Transcribed Proceedings of CONTU

CONTU, or the Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works, was established in 1974 by United States Congress to study issues associated with copyrighted works in computers and computer-related works.1.  The Report examined issues of computers and copyright, as well as other related issues like photocopying, and issued its final report in 1978, which asserted inter alia that copyright could protect a computer program.2  Although the final report of CONTU has been available online for some time, transcripts of the proceedings of CONTU were prepared but have only been available in a haphazard manner, on or off-line.  With this post I’ve endeavored to compile and make available all the transcripts of CONTU.

I have linked to the transcripts of 22 out of 23 meetings of CONTU; the transcript to the 22nd Meeting was not easily available, although it was supposedly only an administrative meeting.  If anyone has it, let me know.  This list is adapted from the online version of Appendix G of the report, available here.

In addition to the transcripts I have digitized some of the Administrative Documents of CONTU (PDF, 4 MB), held by the Library of Congress, including the charter and annual reports from 1977 and 1978.  I’ve also (as of 2024) uploaded the reports commissioned by CONTU.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No. 1, October 17, 1975

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No. 2, November 19, 1975

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No. 3, December 18-19, 1975

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No. 4, February 11-13, 1976

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No. 5, April 1-2, 1976

All PB 253 757 (the NTIS Catalog number).

The first meeting was organizational; the second concerned photocopy­ing, computers and data bases, and related topics; the third, computers, the Australian copyright case, and the economics of the pub­lishing industry; the fourth, information sys­tems, the operations of the National Library of Medicine, and the economics of computerized information storage and retrieval systems; and the fifth, presentations by the Information In­dustry Association, the New York Times Infor­mation Bank, and the results of a study on future alternatives to present-day scientific and technical journals.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No.6. May 6-7, 1976, Arlington, Virginia. PB 254 765 (Part 1, Part 2)

The major subject of the meeting was pro­tection of computer software, with presentations by Peter F. McCloskey, Computer and Business Equipment Manufacturers Association; Philip Nyborg, American Federation of Information Processing Societies; Herbert Bright, Association for Computing Machinery; William Moser, Data Processing Management Association; Her­bert Koller, Computer Society of the IEEE; Joseph Wyatt, EDUCOM; A. G. W. Biddle, Carol Cohen, Theodore Lorah, and Terry Mahn, Com­puter Industry Association; and Paul G. Zur­kowski and Joseph Taphorn, Information In­dustry Association.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No.7. June 9-10, 1976, Arlington, Virginia. PB 254 766.

Verbatim transcript of hearings on protection of computer software and a discussion of photo­copying guidelines. Presentations by Nicholas Henry, Arizona State University; Susan A. Nycum, Esq.; Theodore Puckorius, and others, General Services Administration; Anna L. Hyer, National Education Association; August Stein­hilber, National School Boards Association; and Quincy Rogers, Domestic Council on the Right to Privacy.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No.8. September 16-17, 1976, Los Angeles, California. PB 259 749.

The meeting addressed copyright protection for data bases, with testimony given by Herbert R. J. Grosch, Association for Computing Ma­chinery; M. Thomas Risner, National Informa­tion Center for Educational Media; Patricia Ferguson and Donna Chamberlain, Documenta­tion Associates Information Services, Inc.; Peter Weiner, Rand Corporation; and Donn Parker, Stanford Research Institute.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No.9. October 21-22,   1976, Arlington, Virginia. PB 261 947.

Transcript of hearings on photocopying, inter-library loans, and library practices, with presen­tations by Barbara Ringer, Register of Copy­rights, on the new law; Vernon Palmour on an NCLIS study of a national periodical bank; Don­ald King on an NCLIS photocopying study; H. Schoolman and Melville Day on the National Library of Medicine; Gordon Williams on the Center for Research Libraries; Thomas D. {Page 121} Gillies on the Linda Hall Library; and Maurice Line on the British Library’ Lending Division.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No. 10. November 18-19, 1976, New York City. PB 261 946.

Testimony on the copyrightability of com­puter software was presented by Daniel Mc­Cracken, Association for Computing Machinery.  The Commission considered the reports of the Subcommittees on Photocopying, Software, New Works, and Data Bases.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No. 11. January 13-14,1977, Arlington, Virginia. PB 263 160.

At a meeting on photocopying, the Commission heard testimony which included a description of current photocopying practices at the National Agricultural Library’ (Richard A. Far­Icy and Gerald Sophar) and Exxon (Ben H. Well); the technological capabilities of copying equipment (Edward C. McIrvine); and an NTIS proposal for supplying authorized photocopies of journal articles (Peter F. Urbach). Other witnesses testifying on photocopying were: Charles Lieb, Association of American Publishers; Paul Zurkowski, Information Industry Association; and Irwin Karp, Authors League of America, Inc.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No. 12. February 24-25, 1977, New York City. PB 265 765.

Matters under consideration were copyright protection for computer software and automated data bases, and possible approaches to check unauthorized photocopying of copyrighted materials. There was no testimony presented before the Commission at this meeting.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No. 13. March 31 and April 1, 1977, New York City. PB 266  277.

Testimony included the following subjects: the Association of American Publishers’ proposal for a copy payment center (Charles Lieb, Ben H. Weil, and Michael Harris); the publishing and reprint sales activities of the American Institute of Physics (H. William Koch); the sampling, licensing, and payment system of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (Paul Fagan and Bernard Korman); the licensing, sampling, and payment system of Broadcast Music, Inc.  (Edward Cramer); the problems of newsletter publishers vis-a-vis unauthorized photocopying (Ed Brown, Newsletter Association of America); and an analysis of computer and photocopying issues from the point of view of the general public (Allen R. Ferguson, Public Interest Economics Center).

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No. 14. May 5, 1977, Arlington, Virginia. PB 267 332.

The Commission discussed the CONTU sub-committee reports on copyright protection for computer software and automated data bases, made recommendations for amendments to the reports, and agreed to circulate them with dissenting and concurring opinions. The Photo­copy Subcommittee discussed a request for additional guidelines to interpret further terms in section 108 of the Copyright Act, and the Commission agreed to offer its good offices to this end.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No.15. July 11-12, 1977, Washing/on, D.C. PB 271 326.

Testimony included the following subjects: the economics of property rights as applied to computer software and data bases (William J. Baumol, Princeton and New York Universities); the economics of property rights (Fritz Mach­lup, New York University); an analysis of computer and photocopying copyright issues from the point of view of the general public and ultimate consumer (Allen Ferguson, Public Interest Economics Center, and Bert Cowlan, Public Interest Satellite Association); a survey of publisher practices and present attitudes on authorized journal article copying and licensing (Bernard M. Fry, Graduate Library School, Indiana University); the costs of owning, bor­rowing, and disposing of periodical publications (Vernon Palmour, Public Research Institute); and testimony on copyright for computer soft­ware and data bases (Roy Saltman, National Bureau of Standards).

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No.16. Septem­ber 15-16, 1977, Chicago, Illinois. PB 273 594.

Testimony on the Commission subcommittee reports on computer software and data bases with additional comments was presented by the following representatives of the computer industry: Susan Nycum, Daniel McCracken, and Philip Dorn, Association for Computing Ma­chinery; Martin Goetz, Applied Data Research; Frank Cullen and Joseph Genovese, Computer and Business Equipment Manufacturers Asso­ciation; and Paul G. Zurkowski, George C. Baron, and Joseph Taphorn, Information In­dustry Association. The Commission also heard from Donald King of King Research, Inc., a report on a study on library photocopying in the United States and its implications for the devel­opment of a copyright royalty payment mechanism, and from Stevens Rice of Xerox Univer­sity Microfilms, a description of the licensed photocopying activities of University Microfilms.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No. 17. October 21, 1977, Washington, D.C. PB 275 786.

Testimony on photocopying was presented by Frank E. McKenna, Julius L. Marke, Edward G. Holley, John G. Lorenz, Nina W. Matheson, and Susan Sommer, representatives of the Coun­cil of National Library Associations’ Committee on Copyright Law and Implementation; Eugene Garfield, Institute for Scientific Information; Irwin Karp, Authors League of America, Inc.; Charles Lieb and Michael Harris, Association of American Publishers; and Ben H. Weil, David P. Waite, and Michael Harris, Copyright Clear­ance Center, Inc. Statements by Peter F. Urbach, National Technical Information Service, and Susan K. Martin, editor of the Journal of Li­brary Automation, were read into the record.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No.18. Novem­ber 17-18, 1977, Cambridge, Massachusetts. PB 278 329.

The first day was a round-table discussion on the technologies which affect the present and future development of the collection, retention, organization, and delivery of information. Panel members were Dr. Lee Burchinal, National Sci­ence Foundation, Moderator; Barbara Ankeny, MIT Press; William Baumol, Princeton and New York Universities; J. C. R. Licklider and Joseph Weizenbaum, Massachusetts Institute of Tech­nology; John Shoch, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center; Stuart Mathison, TELENET; and Charles M. Goldstein, National Library of Medicine. The second day Richard I. Miller, vice-president of Harbridge House, Inc., summarized a study sponsored by CONTU entitled “Legal Protection of Computer Software; an Industrial Survey.”

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No.19. January 12-13, 1978, Los Angeles, California. PB 280 052.

Roger Borovoy, vice-president, general coun­sel, and secretary of Intel Corporation, testified on copyright protection for computer software; the Commissioners heard summaries of current progress on subcommittee reports from mem­bers of the staff.

Material on photocopying for corporate, spe­cial, and medical librarians has been included in the transcript at the request of the Association of American Publishers, the Special Libraries Association, and the Medical Library Associa­tion, respectively.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No.20. February 16-17, 1978, New York City. PB 283 876.

Witnesses were Theodor H. Nelson, devel­oper of Xanadu and the Hypertext Network, speaking on copyright protection for computer software, and Michael Harris, chairman of the board of the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., who gave a progress report on the first six weeks of operation of the center.

The Commission also adopted the report of the Data Base Subcommittee, discussed the re­port of the Software Subcommittee, and dis­cussed a draft report of the Photocopy Subcommittee.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No. 21. April 2-21, 1978, Washington, D.C. PB 281 710.

The following witnesses presented testimony on the draft report of the Photocopy Subcom­mittee: Douglas S. Price, National Commission on Libraries and Information Science; Paul G. Zurkowski, Information Industry Association; Frank E. McKenna and others, Council of {Page 124} National Library Associations; and Charles Lieb, Association of American Publishers. The Com­mission also discussed the reports of the New Works and Software Subcommittees. The major­ity of the commissioners voted to accept the report of the Software Subcommittee.

Transcript, CONTU Meeting No.22. May 8, 1978, New York City.

This meeting transcript, dealing only with procedural matters concerning the printing of this final report, is not listed on NTIS’s Online Library.

Transcript, CONTU Final Meeting. July 10, 1978, Washington, D.C. PB 284 178.

At this meeting, the Commissioners discussed the final report with the concurring and dissent­ing opinions and voted unanimously to submit the report to the President and Congress. The Commissioners also voted to have the final report printed for public distribution.

Reports Listed in Appendix H

  1. Wikipedia, CONTU
  2. The Copyright Office had accepted computer programs for registration since 1964, but the issue of whether this was appropriate lingered.

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