Floor Statement of Rep. Howard Coble.
Re HR 2652, Collections of Information Antipiracy Act.
May 19, 1998.
Source: Congressional Record.

Mr. COBLE. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 2652, the Collections of Information Antipiracy Act, and urge my colleagues to support this important bill. Developing, compiling, distributing, and maintaining commercially significant collections of information requires substantial investments of time, personnel, and money. Information companies, especially small businesses, must dedicate massive resources when gathering and verifying factual material, presenting it in a user-friendly way, and keeping it current for and useful to customers.

H.R. 2652, Madam Speaker, prohibits the misappropriation of valuable commercial collections by unscrupulous competitors who grab data collected by others, repackage it, and market a product that threatens competitive injury to the original collection.

This protection is modeled in part on the Lanham Act, which already makes similar kinds of unfair competition a civil wrong under Federal law. Importantly, this bill maintains existing protection for collections of information afforded by copyright and contract rights. It is intended to supplement these legal rights, not to replace them.

The Collections of Information Antipiracy Act is a balanced proposal. It is aimed at actual or threatened competitive injury for misappropriation of collections of information, not at noncompetitive uses. The goal is to stimulate the creation of even more collections and to encourage even more competition among them. The bill avoids conferring any monopoly on facts or taking any other steps that might be inconsistent with these goals.

The version under consideration today contains several noncontroversial technical amendments. The legislation is necessary, in my opinion, and well-balanced, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

Madam Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not mention this. Much information has been disseminated about this bill, and I want to advise the Members of a couple facts that I think are pertinent.

Last February, in fact, the afternoon of the hearing that was conducted, we met with representatives of the university community and asked them for specific instances where they would be concerned about this bill, that we might be able to correct some problems or concerns. None was forthcoming.

As recently as yesterday, a representative from the university community made it clear that he could not give one specific instance where detriment would result, but that he felt that maybe some future unforeseen circumstance might crop up. Madam Speaker, that could happen with any legislation.

I will be doggone if I am going to stand in the path of small businesses and perhaps encourage their bankruptcy ultimately in the fear of a prospective unforeseen circumstance. If that circumstance does arise, then we will repair it and correct it at the time.

The libraries, we met with our friends from the American Library Association, again, last February, asking them, tell us what is wrong and we will fix it. A total of 10 amendments have been made a part of this bill, 10 amendments that were forthcoming from earlier opponents of the bill.

I think we have done all we can do. I think we have a good piece of legislation here. I urge my colleagues to support it.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.