A Congressman Who "Gets It": Rick Boucher Wins VLA Intellectual Freedom Award
by Cy Dillon
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has said that Rick Boucher has "made an art of using technology to attack Appalachian poverty," and that "technology lobbyists praise him as a rare politician who 'gets it.'" The Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Virginia Library Association has said that Boucher "has a fine record of service to the interests of all types of libraries, both public and academic, in the cause of intellectual freedom."
Cited for his efforts to restore the copyright law concept of Fair Use rights, particularly in regard to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Boucher has also won the admiration of the library community for one of only a few members of Congress to vote against the adoption of the Patriot Act and its intrusive provisions in regard to privacy of library use and confidentiality of library and bookstore records. In this same vein he has recently sponsored the proposed Freedom to Read Protection Act, which is supported by the American Library Association and the American Booksellers Association, to reestablish library and reader privacy standards which were swept aside by the Patriot Act in 2001.
Accepting the award on April 12 at the Annual Meeting of the Southwest Information Network Group (SWING), Congressman Boucher reiterated his support for readers' privacy, the concept of fair use, and the right of libraries to offer unfiltered internet access. His $1,000 prize was donated to the Boucher Fellowship program at Emory & Henry College. This financial aid effort helps support women in law school, and was created to honor Boucher's mother, the first woman to head a law firm west of Roanoke in Virginia.