, for the seventh straight year, that the U.S. copyright industries continue to be one of the largest and fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy. These industries are leading this country into the digital age and the 21st century. Thanks goodness cooler heads finally prevailed and Congress was allowed to complete work on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.



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