Publishers Urge House Passage Of Senate Distance Ed Bill

July 2, 2001

Washington, DC: The U.S. publishing industry today urged the House of Representatives to pass without amendment S. 487, a hard-won compromise digital distance education bill approved by the Senate on June 7. The Senate bill, entitled the TEACH (Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization) Act, seeks to broaden the existing copyright exemption for instructional television broadcasting to encompass distance education delivered via digital networks. As passed by the Senate, the bill represents a broad consensus compromise achieved only after weeks of intensive negotiations involving copyright industry organizations, the education and library communities, and officials of the U.S. Copyright Office.

Allan Adler, vice president for legal and governmental affairs of the Association of American Publishers, told a House Subcommittee that the Senate-passed bill “represents a classic ‘give some, take some’ compromise” that will allow “teachers and students to benefit from the content-enriched instructional use of digital networks” and at the same time provide “appropriate safeguards to limit the additional risks to copyright owners that are inherent in exploiting copyrighted works in digital format.”

In his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, Mr. Adler cautioned against House attempts to alter the delicate balance achieved in the Senate-passed bill by amending it. “Although substantively sound, the negotiated compromise that is embodied in the Senate-passed TEACH Act is politically fragile,” he said. “While some in the affected communities might welcome the disintegration of the consensus compromise and the consequent resumption of dispute,” he warned, “AAP believes that the quest for the perfect should not become the enemy of the good.”

The Association of American Publishers is the national trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry. AAP’s approximately 300 members include most of the major commercial book publishers in the United States, as well as smaller and non-profit publishers, university presses and scholarly societies. The protection of intellectual property rights, the defense of free expression, and the promotion of reading and literacy, especially among the young, are among the Association’s primary concerns. The complete text of Mr. Adler’s testimony can be found on the AAP web site at: