Summary of Positions

  • ALA supports the protection of the public domain.
  • ALA opposes any revision of Section 108 that would erode existing exceptions and foundational principles.
  • ALA supports policy efforts to override contracts for digital resources that circumvent library exceptions and limitations guaranteed by the copyright law.
  • ALA opposes any legislation that would move the hiring authority for the Register of Copyright from the Librarian of Congress.
  • ALA opposes any legislation that would make the Copyright Office an independent agency of the government.
  • ALA supports the modernization of the Library of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office.
  • ALA supports a reduction in statutory damages available under the law.


The Issue

It is impossible to honor professional cores values of librarians—first amendment, equity of access, and inclusion—without copyright law. Without it, libraries would be unable to loan books, preserve content, and exercise fair use. Libraries have a privileged position in the law with individual exceptions that apply only to non-profit libraries and archives. Congress recognized that libraries are sites of learning, where protected content will be continually available, distributed, used, and preserved to further knowledge, fostering the Constitutional purpose of the law “to advance the progress of science and the useful arts” to benefit the public.

Copyright policy favoring rights holders over users of information can limit access, free speech, research, and scholarship. Because of advances in digital technology and its widespread availability, educators, researchers, and the general public are using content in new ways. Where fair use begins and ends in this environment is put to the test. At the same time, fundamental reproduction rights crafted with physical content in mind must be upheld. Section 108 rights continue to be used and provide an understanding of the power Congress granted libraries in order to ensure they can fulfill mission-critical functions, including interlibrary loan, preservation, and educational services like public performance of content in the classroom.

ALA works with Congress, the U.S. Copyright Office, the U.S Patent and Trademark Office and other government agencies to represent the library community and the public and to ensure that users rights are upheld. Our position is that copyright will only be effective when it is balanced between the rights of the public and the interests of rights holders.

Recent Advocacy

  • Amicus brief with the Library Copyright Alliance and Electronic Frontier Foundation calling for the retention of the "Server test" in McGucken v. Valnet
  • Joint filing with the Library Copyright Alliance and Software Preservation Network to the Copyright Office in support of expansion for the software preservation exemption
  • Joint reply filings (6a filing; 6b filing) with the Library Copyright Alliance and Software Preservation Network to the Copyright Office in support of expansion for the software preservation exemption
  • Library Copyright Alliance filings calling for expansions to the video game and non-video game software exemptions under Section 1201
  • Amicus brief with the Association of Research Libraries in support of neither party in Hachette v. Internet Archive
  • Amicus brief with Electronic Frontier Foundation, Authors Alliance, American Library Association And Association Of Research Libraries In Support Of Petitioners in Warner Chapell v. Nealy
  • Filing with the U.S. Copyright Office in support of the Office's proposed rulemaking regarding termination rights under the Music Modernization Act (December 1, 2022)
  • Coalition letter opposing the SMART Copyright Act of 2022 (March 29, 2022)
  • Library Copyright Alliance statement welcoming new library, museum, and archives exemptions to Section 1201
  • Library Copyright Alliance letter to WIPO delegates urging the acceptance of Wikimedia as a WIPO observer (October 8. 2021)
  • Library Copyright Alliance comments to the US Copyright Office on proposed rules for preemptive opt-out (September 30, 2021)
  • ALA Correspondence & Filing Archive

Staff Contact

Alan Inouye
Senior Director, Government Relations & Public Policy