New Coalition Urges Congress: Strengthen the Internet with Legislation Securing Online Copyright with Liability Limits

New Coalition Urges Congress:
Strengthen the Internet with Legislation
Online Copyright with Liability Limits

June 18, 1998

Media contact:

Jocelyn Miceli, USTA -- (202) 326-7279

Marla Romash, CIC -- (301) 585-9408

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A broad, ad hoc coalition of high technology, telecommunications and creative industries representing millions of Americans, is urging Congress to make the Internet an even better place for education and learning by approving legislation to secure copyright protections online that respect the rights of those whose work is on the Internet and those offering access to the Internet.

"This unique coalition has joined forces to encourage Congress to quickly pass this historical copyright legislation that will in turn serve as the model for world-wide implementation of two important treaties," said Roy Neel, President and CEO of the United States Telephone Association at a coalition news briefing today (6/18). "This cooperative effort demonstrates that creative property can be protected on the Internet while limiting the liability of the companies that provide access."

Hilary Rosen, President and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, said, "With this legislation, the Internet will become an even more vibrant, exciting source of information, ideas, and entertainment; an even better place to learn and explore. Securing copyright protections online means more creative material online and that's good for the Internet, good for America's creative artists, and good for our country."

The legislation, H.R. 2281, the WIPO Copyright Treaties Implementation Act, is the focus of a House Commerce Committee subcommittee meeting today. The full House Commerce Committee is expected to consider the legislation next week. The House Judiciary Committee already approved the legislation. A similar bill, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, passed the Senate 99-0 in May.

The legislation would allow implementation of two international treaties negotiated in 1996 under the authority of the World Intellectual Property Organization to secure copyright protections online and strengthen copyright law in other countries. The legislation will not change U.S. copyright law, which already meets the standards of the treaties, but will prohibit the activities of people who make it their business to undermine technologies protecting creative materials from online theft.

The legislation would also make changes needed to clarify the rules on the legal responsibility of Internet access and online service providers for copyright violations that take place over their systems or networks. It helps Internet users by protecting their privacy, because service providers will not need to monitor their Internet communications looking for copyright infringements, and by continuing access to user-friendly services such as directories, links and other tools which have transformed the Internet from a tool for research scientists to a new world for consumers.

The legislation provides important protections for the work of creative Americans, for example, providing more effective means to stop online piracy by blocking access to infringing sites with a new "notice and take-down" procedure. This would allow copyright owners to notify service providers of infringements; providers would then disable access to those sites. Service providers are protected because their rights and responsibilities will be clarified.

"This legislation will help encourage technological innovation and access to that innovation by ensuring scores of creative Americans that they'll get credit for their work and online pirates will get prosecuted for stealing. From the time of our Constitution we've always believed it's right for people to get credit for their ideas and wrong to steal. This legislation respects that important tradition," said Robert Holleyman, President and CEO of the Business Software Alliance.

Jonathan Sallet, Chief Policy Counsel at MCI, said "We are all working together to make the Internet more accessible and easier to use. This legislation will allow us to keep working without fear of unreasonable roadblocks. That means more information and creative material online with greater and greater access to that information."

The coalition of high technology, telecommunications, and creative industries includes: America Online; American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers; Ameritech; Association of American Publishers; Association of Online Professionals; AT&T; Bell Atlantic; BellSouth; Broadcast Music, Inc.; Business Software Alliance; Commercial Internet eXchange; Electronic Messaging Association; GTE; ICG Netcom; Information Technology Association of America; MCI; Motion Picture Association of America; National Music Publishers' Association; Paramount Pictures; Recording Industry Association of America; SBC; SESAC, Inc; Software Publishers Association; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; The Walt Disney Company; Time Warner Inc.; Twentieth Century Fox; United States Telephone Association; Universal Studios, Inc; U S WEST and Video Software Dealers Association.