Rep. Coble Reintroduces Database Protection Bill

(January 22, 1999) Rep. Howard Coble re-introduced the "Collections of Information Antipiracy Act" on January 19, 1999. The bill, which would protect databases from piracy, passed the House, but not the Senate, in the just ended 105th Congress.

Related Pages

TLJ Summary of HR 354.
Complete Text of HR 354.
Statement by Rep. Coble.

Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) introduced the "Collections of Information Antipiracy Act", HR 354 IH. It would offer increased legal protection to the builders of databases. Many database owners currently are unable to protect their databases from piracy under copyright law. This bill creates a set of civil remedies for appropriation of databases, including injunctions, impoundment, and monetary damages. The bill also provides for criminal enforcement.

The intent of the bill is to encourage continued investment in the production and distribution of valuable new collections of information.

A very similar bill passed the House in the 105th Congress (HR 2652 EH), but was not taken up by the Senate.

Rep. Coble described the bill in a statement published in the Congressional Record.

"The 'Collections of Information Antipiracy Act' would prohibit the misappropriation of valuable commercial collections of information by unscrupulous competitors who grab data collected by others, repackage it, and market a product that threatens competitive injury to the original collection. This new federal 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 protections for collections of information afforded by copyright and contract rights."

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Rep. Howard
Coble (R-NC)

Rep. Coble sought to pass this bill in the just ended 105th Congress. He introduced HR 2652 (105th) on October 9, 1997, steered it through two hearings, and two markup sessions, before it was passed by the House on May 19, 1998. However, the Senate did not take up the bill. Subsequently, Rep. Coble had the the content of HR 2652 included in the Digital Millennium Act, HR 2281 (105th), which the House passed on August 4. However, the Senate still balked. Ultimately, the language of this bill was taken out of the Conference Report for the Digital Millennium Act, which passed the Senate on October 8 and the House on October 12, 1998.

Rep. Coble suggested that the prospects for passage by the Senate might be better. He stated: "I look forward to working with Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Patrick Leahy, who have indicated this necessary legislation will be a priority for them this legislative session." Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, while Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is the Ranking Minority Member.

Rep. Coble is Chairman of the House Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee. The bill is also supported by the outgoing Ranking Minority Member, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), and the incoming Ranking Minority Member, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA).

Related Stories
Hearing on Database Protection Bill, 2/12/98.
HR 2652 Passes Subcommittee, 3/18/98.
Judiciary Committee Approves HR 2652, 3/25/98.
House Passes Database Protection Bill, 5/21/98.