Major Library Associations Thank Committee on House Administration for Rejecting NAPA Suggestion to Charge for FDsys

May 30, 2013

by Emily

The five major library associations – AALL, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Medical Library Association and Special Libraries Association — joined  together this week to thank the Committee on House Administration for opposing the suggestion in the National Academy of Public  Administration’s (NAPA) report, “Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age,” that GPO charge public user fees for FDsys. As we stated in February, charging for FDsys would violate AALL policy that digital government information disseminated via government websites must be available at no cost.

On May 21, the  Committee on House Administration sent a letter to Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks in support of GPO’s role in providing no-fee access to government information and rejecting the NAPA suggestion to charge end users for FDsys content. CHA’s statement is in line with the letter that the Acting Public Printer sent to Bernadine Abbott Hoduski and CASSANDRA in March saying that GPO would not charge the public for access to FDsys content. CHA’s letter was first announced during the Committee’s Legislative Data & Transparency Conference last week.

Congress Kicks Off Copyright Hearings

May 17, 2013

By Elizabeth Holland, Public Policy Associate

Following up on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s April announcement to undertake a comprehensive review of copyright law, the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee held its first hearing yesterday. Titled “A Case Study for Consensus Building: The Copyright Principles Project,” the hearing featured five witnesses who had participated in the three-year Copyright Principles Project (CPP):

  • Jon Baumgarten, retired Proskauer Rose attorney, former General Counsel of the U.S. Copyright Office, and noted litigator on copyright matters, including music and movie issues
  • Laura Gasaway, Professor, University of North Carolina Law School, co-chair of the Section 108 Study Group, and AALL past president
  • Daniel Gervais, Director, Vanderbilt Law School Intellectual Property Program, with a focus on international issues
  • Pam Samuelson, Professor, University of California at Berkeley Law School, and convener of the CPP
  • Jule Sigall, Assistant General Counsel for Copyright, Microsoft and former Associate Register for Policy and International Affairs of the U.S. Copyright Office

The CPP concluded its work in 2010 with a 68-page report of recommendations for copyright reform. Though certainly not without disagreement, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) touted the CPP’s work as a starting place for the conversation on copyright. He also made clear that the committee is “not in a rush” to focus on specifics in copyright reform without first fully understanding the fundamentals of copyright.

In his opening statement, Rep. Goodlatte stated that he is particularly interested in the following questions:

  • How do we measure the success of copyright and what metrics are used?
  • How do we ensure that everyone’s voice is heard?
  • How is copyright working for individual artists?
  • How is copyright working for our nation’s economy?

You can find the written testimonies of the witnesses available online. AALL past president Lolly Gasaway used her time to make a compelling case for libraries, museums, and archives, focusing on three areas for reform: 1) Total revision of the Copyright Act to make it flexible and technology neutral; 2) Repeal Sec. 108 and rely on Sec. 107; and 3) Enact and update the Sec. 108 Study Group recommendations, particularly focused on orphan works and mass digitization.

During the course of questioning, Subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble (R-NC) asked all witnesses to identify their top priorities for copyright reform. Notably, all five witnesses named orphan works as a priority issue. Other priorities included Section 108, statutory damages, licensing structure, and reformalization. Surprisingly, at no point during the course of the hearing was the topic of shortening copyright terms discussed. In response to a question by Rep. Suzan Delbene (D-WA) on the changes in copyright since the 2010 report, the panel noted the role of the courts on fair use and public dissemination, particularly in the Second Circuit. Witness Jule Sigall, Assistant General Counsel for Copyright Microsoft Corporation, noted the decision in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley as an “unpredictable” change in the copyright discourse since the 2010 CPP report. Others noted the proliferation of mass digitization projects as a predictable but important change

Other interesting discussion focused on barriers in copyright for students and faculty. Gasaway noted that while law schools’ licenses with Thomson Reuters and Lexis enable access to law texts, multimedia resources are not always available to students, nor do smaller institutions or public libraries have licenses.

At various points, members of the committee expressed disappointment at the exclusion of “creators” from the CPP, though Subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble (R-NC) noted that the committee will receive testimony from creators in hearings in the months ahead.

The Chairman did not specify a timeline for future hearings but it seems it will be an exciting few months ahead. Stay tuned to this space and AALL’s Copyright Committee blog for updates.

White House Expands Open Data Access

May 14, 2013

By Elizabeth

In a new executive order and policy directive issued last week, the Obama Administration took steps to increase public access to government information by requiring federal agencies to make data publicly available in machine-readable formats, while appropriately safeguarding privacy, confidentiality, and security. The new policy gives agencies six months to create inventories of all the government-produced datasets they collect and maintain; a list of datasets that are publicly accessible; and an online system to collect feedback from the public as to how they would like to use the data. In turn, previously inaccessible federal data will be “more open and accessible to innovators and the public, to fuel entrepreneurship and economic growth while increasing government transparency and efficiency,” the White House said in its press release.  The new policy builds on the earlier White House Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government.

In the video below, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and U.S. Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel explain the importance of the new open data policy in promoting transparency, innovation, and economic growth:

In addition to the release of the open data policy, the White House announced several “complementary actions” in its plan, including new services for developers with Project Open Data and updates to The Library of Congress’s digital preservation blog has a great roundup of the new policy’s guidance about active management of datasets and resources on dataset preservation.

Senate Confirms PCLOB Chair

May 7, 2013

By Elizabeth

The Senate has voted to confirm David Medine as Chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), one year after he was favorably reported by the Judiciary Committee and nine months after the Senate moved to confirm four other nominees to the Board. In a statement earlier today, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) lamented the delay in taking up Medine’s nomination, but noted that after a year of obstruction the PCLOB “will finally be able to begin to carry out its important work on behalf of the American people.”

Created in 2004 by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act(P.L. 108-458) at the recommendation of  the 9/11 Commission, the PCLOB is charged with reviewing privacy and civil liberties issues impacted by the government‘s national security policies and programs. But hampered by politicking, the board made little progress in the first several years of its existence. AALL has repeatedly expressed concern that without nominated and confirmed members, the PCLOB could not perform its critical mission to ensure post-9/11 intelligence collection efforts  do not improperly infringe on Americans’ rights. Although the Senate had confirmed the other four members of board last summer, the chair is the board’s only full-time member and only member with the authority to hire a staff.

AALL applauds the confirmation of David Medine today as a considerable step forward. We have recently joined several civil liberties organizations to urge the PCLOB’s focus on a variety of issues related to national security policies and programs, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), classification policy, cybersecuritystate secrets privilegeNational Security Letters (NSLs), and the PATRIOT Act.  The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which recently passed the House, would assign additional oversight responsibilities to the Board regarding the government’s use of data collected from private companies. It is our hope that with the confirmation of Chairman Medine, the Board will finally be able to begin to make progress on its crucial mission.

Upcoming Advocacy Events

May 2, 2013

Did you miss our Local Advocate Lobby Day? Not to worry! The GRO will be hosting a number of upcoming events and training opportunities where you can hone your skills as an advocate:

Media Advocacy Training May 29

Registration is now open for the Government Relations Office’s next complimentary online advocacy training, “Best Practices in Media Advocacy: Using Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds to Make the Case for Law Libraries” on Wednesday, May 29 at 12:00pm EDT.      

In this 30 minute training, the GRO staff will guide you through the best practices for writing Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds that will help to move AALL’s policy agenda forward. Participants will learn to recognize the news media’s role in shaping debates on public policy, discover tactics for framing news stories, and build basics skills for writing and submitting influential opinion pieces. News media can act as a powerful tool of grassroots advocacy by bringing your message to a broad public audience. Your voice can help to change the way community members look at issues; create a reliable, consistent stream of publicity for your mission or goal; and motivate the public and policymakers to get involved!

Please register online by Tuesday, May 28—and spread the word.

Advocacy in Practice Legislative Advocacy Training July 13

Join the Government Relations Office and Government Relations Committee for the annual Legislative Advocacy Training on Saturday, July 13 from 8:30am to 12:00pm at the 2013 Annual Meeting and Conference in Seattle, WA. Focusing on the theme of “Advocacy in Practice,” participants will learn the best practices in advocacy, hear more about proposed federal and state legislation on topics such as copyright, privacy and UELMA, and help to develop specific goals and tactics for influencing successful outcomes. Available at no additional cost, this half-day training brings together advocates both new and experienced to network, learn new skills, and strategize.

This year you’ll need to sign up for the Saturday Legislative Advocacy Training by June 17 when you register for the conference. Email Elizabeth Holland at with any questions.

Chapter Government Relations Get-Together July 14

Chapter leaders and government relations chairs are invited to attend the Government Relations Get-Together on Sunday, July 14 at 5:00pm. This informal event will take place at the Fountain Wine Bar in the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, the AALL Headquarters for this year’s Annual Meeting and Conference.

Chapter advocates are invited to network with their fellow chapter contacts, strategize on upcoming advocacy campaigns, and celebrate the chapter successes of the past year, including the enactment of the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) in five states to date! AALL Government Relations Office staff Emily Feltren and Elizabeth Holland will be on hand to answer questions, facilitate connections, and share more information on future opportunities for chapter involvement. You won’t want to miss it!

Please RSVP to Elizabeth Holland at by Monday, July 8.

May Washington E-Bulletin

May 1, 2013

The May issue of the Washington E-Bulletin is now available on AALLNET.

Vol. 2013, Issue 05




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