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About > Intellectual Property and the NII Executive Summary
Statement
of
Bruce A. Lehman
Assistant Secretary of Commerce and
Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks
on
H.R. 2441 and S. 1284

Summary

The Administration strongly urges the enactment of the NII Copyright Protection Act of 1995 (S. 1284 and H.R. 2441) to adapt the copyright law to the digital, networked environment of the National Information Infrastructure (NII).

The convergence of computer and communications technologies has made possible the development and rapid growth of the National Information Infrastructure. The NII will generate both unprecedented challenges and important opportunities for the copyright marketplace, and has tremendous potential to improve and enhance our lives.

The full potential of the NII will not be realized, however, if the legal protections that extend to education, information and entertainment products and their use in the physical environment are not available when those works are disseminated via the NII. Creators and other owners of intellectual property rights will not be willing to put their investments and their property at risk unless appropriate systems are in place to protect their rights in the NII environment. Likewise, the public will not use the services available on the NII and generate the market necessary for its success unless a wide variety of works are available under equitable and reasonable terms and conditions, and the integrity of those works is assured.

Copyright protection is not an obstacle in the way of the success of the NII; it is an essential component. Copyright motivates the creative activity of authors and thereby provides the public with the products of those creators. By granting authors exclusive rights, the public receives the benefit of literature and music and other creative works that might not otherwise be created or disseminated. Effective copyright protection promotes a new Cybermarketplace of ideas, expression and products.

The limited nature of the amendments proposed in H.R. 2441 and S. 1284 illustrate the fundamental adequacy and effectiveness of the current law to adapt to what has been referred to as the “digital difference.” In a few areas, however, amendments of the Copyright Act are necessary to take proper account of current technology. Technology has altered the copyright balance -- in some instances, in favor of copyright owners and in others, in favor of users. The goal of these bills -- which the Administration strongly supports -- is to clarify existing law and adapt it where the balance has shifted.

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