Category Archives: Advocacy

Take Action For School Libraries

I am excited to share that Congress finally may be poised to act definitively on ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) very soon. According to the ALA Washington Office, we could know as early as next week whether watershed language for school libraries included in the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177) makes it into the final “Conference Report” on ESEA that is being hammered out now between House and Senate negotiators from the two chambers’ quite different bills.

While we are hopeful that libraries will have something to be very thankful for this Thanksgiving or just after the holiday, we aren’t done yet! As soon as the ALA Washington Office learns what is actually in the new compromise bill language, they will be posting an alert to the Legislative Action Center with instructions for how you can help (including talking points you can use to call and email Congress). That will be our opportunity to make sure that every Member of the House of Representatives hears from librarians – thumbs up or thumbs down as the case may be – before they vote on the ESEA Conference Report as early as December 2. At that time, we will be calling on each of you to reach out not only to your individual Representative, but also to encourage your friends, family, and coworkers to take action as well.

The more voices that speak up on behalf of school libraries, the better! Please keep your eyes peeled and your ears open for the upcoming alert. Thank you!

Ann Campion Riley
2015-16 ACRL President

LCA pleased Librarian of Congress expands film clip exemption

Library Copyright Alliance LogoWASHINGTON, D.C. – The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) welcomes today’s decision issued by the Librarian of Congress to broaden the exemption for the use of film clip excerpts, including extending the exemption permitting creation of film clip compilations for educational purposes to K-12 students and extending the exemption for use in media courses to include Blu-ray discs. The Librarian also extended the exemption to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and digital and media literacy programs offered by libraries and museums. Further, the Librarian renewed existing education exemptions.

Under Section 1201(a)(1) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the Librarian of Congress may grant exemptions to the anti-circumvention provision following a triennial rulemaking process. In this latest round of exemptions, the Librarian of Congress, acting on the Register of Copyright’s recommendations, ruled positively to requests made by Library Copyright Alliance members – the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) along with other educators and associations.

The DMCA established a provision that prohibited the disabling of scrambling systems or other technological protection measures without the prior authorization of the rights holder. At the same time, the DMCA also established a mechanism to periodically check if this provision prevented users of copyrighted works from making lawful uses of works, such as fair uses.

As a result of today’s decision, K-12 students can use screen capture technologies to copy clips from motion pictures and television programming for use in class assignments.  Previously, circumvention of screen capture technologies for educational purposes was limited to college faculty and students and K-12 educators. For K-12 educators and college faculty and students in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of clips, the exemption extends to circumvention of Content Scrambling System (CSS) employed by rights holders on DVDs. Additionally, the new exemptions expand exemptions for college and university faculty and students in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of clips to apply to circumvention of Advanced Access Control System (AACS) on Blu-ray discs.

The LCA in its comments demonstrated that the use of film clips for educational purposes is in fact common and valuable in many disciplines. The exemptions will be in force for the next three years.

LCA also is gratified by the Librarian of Congress’s renewal of the exemption to circumvent protections that block the read-aloud/screen-reader function on e-books, critical in ensuring access to literary works for those with print disabilities.  Additionally, LCA welcomes the new exemption permitting circumvention of video games for preservation purposes by libraries, archives or museums.

While LCA appreciates the granting of these important exemptions, the specific rules imposed are unnecessarily complicated and will ultimately lead to confusion. Accordingly, LCA will continue to work with its partners in the Re:Create coalition for broad reform of Section 1201 of the DMCA and the triennial rulemaking process to make it less burdensome and more expansive in its positive effects for students, educators, library patrons and the public at large.

About the Library Copyright Alliance

The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) consists of three major library associations—the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries—that collectively represent over 100,000 libraries in the United States, employing over 350,000 librarians and other personnel. An estimated 200 million Americans use these libraries more than two billion times each year.


Jonathan Band
Legal counsel
Library Copyright Alliance

Library Copyright Alliance issues statements, offers guidance

Library Copyright Alliance Logo The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA, whose members are the American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, and Association of College and Research Libraries) continues to address copyright issues that affect libraries and our users. In recent weeks, LCA has worked for the library community in the following ways:

Libraries Laud Appeals Court Affirmation that Mass Book Digitization by Google is ‘Fair Use’
On October 16, 2015, members of LCA applauded the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Authors Guild v. Google that Google Book’s mass digital indexing of books for use in creating a searchable online library constituted a legal “fair use” of copyrighted material rather than an infringement.

Updated Google Books Litigation Family Tree
On October 16, 2015, after Second Circuit ruled that the Google library project is a fair use, LCA updated its popular litigation family tree.

Responded to Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement
On October 15, 2015, LCA responded to the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator’s request for comments on the Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement, calling for striking a balance between protection and access, basing policies on data, eliminating counterfeit goods, and implementing public access and open education policies.

Responded to the U.S. Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry on Mass Digitization Pilot Program
On October 9, 2015, LCA responded to the Copyright Office’s Notice of Inquiry on a five-year pilot which would test the efficacy of an extended collective licensing model for the non-profit, educational use of protected works in mass digitization collections. LCA called for reconsideration of the program and cited its impracticability and inappropriate policy choices.

LCA Comments on South African Copyright Amendment Bill
On September 15, 2015, commented on the bill, advocating for the adoption of a flexible fair dealing clause.

ALA, ACRL, ARL, COSLA file network neutrality amicus

From the ALA Washington Office District Dispatch blog:

On September 21, 2015, four national library organizations argued in support of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) strong, enforceable rules to protect and preserve the open internet with an amici filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

With other network neutrality allies also filing legal briefs, the American Library Association (ALA), Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) focused their filing on four key points to support the FCC and rebut petitioners in the case of United States Telecom Association, et al., v. Federal Communications Commission and United States of America:

  1. Libraries need strong open internet rules to fulfill our missions and serve our patrons;
  2. Libraries would be seriously disadvantaged without rules banning paid prioritization;
  3. The FCC’s General Conduct Rule is an important tool to ensure the internet remains open against future harms that cannot yet be defined; and
  4. The participation of library and higher education groups in the FCC rulemaking process demonstrates sufficient notice of the proposed open internet rules.

Oral arguments are scheduled for December 4, 2015.

ALA looks forward to continued collaboration with national library organizations in our policy advocacy, consistent with the strategy and theme of the Policy Revolution! initiative. For this brief, we appreciate the leadership of Krista Cox of ARL in preparing the submission and coordinating with other network neutrality advocates. Stay posted for developments in network neutrality and other policy issues via the District Dispatch.

Library Groups Keep Up Fight For Net Neutrality

Co-authored by Larra Clark and Kevin Maher of ALA’s Washington Office.

Library groups are again stepping to the front lines in the battle to preserve an open internet. The American Library Association (ALA), Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), Association for Research Libraries (ARL) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) have requested the right to file anamici curiae brief supporting the respondent in the case of United States Telecom Association (USTA) v. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and United States of America. The brief would be filed in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit—which also has decided two previous network neutrality legal challenges. ALA also is opposing efforts by Congressional Appropriators to defund FCC rules.

Legal brief to buttress FCC rules, highlight library values

The amici request builds on library and higher education advocacy throughout the last year supporting the development of strong, enforceable open internet rules by the FCC. As library groups, we decided to pursue our own separate legal brief to best support and buttress the FCC’s strong protections, complement the filings of other network neutrality advocates, and maintain the visibility for the specific concerns of the library community. Each of the amici parties will have quite limited space to make its arguments (likely 4,000-4,500 words), so particular library concerns (rather than broad shared concerns related to free expression, for instance) are unlikely to be addressed by other filers and demand a separate voice. The FCC also adopted in its Order a standard that library and higher education groups specifically and particularly brought forward—a standard for future conduct that reflects the dynamic nature of the internet and internet innovation to extend protections against questionable practices on a case-by-case basis.

Based on conversations with FCC general counsel and lawyers with aligned advocates, we plan to focus our brief on supporting the future conduct standard (formally referenced starting on paragraph 133 in the Order as “no unreasonable interference or unreasonable disadvantage standard for internet conduct”) and why it is important to our community, re-emphasize the negative impact of paid prioritization for our community and our users if the bright-line rules adopted by the FCC are not sustained, and ultimately make our arguments through the lens of the library mission and promoting our research and learning activities.

As the library group motion states, we argue that FCC rules are “necessary to protect the mission and values of libraries and their patrons, particularly with respect to the rules prohibiting paid prioritization.” Also, the FCC’s general conduct standard is “an important tool in ensuring the open character of the Internet is preserved, allowing the Internet to continue to operate as a democratic platform for research, learning and the sharing of information.”

USTA and amici opposed to FCC rules filed their briefs July 30, and the FCC filing is due September 16. Briefs supporting the FCC must be filed by September 21.

Congress threatens to defund FCC rules

ALA also is working to oppose Republican moves to insert defunding language in appropriations bills that could effectively block the FCC from implementing its net neutrality order. Under language included in both the House and Senate versions of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill, the FCC would be prohibited from spending any funds towards implementing or enforcing its net neutrality rules during FY2016 until specified legal cases and appeals (see above!) are resolved. ALA staff and counsel have been meeting with Congressional leaders to oppose these measures.

The Obama Administration criticized the defunding move in a letter from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shaun Donovan stating, “The inclusion of these provisions threatens to undermine an orderly appropriations process.” While not explicitly threatening a Presidential veto, the letter raises concern with appropriators attempts at “delaying or preventing implementation of the FCC’s net neutrality order, which creates a level playing field for innovation and provides important consumer protections on broadband service…”

Neither the House or Senate versions of the funding measure has received floor consideration. The appropriations process faces a bumpy road in the coming weeks as House and Senate leaders seek to iron out differing funding approaches and thorny policy issues before the October 1 start of the new fiscal year. Congress will likely need to pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government open while discussions continue. House and Senate Republican leaders have indicated they will work to avoid a government shut-down. Stay tuned!

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