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The follow article was in the latest RICHARD EASTMAN NEWSLETTER, which
Eastman has granted me permission to forward.)
All genealogists should be made aware of this mischief in Congress and
be concerned of restrictive content of HB3261.
The SPONSOR is HOWARD COBLE (NC) along with 9 other culprits
On 3/11/04 placed on Union Calendar #252
- Proposed Legislation Would Wreak Havoc for Genealogists
A new bill before the U.S. Congress proposes to overturn one of
the most fundamental concepts of the present copyright laws. If
passed, facts would become copyrighted for the first time in U.S.
The Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act
(HR3261) would make it a crime for anyone to copy and
redistribute a substantial portion of data collected by
commercial database companies and list publishers. At first, that
sounds like a good idea. However, a bit more thought shows that
nobody would be able to republish stock quotes, historical health
data, sports scores, or voter lists. In fact, a lot of genealogy
information could not be republished.
If passed, Goggle and all the other search engines would be
crippled, probably driven out of business. These are online
databases that collect information, or facts, from other online
sites so that the user can quickly find the information they
seek. If Goggle and the others are not allowed to collect facts
that are now copyrighted, how will they be able to index the Web
Art Brodsky, spokesman for public advocacy group Public
Knowledge, says the bill would let anyone drop a fact into a
database or a collection of materials and claim monopoly rights
to it. This would contradict the core principle of the Copyright
Act, which states that mere information and ideas cannot be
Let's say that a commercial genealogy service such as
Ancestry.com or OneGreatFamily.com publishes the fact that your
great-great-grandparents had a child named John. Once that "fact"
has been published by any commercial service, that original
publisher would hold the copyright on the fact, and no one else
would be allowed to publish it again. The Family History Library,
the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Genealogical
Publishing Company, and others would be prohibited from
publishing that information again in any of their online or
printed works. In fact, private individuals would similarly be
barred from publishing the information in their own derivative
works. If a commercial site publishes a fact about your
ancestors, you would not be able to place that fact on your own
Web site or in any book or report that you give to others.
The language in this proposed legislation contradicts the core
principle of the present copyright acts, which state that mere
information and ideas cannot be protected works.
You can read more about this proposed legislation in Wired News
What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on
this newsletter's Discussion Board at:
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