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ANSI Forms Copyright Ad Hoc Group

Nominations Due by May 14, 2004

New York, May 03, 2004

During 2003, the standardization community witnessed the unfolding of the Southern Building Code Congress International v. Veeck litigation and the exploration of whether a standards developer’s code loses copyright protection when it is adopted or referenced by a government entity and thereby becomes “the law.”

The resulting decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit holds that the text of a standard that is referenced into law does enter the public domain as such law, thus emasculating the standards developer's ability to enforce its copyright in its standard. As part of the litigation, the U.S. Solicitor General expressed public support for the Veeck decision; his views were supported by the U.S. Copyright Office and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Representatives of the U.S. Department of Commerce argued in support of “free” standards that can be widely disseminated and the need for standards developers to seek alternative business models to generate funds to support their work. Copyright issues also surfaced with regard to the authorship of standards, which becomes further complicated when one standards body uses another’s standard as the basis for its own work. These issues have come into play on both a national and international level.

According to ANSI vice president and general counsel, Amy Marasco, there is a “Copy Left” movement gaining momentum in the United States which is focusing on the impact of the Internet and articulating a perceived need to be able to more freely interact with material – as opposed to just reading and absorbing it – without being constrained by traditional copyright analysis.

“These and other issues surrounding copyright will have a direct impact on the standards community,” said Marasco.

In an effort to coordinate the views of the U.S. standardization community, Dr. George W. Arnold, chairman of the ANSI Board of Directors, announced recently the formation of a new Copyright Ad Hoc Group (AHG) that will report to the Board’s Executive Committee (ExCo). The charter of the AHG is as follows:

The ExCo Copyright AHG will delineate and review issues relating to the assertion of copyright in standards. The AHG will then seek to develop strategic recommendations (a) to assist standards bodies and participants in arriving at a common understanding of these issues and addressing them in a constructive manner, (b) to formulate ANSI's actions and policy positions vis-à-vis the government and (c) to provide guidance to the relevant ANSI governance bodies.

Mr. Dan Bart, a member of the ANSI Board of Directors and Senior Vice President of Standards and Special Projects at the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), has been appointed as chairman of the AHG. Mr. Bart also serves as co-chair of the ANSI Homeland Security Standards Panel (ANSI-HSSP).

Earlier today, ANSI issued to its membership forums a “Call for Nominations” soliciting members from each of the Institute’s constituent groups. Ms. Marasco, who will serve as the ANSI staff liaison to the AHG, indicated that membership of the group itself will likely be limited to approximately 15-20 highly qualified persons. However, given the likelihood that the work of this AHG will be of interest to a broad and diverse constituency, the group will seek to create various opportunities for additional people to provide input to its work.

Nominations for membership on the AHG are invited by any interested ANSI member by the Friday, May 14, 2004 deadline.

Please submit nominations to the attention of Sue Hurst: shurst@ansi.org.

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