ALA Washington Office copyright event “too good to be true”

ALA Washington Office Executive Director Emily Sheketoff, Jonathan Band, Brandon Butler and Mary Rasenberger.

(Left to right) ALA Washington Office Executive Director Emily Sheketoff, Jonathan Band, Brandon Butler and Mary Rasenberger.

On Tuesday, November 18th, the American Library Association (ALA) held a panel discussion on recent judicial interpretations of the doctrine of fair use. The discussion, entitled “Too Good to be True: Are the Courts Revolutionizing Fair Use for Education, Research and Libraries?” is the first in a series of information policy discussions to help us chart the way forward as the ongoing digital revolution fundamentally changes the way we access, process and disseminate information. This event took place at Arent Fox, a major Washington, D.C. law firm that generously provided the facility for our use.

These events are part of the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy’s broader Policy Revolution! initiative—an ongoing effort to establish and maintain a national public policy agenda that will amplify the voice of the library community in the policymaking process and position libraries to best serve their patrons in the years ahead.

Tuesday’s event convened three copyright experts to discuss and debate recent developments in digital fair use. The experts—ALA legislative counsel Jonathan Band; American University practitioner-in-practice Brandon Butler; and Authors Guild executive director Mary Rasenberger—engaged in a lively discussion that highlighted some points of agreement and disagreement between librarians and authors.

The library community is a strong proponent of fair use, a flexible copyright exception that enables use of copyrighted works without prior authorization from the rights holder. Fair use can be determined by the consideration of four factors. A number of court decisions issued over the last three years have affirmed the use of copyrighted works by libraries as fair, including the mass digitization of books housed in some research libraries, such as Authors Guild v. HathiTrust.

Band and Butler disagreed with Rasenberger on several points concerning recent judicial fair use interpretations. Band and Butler described judicial rulings on fair use in disputes like the Google Books case and the HathiTrust case as on-point, and rejected arguments that the reproductions of content at issue in these cases could result in economic injury to authors. Rasenberger, on the other hand, argued that repositories like HathiTrust and Google Books can in fact lead to negative market impacts for authors, and therefore do not represent a fair use.

Rasenberger believes that licensing arrangements should be made between authors and members of the library, academic and research communities who want to reproduce the content to which they hold rights. She takes specific issue with judicial interpretations of market harm that require authors to demonstrate proof of a loss of profits, suggesting that such harm can be established by showing that future injury is likely to befall an author as a result of the reproduction of his or her work.

Despite their differences of opinion, the panelists provided those in attendance at Tuesday’s event with some meaningful food for thought, and offered a thorough overview of the ongoing judicial debates over fair use. We were pleased that the Washington Internet Daily published an article “Georgia State Case Highlights Fair Use Disagreement Among Copyright Experts,” on November 20, 2014, about our session. ALA continues to fight for public access to information as these debates play out.

Stay tuned for the next event, planned for early 2015!

Posted in Copyright, Events, OITP Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

ALA welcomes Simon & Schuster change to Buy It Now program

ALA President Courtney Young

ALA President Courtney Young

Today, the American Library Association (ALA) and its Digital Content Working Group (DCWG) welcomed Simon & Schuster’s announcement that it will allow libraries to opt into the “Buy It Now” program. The publisher began offering all of its ebook titles for library lending nationwide in June 2014, with required participation in the “Buy It Now” merchandising program, which enables library users to directly purchase a title rather than check it out from the library. Simon & Schuster ebooks are available for lending for one year from the date of purchase.

In an ALA statement, ALA President Courtney Young applauded the move:

From the beginning, the ALA has advocated for the broadest and most affordable library access to e-titles, as well as licensing terms that give libraries flexibility to best meet their community needs.

We appreciate that Simon & Schuster is modifying its library ebook program to provide libraries a choice in whether or not to participate in Buy It Now. Providing options like these allow libraries to enable digital access while also respecting local norms or policies. This change also speaks to the importance of sustaining conversations among librarians, publishers, distributors and authors to continue advancing our shared goals of connecting writers and readers.

DCWG Co-Chairs Carolyn Anthony and Erika Linke also commented on the Simon & Schuster announcement:

“We are still in the early days of this digital publishing revolution, and we hope we can co-create solutions that expand access, increase readership and improve exposure for diverse and emerging voices,” said. “Many challenges remain including high prices, privacy concerns, and other terms under which ebooks are offered to libraries. We are continuing our discussions with publishers.”

For more library ebook lending news, visit the American Libraries magazine E-Content blog.

Posted in e-books, OITP, Public Libraries Tagged with: , , , ,

ALA and E-rate in the press

Children and library computersFor nearly a year-and-a-half, the FCC has been engaged in an ongoing effort to update the E-rate program for the digital age. The American Library Association (ALA) has been actively engaged in this effort, submitting comments and writing letters to the FCC and holding meetings with FCC staff and other key E-rate stakeholders.

Our work on the E-rate modernization has drawn the attention of several media outlets over the past week, as the FCC prepares to consider an order that we expect to help libraries from the most populated cities to the most rural areas meet their needs related to broadband capacity and Wi-Fi:

The FCC Plans to Increase Your Phone Bill to Build Better Internet in Schools (ALA quoted)
E-Rate Funding Would Get Major Boost Under FCC Chair’s Plan
FCC’s Wheeler Draws Fans With E-Rate Cap Hike
Is expanding Wi-Fi to 10 million more students worth a cup of coffee?

ALA was also mentioned in articles from CQ Roll Call and PoliticoPro on Monday.

The new E-rate order is the second in the E-rate modernization proceeding. The FCC approved a first order on July 11th, which focuses on Wi-Fi and internal connections. ALA applauds the FCC for listening to our recommendations throughout the proceeding. Its work reflects an appreciation for all that libraries do to serve community needs related to Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Empowerment, and Engagement—the E’s of Libraries.

Posted in E-Rate, OITP, Public Libraries, Washington Office News Tagged with:

Free financial literacy webinar for librarians

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

On November 19th, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Institute for Museum and Library Services will offer a free webinar on financial literacy. This session has limited space so please register quickly.

Tune in to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s monthly webinar series intended to instruct library staff on how to discuss financial education topics with their patrons. As part of the series, the Bureau invites experts from other government agencies and nonprofit organizations to speak about key topics of interest.

Tax time is a unique opportunity for many consumers to make financial decisions about how to use their income tax refunds to build savings. In next free webinar “Ways to save during tax time: EITC,” finance leaders will discuss what consumers need to do to prepare before filing their income tax returns, the importance of taking advantage of the tax time moment to save, and the ways people can save automatically when filing their returns.

If you would like to be notified of future webinars, or ask about in-person trainings for large groups of librarians, email financialeducation@cfpb.gov; subject: Library financial education training. All webinars will be recorded and archived for later viewing.

Webinar Details
November 19, 2014
2:30—3:30 p.m. EDT
Join the webinar at 2:30pm You do not need to register for this webinar.

If that link does not work, you can also access the webinar by going to www.mymeetings.com/nc/join and entering the following information:

  • Conference number: PW9469248
  • Audience passcode: LIBRARY

If you are participating only by phone, please dial the following number:

  • Phone: 1-888-947-8930
  • Participant passcode: LIBRARY
Posted in Government Information, Webinars Tagged with: ,

It’s now or (almost) never for real NSA reform; contacting Congress today critical!

It was mid-summer when Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the outgoing Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, answered the House of Representative’s passage of an unacceptably weak version of the USA FREEDOM Act by introducing S. 2685, a strong, bipartisan bill of his own. Well, it’s taken until beyond Veterans Day, strong lobbying by civil liberties groups and tech companies, and a tough stand by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but Leahy’s bill and real National Security Agency (NSA) reform may finally get an up or down vote in the just-opened “lame duck” session of the U.S. Senate. That result is very much up in the air, however, as this article goes to press.

Now is the time for librarians and others on the front lines of fighting for privacy and civil liberties to heed ALA President Courtney Young’s September call to “Advocate. Today.” And we do mean today. Here’s the situation:

Thanks to Majority Leader Reid, Senators will cast a key procedural vote late on Tuesday afternoon that is, in effect, “do or die” for proponents of meaningful NSA reform in the current Congress. If Senators Reid and Leahy, and all of us, can’t muster 60 votes on Tuesday night just to bring S. 2685 to the floor, then the overwhelming odds are–in light of the last election’s results–that another bill as good at reforming the USA PATRIOT Act as Senator Leahy’s won’t have a prayer of passage for many, many years.

Even if reform proponents prevail on Tuesday, however, our best intelligence is that some Senators will offer amendments intended to neuter or at least seriously weaken the civil liberties protections provided by Senator Leahy’s bill. Other Senators will try to strengthen the bill but face a steep uphill battle to succeed.

Soooooo….. now is the time for all good librarians (and everyone else) to come to the aid of Sens. Leahy and Reid, and their country. Acting now is critical . . . and it’s easy. Just click here to go to ALA’s Legislative Action Center. Once there, follow the user-friendly prompts to quickly find and send an e-mail to both of your U.S. Senators (well, okay, their staffs but they’ll get the message loud and clear) and to your Representative in the House. Literally a line or two is all you, and the USA FREEDOM Act, need. Tell ‘em:

  • The NSA’s telephone records “dragnet,” and “gag orders” imposed by the FBI without a judge’s approval, under the USA PATRIOT Act must end;
  • Bring Sen. Leahy’s USA FREEDOM Act to the floor of the Senate now; and
  • Pass it without any amendments that make it’s civil liberties protections weaker (but expanding them would be just fine) before this Congress ends!

Just as in the last election, in which so many races were decided by razor thin margins, your e-mail “vote” could be the difference between finally reforming the USA PATRIOT Act. . . or not. With the key vote on Tuesday night, there’s no time to lose. As President Young wrote: “Advocate. Today.”

Posted in Legislation, OGR, Privacy & Surveillance Tagged with: , , , ,

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