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the National Bureau of Standards; monitoring and advising on the performance of the various components of the program in meeting objectives; and developing and operating mechanisms for coordination of data compilation activities throughout the United States. In addition, it would involve the maintenance of a central file of reference data compilations containing the output of data compilation projects and the development and operation of dissemination services designed to ensure that the products of the program are readily available to users. B. Other Federal agencies
Participation of other Federal agencies in the Standard Reference Data System would be entirely voluntary. It would include participation in the interagency mechanism, which would be established to provide guidance on Standard Reference Data System policies and priorities, and in the planning of a coordinated reference data program; sponsoring reference data activities which are necessary for the effective discharge of their responsibilities and which have a technical scope of interest primarily within the mission of their own agency; cooperating with the National Bureau of Standards in the operation of those reference data activities which support the missions of several agencies and the scientific and technological communities at large; and participation in activities with the National Bureau of Standards which would be designed to determine national needs for compilations of critically evaluated data and to establish technical scope, nature of output, and standards of quality for all data activities within the Standard Reference Data System. Finally, such participation would include ensuring that products of data activities under the sponsorship of such agencies are made adequately available to technical users, either by direct distribution or through the mechanisms of the National Bureau of Standards; and to the extent practical and consistent with immediate mission objectives, endeavoring to meet standards of quality and format established for products of their data activities through the initiative of the National Bureau of Standards.
SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF BILL
Section 1 declares it to be a Congressional policy to make critically evaluated reference data readily available to scientists and engineers.
Section 2 defines various terms that appear in the bill, including that of “Standard Reference Data."
Section 3 of the bill would authorize the Secretary of Commerce to arrange for the collection, compilation, critical evaluation, publication and dissemination of Standard Reference Data. In exercising this authority, the Secretary would be required to utilize the reference data services and facilities of other agencies at the Federal, State and local government levels, with their consent, so as to avoid duplication of the same services and facilities. The section also explicitly states that nothing in the Act is intended to repeal or in any way affect existing authority or responsibility of any Federal Government agency.
Section 4 of the bill would authorize the Secretary, in consultation with other interested Federal agencies, to prescribe and publish in the Federal Register such standards, criteria and procedures for the preparation and publication of Standard Reference Data as may be necessary to carry out the purpose of the Act.
Section 5 of the proposed legislation would authorize the Secretary to publish and sell Standard Reference Data, produced entirely at Government expense, at prices which would reflect the cost of collection, compilation, evaluation, publication and dissemination of such data, including administrative expenses and would be subject to the Organic Act of the National Bureau of Standards. This would be permitted without regard to any other law under which Government printing is accomplished and sales permitted. This section is consistent with Congressional and executive policy in that it seeks to recover from the special users of the Standard Reference Data the cost of producing the data which is of special benefit to these users.
Section 6 calls upon the Secretary to adopt a symbol or mark which he could use or authorize others to use in connection with the term “Standard Reference Data.” The symbol or mark would be published in the Federal Register.
Section 7 of the bill lists specific acts which are prohibited. These acts pertain to use of the Standard Reference Data symbol or mark adopted by the Secretary, without first receiving his written authorization to do so, or that of his designee. Section 8 declares that whoever commits any of the prohibited acts listed under section 7 shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $100. The Secretary would be authorized to compromise the civil penalty.
Section 9 would grant jurisdiction to the United States district courts to enjoin violations of the Act. Upon request of the Secretary of Commerce, the Attorney General may seek injunctions to prevent such violations.
Section 10 of the bill would authorize the appropriation of such amounts as may be needed for the purpose of the Act.
Section 11 sets out the short title of the bill as the Standard Reference Data Act.
THE LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS,
Washington, D.C., June 22, 1966. Mr. CHARLES F. DUCANDER, Executive Director and Chief Counsel, Committee on Science and Astronautics, House of Representatives, Il'ashington, D.C.
DEAR MR. DUCANDER : In response to your request of June 20, 1966, I am pleased to forward my comments on H.R. 15638, a bill to provide for the collection, compilation, critical evaluation, publication, and sale of standard reference data.
I support the stated policy of the bill, which is “to make critically evaluated reference data readily available to scientists, engineers, and the general public.” However, in carrying out this commendable policy, the bill contains a provision which I believe is in serious conflict with existing law.
Section 7(b) prohibits any person, without written authorization, from copying “any data compilation bearing the Standard Reference Data symbol or mark adopted pursuant to section 6," and section 8(a) provides a civil penalty of up to $100 for “each copy of a publication which violates any provision of section 7.” A copyright is, in essence, the legal recognition of exclusive rights, notably the rights of copying and publication, in works of authorship, including compilations. Thus, sections 7 and 8 of the bill seem intended to create the equivalent of a copyright, but with protection which, unlike the present law, is perpetual in duration and free of the safeguards written into the present law to protect users and the public.
This, of course, raises a number of serious problems. The first stems from Article I, section 8 of the Constitution, which grants Congress the power". to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Since section 7(b) of the bill in effect grants the equivalent of a copyright for an unlimited period, there is doubt whether the provision is consistent with the Constitutional limitation. Moreover, even if a time limitation were placed on the protection granted by the bill, I would question the justification for granting special exclusive rights in material coming within the subject matter of the copyright statute in a way that is inconsistent with that statute. Title 17 contains a number of provisions, including those dealing with publication, notice, and registration, that have been carefully worked out to govern all copyrightable subject matter, and that seem equally applicable here.
Of particular importance is section 8 of Title 17, which has provided since 1909 that "No copyright shall subsist in ... any publication of the United States Government .
A similar prohibition has existed in the Printing Law since 1895 (44 U.S.C. 58). These provisions reflect a long-standing Congressional policy of permitting “Government publications” (i.e., works written by Gorernment employees as part of their official duties or employment) to be freely copied. Since sections 7 and 8 of H.R. 1.5638 are directly contradictory of that policy, they raise a significant policy question.
There is now pending in the Congress a bill (H.R. 4347) for the general revision of the present copyright law. Section 105 of that bill would continue the present prohibition against the copyrighting of Government publications. Extensive hearings were held on the bill from May to September, 1965, and a number of Government witnesses, including those representing the Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, and Health, Education, and Welfare, testified in support of the prohibition. Representatives of the Department of Defense and of the Atomic Energy Commission urged a provision that would permit a Government copyright in special cases and under carefully safeguarded conditions. H.R. 1347 is at present under study by Subcommittee No. 3 of the House Judiciary Committee, which to date has held 34 executive sessions on the bill.
The Copyright Office devoted a good deal of time to exploring the issue of copyright in Government works in the course of the program for general revision of the copyright law. The conclusions reached are embodied in the Supplementary Report of the Register of Copyrights, at page 10. The Report found that there were some cases in which copyright in a Government work would do no harm and might benefit the public, but that these rare cases did not warrant setting up the very elaborate procedures required to evaluate them. We believe that, if an exception to the prohibition can be shown to be justified in a particular case, the appropriate method of dealing with it is by specific legislation allowing a copyright under the provisions and requirements of Title 17. An example of this approach is the Act of January 27, 1932 (52 Stat. 6), which appears as an exception to the general prohibition of section 8 of Title 17.
I urge that the Committee consider H.R. 15638 in the light of the problems pointed out in this letter. If it finds that, because of the exceptional nature of the data compilations that are the subject matter of the bill, exclusive rights should be granted to prohibit their unauthorized copying and publication, the bill should be reworded to accomplish this purpose under general copyright principles and the provisions of Title 17, U.S. Code. Sincerely yours,
John G. LORENZ, Acting Librarian of Congress.
COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES,
Washington, D.C., June 29, 1966. Hon. GEORGE P. MILLER, Chairman, Committee on Science and Astronautics, House of Representatives.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN : Reference is made to letter dated June 20, 1966, from the Executive Director and Chief Counsel of your Committee requesting our comments on H.R. 15638, a bill to provide for the collection, compilation, critical evaluation, publication, and sale of standard reference data.
Our Office has no special information regarding the desirability of the legislation. Consequently, and since it appears that the matter is primarily a question of policy for determination by the Congress, we offer no recommendations concerning the merits of the bill. Sincerely yours,
FRANK H. WEITZEL, Assistant Comptroller General of the United States. 154