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Libraries call for fix to remedies

Today, the House Judiciary Subcommittee for the Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held another copyright review hearing–this one on copyright remedies. The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), of which the American Library Association (ALA) is a member, submitted comments that focused on §504(c)(2), a provision in the copyright law exempts libraries from statutory damages under certain conditions. For non-profit educational institutions, libraries, and archives, 504(c)(2) excuses some remedies for copyright infringement under certain conditions:

If an employee working in a non-profit, educational institution, libraries and archives believes and “has reasonable grounds for believing that his or her use of a copyrighted work is a fair use,” rights holders cannot turn to statutory damages ($750 to $30,000 per use) as a remedy. Hot dog!

But this “safe harbor” only applies to the reproduction right, and not to the other exclusive rights of copyright–public performance and display, the creation of derivative works, and distribution to the public. In the digital environment, these other rights, especially public performance and display, are more likely to occur.

In addition, the LCA said that this safe harbor “should be expanded to include museums. For these entities to perform their critical public service missions in the 21st century, the safe harbor must be amended to apply to innocent infringement by these entities of all exclusive rights with respect to all kinds of works.”

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Carrie Russell

Carrie Russell is the director of the Program on Public Access to Information in the Washington Office. Her portfolio includes copyright, international copyright, accessibility, e-books, and other public policy issues. She has an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MA in media arts from the University of Arizona.

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