NCC Advocacy Update, April 1999
Fiscal 2000 Budget for Cultural Agencies
The president's budget for fiscal 2000 recommends $150 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). For the past four years NEH funding has been level at $110.7 million. Thus this increase represents an effort to restore some of the funds eliminated by a 36 percent budget cut in 1996.
The administration's NEH budget justification builds on the premise that the existing core programs would be sustained at their current levels and that the $40 million additional funds would be spent on a combination of increases to existing programs and funding of new initiatives. The federal/ state partnership would be increased from $28 million in 1999 to $39.13 million in 2000 and would grow the state councils to expand their programs and to develop partnerships with statewide organizations such as library systems, historical societies, archives, and museums. The Preservation and Access Program, which provides for microfilming brittle books and newspapers and stabilizing other fragile collections, would increase from $18 million to $22.9 million. Public programs would increase from $11.23 million to $16.72 million with additional funding for high quality television and radio programs and museum exhibits and a new special initiative, "My History is America's History," that will encourage millions of Americans to learn more about their family's history and to place that history in the context of the broad sweep of American and world history. The Research and Education line item would increase from $22.77 million to $32 million with new money earmarked for a special American Legacy Editions project to support historical documentary editions and with increases for ongoing programs such as fellowships and research seminars and institutes. The fiscal 2000 budget also includes $4 million for the establishment of Regional Humanities Centers.
The president's budget request for the National Archives in fiscal 2000 is $227.9 million compared to funding at $245.9 million the year before. There is an important explanation for this decrease. In the new fiscal year the National Archives will initiate its reimbursable storage program, whereby agencies will reimburse the archives for costs of storing and retrieving records in the archives' Federal Records Centers. When the president's budget request is combined with the anticipated revenue of over $60 million in fees from agencies for the reimbursable storage program, the National Archives will have approximately $40 million more in the next fiscal year.
The administration requested $6 million for the competitive grants program of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the same as in fiscal 1999. Although the appropriation for NHPRC grants in fiscal 1999 was $10 million, only $6 million of this was for the competitive grants program because $4 million were earmarked for the Center for Jewish History.
The president recommended a small increase of $200,000 for the Woodrow Wilson Center, bringing its budget to $6.04 million in fiscal 2000. The request for the Smithsonian's operating budget, which includes salaries and expenses, is $380.5 million, up from $347.1 million and an additional $19 million is earmarked for the final construction costs of the National Museum of the American Indian which is to be built on the Mall. The administration requests $150 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, up from $98.8 million and $34 million for the museum component of the Institute of Library and Museum Service, which is currently funded at $23.4 million. Funding in the president's budget for state historic preservation programs remains level at $31.39 million and the Millennium Grants Program proposed budget remains at $30 million. There is new funding in the fiscal 2000 budget of $1.5 million for the National Historical Landmark Program. The administration has recommended $2.1 billion for the National Park Service budget with funding for acquiring lands at seven Civil War battlefield parks and for strengthening cultural resources stewardship and partnerships.
Congress has requested a 5.5 percent increase for the Library of Congress and a 4.7 percent increase for the American Folklife Center.
Update on Database Copyright Legislation
On January 19 Representative Howard Coble (R-N.C.), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property, introduced the Collections of Information Antipiracy Act, H.R. 354. In his introductory statement, Coble said that this legislation is needed to "prohibit the misappropriation of valuable commercial collections of information by unscrupulous competitors who grab data collected by others, repackage it, and market a product that threatens competitive injury to the original collection." While noting that this bill is almost identical to legislation that passed the House in the last Congress, Coble stressed that he had made two changes, responding to concerns of the nonprofit scientific, educational, and research communities, to clarify and embody fair use and to address the issue of perpetual protection.
House efforts to attach the database legislation to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the last Congress were defeated. This was due in part to the fact that the Senate had held no hearings on the database bill, to opposition to the bill from many quarters including the scholarly and library communities, and to the administration's reservations about the bill. While the administration stated that there should be effective legal remedies against "free-riders" who take databases gathered by others and reintroduce them into commerce as their own, they identified several potential problems: constitutional constraints on legislation of this type; the possibility that the bill would increase the costs of data use; the lack of a balancing mechanism that would take into consideration non-commercial research and educational uses; the use of vague terms such as "potential markets"; and the likelihood that the bill could have the unintended consequence of stifling the evolving market for digital information.
On January 19, the same day that Coble introduced his bill, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) spoke on the Senate floor about the database piracy issue, which he described as an issue of great and escalating importance because "intellectual property has become the heart of our nation's economy, information is its lifeblood." Yet he called for a balancing of interests between the information industries and the uses of information and database collections. He noted that database legislation had been introduced in both the 104th and the 105th Congresses and that Representative Coble had introduced a bill in the current Congress. Hatch committed himself to seeking passage of a bill on the issue this year. To promote informed debate on the database protection issue, Hatch included as a part of his floor statement versions of three different database protection bills: Representative Coble's bill; a narrower bill than Coble's that Hatch described as "proposed by certain commercial database users, with the support of the scientific, education, and library communities"; and a draft bill that Hatch put forward for discussion at the end of the last Congress. All three of these bills can be found in the Congressional Record for January 19, 1999, on pages S316-326.
On January 19 Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced S. 95, a bill that focuses only on financial data and that is designed to ensure the continued public availability through banks and the media of information concerning stocks traded on established stock exchanges. The intent of this bill is to protect financial services companies from the broad protection that the Coble bill could give to such institutions as the New York Stock Exchange, enabling it as a database publisher to prevent banks and the media from reconfiguring the information contained in the databases that they had already paid for and acquired.
Both the House and Senate judiciary committees have indicated that they plan to hold hearings on database protection legislation; however, no hearings have yet been scheduled.
Peggy Bulger to Head American Folklife Center
On February 9 the Library of Congress announced the appointment of Margaret Ann (Peggy) Bulger as director of the American Folklife Center. Bulger holds a PhD in folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently the president-elect of the American Folklore Society. She comes to the Library of Congress' Folklife Center from the Southern Arts Federation in Atlanta where she has been a senior program officer. Prior to going to Atlanta in 1989 she was folk arts coordinator and state folklorist for the state of Florida. While in Florida she established the Florida Folklife Archives. She brings to the American Folklife Center a broad range of experiences in folklife and public folklife administration, which cover two decades.
Page Putnam Miller is the director of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History.
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