Due Process out the window?
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 96 22:08:21 -0700
Subject: Due Process out the window?
If you care about copyright and libraries, you may want to take note of this
startling development: Sen. Orrin Hatch is proposing that the Copyright
Office be moved from the Library of Congress and be located in the Executive
Branch under a new, super-agency to be known as the "Commission on
Intellectual Property." And that the whole deal be signed, sealed, and
delivered within a matter of weeks with essentially no public debate.
The idea may or may not have merit, but we will never know: apparently this
is a sudden emergency attempt to elevate Bruce Lehman's power before this
fall's election. Hatch has not even introduced the bill, but has already
scheduling hearings for July 23. His office refuses to give a draft of the
bill to the Copyright Office. How can there be a hearing with no bill
actually introduced? Hatch proposes that the hearings be held on "Omnibus
Intellectual Property Issues." The bill will come days after the hearing,
and voting will be shortly thereafter. The whole thing could be over before
the public even know about it.
Why this is suddenly so urgent is not clear. Perhaps it has to do with an
election year, and the fear that there may be a change of power in the
Congress that would diminish Hatch's role. Or perhaps diminish Bruce
Lehman's role as Czar of Patents, and now perhaps of copyrights as well.
A move like this will undoubtedly cost millions of dollars. Whether it is
worth doing or not remains to be seen, but it is a major change that
deserves full and thoughtful consideration. If you think taking the
Copyright Office out from the Library of Congress and creating a new super-
agency deserve more scrutiny and debate than Sen. Hatch wants to give them,
you might consider saying so.
You can simply note that any proposal to move the Copyright Office out of
the Library of Congress deserves a full and fair airing to see if anything
is broken before anything is "fixed."
Sen. Hatch's office voice phone: (202) 224-5251. Office fax number: (202)
224-6331. Address: Sen. Orrin G. Hatch / 135 Russell Senate Office Building
/ Washington D.C. 20510-4402. Or to his local office: 8402 Federal Building
/ Salt Lake City UT 84138.
© 1996 Peter Langston