Washington Office

Library Copyright Alliance speaks out

capitol buildingwashington office The Library Copyright Alliance, including ALA, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), continued to work to present a unified voice for the library community concerning national and international copyright law and policy for the digital environment. Over the year, the LCA filed comments on a World Intellectual Property Organization draft proposal to facilitate access to copyrighted works for people with visual impairments and other reading disabilities, issued a series of briefs relating to international copyright and libraries, and called for openness in the discussion of a proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

The group also filed amicus curiae briefs in cases dealing with consumers’ rights and the first-sale doctrine in a battle over an Internet auction of used computer software, as well as the right of Internet service providers to not be held liable for copyright infringement by third-party users.

In July 2010, the three LCA member organizations filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Costco v. Omega, a case the groups believe could affect the legal provision that allows libraries to lend books.

Library associations release guide on Google Book Search agreement

ALA, the Association of Research Libraries, and the ACRL continued to play an active role in the ongoing response to the Google Book Search Settlement (GBS). In November 2009, the groups released “A Guide for the Perplexed Part III: The Amended Settlement Agreement, (PDF)” which describes the major changes in the amended settlement agreement submitted by Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers that month, with emphasis on those changes relevant to libraries.

In addition, ALA, the ARL, and the ACRL submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, advising that the court presiding over the GBS closely supervise the implementation of the settlement, particularly the pricing of institutional subscriptions and the selection of members of the Book Rights Registry board.

The groups also submitted a supplemental filing with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York overseeing the settlement; the filing was submitted as testimony for the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s September 9 hearing on “Competition and Commerce in Digital Books.”

Capitol Hill event discusses findings of broadband report

broadband adoption In early March, the ALA hosted an event in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill to unveil findings of the Federal Communications Commission–Social Science Research Council study “Broadband Adoption in Low-Income Communities.” The FCC had commissioned the study to further its understanding of barriers to broadband adoption and to shape the National Broadband Plan, which was released March 17.

Presenters—including John Horrigan, consumer research director at the FCC; Mark Lloyd, associate general counsel and chief diversity officer at the FCC; Dharma Dailey and Amelia Bryne, independent researchers for the SSRC; and Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office—discussed the contexts for understanding barriers to broadband adoption.

The SSRC study found that public libraries are critical anchor institutions that enable social and economic inclusion in many communities because of their role as primary providers of broadband access, training, and support for those without broadband at home. The study suggests that supporting the mission with core technology funding and specialized staff is an efficient way of mitigating the high costs of digital exclusion.

ALA, ARL document clarifies digital delivery of content to classrooms

In September, the ALA and the Association of Research Libraries released “Performance of or Showing Films in the Classroom (PDF)” to provide guidance on digital delivery of content to the “physical” classroom. The document aims to clarify one area of confusion about what is permitted under the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act in combination with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and existing exceptions such as fair use.

OITP releases brief on benefits of fiber-optic technology

oitp logo To help libraries understand the benefits of fiber-optic technology and to suggest strategies they can consider when exploring how to obtain fiber connectivity, the Office for Information Technology Policy released a policy brief titled “Fiber to the Library: How Public Libraries Can Benefit (PDF).”

Publication advances conversation on the future of libraries

In March, the OITP issued the first of several policy briefs to be published in 2010 on the revolution in information technology and its implications for the future of libraries. “Checking Out the Future: Perspectives from the Library Community on Information Technology and 21st-Century Libraries (PDF)” explores the ways in which many library professionals are driving adaptations designed to ensure that libraries remain an integral part of our society’s commitment to education, equity, and access to information.

Congress passes aid package that may save school librarian jobs

In August, the U.S. Congress passed a $26 billion state aid package intended to prevent layoffs of educators and other state and local government workers. Of this, $10 billion will go specifically to education, and school librarians can benefit from this funding.

The package included “off-sets” rescinding funding from other sources in the federal budget; the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program was one program that received a cut of $302 million from the money that was appropriated in last year’s stimulus bill. BTOP is a package of stimulus programs originally funded at $4.7 billion for building out broadband infrastructure and related technologies and services, including funding for public computing centers in libraries.

School librarian testifies before Senate committee

Jamie Greene, a school librarian at Hugh Cole Elementary School in Warren, Rhode Island, and president of the Rhode Island Educational Media Association, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) April 22 in a hearing titled “ESEA Reauthorization: Meeting the Needs of the Whole Student.” Greene’s testimony (PDF) highlighted the critical role of school libraries in the nation’s educational system and the need for Congress to include them in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Video of the hearing is available at the committee page: http://bit.ly/ds4p2k.

Fred von Lohmann wins L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award

fred von lohmann The OITP named Fred von Lohmann, a senior staff attorney specializing in intellectual property matters at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, winner of the annual L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award, which recognizes contributions of an individual or group who pursues and supports the Constitutional purpose of U.S. Copyright Law, fair use, and the public domain. The award is named after L. Ray Patterson, a key legal figure who explained and justified the importance of the public domain and fair use.

In his role at EFF, von Lohmann has represented programmers, technology innovators, and individuals in a range of copyright and trademark cases. He is also involved in EFF’s efforts to educate policy makers regarding the proper balance between intellectual property protection and the public interest in fair use, free expression, and innovation.

Committee on Legislation releases toolkit on e-government services

In June, ALA’s Committee on Legislation released an E-Government Toolkit, created to help librarians address the growing public demand for help with online government services. According to ALA research, 61 percent of libraries report that providing access to government information is one of the most critical Internet services they provide. As government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels continue to shift the availability of services directly to the public by putting them online, new opportunities—as well as new challenges—emerge for the nation’s libraries.

OITP brief explores effect of mobile devices on library services

egov logoThere’s an App for That! Libraries and Mobile Technology: An Introduction to Public Policy Considerations (PDF),” released in June by the OITP, looks at how the adoption of mobile technology alters the traditional relationships between libraries and their users. Author Timothy Vollmer explores the challenges to reader privacy, issues of access to information in the digital age (including content ownership and licensing), digital rights management, and accessibility.