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National library groups question proposed Copyright Office reforms

Library Copyright Alliance logoThe Library Copyright Alliance released the following statement this afternoon:

“Earlier today the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee released a multi-part policy statement entitled “Reform of the U.S. Copyright Office” soliciting public comment on the proposals they outline as a prelude to legislation anticipated in the next Congress.  The Library Copyright Alliance, a group of national library organizations collectively representing more than 120,000 libraries in the United States and serving an estimated 200 million patrons annually, released the following statement in response to the Committee’s action:

“The Library Copyright Alliance appreciates Chairman Goodlatte’s and Ranking Member Conyers’ transparency and inclusiveness as they move into the final stages of preparing legislation to modernize the U.S. Copyright Office.  LCA looks forward to working with and will participate fully at every stage in that process but underscore two key points today.

First, while we enthusiastically support modernization of the Copyright Office and appropriation of the resources needed to accomplish it, the Librarian of Congress – confirmed in large part for her expertise in managing complicated library technology overhauls – should not defer the appointment of a new Register of Copyrights who can immediately act to bring the office into the 21st Century.  That need is simply too pressing to wait for what promises to be a long legislative debate over the Copyright Office’s possible autonomy from the Library of Congress to be concluded.

Second, any effort to reform the Copyright Office should not interfere with the long-standing legal requirement of depositing copies of works in the course of registering them with the Copyright Office.  The deposit requirement has enabled the Library of Congress to become the world’s greatest research library. Copyright Office modernization should not come at the expense of the Library’s collection and the tremendous public benefits that it provides.”

ALA and its many partners in both the Library Copyright Alliance (ALA, ARL and ACRL) and the Re:Create Coalition previously have publicly opposed the creation of an independent Copyright Office, and library groups (among others) have argued strenuously for it to remain in the Library of Congress subject to the Librarian’s oversight as detailed in current law.  Both independently and with those partners as appropriate, ALA will continue to fully engage in the processes of commenting on these new and any other related proposals, lobbying on any resulting legislation, and actively mobilizing grassroots support when called for to defend the Library of Congress and role of the Librarian in overseeing the Copyright Office.

The Library Copyright Alliance consists of the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries.

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Shawnda Hines

Shawnda Hines is an assistant director of Communications at ALA's Washington Office. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Evangel University in Missouri. Before joining the ALA in 2016, Shawnda worked as press secretary and local media organizer for the national advocacy group Bread for the World.

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