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Standards, Incorporation by Reference, and Copyright Discussed before Congress

1/15/2014
ANSI News

ANSI's General Counsel Patricia Griffin Stressed the Importance of a Balanced, Flexible Approach to Enable Access to Incorporated Standards while Protecting Copyright

On Tuesday, January 14, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, held a hearing on "The Scope of Copyright Protection." During the hearing, members of the subcommittee heard testimony on copyright-related issues from the following witnesses:

  • David Nimmer, of counsel, Irell & Manella LLP
  • Glynn Lunney Jr., McGlinchey Stafford professor of law, Tulane University School of Law
  • Mark Schultz, associate professor of law and director of faculty development, Southern Illinois University School of Law
  • James Love, director, Knowledge Ecology International
  • Patricia Griffin, vice president and general counsel, American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
  • Carl Malamud, president, Public.Resource.Org

In her testimony, Ms. Griffin highlighted the unique nature of the U.S. standardization system, which is led by the private sector with hundreds of individual standards developing organizations (SDOs) working in different technical areas and industry sectors. The consensus-based standards development process relies upon participation by all relevant stakeholders, including representatives of industry, government agencies, nonprofits, consumer advocacy groups, and others.

Ms. Griffin also touched on the recent launch of the ANSI IBR Portal, an online tool for free, read-only access to voluntary consensus standards that have been incorporated into federal regulations, and suggested that the portal and other similar efforts by SDOs are part of a flexible, multi-faceted approach to assuring the reasonable availability of incorporated standards. She also stressed the essential role played by the sale of standards in the funding of standards development work in the U.S., and said that removing the copyright protection held by IBR standards could weaken or even bankrupt some SDOs. If these organizations cannot afford to stay in business, existing standards would not be updated and standards for new technologies would go unwritten - with major potential consequences to safety, U.S. competitiveness, and innovation.

Ms. Griffin's written testimony and the testimony of the other witnesses is available online (to access the other witnesses' written testimony, click on their names). In addition, a video of the full hearing can be viewed online here.

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