The reintroduction of a
"Collections of Information Antipiracy Act"
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
who is in destruction mode as usual
Rep. Howard Coble (R-North Carolina)
of whom I am ashamed.
Start a Brief Venting:
The very idea that the copyright to texts of opinions of our own Courts
could be given by congress to giant corporations is so repugnant and
disgusting an injustice that I confess to being ashamed that Congressman
Coble of my own State is involved in this attempted outrage.
Start logical analysis:
To whom does the law of United States of America belong? Begin rather
with the seminal question: to whom does the Constitution of the United
States of America belong?
It cannot belong to any part or the whole of the very government which
it brings into existence and by which this government is itself governed.
If it can be said to 'belong' or 'be the property' of anybody, it is the
property of of People of the United States of America.
Though judicial opinions are written by judges, they are written within
their official judical capcity, and however elegantly the knife of
judicial logic may have been wielded, these writings cannot be considered
the property of the writers, any more than can a governmental form be
considered the property of the person who fills it in.
All law proceeds as a logical consequence, ultimately through the Supreme
Court, from the Constitution. All this law is then by inherited property,
also the property of People of the United States of America. It is not
the property of the Congress, and it is not for the Congress to dispose
of in any way. In this, the Congress exceeds its authority. Any act
as conceived of by Senators Hatch and Coble is: unconstitutional, a
clear act of theft and an utter betrayal of the People of the United
States, as well of the very Constitution that brings Congress into legal
Please let this Act not be.
Email or write your Senators and Representatives -
Congressional Email Directory
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 00:54:12 -0400 (EDT)
From: "David P. Dillard"
Subject: [LawTalk] Emergency Letter to Sen. Hatch
The author of the message below is involved with the Guttenberg
Project to place classic literature on the web for all to read at no cost,
so it is not supprising that he is trying to protect the right of the
public to read law code, case and other legal information, that law
publishing firms are losing control over due to free web access. I
therefore felt that members of this list should have a chance to read his
words and become aware of this issue and the position that Mr Hartmann has
taken toward it.
(215) 204 - 4584
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 15:08:28 -0400
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: Emergency Letter to Sen. Hatch
Please forward a copy of this letter to anyone you can as
soon as you can.
Law Offices of
Carl J. Hartmann, III
Carl J. Hartmann, III Telephone: (212) 595-0959
Admitted: NM & USVI Facsimile : (212) 595-1432
May 21, 1999
Hon. Orrin G. Hatch
Committee on the Judiciary
Washington, D.C. 20510-6275
Re: Collections of Information Antipiracy Act
Dear Senator Hatch:
I write you one last time on this matter -- begging that you do what
is right for the people of the United States rather than just a couple
of huge, rich foreign corporations.
I am one of the 2 lead attorneys who litigated the successful recent
copyright case against West Publishing in the Southern District of New
York and the Second Circuit. Both the Southern District of New York
and the second Circuit Court of Appeals have rejected the same "special
interests" that the present bill would reward.
West has sought certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court on both issues
I thank you for your kind and thoughtful letter of January 25, 1999
on this subject -- and would like to point out several additional facts
with regard to the attempts by the two major, foreign corporations
involved -- to effectively monopolize access to U.S. Law. CNET reported:
Rep. Howard Coble (R-North Carolina) and Sen. Orrin Hatch
(R-Utah) are once again spearheading legislation to protect the
"brow sweat" and deep pockets of database creators and publishers,
such as WestLaw, Reed Elsevier, which owns major periodicals, and
"Developing, compiling, distributing, and maintaining commercially
significant collections requires substantial investments of time,
personnel, and money," Coble said on the House floor last month when
he reintroduced the Collections of Information Antipiracy Act. "The
bottom line is clear: it is time to consider new federal legislation
to protect developers who place their materials in interstate
commerce against piracy and unfair competition."
I ask that whatever is finally enacted have a "carve-out" provision to
except all federal and state law before 1995 -- the year that it first
became clear that West and others were claiming a copyright in the text
part of judicial decisions actually authored by judges. See the two
second Circuit decisions (both titled MATTHEW BENDER & COMPANY, INC.
and HYPERLAW, INC. v. WEST PUBLISHING CO., at 158 F.3d 693 (page
numbers) and 158 F.3d 674 (text of judges opinions)-- both just decided
on November 3, 1998.
I want to make it clear that West and other publishers are not seeking
to "protect" just their headnotes, key numbers and summaries-- but,
rather, the actual text of decisions written by judges of federal and
In the action before the SDNY, West took the position that it had a
copyright on the opinion part of the reports in its Supreme Court
Reporters, Federal Reporters and Federal Supplements. It also claimed
a copyright in the citations -- the page numbering references. The
Court found otherwise -- as did the Second Circuit.
Yesterday, in an article entitled "Copyright bill may protect database
owners", <>" a reporter for CNET News.com
A key congressional subcommittee today is considering whether to
tighten the law to give database owners landmark protections for
collections of proprietary facts and public data.
The House Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property will
debate and consider amendments to Rep. <>. (R-North Carolina) and Sen. <>. (R-Utah) <>.
The bill aims to protect the "brow sweat" and deep pockets of
database creators and publishers, such as WestLaw, Reed Elsevier,
But researchers, a variety of industries, and Net search
directories say the act would give a select group of companies an
unprecedented grip -- on everything from usage rights to price
setting -- on the information they gather. Engineers, scientists,
and product developers often have used free, published material to
foster new creations.
From Web crawlers to medical journal articles, nationwide court
rulings, phone directories, and stock quotes, electronic database
operators typically don't own copyrights on the facts they catalog.
Instead they profit from aggregating and updating data and then
making it instantly available to paying customers.
With the proliferation of the Internet and CD-ROMs, which make it
easier to copy information, database assemblers are lobbying for
new safeguards for their current businesses and future ventures.
The effect of giving some sort of "super-protection" to two companies
which are owned by foreign giants will to be monopolize the law -- for
in many cases, the only valid copies of those cases "belong" to West or
I implore you to carve out this exception. Moreover, I implore you to
look into the secret agreements between West and Lexis which originated
in the late 80's -- and which both have referred to in court proceedings
the 90's -- but which remain secret. These were agreements for the
control of "Caselaw" and "Statutes". They have resulted in a two entity
industry, where two giants control all of the major on-line access to
the law, and a good deal of the book-based research.
I would, therefore, propose the following language:
"Excepted from these provisions are the judicial opinion portion
and citations to any collection of federal, state, or
administrative caselaw; and the governmentally authored portions
of, and citations to collections of state and federal statutes,
codes and regulations."
If West and Lexis will not accept this, then it is clear what they are
really up to! Please do not give these corporations ownership of U.S.
law. Please, at least read the history of these cases, and prior
attempts to force this sort of legislation through at
'http://www.hyperlaw.com/' Please do not increase the cost of access
to the law by more than 400% by creating a protected monopoly that was
gained in a way which you do not understand. At the very least, cut
this portion out into a separate bill -- and allow a year for full and
knowledgeable discussion by the public, lawyers and judges. The
Congress should know (1) how these companies originally obtained many
of these cases, (2) the decision of Judge Martin with regard to alleged
threats by West, and (3) the methods used to influence decision-makers
regarding access to these materials.
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Uncivilization and its Discontents
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Created: June 27, 1999
Last Updated: May 28, 2000