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The Distributed Geolibrary in Societal and Institutional Context

Implementation of a distributed geolibrary presents a host of challenges, ranging from the technical to the societal and institutional. The latter are discussed in this chapter; technical issues are discussed in Chapter 4.

The policy challenges presented by distributed geolibraries include the following:

  • What are the legal, ethical, and political issues involved in creating distributed geolibraries? What problems must be addressed in the area of intellectual property rights? How will these issues affect the technical development of distributed geolibraries?
  • Who will pay for the creation and maintenance of distributed geolibraries? What components might be in the public domain versus those provided by the commercial sector?

This chapter addresses many of these issues from the perspective of geoinformation at the local level, how distributed geolibraries might build off the library model (and how traditional libraries have addressed or handled some of these societal and institutional issues), and some of the additional issues introduced by the digital context of distributed geolibraries. These issues are not necessarily unique to distributed geolibraries as many have been discussed extensively within the context of recent digital library programs. The intention here is not to review or paraphrase excellent surveys of the social context of digital libraries, such as that of Borgman et al. (1996), which readers interested in a broader perspective should consult.



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3 The Distributed Geolibrary in Societal and Institutional Context Implementation of a distributed geolibrary presents a host of challenges, ranging from the technical to the societal and institutional. The latter are discussed in this chapter; technical issues are discussed in Chapter 4. The policy challenges presented by distributed geolibraries include the following: What are the legal, ethical, and political issues involved in creating distributed geolibraries? What problems must be addressed in the area of intellectual property rights? How will these issues affect the technical development of distributed geolibraries? Who will pay for the creation and maintenance of distributed geolibraries? What components might be in the public domain versus those provided by the commercial sector? This chapter addresses many of these issues from the perspective of geoinformation at the local level, how distributed geolibraries might build off the library model (and how traditional libraries have addressed or handled some of these societal and institutional issues), and some of the additional issues introduced by the digital context of distributed geolibraries. These issues are not necessarily unique to distributed geolibraries as many have been discussed extensively within the context of recent digital library programs. The intention here is not to review or paraphrase excellent surveys of the social context of digital libraries, such as that of Borgman et al. (1996), which readers interested in a broader perspective should consult.

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Local Focus Five years ago discussions regarding geospatial data in the United States focused on the rapidly increasing use of such data throughout society and the need to create a more formal infrastructure to coordinate geospatial data coverage across the nation, minimize redundant data collection at all levels, and create new opportunities for use throughout the nation (National Research Council, 1993). Much has been accomplished. Concepts such as metadata standards, standard framework databases, and thematic databases have been developed and pursued (see www.fgdc.gov). The federal government in cooperation with state and local governments has been and continues to be well positioned to lead the development of the basic concepts and public domain databases upon which the NSDI is being built. The NSDI now involves many stakeholders as a result of activities over the past five years. Its basic data will be assembled from diverse institutions throughout the nation, with institutions contributing those parts that are most relevant to their roles (Tosta and Domaratz, 1997; Moeller, 1998; Rhind, 1999). At the core of this vision is the concept of local generation of geoinformation. Geoinformation is inherently local in nature and of greatest importance to those in that local area. It makes sense that the tens of thousands of units of local governments in the United States understand their own geoinformation assets and needs far better than do higher levels of government. New developments in technology make it possible for local people to gather local data germane to their own needs more readily, extract data from online and other electronic repositories, develop the information products they need, use the products for decision making, and contribute their locally gathered geoinformation and derived products to libraries or other repositories. Developing the technical and institutional means to support incorporation of local knowledge into networked repositories presents a novel challenge. Stakeholders across the nation are beginning to think and act around more common visions for the NSDI. A library service model

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provides an initial way to consider the organizational and institutional arrangements for finding and accessing the geoinformation assets and digital products being generated by numerous stakeholders across the nation. Library Considerations The Library as an Institution In considering possible institutional arrangements for distributed geolibraries, we begin with the assumption that libraries are social institutions that will continue to change but will not be made obsolete by the advent of electronic publishing. Indeed, distributed geolibraries and digital libraries in general will complement the traditional activities of libraries and related institutions. Libraries respond to many complex societal needs. They are used for research, teaching, self-learning, and entertainment. They serve as social and activity centers for many communities, whether these be small towns, neighborhoods, or institutions. The opportunities that libraries provide range from learning about practical matters to exploring science, art, history, or literature for the sheer pleasure of doing so. They are places for children to learn how to read and places for disadvantaged members of communities to seek solutions and solace (Crawford and Gorman, 1995, p. 118). The library system serves as a repository and by doing so preserves most aspects of our culture. Libraries range from small to large, urban to rural, and public to private but cooperate through a common professional culture and set of procedures, sharing information for mutual benefit. In short: "libraries exist to acquire, give access to, and safeguard carriers of knowledge and information in all forms and to provide instruction and assistance in the use of the collections to which their users have access" (Crawford and Gorman, 1995, p. 3). Libraries have incorporated information technologies in all aspects of library services. Most recently, libraries have embraced network-based programs that support collaboration among

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institutions and the sharing of resources. In addition, consortia have been established on state, regional, and library-type bases throughout the United States to share information, negotiate licenses, engage in collection development, and for many other purposes. A useful distributed geolibrary of the future will need to participate in these activities as an entity that will accumulate, make available, and conserve electronic carriers of georeferenced knowledge. Economic Considerations Existing public libraries do not buy most books or subscribe to most magazines or journals, yet they are highly valued by the estimated two-thirds of American adults who use them (Crawford and Gorman, 1995, p. 127). A typical robust public library will lend out 10 items per person per year based on the population served by the library and will answer two questions per person per year for its service population. Typical circulation of a robust library is twice its content (i.e., a library with a collection of 1 million volumes will lend out 2 million volumes during the year). In-library use of volumes in poor and rural communities often exceeds circulation, and in-library use at academic libraries often exceeds circulation by two to three times. Public libraries provide these high use and service rates at a cost of approximately five cents per day per capita for their service population, while public libraries in economically healthy areas aspire to 10 cents per day per capita as a reasonable starting point for funding a robust library (Crawford and Gorman, 1995, p. 139). These expenditures appear to be a bargain for the access and services provided, and any proposal for supplanting current library services with electronic services would need to compare costs realistically. Conversely, would an electronic digital library be available to at least the two-thirds of American adults who currently use existing libraries? Would it serve children and the disadvantaged to the same extent or greater than existing library facilities and resources?

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There is an economic conundrum that in the face of a proportionately higher demand some communities might not have the available resources to support distributed electronic delivery services, even though the delivery technology is dropping in price. In terms of distributed geolibraries, this may be an issue, as a recent survey of public libraries in Colorado (Gayon, 1998) indicates that rural libraries receive a larger than expected proportion of requests for geographic information (maps, images, and digital data). Libraries have the effect, although not a priority purpose, of introducing library users to works, authors, and publishers. Libraries thereby serve the economic function of creating markets for intellectual works. Would a geolibrary have the same effect? These are some of the institutional questions that will need to be addressed as the technological capabilities for distributed geolibraries are built over time. Distributed Geolibraries and the Existing Library Institution Might distributed geolibraries develop as part of existing library arrangements or complement them? Although the possibility exists that distributed geolibraries might develop in tandem with libraries and be interconnected with them, the duplication of all the roles of libraries in a new institutional environment would make little sense. A useful analysis of these issues is presented by Hawkins (1994) in the context of digital libraries. Indeed, the way distributed geolibraries evolve will depend in large part on access to resources in existing library institutions. Some of those things that traditional libraries have never been able to do well might be better done by digital means. One of these functions might be the provision of access to geoinformation. The size and shape of the sheets on which paper maps are produced often depend on the information or the story that the cartographer is attempting to convey graphically, the scale required to present information adequately, and the shape of the geographic area being addressed. Owing to the wide variability in map sizes and the nonstandard placement of information on them, the classification, cataloging, and storage of maps have been far

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more problematic for librarians than handling books, journals, magazines, and recordings. Thus, in some instances, maps may be ineffective uses of print on paper, and many maps might be better represented, accessed, and used in digital form. Thus, the advent of distributed geolibraries is likely to alter the relative advantages of paper and electronic map production. Paper map collections in libraries are unlikely to be completely eliminated. Because of the increasing user friendliness of mapping software and the ready availability of digital geoinformation, the ability to produce sophisticated maps and communicate through them is now available to many more people. As a result, we may witness substantial increases in both paper and digital maps that may be of interest to members of communities and made available in their local libraries. Although a geolibrary is defined earlier in this report as digital in nature, any practical or useful geolibrary from an institutional perspective will need to be able to accommodate a multiplicity of forms for conveying knowledge. The various means and forms for conveying geographic knowledge each have weaknesses and strengths. Diversity in the means for conveying knowledge is a good thing. The institutional geolibrary must maintain a complex multidimensional web of mixed media, knowledge sources, collections, and services (Crawford and Gorman, 1995, p. 78). The expectation is that this will be accomplished by merging and embedding geolibrary technological advancements into the existing library information infrastructure of the nation. Data, Information, ad Knowledge Geolibraries should play a key role in providing access to carriers of geographic knowledge. In addition, some geolibraries also will want to focus on providing access to the ability to process geographic data. In one sense, all a distributed geolibrary need consist of is a good gazetteer in which users can look up information based on location. The "look up" might be accomplished by drawing a box around an area on a computer screen or by indicating a name

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of a place or specifying other information contained in the metadata for a particular item of geoinformation. This would allow a user to find out whether geoinformation covering an area of concern exists in the geolibrary network. If databases exist, the system returns metadata on them so the user can further assess the nature and utility of the databases. Performing this role is consistent with the traditional role of libraries. In addition, gazetteers are one of the prime examples of library documents that were never very efficient in paper form. Conversion to electronic form makes sense since both searching of the gazetteer and updating are made much easier. If it is legal to copy the databases located through the electronic gazetteer (e.g., public domain geographic databases) or to "check them out" from the holdings within the distributed geolibrary (e.g., the conditions of lending might be determined by licensing agreements), the distributed geolibrary as an institution should be capable of supporting these functions. That is, direct access to the library's holdings should be provided. Again, this function is parallel to and compatible with the traditional roles of the library as an institution. The level of services and functions (see Chapter 4) provided by the traditional library can be different in geolibraries. Should the services and functions of distributed geolibraries extend beyond providing users with efficient access to the geoinformation in the library's holdings? Or do the technologies that could be provided by distributed geolibraries extend the services and functions in an attempt to provide answers to complex questions rather than guide users to resources where answers may (or may not) be found? To place this concern in context, we should first define some terms, although no attempt is made here to add to the extensive literature on the nature of information (see, for example, Buckland, 1991; Losee, 1997). The terms listed in the following order are sometimes used to describe an ascending continuum: data, information, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Crawford and Gorman (1995, p. 5) define these terms as follows:

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Data Facts and other raw material that may be processed into useful information. Information Data processed and rendered useful. Knowledge Information transformed into meaning through action of the human mind, such that it can be recorded and transmitted. Understanding Knowledge integrated with a world view and a personal perspective, existing entirely within the human mind. Wisdom Understanding made whole and generative within the human mind. Whereas the substantive content and focus of geographic infrastructure building have focused on data and information (e.g., the NSDI), the substantive content of traditional libraries has focused on collections of knowledge and to a lesser extent collections of information. Traditional libraries collect and catalog primarily knowledge works for good reason. The reading and contemplation of works of knowledge such as books and journals provide context and convey meaning. Currently, such works are one of the best means by which we are able to acquire understanding. "Works of knowledge" are largely synonymous with "intellectual works" and are thus the primary expressions protected by our intellectual property laws. Intellectual Property Concerns The goal of copyright law, and the effect of copyright law in library settings, has been to strike a balance between giving authors sufficient incentive to make their works available on the one hand and supporting the rights of users to use the intellectual works of others for socially constructive purposes on the other. This balance is complex, but the balance in interests supported by our current intellectual property laws has made libraries highly successful and valued social institutions. A similar balance of interests has not yet been achieved in the online world. A background discussion of current intellectual property and copyright issues

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possibly related to distributed geolibraries appears at the end of this chapter. There is a growing collection of geoinformation available online that is in the public domain because no copyright can exist in some databases due to their nature (e.g., those with no creativity or originality in the arrangement of facts). Claims of copyright in some databases have been rescinded by the authors, and the copyright for other works has expired. Additionally, there are the equivalents of online bookstores and online mapstores that sell or license databases to customers. For the commercial products, libraries have explored several licensing arrangements that attempt to bring together commercial interests and public rights interests to arrive at solutions that support the interests of all stakeholders (see, for example, Barker et al., 1995, and Gladney and Lotspiech, 1998). In the vision of distributed geolibraries, there is a possibility of creating knowledge and making it available through the distributed geolibrary itself; this raises additional concerns about the status of such derivative knowledge from the perspective of rights and intellectual property. Collections of information, by contrast, gain very little protection under copyright law principles. Finding 6 Developers of distributed geolibraries will need to consider issues related to intellectual property rights. There are significant differences in both the public access library model and the commercial bookstore model that need to be considered in the broader international debates about the nature of electronic information and databases as intellectual property. Uses of Data, Information, and Knowledge Suppose a student wishes to know more about Yosemite National Park and has access through a distributed geolibrary to two different types of information: a digital elevation model (DEM), giving the elevations of points spaced 30 m apart across the park; and a landscape description by John Muir. In principle both are descriptions of terrain, but one is a raw database of measurements

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in the public domain, and the other is a creative knowledge work. In another example the couple searching for a home in Chapter 1 might access either a database of socioeconomic statistics or a collection of news reports on the changing characters of neighborhoods. Both types of information are valuable, depending on the circumstances and the skills and requirements of their users. To a distributed geolibrary they both look like collections of bits with footprints, and both are retrievable using the same mechanisms. Traditionally, one might have looked for the raw data in a data archive, such as the EROS Data Center of U.S. Geological Survey, or a Census data center, and for the description in a library. But distributed geolibraries would provide a unified means of access. In doing so, however, geolibraries raise issues concerning the relative value of the two types of information. To a specialist equipped with sophisticated tools of analysis, the raw data may be more useful than the landscape description and more acceptable as a source of information for scientific understanding. To a student without sophisticated tools, only the description may be of value. Moreover, the work of the scientist may result in the production of new data, to be fed back into the distributed geolibrary for use by others (such as estimates of solar radiation based on topography combined with a suitable numerical model) or the production of knowledge works in the form of journal articles, which might also be added to the distributed geolibrary. In this sense a distributed geolibrary would be much more than a repository of knowledge because it would support the creation of new knowledge by individuals or groups, in addition to the dissemination of existing knowledge. A student might wish to create personal knowledge as a result of investigation and use a geolibrary to share that knowledge with others in the class. Both forms of information seem indispensable. There are many questions of a geographic nature that cannot be answered by a right answer but require careful reflection based on both data and prior knowledge works. Providing new data query, search, and display capabilities and services may be important in some distributed

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Finding 7 A distributed geolibrary would support collaborative work, such as multidisciplinary research by teams, decision making by groups of stakeholders, and classroom projects by groups of students. It would provide mechanisms for capturing the knowledge that results from such work and making it accessible to others as appropriate. geolibraries but providing access to digital works of knowledge is likely to be important in all distributed geolibraries. In summary, a distinction needs to be drawn between raw data and knowledge works because they appear different from the perspective of the functions and services of a library and with respect to intellectual property rights. Although the NSDI is concerned primarily with the production and dissemination of raw geospatial data, distributed geolibraries could also provide an effective mechanism for the dissemination of knowledge. Access The concept of access in an institutional distributed geolibrary environment has two major aspects. One involves technical efficiency and effectiveness in finding desired geoinformation, determining its appropriateness and authenticity, linking to and acquiring it, and electronically processing it if needed. To enable such access, knowledge works and databases must exist somewhere on the network with sufficient metadata and tools available in the system to allow these tasks to be accomplished. The second major aspect of access involves the legal and economic ability of the distributed geolibrary as an institution to provide the geoinformation resources desired by its users, either directly or through the network. If access to intellectual works is barred by legal or economic constraints, powerful computational capabilities and user-friendly search software will not be of any use to the user. Legal rights to materials may alone be an insufficient condition, but they are a critical and necessary condition for access. Acquiring legal rights to intellectual works

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and databases can cause a financial burden on the distributed geolibrary and the community it serves. Although distributed geolibrary collections might be anywhere, they must be somewhere. Those institutions or people with the greatest vested interest in ensuring that specific geoinformation is available, maintained, and accessible are logical candidates for providing those specific collections and resources for distributed geolibraries. For instance, local libraries typically focus on the needs of the local community, and therefore local geolibraries would likely be the primary collectors and maintainers of local geographic information of relevance to local culture. Another major assumption in the traditional library model is that acquisition or access to commercially provided geoinformation will be through institutional, not individual, payments (Hawkins, 1994). Equity is a fundamental principle of library access. To uphold this principle, the community rather than the individual typically pays for the library and its services (Crawford and Gorman, 1995, p. 101). Just as the poorest Americans can freely borrow books from public libraries, so too should they have equitable access to geolibrary services if a community library chooses to provide those services. An unanswered issue that will be continually debated in the distributed geolibrary vision is that of access to geoinformation in the public domain and traditional library services versus access to geoinformation and services that are only available on a commercial basis. Embedded in this issue are additional issues of public and private rights and intellectual property. These issues—most of which are not unique to distributed geolibraries—are being debated in the broader library community and the digital information arena (see, for example, two 1997 National Research Council reports—Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data and More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure). In pursuing solutions there is a pressing need to develop new legal, economic, and institutional models that support the public goods benefits of traditional libraries while providing sufficient incentives for private individuals, private publishers, and

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government publishers to make their geoinformation available through distributed geolibrary settings. The practical benefits and drawbacks of institutional models will need to be thoroughly explored from economic, legal, and organizational perspectives. Prototype models will need to be developed and tested. It is highly likely that the most appropriate incentive models for private-sector firms will vary from the incentive models that might best encourage local, state, and federal agencies to make their databases available through distributed geolibrary environments. Summary and Additional Issues This chapter discussed many institutional and societal issues that will have to be addressed by distributed geolibraries, especially if they attempt to replicate many of the services and functions of the traditional library. The major issues are summarized in this section, together with other issues that appear important but were not discussed at length at the workshop. 1.   How will local needs for and production of geoinformation be accommodated in a library system that has traditionally emphasized access to books and information with a more general than local focus? 2.   Libraries are addressing the need for access to electronic information by developing consortia and networks. How will these new institutional arrangements accommodate and affect the development of distributed geolibraries? 3.   Traditional libraries play a significant role in archiving and preserving information. Can this role be accommodated by distributed geolibraries? 4.   How can distributed geolibraries deal with inequities of access to electronic systems? 5.   Will distributed geolibraries have the effect of enhancing more conventional markets for the information they disseminate? 6.   Will distributed geolibraries develop as part of existing library arrangements or complement them?

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7.   Should the services and functions of distributed geolibraries extend beyond providing users with efficient access to geoinformation to include tools to process and analyze information and create new knowledge? 8.   How will distributed geolibraries find an appropriate balance between supplying data and supplying knowledge works? 9.   How will each custodian site acquire, give access to, and safeguard the geoinformation in its own collections? 10.   How will the distributed geolibrary provide instruction and assistance in the use of digital geographic products and databases? Should users from schoolchild to scientist be expected to be their own reference librarians in the distributed geolibraries of the future? 11.   As greater numbers of geographic knowledge works and databases are accumulated in the system over time, will it become increasingly difficult to mine useful information from the available flood? 12.   How will the records of humankind be conserved in the distributed geolibrary as an institution? 13.   While inclusion of traditional works such as maps in library collections caused few personal information privacy concerns in the past, would the geolibrary's provision for access to detailed databases provide a much greater likelihood for personal information privacy intrusions? What are the principles by which distributed geolibraries would operate in order to protect privacy? How may the principles be enforced and what are the means by which safeguards may be provided in distributed environments? 14.   If the generation of knowledge works depends on the resources and intellectual contributions of many persons and institutions, how might intellectual property rights in these works be appropriately accounted for and how might each custodian manage such rights? 15.   How can distributed geolibraries assure that geographic knowledge works and databases are not rewritten or revised by government, private firms, or others to their own benefit? That is, how may one assure that databases are authentic?

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16.   What incentives other than or in addition to future economic rewards could be effective in convincing individuals, businesses, universities, government agencies, and others to make their geographic knowledge works and databases available over a distributed geolibrary network? 17.   Who should decide what is in and what is out of a distributed geolibrary? Should there be a gatekeeper, modeled on the function of a library subject specialist, or should distributed geolibraries operate on the principle of caveat emptor? Intellectual Property and Copyright Issues: Background and Context for Distributed Geolibraries Over the past several years there have been discussions nationally and internationally regarding how to best update the copyright and intellectual property laws to reflect the networked environment. Internationally, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has taken the lead in initiating debate on these extremely important yet contentious issues. Nationally, the U.S. Congress has considered a host of intellectual property and copyright issues, many of which originated in WIPO forums. In December 1996, WIPO member delegates from 160 countries met to consider proposed changes to copyright law with a particular focus on the digital environment. Three draft treaties sought to update copyright law concerning works delivered in digital form, to enact protections for performers in and producers of sound recordings, and to enact a new intellectual property regime to protect databases. At the close of this diplomatic conference, the delegates adopted two new versions of the three draft treaties originally proposed: one relating to copyrighted works in digital form and the second to enact protections for performers in and producers of sound recordings. Consideration of the third treaty regarding database protection was deferred with the recommendation that WIPO convene another session at a later date to consider a schedule for future discussions on database protection. WIPO failed to move forward on the draft treaty for additional database protection for a number of reasons: lack of time to fully consider the draft treaty within each member country prior to the diplomatic conference, lack of time during the conference to adequately address the

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draft treaty, and most importantly, deep concerns, indeed opposition, by many delegations to the draft treaty. Responding to WIPO's actions, members of the U.S. Congress introduced legislation that would implement the WIPO treaties. A series of hearings and ensuing negotiations between concerned stakeholders on a number of issues such as online service provider liability, fair use, preservation, distance education, and more were undertaken throughout 1997 and 1998. On October 28, 1998, President Clinton signed into law the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. WIPO's decision to defer action on a draft database treaty did not deter members of the House of Representatives from considering additional intellectual property protections for databases. Rep. Coble (chair, House Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property) introduced H.R. 2652, the Collections of Information Antipiracy Act. This legislation addresses several concerns of certain parts of the information industry, in particular, legal publishers such as Reed-Elsevier and Thompson. They were concerned with the 1991 Supreme Court decision, Feist v. Rural Telephone, which held that comprehensive collections of facts arranged in conventional formats were not protected under copyright and could not constitutionally be protected under copyright. The decision rejected the notion that a compiler's ''sweat of the brow" could ever substitute for the "original authorship" that the statute and the constitutional copyright clause require as the condition of copyrightability. In addition, some members of the information industry were concerned with a 1996 European Union directive on the legal protection of databases. This directive calls for each member nation to implement a database law by the end of 1997. The directive includes the notion that databases created in non-EC countries will not be granted legal protection; thus, a fear of lack of reciprocity is also prompting segments of the industry to advocate new protections. During two hearings on H.R. 2652 in the House of Representatives, widespread opposition to the proposal surfaced—from the library community, segments of the commercial sector, the scientific and research communities, the education community, and more. Some of the concerns include the following: Provisions in the bill would prohibit a transformative use of information—reuse of information to create a new type of product or information resource.

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The exceptions for scientific and educational use are circular and ineffective, and because the legislation is outside the scope of copyright fair use, related library and education exemptions would not apply. Overall the bill would fundamentally threaten the basic paradigm of data exchange by providing unprecedented new legal protection for information. Provisions in H.R. 2652 would likely increase the costs of research significantly, as scientists and researchers would have to pay for data they now receive for minimal cost. Certain provisions would prevent the creation of "value-added" databases by substantially increasing the cost of the information included in the databases. As a consequence, the elimination of competition from value-added publishers would reduce the incentive for established up-stream publishers to innovate and contain prices. In a letter to Sen. Hatch (chair, Senate Committee on the Judiciary), the Presidents of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine expressed "deep concerns about the proposed changes to intellectual property law" and noted that the legislation "would grant owners of information unprecedented rights in the control of digital information while severely restricting the rights of scientists and engineers—and everyone else—to access and use that information." Moreover, the anticompetitive nature of H.R. 2652 "may have other negative economic impacts on our information economy by raising prices for data consumers, by stifling important activities of commercial users who add value to existing data, and encouraging the unproductive independent recompilation of the same or similar data." Other significant concerns were noted by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, which raised serious questions regarding the constitutional basis of H.R. 2652. The Federal Trade Commission noted serious reservations with the legislation, commenting that certain provisions could have "deleterious effects on competition and innovation." Finally, the U.S. Department of Commerce speaking to the concerns of the Administration stated that the legislation as drafted could "increase transaction costs in data use, and . . . that legislation not create inappropriate opportunities of incentive to 'capture' government information or government-funded data with relatively small investments in maintenance, organization, or supplemental data."

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Although H.R. 2652 was passed by the House of Representatives, it was not considered by the Senate. Members of the House and Senate judiciary committees have commented that legislation that increases intellectual property protection for databases will be a priority in the 106th session of Congress. A common theme throughout the copyright and intellectual property debates in the United States has been the importance of focusing on appropriate public policy choices for the United States, even though this may conflict with the need for harmonization with other countries' intellectual and copyright laws. According to this argument, the pressure from the European Union directive on databases, for example, should not dictate U.S. information policies with regard to the need for additional protection for databases. Given that the United States is the leader in the information industry, there is an appreciation that legislating in this arena could have significant economic consequences if not done correctly.