Write an E-rate essay in 1000 words or less

Photo by Kennedy Library via Flickr

Photo by Kennedy Library via Flickr

I was just asked if I could summarize the last year’s worth of E-rate work we have done in the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office. Here’s the challenge: Can I do it in two pages or less? Apparently the answer is yes and this blog post may also be an all-time record for brevity (for which I am not known). So even though the summary and timeline (pdf) is right at two pages (and spiced up with bulleted lists and descriptive headers), you can get the gist of it right now:

Timeline of the E-rate Modernization Proceeding

  • July 2013: The Commission introduces the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).
  • September 2013: Initial comments are due at the Commission.
  • November 2013: Reply comments are due.
  • March 2014: The Commission issues a Public Notice (PN) seeking additional comment.
  • April 2014: PN Initial comments are due April 7, reply comments due April 21.
  • July 2014: The Commission adopts the E-rate Modernization Report and Order and issues a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM).
  • September 2014: FNPRM initial comments are due September 15, reply comments due September 30.
  • The Commission is expected to vote on a second Order in November or December 2014.

ALA (Recent) Engagement

In addition to ALA’s comments, we submitted another joint letter to the Commission urging it to address the broadband capacity gap for libraries. The Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL), Organizations Concerned about Rural Education (OCRE), the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), and The Rural School and Community Trust joined ALA and the Public Library Association (PLA) on the letter.

What to Expect and When

Throughout the modernization proceeding, the Commission has made clear that its review of the E-rate program is a multi-phase process. In a speech made on September 29, the Chairman indicated that the next phase of the proceeding must address the “rural fiber gap.” Since that time, the focus at the Commission has been to identify policy changes that would address the barriers that prevent libraries and schools from securing affordable high-capacity broadband. The Commission is also looking at the need to increase the overall size of the fund. The Chairman is advocating that closing the fiber gap is a significant driving factor in determining the need for more funding. He is also looking at related issues such as the lack of competition among service providers—particularly in rural areas—and the lack of affordable broadband when it is available. ALA advocated for action on these three issues (availability, affordability, and increased funding) and is pleased that these issues are squarely before the Commission now.

All indications are that the Commission plans to vote on a second Order during their November open meeting, November 21. What does this mean? The Chairman must circulate a draft Order to the Commissioners October 31. One week before the public meeting, the Commission enters into the Sunshine Period where outside parties other than members of Congress or other federal agencies may not make presentations or otherwise advocate at the Commission. Commission staff, however, may reach out to outside parties to ask questions. During the open meeting the Commission staff present the draft Order, and Commissioners may ask questions and make statements prior to voting to adopt the Order (or not). The Order is made publicly available after the vote if it is adopted. Any rule changes go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

Additional information

• Ongoing coverage in the District Dispatch
• ALA E-rate filings to the FCC
• FCC E-rate modernization summary (pdf)
• FCC E-rate modernization fact sheet (pdf)
• Handy collection of major FCC E-rate modernization documents
The rulemaking process at the FCC

Read the E-rate summary and timeline (pdf)

Posted in E-Rate, OITP, Public Libraries, Telecommunications Tagged with: , , , , , ,

I’m right! Librarians have to think

2144933705_20517bedab_zI will pat myself on the back (somebody has to). I wrote in the 2004 edition of Copyright Copyright, “Fair use cannot be reduced to a checklist. Fair use requires that people think.” This point has been affirmed (pdf) by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the long standing Georgia State University (GSU) e-reserves copyright case. The appeals court rejected the lower court’s use of quantitative fair use guidelines in making its fair use ruling, stating that fair use should be determined on a case-by-case basis and that the four factors of fair use should be evaluated and weighed.

Lesson: Guidelines are arbitrary and silly. Determine fair use by considering the evidence before you. (see an earlier District Dispatch article).

The lower court decision was called a win for higher education and libraries because only five assertions of infringement (out of 99) were actually infringing. Hooray for us! But most stakeholders on both sides of the issue, felt that the use of guidelines in weighing the third factor—amount of the work—was puzzling to say the least (but no matter, we won!)

Now that the case has been sent back to the lower court, some assert that GSU has lost the case. But not so fast. This decision validates what the U.S. Supreme Court has long held that fair use is not to be simplified with “bright line rules, for the statute, like the doctrine it recognizes, calls for case-by-case analysis. . . . Nor may the four statutory factors be treated in isolation, one from another. All are to be explored, and the results weighed together, in light of the purposes of copyright.” (510 U.S. 569, 577–78).

Thus, GSU could prevail. Or it might not. But at least fair use will be applied in the appropriate fashion.

Thinking—it’s a good thing.

Posted in Copyright, Higher Education, OITP Tagged with: ,

ALA and ACRL encouraged by “fair use” decision in Georgia State case

Georgia State University Library

Georgia State University Library. Photo by Jason Puckett via flickr.

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit handed down an important decision in Cambridge University Press et al. v. Carl V. Patton et al. concerning the permissible “fair use” of copyrighted works in electronic reserves for academic courses. Although publishers sought to bar the uncompensated excerpting of copyrighted material for “e-reserves,” the court rejected all such arguments and provided new guidance in the Eleventh Circuit for how “fair use” determinations by educators and librarians should best be made. Remanding to the lower court for further proceedings, the court ruled that fair use decisions should be based on a flexible, case-by-case analysis of the four factors of fair use rather than rigid “checklists” or “percentage-based” formulae.

Courtney Young, president of the American Library Association (ALA), responded to the ruling by issuing a statement.

The appellate court’s decision emphasizes what ALA, the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) and other library associations have always supported—thoughtful analysis of fair use and a rejection of highly restrictive fair use guidelines promoted by many publishers. Critically, this decision confirms the importance of flexible limitations on publisher’s rights, such as fair use. Additionally, the appeals court’s decision offers important guidance for reevaluating the lower courts’ ruling. The court agreed that the non-profit educational nature of the e-reserves service is inherently fair, and that that teachers’ and students’ needs should be the real measure of any limits on fair use, not any rigid mathematical model. Importantly, the court also acknowledged that educators’ use of copyrighted material would be unlikely to harm publishers financially when schools aren’t offered the chance to license excerpts of copyrighted work.

Moving forward, educational institutions can continue to operate their e-reserve services because the appeals court rejected the publishers’ efforts to undermine those e-reserve services. Nonetheless, institutions inside and outside the appeals court’s jurisdiction—which includes Georgia, Florida and Alabama—may wish to evaluate and ultimately fine tune their services to align with the appeals court’s guidance. In addition, institutions that employ checklists should ensure that the checklists are not applied mechanically.

In 2008, publishers Cambridge, Oxford University Press, and SAGE Publishers sued Georgia State University for copyright infringement. The publishers argued that the university’s use of copyright-protected materials in course e-reserves without a license was a violation of the copyright law. Previously, in May 2012, Judge Orinda Evans of the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the university in a lengthy 350-page decision that reviewed the 99 alleged infringements, finding all but five infringements to be fair uses.

Posted in Copyright, Higher Education, OITP Tagged with: , ,

ALA, Depts. of Ed. and Labor to Host Webinar on Workforce Funding

Event ImageOn October 27, 2014, the American Library Association (ALA) will host “$2.2 Billion Reasons to Pay Attention to WIOA,” an interactive webinar that will explore ways that public and community college libraries can receive funding for employment skills training and job search assistance from the recently-passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The no-cost webinar, which includes speakers from the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, takes place Oct 27, 2014, from 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act allows public and community college libraries to be considered additional One-Stop partners and authorizes adult education and literacy activities provided by public and community college libraries as an allowable statewide employment and training activity. Additionally, the law defines digital literacy skills as a workforce preparation activity.

Speakers include:

  • Moderator: Sari Feldman, president-elect, American Library Association and executive director, Cuyahoga County Public Library
  • Susan Hildreth, director, Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • Heidi Silver-Pacuilla, team leader, Applied Innovation and Improvement, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • Kimberly Vitelli, chief of Division of National Programs, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor

Register now as space is limited. The webinar will be archived and emailed to subscribers of the District Dispatch, ALA’s policy blog.

Posted in Funding, Government Information, OGR, Webinars Tagged with: , , ,

Free webinar: Giving legal advice to patrons

Reference librarian assisting readers. Photo by the Library of Congress.

Reference librarian assisting readers. Photo by the Library of Congress.

Every day, public library staff are asked to answer legal questions. Since these questions are often complicated and confusing, and because there are frequent warnings about not offering legal advice, reference staff may be uncomfortable addressing legal reference questions. To help reference staff build confidence in responding to legal inquiries, the American Library Association (ALA) and iPAC will host the free webinar “Lib2Gov.org: Connecting Patrons with Legal Information” on Wednesday, November 12, 2014, from 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT.

The session will offer information on laws, legal resources and legal reference practices. Participants will learn how to handle a law reference interview, including where to draw the line between information and advice, key legal vocabulary and citation formats. During the webinar, leaders will offer tips on how to assess and choose legal resources for patrons. Register now as space is limited.

Catherine McGuire, head of Reference and Outreach at the Maryland State Law Library, will lead the free webinar. McGuire currently plans and presents educational programs to Judiciary staff, local attorneys, public library staff and members of the public on subjects related to legal research and reference. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Conference of Maryland Court Law Library Directors and the co-chair of the Education Committee of the Legal Information Services to the Public Special Interest Section (LISP-SIS) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL).

Webinar: Lib2Gov.org: Connecting Patrons with Legal Information
Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Time: 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT

The archived webinar will be emailed to District Dispatch subscribers.

Posted in OGR, Public Libraries, Webinars Tagged with: ,

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