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GENERAL: Database copyright protection bill passes House Judiciary

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Michaelson [mailto:rmichael@northwestern.edu]
Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2004 1:18 PM
To: reedelscustomers@lists.cc.utexas.edu; slapam-l@lists.yale.edu;
Subject: GENERAL: Database copyright protection bill passes House Judiciary

Please excuse duplicate posting.

Bad news, I'm afraid, for friends of wide accessibility of technical

Still, this was only the vote of a House Committee, not passage of the
bill -- and the bill, moreover, might not pass Constitutional muster
(speaking as a non-lawyer).

Bob Michaelson
Northwestern University Library
Evanston, Illinois  60208


Tech firms fail to stop database bill
by Declan McCullagh

The proposal, backed by big database companies such as Reed Elsevier and
Thomson, would extend to databases the same kind of protection that
copyrighted works such as music, literature and movies currently enjoy.
Its supporters say that such protection is necessary to stop rivals from
extracting information from proprietary databases like Reed Elsevier's
LexisNexis service instead of going through the far more expensive process
of compiling it themselves.

"Proponents of the bill have yet to offer a convincing case that existing
federal and state laws, including federal copyright law, federal
antihacking prohibitions, and a variety of state contract and tort laws,
are insufficient to provide database producers with adequate protection,"
the coalition said in a letter last week. "They have certainly failed to
demonstrate a problem that would justify the fundamental and
constitutionally suspect changes to our nation's information policy called
for in the legislation."

The bill, backed by Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., also is controversial
because, critics say, it would sidestep a U.S. Supreme Court decision that
said facts could not be copyrighted.