of Rep. Tauzin in the Congressional Record
COPYRIGHT ACT -- HON. W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN (Extension of Remarks - October
HON. W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN
in the House of Representatives
MONDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2020
Mr. TAUZIN. Mr. Speaker, today, we bring to the
floor H.R. 2281, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. I am pleased
that the Conference Report reflects the joint efforts of the Commerce
and Judiciary Committees. The House played an extremely important role
in the development of this balanced bill. We addressed some of the very
tough issues that had yet to be resolved despite passage of the bill by
the Senate. The substance of our work resulted in amendments which were
ultimately incorporated into the bill which we consider today.
Today, we take the final step toward passage
of legislation which will implement the WIPO treaties. It is indeed an
historic moment. By passing this legislation, the United States sets the
standard for the rest of the world to meet. Our content industries
are the world's finest, as well as one of this Nation's leading exporters.
They must be protected from those pirates who in the blink of an eye--can
steal these works and make hundreds if not thousands of copies to be sold
around the world--leaving our own industries uncompensated. This theft
By implementing the WIPO treaties this year,
we ensure that authors and their works will be protected from pirates
who pillage their way through cyberspace. As we send a signal to the rest
of the world, however, it is important that we not undermine our commitment
to becoming an information-rich society--right here in the United States
. . . inside our own borders.
The discussion generated by the House has been
invaluable to finding the balance between copyright protection and the
exchange of ideas in the free-market--two of the fundamental pillars upon
which this nation was built. In drafting this legislation, we did not
overlook the need to strike the correct balance between these two competing
ideals. That is indeed the purpose of the legislative process--to debate,
haggle, review and ultimately to hammer out what will be strong and lasting
policy for the rest of the world to follow.
A free market place for ideas is critical to
America. It means that any man, woman or child--free of charge!!--can
wander into any public library and use the materials in those libraries
for free. He or she--again, free of charge!!--can absorb the ideas and
visions of mankind's greatest writers and thinkers.
In this regard, the most important contribution
that we made to this bill is section 1201(a)(1). That section authorizes
the Librarian of Congress to wave the prohibition against the act of circumvention
to prevent a reduction in the availability to individuals and institutions
of a particular category of copyrighted works. As originally proposed
by the Senate, this section would have established a flat prohibition
on the circumvention of technological measures to gain access to works
for any purpose. This raised the possibility of our society becoming one
in which pay-per-use access was the rule, a development profoundly antithetical
to our long tradition of the exchange of free ideas and information. Under
the compromise embodied in the Conference Report, the Librarian will have
the authority to address the concerns of Libraries, educational institutions,
and other information consumers threatened with a denial of access to
work in circumstances that would be lawful today. I trust the Librarian,
in consultation with the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications
and Information, will ensure that information consumers may continue to
exercise their centuries-old fair use privilege.
We also sought to ensure that consumers could
apply their centuries-old fair use rights in the digital age. Sections
1201(a)(2) and (b)(1) make it illegal to manufacture, import, offer to
the public, provide, or to otherwise traffic in `black
boxes.' These provisions are not aimed at staple articles of commerce,
such as video cassette recorders, telecommunications switches, and personal
computers widely used today by businesses and consumers for legitimate
purposes. As a result of the efforts of the Commerce Committee, legitimate
concerns about how these provisions might be interpreted by a court to
negatively affect consumers have been addressed to the satisfaction of
consumer electronics and other product managers.
Section 1201(c)(3), the `no mandate' provision,
makes clear that neither of these sections requires that the design of,
or design and selection of parts and components for, a consumer electronics,
telecommunications, or computer product
provide for a response to any particular technological
measure, so long as the device does not otherwise violate section 1201.
Members of my Subcommittee included an unambiguous no mandate provision
out of concern that someone might
try to use this bill as a basis for filing a
lawsuit to stop legitimate new products from coming to market. It was
our strong belief that product manufacturers should remain free to design
and produce digital consumer electronics, telecommunications, and computing
products without the threat of incurring liability for their design decisions.
Had the bill been read to require that new digital products respond to
any technological protection measure that any copyright
owners chose to deploy, manufacturers would have been confronted with
difficult, perhaps even impossible, design choices. They could have been
forced to choose, for example, between implementing one of two incompatible
digital technological measures. It was the wrong thing to do for consumers
and thus, we fixed the problem.
In our Committee report, we also sought to address
the concerns of manufacturers and consumers about the potential for `playability'
problems when new technological measures are introduced in the market.
I was pleased to see that the conferees also recognized the seriousness
of the problem and agreed to include explicit conference report language
setting forth our shared respective on how the bill should be interpreted
in this respect.
With regard to the issue of encryption research,
the Commerce Committee again made an invaluable contribution to this important
legislation. The amendment provided for an exception to the circumvention
provisions contained in the bill for legal encryption
research and reverse engineering. In particular, these exceptions would
ensure that companies and individuals engaged in what is presently lawful
encryption research and security testing and those who legally provide
these services could continue to engage in these
important and necessary activities which will strengthen our ability to
keep our nation's computer systems, digital networks and systems applications
private, protected and secure.
Finally, I want to commend my colleagues, Dan
Schaefer and Rick White for their efforts in reaching agreement on a provision
which has been included in this bill to address the concerns of webcasters.
Webcasting is a new use of the digital works this bill
deals with. Under current law, it is difficult for webcasters and record
companies to know their rights and responsibilities and to negotiate
for licenses. This provision makes clear the rights of each party and
sets up a statutory licensing program to make it as
easy as possible to comply with. It is a worthy change to the bill and
again, my thanks to Mr. White and Mr. Schaefer and their staffs--Peter
Schalestock and Luke Rose.
I can't emphasize enough to my colleagues the
importance of not only this legislation, but also the timing of this legislation.
An international copyright treaty convention is a rare and infrequent
event. We thus stand on the brink of implementing this most recent treaty--the
WIPO copyright treaty--knowing full well that it may be another 20 years
before we can re-visit this subject. This bill strikes the right balance.
Copyright protection is important and must be encouraged here. But in
pursuing that goal we must remain faithful to our legacy, and our commitment
to promoting the free exchange of ideas and thoughts. Digital technology
should be embraced as a means to enrich and enlighten all of us.
Finally, I want to thank Chairman Bliley and
Ranking Member Dingell as well as my colleagues Mr. Markey, Mr. Klug,
Mr. Boucher, and Mr. Stearns. Also, I would like to thank Chairman Hyde,
Ranking Member Conyers, Chairman Coble, Mr. Goodlatte, and Mr. Berman,
as well as Senators Hatch, Leahy, and Thurmond for their excellent work
on this legislation. And finally, a special thanks to the staffs of these
Members--Justiin Lilley, Mike O'Reilly, Andy Levin, Colin Crowell, Kathy
Hahn, Ann Morton, Peter Krug, Mitch Galzier, Debbie Laman, Robert Rabin,
David Lehman, Bari Schwartz, Manus Cooney, Ed Damich, Troy Dow, Garry
Malphrus, Marla Grossman, Bruce Cohen, and Beryl Howell.
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