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Bill that would overturn FIEST decision
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: Bill that would overturn FIEST decision
- From: James Love <email@example.com>
- Date: Wed, 31 Jul 1996 16:41:16 -0400 (EDT)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 31 Jul 96 14:32:34 EDT
From: Eleanor Lewis/TA Staff/Internal/Tax Analysts/US <Eleanor_Lewis@tax.org>
Subject: Protecting Database Owners
HR 3531 is pending in the U.S. House; sponsored by Rep. Carlos Moorhead
(R-CA). It would overturn the Feist decision of the U.S. Supreme Court and
eliminate Feist's requirement that the database owner contribute some
originality and creativity to obtain a copyright. This bill would provide the
owners of databases with 25 years of exclusive ownership of the database and
provides for civil remedies, including injunctions and impoundment, against
people improperly using the database. In the Congressional Record of May 23,
1996, you can find on page E 890-891, Rep. Moorhead's introductory remarks
concerning this bill.
An owner of a database is the natural or legal entity "making a substantial
investment, qualitatively or quantitatively, in the collection, assembly,
verification, organization and/or presentation of the contents of the database."
For example, a private company assemblying government data, such as court
opinions, would qualify under this act for 25 years of database protection.
They need not add any original material to the database. Just by "collection,
assembly, verification, organization and/or presentation," they become the
owners of the database.
Also, "any change of commercial significance, qualitiatively or quantitatively,
to a database, including any such change through the accumulation of successive
additions, deletions, reverifications, alterations, modifications in
organization or presentation or other modifications shall make the resulting
database subject to this Act for its own term.." for another 25 years.
Government agencies are not subject to the Act. They do not receive a 25
ownership in their data. But a private company that takes a government
database or government data and creates a database does fall under the Act and
receive 25 years of protected ownership.
A database subject to the Act shall remain subject regardless of whether it is
made available to the public or in commercial use, regardless of the medium in
which it its embodied or whether the database or any of its contents are
To create a database, you must get the data from the original source. Thus,
you cannot obtain cases from West to create your database. You have to get
them from the courts.
Nonowners may without penalty use an "insubstantial part" of the database.
"Insubstantial" part "means any portion of the contents of a database whose
extraction, use or reuse does not diminish the value of the database, conflict
with a normal exploitation of the database or adversely affect the actual or
potential market for the database."
HR 3531 includes many of the conditions and terms recently agreed to by
European countries through the European Union Directive on Legal Protection of
Databases. It is very similar to HR 3531. U.S. databases are currently not
subject to the European directive, but the U.S. will be negotiating in December
1996 to become part of the European Directive, so there is reciprocity between
European and American databases. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office led by
Bruce Lehman, phone 703/305-9300, is directing the U.S.'s activity in this
matter. I am in the process of obtaining a copy of the current US position on
this topic which was presented to the World Intellectual Property Organization
in May and will be the basis of negotiations in December.
If you do not like this bill, write your represenative and tell him or her.
Also, write to the House Judiciary Subcommittee members considering this bill.
It is the Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee. The Chairman is Rep.
Moorhead. The other Republican members are James Sensenbrenner of WI; Howard
Coble of NC, Robert Goodlatte of VA, Sonny Bono of CA, George Gekas of PA,
Elton Gallegly of CA, Charles Canady of FL, Martin Hoke of OH.
The ranking Democrat is Pat Schroeder. The other Democrates on the
subcommittee are Jerrold Nadler of NY, John Conyers of MI, Howard Berman of
CA, Xavier Becerra of CA, Rick Boucher of VA.
Eleanor J. Lewis, Executive Director, American Association of Legal Publishers
282 N. Washington Street, Falls Church, VA 22046
phone: 301/652-3453 fax; 301/652-2970