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The Honorable Robert W. Kastenmeier
Administration of Justice
Re: S. 1301, s. 1791, H. R. 1623
and H.R. 2962
Dear Chairman Kastenmeier:
On behalf of Data Retrieval Corporation, I urge your subcommittee's approval of bill implementing U.S. accession to the Berne Convention. The marketplace for copyrightable books, software and other works is increasingly global in scope. America's creative authors, artists and companies need effective international protection for their works; protection which assures them just recompense for their creativity, protects their works from increasing piracy abroad and encourages their continued creative effort.
Our company is extensively involved in the licensing of computer software throughout the world. International protection of these works is vital to the continued maintenance and growth of this international market. Rejection of the Berne Convention could result in restriction of protections now afforded U.S. works in member countries and a resulting loss in income from international sales and license fees.
Particularly in the area of information technology, copyright law and policy are developing and evolving as ways sought to deal with questions raised by new technology. Decisions are being made which will affect this country's position as an international leader in this market. The U.S. should have a voice in determining this policy. Adherence to the Berne Convention will assure the U.S. a continued role in the development of international copyright policy which vitally affects
many U.S. companies and individual authors.
As to fears that adherence to Berne would affect authors' moral rights in their works, they simply unfounded. France, Japan and numerous other member countries provide moral rights to their authors which are least as extensive as any existing in the U.S. Adherence to Berne would in no way necessitate a change in the protection afforded to moral rights.
Data Retrieval Corporation
The Honorable Robert W. Kastenmeier
We perceive no drawbacks to U.S. membership in Berne. The changes required to our current law are minimal and do no reduce the copyright protection afforded
in this country.
The level of protection provided by Berne is high, and U.S. membership will allow us to ensure that it remain so. The benefits of membership
substantial and far-reaching. We therefore urge you to vote in favor of a Bill implementing membership of the United States in the Berne Convention.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee
Data Retrieval Corporation
THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PRESSES, INC
March 10, 1988
Mr. Robert W. Kastenmeier, Chairman
Dear Mr. Kastenmeier:
! an writing on behalf of the association of American University Presses to urge your support for U.S. adherence to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
As an organization of scholarly publishers dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge worldwide, the AAUP believes it important to the activity of its members that their publications receive the greatest possible copyright protection abroad. The AAUP further believes it important for the United States to be in the best possible position to influence the way the international copyright system evolves in the years ahead, as technological developments and pressures from developing countries combine to increase the need for collaboration in working out viable solutions for safeguarding intellectual property rights across borders.
These advantages will only come if Congress enacts the necessary legislation to permit U.S. adherence to the Berne Convention. Because the Convention is not self-executing. the AAUP foresees no disruption in normal business relationships between authors and publishers following from adherence, especially if the implementing legislation makes clear that no change in existing laws affecting such relationships is intended. The experience of other Berne countries, like the United Kingdom, shows that predictions of dire consequences stemming from the Convention's recognition of "moral rights" are not to be trusted. And the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, which administers Berne, has provided assurance that current ü.s. laws are adequate to satisfy the requirements of the Convention regarding "moral rights."
Balancing the benefits against the risks, the AAUP has reached the same conclusion as the nearly fifty other organizations with which it has come together to form the National Committee for the Berne Convention: the case for the United States joining Berne is compelling, and the time for doing it is now.
Dear Congressman Kastenmeier:
I have before me two pages that purport to be "amendments to the Administration bill" (H. R. 2962? s. 1971?)
They are an extraordinary hodgepodge. Indeed, if I had to describe these proposals in one word, that word would be "grotesque."
If, after several readings, I comprehend them, these proposed amendments successively: 1. Deny the existence of any moral rights in Title 17, the Copyright Act, but assert that existing law satisfies our obligations under Article 6 bis, the moral rights clause of the Berne Convention.
Repeat the assertion just made.
Deny recognition of any moral rights, and forbid any expansion of these assertedly non-existent rights.
Amend the preemption section of the Copyright Act, once again to preclude the existence of moral rights, and once again to forbid their expansion.
Are these proposals perhaps a whole squadron of straw men, set up only to be knocked down?
If so, please knock them down quickly.
If we are not to have any affirmative recognition of moral rights under federal law, as was rather boldly proposed in H.R. 1623, the best thing is to say nothing
on the subject, and trust to the normal development of state and federal law to satisfy the obligations we will be undertaking if we are in good faith to adhere to the Berne Convention.
But let us not distort and mutilate our copyright law with any of these proposed amendments.
Ralph S. Brown*
*Editor, Brown and Denicola, Cases on Copyright, 4th edition, 1985; numerous articles, most recent: Design Protection: An Overview, 32 UCLA L. Rev. 1341 (1987).