HR830 - Anyone tracking this?

hendrix at hendrix at
Fri Feb 10 11:39:10 PST 1995

>The recent version of the EFFector Online had some information about the
>House of Representative's Bill HR830.  They say that this bill is being
>rammed through Congress and would cripple FOIA.  It would seemingly 
>change any public information that is given value to non-public
>information.  Does anyone have any further information?  
In response to your post I am passing on some info that came my way on 
Tuesday, please excuse the length. Apart from the message below there is a 
letter written by James Love of TAP to Honorable William Clinger, Jr. the 
Chairman of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, but due to 
it's length I have not included it here. I can E-mail it to anyone who is 

                                Julian Burke

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------

Date sent:      Tue, 7 Feb 1995 02:45:55 -0800
Send reply to:  love at Essential.ORG
From:           James Love <love at Essential.ORG>
To:             Multiple recipients of list <law-lib at>
Subject:        Help! West Publishing seeks broad change in FOIA (fwd)
Originally to:  law librarians <law-lib at>,

Distributed to TAP-INFO, a free Internet Distribution List
(subscription requests to listproc at 

CROWN JEWELS CAMPAIGN - Juris, Legal Information
February 7, 1995

We need help from everyone!!!!!!!!  Please distribute this
widely.  jamie love   (love at, 610/658-0880 or 202/387-

-    Hearings set for today (Tuesday February 7) on bill
     containing special interest provision for West Publishing. 
     Hearings will be held before the subcommittee on "Regulatory

-    House republicans have slated quick action on the bill. 
     Subcommittee Mark-up is set for thursday and full committee
     mark-up is set for friday.  (Telephone and Fax numbers of
     committee members given below)

-    House republicans introduce legislation with a section
     requested by West Publishing that will provide sweeping
     changes in federal freedom of information act, and prevent
     federal agencies from creating a public database that use
     the West Publishing page numbers to reference case law.

-    The "West Provision" would also end its lawsuit with Tax
     Analyst, a Virginia publisher, who is seeking access to the
     Department of Justice JURIS database of court decisions in
     order to put the information into the public domain.  Tax
     Analysts alleges the JURIS database of court decisions are
     subject to FOIA and not protected by copyright.  A victory
     by Tax Analysts in this case will lead to a public domain
     database of federal court decisions.

-    The West Provision in the legislation would extend far
     beyond West Publishing's struggle to maintain its grip on
     the market for legal information.  It would exclude all
     contractor generated records from the federal Freedom of
     Information Act.  Examples of databases that would be
     affected by provision would be the SEC's EDGAR database and
     the Department of Education ERIC database.

-    Help needed in removing this special interest provision. 
     Telephone and fax numbers for the Subcommittee on Regulatory
     Affairs are given below.

>From best we can determine, the so called "Paperwork Reduction
Act" bill was introduced late yesterday or will be introduced
early today.  We do not have a bill number yet.  There will be a
hearing on today (Tuesday February 7) before the "Subcommittee on
National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory
Affairs," more commonly referred to as the subcommittee on
"Regulatory Affairs."  Subcommittee Mark-up is set for thursday
and full committee (the apparently misnamed Committee on
Government Reform and Oversight) mark-up is set for friday.

A provision in this bill [Section 3518 (f) of the "Chairman's
Mark"] would do the following.

     If any person "adds value" to public information, the
     federal government would not have "any right to obtain,
     collect, acquire, disseminate, use or convert," the
     data, database or information product, or "any method
     used by the person to identify such resulting data,
     databases or information product," except "under terms
     that are expressly agreed to by such person."

This provision is being sold as a simple restatement of the law,
but that is a far from true (or more bluntly, a lie).  The
provision in the bill is so broad that it covers all contractor
performed work on behalf of agencies, and effectively exempts
contractor generated records from the federal Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA).  For example, since LEXIS "adds value" to
the EDGAR database by taking the incomming filings from the
government and putting them in a database, even if the government
had a copy of the database, it could not dissmeinate the records
without the consent of LEXIS.  Likewise, many databases, such as
the Department of Education ERIC database, are largely put
together by private contactors.  Indeed, if Oliver North had used
a private contractor for the White House email system, those
records would appear to be off limits to both FOIA and a
government supeana.  Moreover, the provison would apply even in
cases where the firm did not have a copyright or any other
protectable intellectually property right, a huge change in
federal law.

The provision would specifically apply to an active federal
lawsuit between West Publishing and Tax Analysts, over the
Department of Justice JURIS database.  West Publishing was a
contractor on JURIS, an online system run by the Department of
Justice, which contains several decades of federal court
decisions.  West Publishing is trying to prevent Tax Analysts
from obtaining copies of court decisions contained in the
government's JURIS database.  Tax Analyst believes the records
are subject to FOIA, and not protected by copyright.  If Tax
Analysts (fmi, Tom Field, 703/533-4400 or Eleanor Lewis 301/652-
3453) wins the law suit, which has been very expensive, it plans
to put the data into the public domain, creating a public
database of federal court decisions -- something that West
Publishing is fighting against.  Moreover, the West assertion of
its copyright of legal citations is being challenged in federal
court in New York by Hyperlaw, a small CD-ROM publisher (fmi,
Alan Sugarman, President, 212/877-1371, sugarman at  If
Sugarman wins his case, the West provision would prevent the
Department of Justice from using the West citations in a public

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