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Introduction of H.R. 24, the "Preservation and Restoration of Orphan Works for Use in Scholarship and Education (PRO-USE) Act of 2005"

Location: Washington, DC

Introduction of H.R. 24, the "Preservation and Restoration of Orphan Works for Use in Scholarship and Education (PRO-USE) Act of 2005"

Washington, D.C. - Mr. Speaker, on January 4, I joined the distinguished gentleman from Michigan, Representative John Conyers, and the distinguished gentlelady from California, Ms. Lofgren, in introducing H.R. 24, the "Preservation and Restoration of Orphan Works for Use in Scholarship and Education (PRO-USE) Act of 2005." The PRO-USE Act will benefit libraries, archives, schools and other users of copyrighted works. It will do so by facilitating the preservation, use, and dissemination of orphaned works.

Though a technical amendment, Title I of the PRO-USE Act makes a important change in the Copyright Act. The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (SBCTEA) enacted Section 108(h) of the Copyright Act to ensure that copyright term extension would not adversely impact the preservation, scholarly, and research work of libraries, archives, and non-profit educational institutions. Section 108(h) permits such entities to reproduce, distribute, display and perform copyrighted works during the extended copyright term if the work is not subject to commercial exploitation and is not available at a reasonable price.

Unfortunately, due to a drafting oversight, the SBCTEA did not amend Section 108(i). As a result, Section 108(h) cannot fully achieve its intended objective. Section 108(i) in effect renders 108(h) partially meaningless by excluding musical, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, as well as motion pictures and other audiovisual works, from the scope of 108(h). In other words, Section 108(i) prevents archives from preserving and performing an orphan film in its last twenty years of copyright term.

The PRO-USE Act will correct this oversight, and thus enable libraries and archives to reproduce, distribute, perform, and display all orphan works in the course of their preservation, scholarly, and research activities.

Title II of the PRO-USE Act will also facilitate the preservation of, and scholarship related to, orphaned motion pictures.

Title II reauthorizes the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB) and the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) for ten years. The NFPF is an independent, nonprofit organization established in 1996 with bipartisan congressional support to help save America's film heritage. The NFPF is the charitable affiliate of the NFPB of the Library of Congress, which was also established in 1996.

This legislation also increases the authorized appropriations for the NFPF from $530,000 in fiscal year 2005 and 2006 up to $1,000,000 in fiscal years 2007 through 2015. It authorizes additional appropriations not to exceed $1,000,000 for cooperative film preservation and access initiatives by the NFPF for each of the fiscal years 2006 through 2015. All authorized appropriations are only to be made available to match private contributions to the NFPF.

The excellent work and strong track record of the NFPB and NFPF justify both the reauthorization and increased authorization of appropriations provided by this bill. Working with archives and others in the film preservation community, the NFPF supports activities that save films for future generations, improve film access for education and exhibition, and increase public commitment to preserving film as a cultural resource, art form, and historical record. In essence, its mission is to save America's "orphan films" - newsreels, silent films, documentaries, avant-garde works, and other independent films that are not preserved by commercial interests.

Since its inception, the NFPF has done great work in furtherance of this goal. Working with more than 80 organizations, it has helped preserve approximately 600 films and collections. Through its preservation efforts, the NFPF has made it possible for organizations in 34 states and the District of Columbia to use these films in education and research. Many of the films preserved provide unique windows into American history and culture. For instance, films preserved through NFPF efforts include social dramas from Thomas Edison's studio, the earliest "talkie" of an American president, and home movies clandestinely shot by Japanese Americans in World War II detention camps.

With authorization for the NFPB and NFPF having expired on September 30, 2003, congressional reauthorization is long overdue. Reauthorization not only provides these organizations with important recognition, but is also critical to their ability to attract the private donations that provide a great majority of their funds. Failure to reauthorize will hamper the critical work of the NFPB and NFPF.

Over 50% of the films made before 1950 have disintegrated, and only 10% of the movies produced in the United States before 1929 still exist. We must act to stem further losses of this rich cultural heritage. No art form is more uniquely American than film, but unfortunately, few art forms are more susceptible to degradation through passage of time and poor preservation.

I hope that all parties interested in preservation and expansion of the public domain, whether for research, education, or further commercial exploitation, join Rep. Conyers, Rep. Lofgren, and myself in pressing for passage of the PRO-USE Act. This bill will provide real, tangible help to those interested in preserving orphaned works and enhancing the public domain. The failure of the 108th Congress to pass the same legislation shows it will not be easy to pass. Thus, we need all champions of the public domain to devote their efforts to the passage of this legislation. While working to pass this targeted legislation may not seem as intellectually stimulating as debating radical copyright revisions or arguing novel legal theories before the courts, it will provide real, tangible benefits.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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