U.S. Copyright Office

November 24, 1999
Issue 68

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Federal Register

For the complete text of Federal Register announcements, visit the Copyright Office Website at www.copyright.gov

Copyright Office to Conduct Rulemaking on Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies (64 FR 66139)

Section 1201(a)(1) of the Copyright Act, which was added by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, provides that the Librarian of Congress may exempt certain classes of works from the prohibition against circumventing a technological measure that controls access to a copyrighted work. The Copyright Office will conduct a rulemaking proceeding to determine whether there are classes
of works as to which users are, or are likely to be, adversely affected in their ability to make noninfringing uses if they are prohibited from circumventing such technological measures. The Office has published a notice of inquiry requesting written comments from all interested parties, including representatives of copyright owners, educational institutions, libraries and archives, scholars, researchers, and members of the public. Comments are due Feb. 10, 2000. Reply comments are due March 13, 2000. The notice of inquiry can be found on the Copyright Office Website at http://www.copyright.gov/fedreg/1999/64fr66139.pdf or http://www.copyright.gov/fedreg/1999/64fr66139.html


Prior to adjourning for the Thanksgiving holiday, Congress passed and sent to the President several measures amending title 17, the copyright law. On Nov. 19, Congress passed the Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act of 1999 (S. 1948) as part of the consolidated appropriations bill (H.R. 3194). Chief among its provisions is the extension of the satellite carrier compulsory license found in section 119 of title 17, which permits the retransmission of distant television station signals. The license was set to expire on Dec. 31. It is now extended until Dec. 31, 2004.

In addition, the bill creates a new royalty-free compulsory license at section 122 of title 17 for
retransmission of local television stations by satellite carriers. For the first time, satellite carriers will be able to legally offer local stations to their viewers, a right cable operators have always had. Congress also reduced the royalty fees that satellite carriers must pay for superstation and network rebroadcasts.

Among a number of other provisions relating to the satellite license, Congress modified the mechanism for determining when a subscriber is eligible to receive distant network stations.

The Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act of 1999 also contains a number of technical amendments relating to the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act, which is chapter 13 of title 17. Most importantly, the sunset provision of chapter 13 was removed, so that chapter 13 now will become a permanent part of the law. Among other changes is an expanded definition of a "vessel."

The definition of a work made for hire in section 101of title 17 was amended to include "sound recordings" in the list of types of specially ordered or commissioned works that may be works made for hire if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument.

The bill removes the requirement that a Copyright Office rulemaking pursuant to section 1201(a)(1), required under last year's Digital Millennium Copyright Act legislation, be "on the record," a legal term that would have required an infrequently used formal trial-like procedure.

A large part of the legislation is devoted to patent reform. Other titles that may interest NewsNet readers include provisions on prevention of cyberpiracy in domain names and online child protection.
Congress also passed on Nov. 19 a separate piece of legislation, the "Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999," H.R. 3456. The bill, which the President is expected to sign, amends section 504(c) of title 17 to increase the minimum statutory damages from $500
to $750, increase the maximum from $20,000 to $30,000, and increase the maximum for willful infringement from $100,000 to $150,000. It also directs the Sentencing Commission to adjust the sentencing guidelines for criminal copyright infringement to ensure that criminal penalties are
sufficiently stringent and reflect the retail value of the works that were infringed.

The text of the Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act of 1999 (S. 1948) can be found on the GPO's Website at

The text of the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 (H.R. 3456) can be found on the GPO's Website at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/useftp.cgi?IPaddress=


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