Two actions this week highlight American Library Association’s (ALA) commitment to openness and balance amidst developing copyright enforcement efforts.
In a letter sent March 22 to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Ron Kirk, from technology companies and public interest organizations, including the ALA called for an open, public discussion of the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The letter responds to a recent leak of the proposed agreement’s text, which the USTR had refused to release publically.
In their comments the groups state:
This recent leak of a full text heightens our concern that this negotiation is not primarily about counterfeiting or piracy; nor is at all about trade law….The leaked text reveals detailed substantive attention to core principles of any nation’s intellectual property law.… The time for public discussion as to exactly what this document will and won’t do is now.
In addition, the Library Copyright Alliance (comprised of ALA, ACRL and ARL), outlined concerns with the leaded ACTA text in a separate document , along with technology and public interest groups.
Letter to IPEC
In a separate letter sent to the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) on March 24, the ALA and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) joined the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) filing in purporting that public access is an integral part of copyright law. The letter is in response to a request for comments by the Office of Management Budget as it develops its Joint Strategic Plan for enforcement, as required by the PRO IP Act of 2008.
The library associations state that an enforcement strategy that unduly burdens users and libraries:
Some rightsholders are seeking a bailout in the form of new protections for their aging business models, but the members of the public and the entities that serve them (such as libraries, technology companies, and ISPs) cannot afford to shoulder the burden necessary to pay out such a windfall.
On both issues, the stakes for access to information are high. ALA will continue to monitor both the ACTA negotiations and federal enforcement efforts to ensure the rights of libraries and library users are represented and preserved.