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EFFector - Volume 11, Issue 15 - Alert: Join Blue Ribbon Campaign and Fight "Son of CDA"


EFFector - Volume 11, Issue 15 - Alert: Join Blue Ribbon Campaign and Fight "Son of CDA"

   EFFector       Vol. 11, No. 15       Oct. 5, 1998
   A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424
     * ALERT: Join Blue Ribbon Campaign and Fight "Son of CDA"
     * ALERT: Contact Copyright/Database Bill Conference Committee - Last
       Chance! (Oct. 6 deadline!)
          + LATEST NEWS
          + BACKGROUND
     * ALERT: Contact Senators to Demand Online Access to Public
          + INTRODUCTION
          + WHAT TO DO
     * Administrivia
  See for more information on EFF activities & alerts!
Electronic Frontier Foundation                                Sep. 5, 1998

            ALERT: Join Blue Ribbon Campaign and Fight "Son of CDA"
   Please redistribute this alert to friends that would appreciate it,
   and to APPROPRIATE forums.
   No less than three versions of the Coats/Istook "Son of CDA" or "CDA
   II" Internet censorship bills are being considered soon for passage by
   Congress. Please join the Blue Ribbon Campaign today to help spread
   the word and raise opposition to this unconstitutional, unhelpful and
   badly-written legislation.
   If you support free speech on the Net, please show that support
   visually and actively by posting the Blue Ribbon for Online Freedom of
   Expression on YOUR web pages. It's really easy. Full instructions are
   available (along with sample HTML you can just copy-and-paste right
   into your Web page), along with action alerts and background
   information, at the Blue Ribbon Campaign site, at:
   Next, please contact your own Representatives and Senators and urge
   them to vote against ANY Internet censorship provisions. The
   committees and hearings have run their course, and Congress only has a
   few legislative days left in which to pass - or abandon - all pending
   legislation. Don't waste any time! If you are unsure who your
   legislators are or how to contact them, you can simply follow Action
   Item #1 at the Blue Ribbon page to send a free fax to your legislators
   via the web, or for phone and other contact info, see EFF's
   "Contacting Congress" Factsheet, at:
   Even after the CDA II battle is over, threats to the intellectual
   freedom online will surely continue to appear, locally, nationally,
   and globally. So please keep your Blue Ribbons up. Our Blue Ribbon
   icon automatically changes to an "ALERT" icon when censorship threats
   are afoot, and will instantly update on your page, if you link to our
   copy as per the instructions on the site.
   If you run a commercial web site, please also consider joining the
   campaign. There is probably no better way of spreading the word than
   by online organizatoins and companies providing this grassroots action
   network on their own sites for all of their visitors to notice. If
   your site would like to contribute banner ad space in the style of an
   online public service announcement, please contact us at
   Non-U.S. activists: A) Keep track of Net censorship issues locally,
   and publicize them. Let us know, and we'll help spread the word. B)
   Consider working with other concerned Net users in your area to set up
   your own localized Blue Ribbon Campaign page, and let us know about it
   so that we can link to it. Make sure it is regularly maintained. C) To
   help stop the U.S. censorship laws, there's not a whole lot you can
   do. About the only foreign voice Congress will pay much heed to in
   this debate is going to be from members of the business sector that
   are working in close partnership with U.S. companies - stress that
   your company has U.S. partners, and that that these bills would impede
   the growth and utility of the Internet and increase transborder
   liability and legal uncertainty, threatening not only your business
   but that of your U.S. partners. If you aren't in such a situation, try
   pressuring your government to in turn pressure the US government to
   stop trying to gag and blindfold the Net. It's a long shot, but
   perhaps worth a little effort. Most of your activist energy, however,
   should probably be spent in your own area. If your lawmakers have not
   already passed a censorship law, it's a safe bet they are thinking
   about it.
   Cutoff date: Please do not distribute this alert after Jan. 1999.
   Check the Blue Ribbon Campaign site for newer information.
                    Oct. 5, 1998                DFC/EFF
  ALERT: Contact Copyright/Database Bill Conference Committee - Last Chance!
                       IT'S "NOW OR (PERHAPS) NEVERMORE"

   Tentative Deadline: Oct. 6, 1998 - If you receive this alert after
   Oct. 6, please check for the status of this
   legislation and/or an updated alert.
   It's official. The "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" (H.R. 2281/S.
   2037) is now before a Senate/House Conference Committee that's poised
   to act fast. It could meet for the LAST time as early as Tuesday, Oct.
   Even if you've never contacted Congress before, now is the time to
   phone and fax all members of the Conference Committee listed below
   (especially if you are a constituent) to ask that they:
   (1) SUPPORT **no less protection for fair use** than that afforded by
   the House's version of the bill (H.R. 2281). the Senate's version (S.
   2037), contains no fair use protection at all); AND
   (2) OPPOSE the inclusion of any "database protection" legislation in
   the final version of the bill. Title V of the House bill attempts to
   grant intellectual property legal protection to databases and the
   information they contain, even if they are just basic, public facts.
   The Senate bill does not meddle in this area.
   It's also urgent that both of your Senators -- even though neither may
   be on the Conference Committee -- be asked to contact Senate
   conference committee leaders Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy
   (D-VT) immediately to relay the two critical messages above. For
   on-line sample letters, e-mail connections to your Members of Congress
   and more background information, please visit the ALA Washington
   Office Web site at:
   With your help this past week, we have made headway, especially on the
   "database protection" front: 15 Senators have now written Conference
   Committee members urging that the database bill be "delinked" from the
   larger and substantively unrelated WIPO copyright package. They are:
     Senators Bond (R-MO), Burns (R-MT), Conrad (D-ND), D'Amato (R-NY),
     Dorgan (D-ND), Kerry (D-MA), Lieberman (D-CT), Mikulski (D-MD),
     Moynihan (D-NY), Rockefeller (D-WV), Sarbanes (D-MD), Shelby
     (R-AL), Snowe (R-ME), Warner (R-VA) and Wyden (D-OR).
   If you live in any of these Senators' states, please be sure to fax
   and phone your thanks to these Senators right away. They are under
   heavy pressure from database protection proponents to withdraw their
   objections to this seriously flawed legislation. Your immediate
   support and thanks will help them hold the line! For more information
   on how to find out who your senators are and contact them, see:

ST PARTY  SENATOR                       PHONE          FAX
SC R      Strom Thurmond                224-5972       224-1300
UT R      Orrin G. Hatch                224-5251       224-6331
VT D      Patrick J. Leahy              224-4242       n/a [*]

CA-26  D       Howard L. Berman         225-4695       n/a [*]
IL-06  R       Henry J. Hyde            225-4561       225-1166
LA-03  R       W. J. Tauzin             225-4031       225-0563
MI-14  D       John Conyers             225-5126       225-0072
MI-16  D       John D. Dingell          225-4071       225-4637
NC-06  R       Howard Coble             225-3065       225-8611
VA-06  R       Bob Goodlatte            225-5431       225-9681
VA-07  R       Tom Bliley               225-2815       225-0011

   (All country & area codes are +1 202.)
   [* These legislators have changed their fax numbers and the new
   numbers are not yet publicly available. Constituents may be able to
   coax a new fax number out of staffers during a voice call.]
   With less than two weeks, and even fewer "legislative days", remaining
   in the 105th Congress, now is the time that the wheels within the
   wheels either mesh to produce legislation that gets to the President's
   desk . . . or don't. NEA, together with its many partners in the
   library community, and the Digital Future Coalition are fighting hard
   to assure that the last minute deals that are the hallmark of this
   end-of-Congress environment don't reverse progress made to date in
   protecting public access to information or catapult unripe proposals
   into law which could jeopardize such access. Both of these dangerous
   scenarios could easily become reality with respect to the major
   intellectual property legislation on which libraries have worked so
   hard in this Congress. That's why your letters now are so critical.
   The details of database protection and WIPO treaty implementation
   legislation can be complicated, but the key concepts underlying
   educators' work on these bill are as familiar as common sense:
   (1) DATABASE: Both the Departments of Commerce and Justice and the FTC
   have submitted analyses to Congress expressing major concerns,
   including potential unconstitutionality, with the "Collections of
   Information Antipiracy Act" (S. 2291/H.R. 2652/H.R. 2281 Title V).
   This database protection legislation could radically restrict access
   to non-copyrightable information. Thus, it should not be rushed
   through Congress at the last minute without Senate hearings, whether
   as a separate bill or as part of the "Digital Millennium Copyright
   Act" (H.R. 2281), a bill to implement the World Intellectual Property
   Organization (WIPO) copyright treaties, with which it was merged by
   the House in August. ALA other public- and private-sector
   organizations and companies wrote to Judiciary Committee Chairman
   Orrin Hatch last week asking him to defer action on this controversial
   measure until the next Congress. A copy of this joint letter is posted
   on the Internet at:
   (2) WIPO: Legislation to implement the WIPO treaties was first passed
   by the Senate as S. 2037 without any provision for the future
   protection of fair use and various other kinds of lawful access to
   information now afforded by the Copyright Act. In the House, however,
   efforts by key members of the Commerce Committee succeeded in writing
   basic access safeguards into H.R. 2281 as approved by the full House
   in early August. When the Senate and House meet to determine the final
   form of WIPO treaty legislation, as they will soon, the House bill's
   protections for fair use and other kinds of lawful access to
   information must be incorporated in the finished product.
   For detailed assessments of the pending database legislation (S.
   2291/H.R. 2652) and of the pluses and minuses of the version of the
   WIPO treaty bill adopted by the House in early August (H.R. 2281)
   please point your browser to the Digital Future Coalition Web site:
   The Digital Future Coalition (DFC), of which EFF is a member, is 42
   non-profit and for-profit entities that are committed to fighting for
   balanced intellectual property law (copyright) in the digital era.
   This Electronic Frontier Foundation alert is based on a DFC alert.
   As always with short-notice alerts, we regret that some readers will
   not receive this in time to act. Congress is moving *very* quickly on
   many issues of late, and it is not always possible to issue alerts
   with several days of lead time, unfortunately.
    Sep. 4, 1998                                             CPT/EFF Alert
      ALERT: Contact Senators to Demand Online Access to Public Documents
         U. S. Senate Bill (S. 2288) to "Reform" Laws on Distributing
           Government Information to the Public Needs Strengthening

    Please Call Your Senators to Urge Them to Amend the Bill to Require the
    Federal Government to Place its Most Important Documents on the Internet
   The U. S. Senate may vote soon on a bill, the Government Publications
   Reform Act (S. 2288), that would re-write much of the federal law
   governing the distribution of federal government information to the
   public. The bill boasts of its purpose to "broaden, strengthen, and
   enhance public access to all Government publications," and would set
   federal government policy for the 21st century. However, it would do
   little to expand public access to the most important federal
   government documents, and would not require the federal government to
   place these documents on the Internet.
   Although Congress was quick to put the Starr report on the Internet,
   Congress keeps off the Internet many of the most useful congressional
   materials, including the most important texts of bills and committee
   reports (especially draft versions) Congressional Research Service
   (CRS) documents, full congressional voting records and many
   congressional hearing records.
   The Government Publications Reform Act would not place these important
   materials on the Internet. That's right. The bill aiming to be our
   Twenty-First Century government records policy amazingly simply
   "forgets" that the Internet exists! Senators need to amend the bill on
   the Senate floor to require the federal government to place these
   documents online for public access, as well as create and make
   available a database of all federal court decisions since the founding
   of the United States, using a public (not commercial and monopolized)
   citation system.
   Taxpayers deserve to read the federal government documents that we pay
   for. Americans ought to have easy access to the laws that we are
   supposed to obey. Fortunately, the Internet is an efficient and
   inexpensive technology for distributing government information to the
   public. The marginal cost of disseminating government information over
   the Internet is essentially zero. Congress ought to use this
   technology to distribute the core documents of our democracy to the
   public, and without additional cost to readers.
   Although the Government Publications Reform Act would provide some
   executive branch documents to federal depository libraries, it would
   do little to fix Washington's two-tiered system of information
   distribution. That system provides many Washington lobbyists, and
   their predominantly corporate clients, with excellent access to
   important congressional documents. Meanwhile, most citizens cannot
   easily, if at all, obtain the congressional documents they need to
   advocate on their own behalf.
   An ironic example of the bill's loopholes came to light this week
   during its consideration before the Senate Rules Committee. On
   September 28, the bill was voted out of the Rules Committee, as
   amended by a Chairman's Mark. However, the Chairman's Mark, which made
   significant changes to the bill, was not available on the Internet,
   nor would the bill require that chairman's marks be placed on the
   Internet in the future.
   We must urge our Senators to amend the Government Publications Reform
   Act to heed the warnings of James Madison: "A popular Government,
   without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a
   Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will
   forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own
   Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
   On September 28, the Senate Rules Committee amended S. 2288 to remove
   a serious flaw in the bill which would likely have given the Office of
   Management and Budget (OMB) authority over the U. S. Government
   Printing Office (GPO). OMB has a dismal record of ensuring that
   government documents are distributed to the public. OMB authority over
   GPO could have injured the distribution of government documents via
   the Internet and to the federal depository libraries. The new version
   of the bill would establish the new GPO "as an independent entity in
   the Federal government, independent of executive agencies" which would
   make GPO less vulnerable to the destructive meddlings of OMB.
   Please call your senators to urge them to amend S. 2288 to require the
   federal government to place its most important documents on the
   Internet, including:
     * all federal court decisions since the founding of the United
       States, with a public domain citation system;
     * the most important texts of bills, such as chairman's marks,
       discussion drafts, and committee prints, as soon as they are
       printed or made available to lobbyists or members of a committee
       or subcommittee;
     * draft committee and conference reports;
     * Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports and products;
     * a non-partisan, easily searchable database of congressional voting
       records; and,
     * all Congressional hearing records.
   The Congressional switchboard phone number is (202) 224-3121. For more
   information on contacting your Senators, see EFF's "Contacting
   Congress" Factsheet, at:
   Cutoff Date: Please do not distribute this alert after Nov. 1, 1998.
   See the CAP Web site for updated information on public access to
   Congressional and other documents.
   This Electronic Frontier Foundation alert is based on an original by
   the Congressional Accountability Project (CAP). CAP can be reached at:
   EFFector is published by:
   The Electronic Frontier Foundation
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   Editor: Stanton McCandlish, Program Director/Webmaster (
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