H.R. 2652

Title.  Collections of Information Antipiracy Act.

Sponsors. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Chairman of House Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property. Cosponsors: Tony Hall (D-OH), Connie Morella (R-MD), Bruce Vento (D-MN), Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), and Ray LaHood (R-IL).

Summary. This bill would increase the protections afforded to people who build databases. The bill does not apply to databases collected by (non-educational) government entities. Nor, does the bill apply to software (although it does cover databases included in software). The bill gives significant judicial remedies to database owners.

The key language of the bill states that "Any person who extracts, or uses in commerce, all or a substantial part, measured either quantitatively or qualitatively, of a collection of information gathered, organized, or maintained by another person through the investment of substantial monetary or other resources, so as to harm the actual or potential market of that other person, ... for a product or service that incorporates that collection of information and is offered or intended to be offered for sale or otherwise by that other person in commerce, shall be liable to that person ..."

The bill is in the nature of intellectual property law. However, the protection afforded is different from that afforded under copyright law. The content need not be original, and harm must be suffered by the appropriation. It resembles unfair competition laws by allowing a remedy for harm committed by another.

The bill criminalizes violations where the taking is for commercial advantage, and damages exceed $10,000 in a one year period.  However, the real teeth of the bill is contained in the extensive civil remedies given to database operators. The plaintiff can obtain both injunctive relief (preventing the defendant from using extracted data) and impoundment of extracted data (including disks and computer equipment). In addition, the plaintiff can obtain money damages, not only for actual damages, but also the defendant's profits, and costs of suit. Finally, the judge has discretion to award treble damages. However, the bill all but exempts from monetary penalty violations by non-profits.

Status. This bill did not pass in the 105th Congress. It was approved by the House on May 19, 1998, but not taken up by the Senate. Also, the language of this bill was included in the Manager's Report on the Digital Millennium Act (HR 2281), which was approved by the House by a voice vote on August 4. However, it was taken out of the Conference Report which passed the Senate on October 8 and the House on October 12. Both Rep. Coble and Sen. Hatch have said that they would take up this bill again in the next Congress.

Legislative History.

Other Resources.

Tech Law Journal Stories.