International Copyright Advocates to Defend ‘Balance' in World Community

Contact: Andy Bridges
ALA Washington Office
For Immediate Release
December 14, 2007

International Copyright Advocates to Defend 'Balance' in World Community

WASHINGTON — Last week, the American Library Association's Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) met with three librarians recently appointed to become ALA's first International Copyright Advocates, to represent library interests on the world copyright stage.

The International Copyright Advocate initiative was established this year to broaden library representation at international copyright meetings, where copyright activities have intensified. It is one of several copyright activities made possible through a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

“International forums like the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are dominated by commercial interests and historically focused on developing treaties that strengthen copyright law in the interests of rights holders,” said OITP Copyright Specialist Carrie Russell. “Commercial interests reign over public interest in part because they are financially able to send representatives to the international meetings.”

“Libraries are often the sole defenders for 'balanced' copyright in these arenas, arguing that the law cannot be effective without certain limits to the copyright monopoly.”

The three International Copyright Advocates are:

  • Lori Driscoll: Associate University Librarian & Chair, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida;
  • Jonathan A. Franklin: Associate Law Librarian, Marian Gould Gallagher Law Library, University of Washington School of Law; and
  • Janice T. Pilch: Associate Professor of Library Administration, Slavic and East European Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“These Advocates were picked from a strong field of competitors for their proficiency in the copyright arena,” said Dr. Alan Inouye, OITP Director. “They will now accompany other experienced library negotiators to international copyright-related meetings of WIPO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and develop position statements to advance fair and equitable access to information.”

“In this way, they will become experienced and capable representatives of the library community over the long term and increase the capacity of the ALA to respond in the international arena,” added OITP Advisory Committee Chair Dottie Hiebing.

The term for each advocate is two years. Depending on funding, OITP hopes to extend the initiative and broaden participation in the future.