Senator Dianne Feinstein's Statement before Congress
United States Senate, March 20, 1997

Mr. President, I want to express my support for the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1997. I believe that extending the basic term of copyright protection by 20 years is a step in the right direction.

Perhaps the most compelling reason for this legislation is the need for greater international reciprocity in honoring copyright terms. The European Union has formally adopted a life plus 70 copyright term, and countries currently awaiting admission to the Union will adopt this standard in the future. Several countries outside of the European Union also have turned to the life plus 70 term, and many expect it to become the international standard.

By extending to life plus 70 years, Congress will help ensure that American creators receive comparable protection in other countries. If we do not act, other nations will not be required to provide American authors and artists with any more protection than we offer them at home.

And, because the United States is the world’s leader in the production of intellectual property, and because the State of California is home to many of the leading copyright industries, this issue is of great importance to me. We could be the net losers if we do not move toward greater harmonization.

Intellectual property—the collective creative output of America’s makers of movies, music, art, and other works—is an enormous asset to the Nation’s economy and balance of trade.

The International Intellectual Property Alliance estimates that copyright-related industries contributed more than $385 billion to the U.S. economy in 1994, with more than $50 billion in foreign sales.

Many other countries have preferred to appropriate and re-sell American films, music, and computer programs—some of the great exports of my State of California—rather than license American works.

The United States suffers greatly from illegal duplication of our work. Why, then, should we sit back and allow European companies to legally profit from the use of our works, without paying us in return?

As Prof. Arthur Miller of Harvard Law School aptly, albeit bluntly, put it: ‘Unless Congress matches the copyright extension adopted by the European Union, we will have lost 20 years of valuable protection against rip-off artists.’ Since America is the world’s principal exporter of popular culture, extension of the basic copyright term is an important step in the right direction.

Reciprocity in copyright protection becomes even more necessary in today’s global information society, where computer networks span the continents, and intellectual property is shuttled around the world in seconds.

The world has changed dramatically since 1976, when Congress established the present copyright terms. Many copyrighted works have a much longer commercial life than they used to have.

Videocassettes, cable television, and new satellite delivery systems have extended the commercial life of movies and television series. New technologies not only have extended but also have expanded the market for creative content. Cable television, which promises hundreds of different channels, has vastly expanded this market. Networked computers add to the demand for content. Interactive television promises to do the same. The Copyright Term Extension Act will go far to address the global developments I have mentioned.

After introduction, I recommend that my colleagues and I further develop the language of the act to ensure that all contributors to the creative process receive benefits from the extended copyright term.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, March 20, 1997


For more information or your ideas about Copyright Extension email: extensioninfo@yahoo.com

© Copyright Extension