CCIA Disappointed with Vote to Advance Copyright Legislation

February 26, 1998

(Washington, DC) — Following today’s vote by the House Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee, John Scheibel, Vice President and General Counsel of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) expressed his disappointment at the panel’s decision to approve HR 2281, the “WIPO Copyright Treaties Implementation Act,” sending the measure to the full Judiciary Committee. “This bill will stifle innovation and competition in the high tech arena and therefore it is inconsistent with the Constitutional purpose of copyright law which is ‘to promote the sciences and useful arts’,” Scheibel said.

A cornerstone of CCIA’s involvement in revising digital copyright law has been to maintain the existing balance between the intellectual property rights of content owners and the fair use rights of users. CCIA’s members which include leading manufacturers of computer, information processing and communications-related products and services, are both content providers as well as content carriers and users. As such, our members are striving to preserve the appropriate balance in copyright law.

CCIA believes that HR 2281 will disrupt this balance by prohibiting high-tech companies from using long-accepted techniques in the product-development process. CCIA’s Scheibel said, “To be competitive, those who make computer software must develop products that operate with existing computer, communications and information systems. To achieve this interoperability, much research, analysis and study using a variety of techniques, such as reverse engineering, are regularly used. This bill would deprive companies of their existing ability to use these accepted techniques.

“The net effect,” Scheibel concluded, “would be to take from small and medium sized companies, as well as the larger companies, rights they consider essential to develop better products for consumers and compete in the open marketplace.”

CCIA supports provisions of HR 3048, the “Digital Era Copyright Enhancement Act,” introduced by Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Tom Campbell (R-CA). We believe this legislation protects the rights of users and content providers in the digital age; protects the rights of small and larger high-tech companies to compete and innovate; and provides appropriate interpretation of the WIPO copyright treaties.

CCIA is a 25 year old association of computer and communications industry firms, dedicated to fostering full, free and open competition throughout the industry. Small, medium and large in size, CCIA’s members represent a broad cross-section of the industry, employing over a half-million workers and generating annual revenues beyond 200 billion dollars.

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