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awarded 10 times. Last year's award winner was, in fact, Senator Roth. I also want to acknowledge that we are entering the week of Earth Day, in recognition of efforts for the environment. So it is well that we salute you for your past efforts, Senator Roth.
I would also like to greet our former colleague on the subcommittee, Congressman Cardin, who was elected to the 100th Congress in 1986, and known for his legislative effectiveness. He served on this committee and we are sorry to lose him to the Ways and Means Committee. But, nonetheless, he is an important figure on that committee and in the Congress. So we welcome him today as well.
Senator Roth, you have seniority and you may proceed. STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM V. ROTH, JR., A SENATOR IN CON.
GRESS FROM THE STATE OF DELAWARE, ACCOMPANIED BY FRANK POLK
Mr. Roth. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I greatly appreciate your very gracious remarks of introduction. It doesn't seem that long ago that I once served on this distinguished committee. Mr. Moorhead, it's always nice to be with you.
I appreciate the interest of this committee in a matter that I think is of great importance, so I do want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, as well as the members for scheduling this hearing on S. 1557 and H.R. 3157, which are identicial bills introduced by Congressman Cardin and myself.
Mr. Chairman, if it pleases the subcommittee, I request that my prepared testimony be made part of the record as if read, together with the additional materials that I have attached. Then I would summarize that testimony for the subcommittee.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Without objection, that will be done. You may proceed as you wish.
Mr. Roth. Mr. Chairman, in September 1988, I received a letter from residents of the Emily P. Bissell Hospital, a State-run nursing home, that asked a very simple question: why is a nursing home not a home? To me, this letter puts the problem more eloquently than anything else I have read, and I would like to read it for purposes of the record. In this letter, which I received on September 12, 1988, it says:
"Dear Senator Roth:
"We are residents of Emily P. Bissell Hospital, a nonprofit intermediate and skilled nursing care facility run by the State of Delaware. We feel that the definition under this copyright law of 'home' as 'a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances' needs to be broadened. Emily P. Bissell Hospital is our home, just as other nursing care facilities are home for their residents. It is not by choice that we are here, but we are, and our lives are now changed in many, many ways. For the most part, we are not able to get out into the community to do the things that most people take for granted, such as going to the movies, or going to the video store. If the staff from our activity department could show us some of the movies available on videocassettes, however, it would certainly bring us a lot of pleasure, and we do not see how this type of situation should be defined as a 'public showing' as the law cur
So it goes back to the simple question, Mr. Chairman, why is a nursing home not a home? There is no sound answer to that question and that's the reason I'm here today.
It was clear to me that there was something wrong with the copyright law. The distinction drawn in the law was not between public and private, as is generally thought, because, in my opinion, the common areas of a single family residence and of nursing homes are equally private. The problem is that one is considered normal and the other is not.
Now, I could have drafted a bill to redraw the lines between public and private, but I could not foresee how far that would take us. Instead, I drafted the narrowest possible bill I could to fit a very specific problem. Admittedly, no one as yet has thanked me for this narrowness.
The specific problem was the educational effort of the Motion Picture Licensing Corp. to frighten nursing homes into compliance with the copyright law. That effort, with a $3.5 million budget, was successful. It drove home the point: a license is required by law for the viewing of videos in nursing homes' common areas.
This message was not bad law; it was bad policy. It is bad policy not because nursing homes are worthy of humanitarian institutions that lay claim to our charitable instincts; it's bad policy because the law invidiously discriminates against two classes of homes. The issue is not charity. It is equal treatment.
The motion picture industry has never understood this legislation. Before my legislation gained any notoriety, MPAA passionately opposed it. "No pay, no play" was their motto. They have always viewed the legislation as forced charity rather than in terms of equal treatment under the law. And when it counted, the industry fully supported MPLC's efforts. Only with the glare of publicity and the imminence of these hearings has the MPLC chairman become persona non grata within the industry.
Last August, MPAA asked for time to negotiate a nonlegislative solution. I have no problem with such a solution, so long as it's uniform, binding, legally sufficient, transaction-free, and covers virtually all the videos that nursing homes would like to watch.
Talks were held. A tentative agreement was reached. There was considerable optimism that today we would have a signing ceremony, Mr. Chairman, rather than a hearing. However, no studio has accepted the agreement. I'm not sure what all the reasons are. It appears that the industry believes that the antitrust laws prevent them from reaching a nonlegislative solution. If that be the case, the only solution then is the legislative solution before you.
Now, some studios, not all, have written letters stating their position. These letters have been included in my prepared statement. These letters, however, are not a solution. They present many problems. First, the silence of certain studios means that any hope of covering all videos is impossible. As you know, even if all the major studios gave a blanket license to nursing homes, there would still be some videos that could not be shown.
Second, an offer not to seek licenses from nursing homes is not an adequate response in light of the MPLC educational effort to make clear that licenses are required by law. The solution must in
volve either the changing of the law or granting licenses. Nonenforcement would not do.
Third, any voluntary offer by a studio may be withdrawn at any time. Since the conduct of the industry appears to vary in accordance with congressional interest in this subject, I believe that such voluntary offers are inadequate.
Fourth, to be workable, any solution has to be a single, uniform solution. Only the silent studios appear to have the same position; the rest are all over the lot. No activity director for a nursing home could ever figure out which videos may be shown. The current situation is simply impossible, so these letters are not a solution.
Fifth, a few of the studios would offer royalty-free licenses to an individual nursing home upon request. Of all the suggestions of the studios, only these begin to meet the problem. However, since the licenses offered are not blanket but individual licenses, the transaction cost would be unnecessarily high. The nonlegislative solution, if there is to be one, must be universal, it must be uniform, binding, legally sufficient, and transaction-free.
Congressman Cardin and I have steadfastly maintained this position during the talks on this subject, and we have, Mr. Chairman, suggested language to accomplish this result.
Finally, unfortunately, the result so far as been no solution at all, neither legislative or otherwise. The motion picture industry requested talks 8 months ago, but they have not borne fruit. Now is the time to move the legislation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am pleased and grateful that you have scheduled a hearing on S.1557 and H.R.3157, identical bills introduced by Congressman Cardin and myself.
The history of this legislation begins on September 12, 1988, when a letter was sent to my office. Since that letter still remains the most concise, yet eloquent explanation of the legislation, I ask the Subcommittee's indulgence to include it as part of the record and for me to read from it:
Dear Senator Roth:
We are residents of Emily P. Bissell Hospital, a nonprofit intermediate and skilled nursing care facility run by the State of Delaware. We ar writing to you in regard to The Federal Copyright Act (Public law 94-553, Title 17 of the United States Code) which says it is illegal to show rented videocassettes in facilities such as ours without a license.
We feel that the definition under this law of home as "a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances" needs to be broadened. Emily P. Bissell Hospital is our home, just as other nursing care facilities are home for their residents. It is not by choice that we are here, but we are, and our lives are now changed in many, many ways. For the most part, we are not able to get out into the community to do the things that most people take for granted, such as going to the movies, or going to the video store. If the staff from our Activity Department could show us some of the movies available on videocassettes, however, it would certainly bring us a lot of pleasure, and we do not see how this type of situation should be defined as a "public showing" as the law currently sees it.
Any assistance you could provide us in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
The letter is signed by Frances Riley and nine other residents of the nursing home. The letter was a plaintive response to an aggressive "education" campaign waged by the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation. On July 12, 1987, the Advocate and Greenwich Times of Stamford, Connecticut, ran a story about this campaign. It said: "Peter W. Kuyper, MPLC'S Chairman of the Board, said the company has $3.5 millon budgeted over the next two years for sales and educational advertising to explain the copyright law. 'First you have to educate people that it's illegal,' Kuyper said... "We're going to take a small regional approach with nursing homes in the Northeast to see how it goes."
This educational project was a roaring success. Nursing homes contacted my office in disbelief. One of them, Meridian, with several homes in neighboring Maryland, called in shock that MPLC had sent it a bill for $16,975. Residents of nursing homes called to inquire of my office whether they would go to jail for having watched videos in common rooms, apparently frightened by ads placed in Modern Maturity by MPLC.
If such ads missed the mark, MPLC made sure the nursing homes got the message by writing to them specifically. Mr. Chairman, I ask that two MPLC enclosures be placed in the record, as illustrative of their educational effort (Appendix A.)
In one entitled "The Copyright Law" the essential point is made clear: "By law....videocassettes....are for home use only unless you have a license to show them elsewhere." In another entitled "The Exhibition - Questions and Answers" it states"
"Q. We would like to show vidoes
to our patients and their