Resolution Opposing Any Extension to Copyright Term Extension Act

Annual Business Meeting, Orlando, Florida
September 4, 1998

Whereas the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have recently passed bills containing far-reaching changes to the nation's copyright laws, and

Whereas the two bills, H.R. 2281 and S. 2037, while both named the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, differ substantially in content and hence will need to be reconciled, and

Whereas, reports have appeared suggesting that Congress may, in reconciling the two bills, introduce into the reconciled bills provisions not found in either H.R. 2281 or S. 2037, including one that would lengthen the term of copyright by 20 years, and

Whereas, the courts have maintained that fair use of unpublished material is very limited, constraining the uses to which unpublished materials can be put, and

Whereas, no unpublished material has entered the public domain since the passage of the last copyright bill over 20 years ago, and the proposed extension would ensure that much of the unpublished historical material record would remain under copyright until well into the next century and

Whereas, the interests of the general public would be better served not by copyright term extension but by the entrance of unpublished materials into the public domain, and

Whereas, provisions that would protect fair use, even to the limited extent it applies to unpublished material, are found in H.R. 2281 and S. 2037, and

Whereas, H.R. 2281 contains provisions regarding databases of facts and public domain information that may actually restrict access to public information,

Now therefore it be resolved that the membership of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) meeting in Orlando, Florida at its 62nd Annual Meeting, reaffirms its opposition to any extension of copyright term for unpublished material and urges members of the U.S. House and Senate to reject any effort to extend the term of copyright, and

Be it further resolved that SAA urges the U.S. Congress to adopt the fair use provisions in

H.R. 2281 which strike a more reasonable balance between the interests of the content owners and information consumers.