Copyright Legislative Agenda

Related Issues

Copyright Agenda

Last Update: 24-Aug-2004 15:45

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State Copyright-related Legislation

Content owners are also promoting their copyright protection agenda at the state level with several obscure enforcement bills with overly broad language that could apply to libraries and educational institutions.

Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) is a proposed state contract law that validates enforceability of "shrink-wrap" contracts. Despite lack of promotion by drafters, UCITA continues to have potential for introduction.

  • Anti - UCITA "bomb-shelter" legislation is active in MA and LA
  • Troublesome UCITA-friendly amendments to Articles 1 and 2 of Uniform Commercial Code expected in 2004
  • see also UCITA

"Super DMCA" bills propose to update existing state laws prohibiting theft of cable and satellite service by implementing provisions similar to DMCA anti-circumvention prohibition, but without the narrow exceptions and limitations that permit libraries to conduct legitimate activities.

  • 2004 activity: CO, MD, MI, SC, TN
  • Bills have already passed in AK, CO, FL, PA, MD, DE, IL and MI
  • see also Related State Legislation

"Camcorder" Legislation is another effort to stop digital piracy by prohibiting the recording of movies in a facility in which a motion picture is being shown. The term facility is often not defined and could apply to libraries.

Court case: MGM, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd.
Case on appeal in U.S. Court of Appeals (9th Circuit) involves companies that produce software for peer-to-peer file sharing. Libraries joined amici curiae ("friends of the court") brief on behalf of Grokster (September 26, 2003).
  • The record companies and movie studios sued Grokster et al. (P2P companies) for contributory copyright infringement and vicarious liability.
  • The plaintiffs in this important case are challenging the validity of the landmark Sony v. Betamax case, in which U.S. Supreme Court held that that the makers of the VCR should not be held liable for copyright infringement simply because the device could be used for infringing purposes.
  • Oral arguments were held Feb 3, 2004.
  • See also Copyright Court Cases

Court cases:

  • ALA joined amicus briefs filed on behalf of the Internet service providers resisting efforts by RIAA to obtain identities of users alleged to infringe copyright. These cases challenge the propriety of the recording industry serving subpoenas on ISPs without judicial oversight.
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit ruled Dec. 19, 2003, in favor of Verizon; RIAA petitioned U.S. Supreme Court to hear appeal May 24, 2004
  • Other cases are still pending in the appeals courts.
  • see also Copyright Court Cases
FCC "Broadcast Flag"
Rulemaking. Nov. 2003: Federal Communications Commission mandated the use of copy protection mechanisms for DTVs (digital televisions), personal computers
Suit filed, Jan. 2004
  • In Jan. 2004 libraries and other public interest organizations petitioned U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to set aside the FCC’s rulemaking.
  • Petition charges the FCC acted in excess of its authority and contrary to the factual evidence in the record.
  • Opening brief is due Oct. 4, reply on Dec. 2, with oral argument scheduled for Feb. 22, 2005
International Copyright Issues
International agreements and trade treaties may adversely impact libraries and U.S. copyright law
  • ALA is a member of the U.S. Delegation to the Hague Convention on Exclusive Choice of Court Agreements
  • Free Trade Area of the Americas Agreement (FTAA) and bi-lateral free trade agreements (FTAs)
  • Continuing implementation of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
  • see also International Copyright