Please Help Deliver Our Message on Three “Must-Pass” Bills

August 19, 2010

As AALL President Joyce Janto announced in her E-Newsletter today, the Government Relations Office posted a new action alert on AALLNET to gain support for three “must-pass” bills that protect government whistleblowers and promote improved access to government information. While members of Congress are home for the August recess, we need your help to get Hill support on the following bills:

  • The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372), which would ensure new meaningful protections for government employees and contractors who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse.
  • The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (H.R. 6026), which directs the Office of Management and Budget to create a free searchable Web site to provide public access to congressionally mandated reports, a category of important resources that are rarely made available to the public.
  • H.R.6086 and S. 3717, which would repeal a provision in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 111-203) that exempts certain data produced by the Securities and Exchange Commission from FOIA.

Please take just a few minutes to call or email your Senators and House Representative using the talking points and sample messages in our action alert. By delivering our message, you’ll make a difference before the 111th Congress adjourns at the end of the year.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


As Talks Break Down, What’s Next for Net Neutrality?

August 6, 2010

Talks between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and stakeholders on net neutrality fell apart yesterday, amidst reports that Google and Verizon had made a private deal over the management of Internet traffic.

The FCC had been meeting with stakeholders, including the Open Internet Coalition, of which AALL is a member, and industry groups like the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, to try to find agreement on how the FCC should proceed on net neutrality.

AALL supports Chairman Genachowski’s recent proposal to allow the FCC to regulate the transmission component of Internet access. We believe the plan is a sensible approach that would ensure that the FCC could continue to promote a free and open Internet while protecting users from discrimination. Unfortunately, many industry groups have expressed opposition to the plan, claiming that the FCC is attempting to regulate the Internet.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who co-sponsored legislation that AALL strongly supported in the 110th Congress to ensure net neutrality, yesterday urged Chairman Genachowski to move forward with his plan, stating that, “Congressional stalemate is making a legislative solution look increasingly unlikely in the near term.”

Net neutrality is a priority for AALL because law librarians are providers, creators and users of digital information, and it is up to law libraries to ensure that everyone has equal access to the information they need. We will keep you updated on the status of net neutrality as developments occur.

For background information, please read our Issue Brief. And make sure you’ve subscribed to our Advocacy Listserv, where you’ll receive alerts and updates on net neutrality in our monthly Washington E-Bulletin!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Librarian of Congress Announces Updated Exemptions to DMCA § 1201 on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems

August 3, 2010

On July 27, the Librarian of Congress issued a set of updated copyright regulations, including one that greatly expands permissible uses of short clips from DVDs and responds to a request  we made in testimony before the Copyright Office in May 2009 on behalf of AALL, the Medical Library Association and the Special Libraries Association.

In 2006, film and media studies faculty in colleges and universities were given a new exemption permitting them to circumvent DVD control technology for the purpose of making short clips for educational use in their classroom. In our 2009 testimony and follow-up response to questions from the Copyright Office relating to the possible use of screen capture software as a substitute for extracting clips directly from DVDs, we explained that, at the time, none of the screen capture software options provided a reliable way to capture good clips.

We are very pleased that the 2006 exemption has now been expanded to include all college or university professors, irrespective of discipline. In addition, the exemption now also includes use for documentary filmmaking as well as noncommercial videos.

For an explanation of all the exemptions to § 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), read our latest AALL Issue Brief: Exemptions to DMCA § 1201 Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems.

For more information and all official materials relating to the section 1201 rule-making, visit the United States Copyright Office Web site.

We are very pleased that the DVD exemption has been expanded to all disciplines in higher education, and we believe the new exemption will be of significant value to law school faculty. We hope to post additional materials to help explain the contours of the DVD exemption.

[Submitted by Roger Skalbeck, AALL Copyright Committee Chair]


Your Feedback Needed on Federal Register 2.0

August 2, 2010

Last week, AALL President Joyce Manna Janto announced in her July e-newsletter the launch of the beta version of Federal Register 2.0. The XML version of the Federal Register was released on July 26 to mark the 75th anniversary of the  Federal Register Act. The AALL Executive Board approved a “Resolution Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Federal Register Act” on July 8 in honor of this remarkable anniversary.

As President Janto explained, the new FR Web site is designed to encourage users to educate themselves about the regulatory process and submit comments through Regulations.gov on topics of interest. Notices and proposed rules are divided into categories such as Money, Science and Technology, and Business and Industry, and searchable by date, agency and location.

Raymond Mosley, Director of the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), specifically asked AALL members to send in comments on the new Federal Register 2.0. We encourage you to explore the new site and submit your comments.

We would especially like you to submit comments on the way the content is presented, the ease of navigation, and the process through which users can submit comments through Regulations.gov.  The OFR needs to hear from legal researchers so that they can make improvements based on your needs. Thanks very much in advance!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


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