Indiana University Libraries
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 23 Jul 96 08:23:58 EDT
From: Alexandra Owens/ASJA <75227.1650@CompuServe.COM>
Subject: Bill Put on Hold
American Society of Journalists and Authors
1501 Broadway, suite 302
New York, NY 10036
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JULY 23, 1996
PUSH TO OVERHAUL COPYRIGHT OFFICE IS PUT ON HOLD;
OFFICE CHIEF AND AUTHORS CHEER, BUT REMAIN VIGILANT
The hearing on the proposed bill to overhaul the government's intellectual
property apparatus, which appeared to be on a fast and somewhat slippery track
in the United States Senate, has been derailed, at least for the moment.
The bill, which Senator Orrin Hatch was promoting in the Senate Committee on
the Judiciary, which he chairs, would wrest the U.S. Copyright Office from the
Library of Congress and merge it with the Patent and Trademark offices in a
joint agency under White House control. The committee said yesterday a hearing
planned for this week had been postponed "indefinitely," but sources said a
September hearing was still a possibility if Hatch decides to try to weather
criticism and push the bill through during this session.
Register of Copyrights MaryBeth Peters said she was "pleased" with the
postponement. "This should allow interested parties time to examine the
proposal and consider its impact," the Register told the American Society of
Journalists and Authors. "Structural changes like the ones proposed require
deserve careful consideration as well as an open, informed public debate. The
need for such a change has not been established."
A forecast five-fold rise in fees and the idea of politicizing the Copyright
Office brought criticism from ASJA, which last week publicly called on Hatch
to halt the planned hearing, arguing that the bill had been too quickly and
quietly introduced. Sending its appeal to a broad range of online gathering
places for writers on all major online services and other Internet sites, ASJA
urged authors and others concerned with copyright to send protests to Hatch
and other members of the Judiciary Committee.
Bar associations and other creators' groups, including the National Writers
Union and the American Society of Media Photographers, reportedly picked up
issue as well, making telephone calls and faxing letters to committee members,
and the Food Writers and Editors Committee of the International Association of
Culinary Professionals faxed an alert to IACP writer members.
"We're pleased that so many responded," said Claire Safran, ASJA president.
"In a new era, in which writers no longer are silent when their interests are
threatened, we'll be keeping a close watch."