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Bill that would overturn FIEST decision

  ---------- 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 
  intellectual creations.
  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