Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Orphan Works - History In the Making

Whether you're for it, or against it, there's nothing like learning about the process that goes into lawmaking. Usually, you'd likely turn a blind eye to how things happen, but this is going to affect you, so I encourage you to take a look. The House bill that was introduced is going to be debated today in what's called a "Markup session", at 2pm Eastern time. The House Committee on the Judiciary is scheduled to amend and re-write the Orphan Works bill, and, at the end of the day, the Chairman, Howard Berman will either take an informal tally, or have a formal vote, on the bill. If he doesn't think he has the votes to move the bill forward, without a big fight, he'll likely table the bill, and it will do what's called "die in committee." In an election year, people tend to save their political might for bills that will make them look good in their home districts, and easy fights are far better to move through than those where there are opposing parties. The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that the American Library Association favors the Senate Bill over the House Bill, and "...is urging its membership to contact their senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress and press them to support the Senate version of a bill, S 2913, that would make it easier for people to exploit orphan works...A comparable bill in the House of Representatives, HR 5889, is flawed, the library group states, because it includes a “dark archive” provision that would require people to notify the U.S. Copyright Office of their intention to use an orphan work." Check out the ALA Action Alert by clicking here.

(Complete post, after the Jump)

Here's a short (but informative) FAQ on how a bill becomes law - click here. To check out the Schoolhouse Rock story on how a bill becomes law, for a brief 3-minutes of nostalgia, click here.

Here's a more in-depth piece, worth reading, that explains, in part:
MARK UP: After public hearings have been held the committee meets to discuss, revise and vote on the bill. A committee can defeat a bill, hold up action on a bill for weeks, amend it beyond recognition, or speed its way through the legislative process. The vast majority of the more than 10,000 bill that are introduced in Congress each year die in committee for lack of support.
When we contacted the committee earlier today, as there was not a "view live webcast" button for this session of the committee, we were assured that there would be a webcast, since the markup was taking place in the full hearing room. If, for some reason, it's not there by around noon or 1pm, I encourage you to call 202-225-3951, and ask why you can't view the webcast of the markup. If no one calls, they won't bother if they weren't going to broadcast it. If many people call, when they weren't going to, they may well change their minds. Check this link for the details.

It's been said that you never want to see how sausage is made. So too, is it often times painful to see how legislation is made. So, take a gander at the proverbial "sausage factory" that takes place on Capitol Hill. It'll be an eye opening experience, whether you're for or against it.

How this bill ends up will be historical if it is reported out of committee, and historical in that it will serve as a basis for next session's version. Either way, it's history in the making.

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Anonymous said...

Do the right thing! Support APA's position on this absurd bill.

Go to this link - this morning - right now and send a letter to your Congressman and Senator.

There are edited and unedited letter available.


Walter Dufresne said...

Whether you're for it or against it, I encourage you to contact your senators and congressman. And please note (based on conversations with my city councilman over the years) the *way* you contact them can be more or less influential, depending on the method. Customized e-mail petitions are less influential than a personal e-mail which is less influential than personal faxes or letters. Personal faxes or letters take time, and they're about as influential as a personal phone call to the district office which was less influential than a phone call to the Washington office back when long-distance calling was expensive. Office visits are the most influential of all, and it helps if you both live in the district and make occasional small campaign contributions. Because whether or not you vote (but not *how*) is always a public record, it helps to have that public record of having voted in past primary and general elections. Oh, and did I mention the importance of small campaign contributions? And how helpful it is to get to know a staffer?

Anonymous said...

The mark up has been pushed back today because of the previous agenda was started late. Not going to happen at 2pm.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this I was able to watch the meeting.

Can anybody please explain what went on at the markup meeting? I heard it but I am not familiar with this kind of legal talk.

is there an overview somewhere that recaps this event.


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