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Send comments on Copyright Office IE requirement

by John Sullivan Contributions Published on Aug 15, 2005 01:14 PM
Send us your comments by the end of the day on August 18.
Update 2005-08-25:

On Monday, August 22, 2005, the comments we received were hand-delivered to the U.S. Copyright Office. You can now read online a large sample of the comments we received.


We are collecting comments on the following proposed federal rule, governing the way copyright claims can be preregistered with the United States Copyright Office. The form required for this service can only be completed electronically. The question is whether it is acceptable for this form to require the use of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, or whether that will cause people to "experience difficulties".

The Copyright Office is supplementing its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on preregistration of copyright claims, issued July 22, 2005. That notice proposed procedures to preregister any unpublished work being prepared for commercial distribution that is in a class of works determined by the Register of Copyrights to have had a history of pre-release infringement. Today's notice seeks information as to whether persons filing the electronic-only preregistration form prescribed by the Copyright Office will experience difficulties if it is necessary to use Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser in order to preregister a work.

This is billed as something temporary; they say that support for other browsers will be added later on. Since this is an issue of freedom, such a temporary restriction is not acceptable. They also don't have a specific timeline for when this future support will be added.

We want to help you make your opinion heard, as part of the larger group of free software supporters. It is important that the Copyright Office hear from our community on this issue.

Send your comments to <campaigns@fsf.org> by August 18.

What we'll do

We will post your comment on our web site. We will deliver your comment to the Copyright Office, following all of the requirements they set out in their request.

We will let the federal government know that requiring citizens to use proprietary software to interact with the government is unacceptable, and remind them that as a democracy, they must prioritize consideration of the impact of such decisions on freedom. Presenting the comments from the free software community all together will make a powerful statement.

These kinds of rules set precedents for what will be acceptable in the future. Whether you plan on preregistering a work with the Copyright Office or not, it is important that you resist this proposal. Otherwise, future government forms and services may adopt the same requirements.

When writing your comment

Read the official government text calling for comments. You can get some more background about the issue by reading the complete text of the rule being referenced. Also check out Groklaw's article, which has more background and helpful resources.

Don't forget to include your full contact information in the e-mail, as you would if you were sending your letter directly to the Copyright Office yourself. Include full name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. When we post the comment online, we will not include your address, e-mail address, or phone number. We would like to list your name and city with the comment, but could just use your initials if you prefer. This contact information will not be used by the FSF in any other way.

We request that people who make use of our help in this help us in return, by using the term "free software" rather than "open source", and by referring to the operating system as "GNU/Linux" rather than "Linux", if they mention these things at all.

Your comments will of course only be effective if they are not crudely insulting of anyone, and are to the point.

The last date at which we can receive something from you and still get them printed and delivered in time is August 18. Make sure we receive your e-mail by August 18.

We are currently seeking someone in DC to hand-deliver the comments. If we can do this, then we will be able to extend the comment deadline, but please don't count on that right now.

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