The Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act
October 15, 2003
The Honorable Lamar S. Smith
Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property
B-351A Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairman Smith:
I am writing on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation, with more than three million members of every size, sector and region, to strongly urge you to postpone your scheduled markup of H.R. 3261, the `Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act' until interested parties have had an opportunity to try to work out a compromise. Short of a compromise, the U.S. Chamber will be forced to oppose this legislation in its current form.
As you know, this legislation has a long and controversial history, and we believe that this rush to markup is unwarranted. Therefore, it would be fair and reasonable to provide Members and staff more than a week to digest this controversial legislation that was only introduced last week.
Additionally, although we believe that no case has been demonstrated for why such legislation is necessary, there are some very serious problems that could result if this legislation is enacted, and we believe that Members need more time to examine those concerns. For example, this legislation would establish retroactive and perpetual property rights protection to basic facts, the building blocks of our information economy. This could in turn make huge swaths of information off limits to the general public, research institutions, like libraries and universities, and businesses that create value. Further, given the vague terms and incentives to sue, along with disincentives for defendants to defend legitimate practices, this legislation could create disincentives to innovate, and potentially invites a litigation nightmare.
In short, Mr. Chairman, we believe that the concerns raised in a flurry of correspondence to the committees, raised by the business community, by academic and research institutions, technology companies and associations, as well as consumer groups and others, clearly indicates that this legislation should not be rushed through the Committee. We believe that a more in depth examination of these issues is a fair and reasonable request.
Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I would urge you, with all due respect, to delay your scheduled markup of H.R. 3261 until these concerns can be more openly and fully considered.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce