Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, January 16, 2004

More on the database bill

Carol Ebbinghouse, If at First You Don't Succeed, Stop!: Proposed Legislation to Set Up New Intellectual Property Right in Facts Themselves, Information Today, January 16, 2004. An excellent, critical review of the database bill pending in the US House. This bill would devastate civic, political, economic, and scholarly life in the US. But here are some excerpts limited to the scholarly: "A university professor might be precluded from gathering weather information from a variety of Web sites for use in a paper that argues for or against the increase of global warming.....Will performing interlibrary loans, preservation projects, circulating material, and/or creating bibliographies, or providing access to commercial and/or Internet databases violate the terms of H.R. 3261? There is no guidance as to what libraries, schools, research, and educational institutions can and cannot do with databases. The vagueness of the text and the lack of definitions of terms used in the bill could lead to expensive lawsuits to gain judicial interpretations and limits on liability....Library patrons share data, competitive intelligence, price lists, etc., as well as scientific, technical, and business factual and legal research with employers, clients, co-counsels, classmates, professors, corporations, public agencies, charities, family members, and myriad others. Will they open themselves up to lawsuits and temporary and permanent injunctions? Could they be held liable not just for damages alleged by plaintiffs, but additional damages up to twice that amount? Could they have their equipment impounded? It is quite possible."