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receives signals transmitted or makes or obtains videotapes of programs broadcast by one or more television broadcast stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and delivers such signals or programs by wires, cables, or other communications channels to subscribing members of the
public who pay for such service.
“(ü) A 'videotape' is the reproduotion of the
images and sounds of a program 'or programs, in
cluding commercials, broadcast by a television sta
tion licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as tapes or motion pictures, in which the reproduction is embodied.
TESTIMONY OF JOHN G. LORENZ, ACTING LIBRARIAN OF CON. GRESS, ACCOMPANIED BY ABRAHAM L. KAMINSTEIN, FORMER REGISTER OF COPYRIGHTS AND HONORARY CONSULTANT IN COPYRIGHT AT THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, AND BARBARA RINGER, REGISTER OF COPYRIGHTS, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Mr. LORENZ. Mr. Chairman, I am John Lorenz, the Acting Librarian of ('ongress. It is an honor for me to appear as the opening witness at these historic hearings, and to urge your favorable consideration of H.R. 233, the bill for general revision of the copyright law.
In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt called upon Congress to bring together and completely revise the copyright laws of the United States. After long hearings and several years of controversy Congress responded by enacting a new statute on the last day of President Roosevelt's administration. The act of March 4, 1909 remains, 66 years later, the governing American copyright law.
President Theodore Roosevelt's message of 1905 is still valid for us toclay. He wrote:
Our copyright laws urgently need revision. They are imperfect in definition, confused and inconsistent in expression; they omit provision for many articles which, under modern reproductive processes, are entitled to protection; they impose hardships upon the copyright proprietor which are not essential to the fair practices of the public; they are difficult for the courts to interpret and inponsible for the Copyright Office to administer with satisfaction to the public.
The aptness of Roosevelt's message today is not as ironic as it might seem. Legislation is often specific. It grows out of individual circumstances and relates to definite purposes at definite times and consequently is subject to change.
Is time passes, the ability of courts to adapt the letter of the law to each change diminishes, ('ardozo put it well: “The law tends to expand to the limits of its logic." The logical limits of the present copyright laws have long since been reached and exceeded.
In recent years there have been several important Supreme Court decisions illustrating the inadequacy of the 1909 act. At the same time, administrative regulations cannot cure the law's inequities and private understandings or agreements cannot settle the crucial issues of copyright.
Everyone affected by copyright or concerned with its administration is looking to Congress for action. New legislation, a new ordering of the relationships that depend upon copyright, is required, and only (ongress can do the job.
Is Acting Librarian of Congress I am proud of the role that the (opyright Office has played for many years in the etforts to reform the existing copyright system. I am particularly pleased to see Abraham L. Kaminstein here, who as Register of ('opyrights from 1960 to 1971 was largely instrumental in planning the present revision effort. But beyond these efforts the basic responsibility, with its broad social and indeed philosophical implications, continues to fall upon your subcommittee.
Mr. Chairman, you have been involved in this work for well over a decade, and more than most, you appreciate the infinite complexity of many of the issues treated in H.R. 2223. Ten year's ago the former
Librarian of Congress, L. Quincy Mumford, sat before this subcommittee and said:
Copyright law is by nature a difficult and complex subject, and my under. standing of its details is imperfect, to say the least. But, like any other intricate field of knowledge, there are certain simple and fundamental principles ander. lying our copyright system, and their importance cannot be overemphasized.
As Dr. Mumford said, one simple principle underlying copyright is the encouragement and reward of individual creativity. This principle is, I would suggest, a basic corollary of the principle of freedom of speech and press. It is a recognition that those parts of our civilization that have endured are the product of individual creators, and the principle of copyright is basic to civilization itself.
But the principle of copyright is also rooted in the present, and the practical concerns of authors and all those who disseminate and use their works. Since 1909, the pace of technological innovation, especially in communications, has been breathtaking.
In these hearings you will hear those who argue, forcefully and in good faith, that technology threatens to strip copyright of its meaning and value. Others, in equally good faith, will stress that copyright is impeding the application of technology to the growing informational needs of society.
Congress must chart the way, and, difficult as that task is, it can be made easier, I believe, by keeping always in mind the underlying social premises of copyright in a free society.
Recognizing the equities on both sides of the arguments you will be hearing, the Library of Congress urges favorable consideration of H.R. 2223. This legislation is the culmination of 15 years of painstaking negotiation and compromise.
It does not provide all of the answers, but it does provide a modern framework for growth and change: New tools for the courts, the Copyright Office, for the authors and the users of copyrighted materials, to meet the challenges of the future.
This is the kind of effort that involves little widespread recognition and a great deal of difficulty and toil. But I am convinced that, when all is said and done, your work will have a significant impact on the lives of all Americans—those who create and those whose lives are shaped and changed by their creations.
As the present administrator of the world's greatest collection of those creative works, I believe that your success in this endeavor will be one of your greatest legislative achievements.
Thank you very much.
Ms. Ringer. If I may, Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the privilege of introducing Mr. Kaminstein.
Mr. KASTEN MEIER. Yes, of course, Ms. Ringer.
Ms. RINGER. The current program for general revision of the copyright law started in the fifties under Arthur Fisher, who was a great Register of Copyrights. He charted a course which we endeavored to follow, and he put his personal stamp on the revision program.
Arthur Fisher died in 1960, at a crucial point in the revision program, and was succeeded by Abraham L. Kaminstein. It is hard to realize how difficult it was for Kami to take over an ongoing program of that sort, one that had as much of a personal stamp on it as the revision program had in 1960, and to make the changes that were necessary to make it go, and eventually to chart a different course_because there were many things in the original planning that had to be changed.
All of these Mr. Kaminstein did. He made a number of personal Sacrifices, including sacrifices in his health. The revision program certainly would have gone nowhere without his disinterested optimism and his willingness to explore every possibility, his spirit of good will, and his personal integrity. Ile earned everyone's respect.
As a personal note, he hired me out of law school, and everything I know about copyright I either owe to him directly or to the opportunities he gave me to learn. He is a loyal friend and a noble human being, and it is a great honor for me to introduce him.
Mr. KASTENVEIER. Mr. Kaminstein ?
Mr. KMINSTEIN. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, my name is Abraham Kaminstein, and I hold the position of Ilonorary Consultant in Copyright at the Library of Congress. Despite this fancy title. I must state that I appear before you representing only myself and without any brief except for my own profound belief in the value of the legislation you are considering.
I am privileged and pleased to appear before you in support of H.R. 2923 for the general revision of the copyright law. This legislation, which many of you are now involved with for the first time, has been for me almost a life's work.
Before my retirement in 1971 I spent 23 years in the Copyright Office, the last 11 of them as the Register of Copyrights. Interestingly enough, it is almost exactly 20 years since my immediate predecessor, Arthur Fisher, asked for and was granted funds by Congress to initiate studies leading to the overall revision of the copyright laws.
Published between 1956 and 1960, 35 major studies examined current interpretations of the 1909 Copyright Act, analyzed its shortcomings and inequities and set out alternative measures for reform. Well over a decade later, they still remain vital and enduring contributions to our law.
In the early 1960's the Copyright Office sponsored a series of roundtable discussions based on recommendations made in the 1961 Register's Report on Copyright Revision and the preliminary legislative drafts that began to emerge. The talks filled four volumes; they were sometimes difficult, but they did succeed in identifying areas of agreement and dispute, thus sharpening the issues.
By 1964, it was possible to submit a bill for the general revision of the law, and to participate in hearings in 1965 before your subcommittee and under your dedicated chairmanship. Looking back to 1965. I am startled by the scope of our achievements and I have become a bit philosophical about the problems we failed to recognize at the time.
As incredible as it may seem now, our first proposals said nothing alnut cable television, and photocopying was not regarded as an issue which required special legislative provisions. Some of these problems were aired in the extensive hearings which you conducted. Mr. Chairman, and new provisions were added, and when, in 1967, the House passed the bill, we seemed well on our way to success.
We all know that the entire bill reached an impasse in the Senate because of the inability to solve the issue of cable television. I must confess that in 1968, recognizing that nothing was going to move unless somehow the CATV issue could be solved or dealt with separately, I gave in to some despair.
Testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights, I said that I had been musing on Yeats' poem, "To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing." Nothing much to encourage me happened for a long time.
Certainly I feel no such despair tolay.
At the last session of Congress, the Senate passed the revision bill by a margin of 70-1, and every indication seems to point to a consensus in that body that this is a measure whose time, at long last, has come.
Although insufficient time remained in the last session for Ilouse consideration, the status of the general revision legislation was one of the points covered in your subcommittee's hearings on November 26, 1974, on S. 3976, a short bill whose enactment effective December 31, 1974, appears to pave the way for favorable action in both Ilouses during the current Congress.
I should like to close my statement by offering some personal observations based on years of involvement with copyright revision. I should like to recall the constructive spirit of the 1965 hearings for I fervently hope that they will be repeated in the work you begin tolay. Nine years ago, Mr. Chairman, your subcommittee met for jl executive sessions, over a 7-month period, to prepare a bill for the full Judiciary Committee.
('ongressmen, members of a busy subcommittee, were willing and glad to spend an extraordinary amount of time and effort on a bill that could not have meant much to them politically, that could not gain them any votes. What made this extraordinary effort possible, and indeed successful, was the prevailing spirit of compromise--constructive and reasonable, rather than destructive and extreme. I called it “In Experiment in Legislative Technique." It was the most exhilarating experience of my legal career.
All of us are special pleaders, no matter how moral we feel our case to be. For my part, I make no bones about favoring authors, composers, and artists. But I know, nevertheless, that everyone must make some compromise. My experience convinces me that there are no easy shortents in copyright, and no siile can afford the luxury of a complete victory. Neither can we embrace categorical solutions; what they possess in simplicity, they sacrifice in or linary justice. What is needed is a responsible and considered compromise, for only such a compromise will best serve the interests of all.
This will require statesmanship of the highest order, and I hope you will feel the personal satisfaction that comes with a job well done.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KISTEN MEER. Thank you, Vr. Kaninstein, for a most eloquent and personal statement on a subject many recard as impersonal.
I am almost sorry, however, to mention that in 1966 we had jl executive sessions over a 7-month period. You will detect some trepidation among my subcommittee members who have not been through that egnerience. I Laughter.]
Much of that work will not have to be redone, I expect. Perhaps this is not the time, as I introduce the next witness, to commend people