Staying Informed on Copyright and Fair Use

April 30, 2012

The 3rd Annual World’s Fair Use Day (WFUD) is this Fri. May 4, 2012. The day-long, free event will be held at the Pew Charitable Trusts Conference Center in Washington, DC. Sessions throughout the day will examine fair use in a number of creative contexts, including poetry, fashion, music and journalism.

WFUD attendees will also explore the aftermath of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011rotect Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT IP Act or PIPA), both of which were grossly overreaching efforts of Congress to protect copyright holders. The threat to First Amendment freedoms, creative expression, and the advancement of knowledge posed by these bills was so great that the public responded swiftly. Both bills were soundly thwarted by widespread, grassroots social media efforts. WFUD organizers hope to sustain the momentum from these efforts and keep the public and content creators engaged in the dialogue.

The AALL Copyright Committee will be exploring SOPA as well during a unique program at the upcoming AALL Annual Meeting in Boston. On Sun. July 22 at 3:45 the Committee hosts program C5 Hot Topics in Copyright for Librarians. This program will offer updates on three timely copyright issues; orphan works, copyright as applied to state and local documents, and recent developments in copyright legislation (SOPA/PIPA) and litigation (Google Books, GSU, etc.). Annual Meeting attendees may also be interested in Using Creative Commons Licenses, sponsored by the M/AV Special Interest Section on Tues. July 24 at 3:45 pm. Librarians, as both creators and consumers of information, have a responsibility to be well-informed in matters of copyright and fair use, and should take advantage of these upcoming learning opportunities.

Guest post by Tracy L. Thompson-Przylucki, Vice Chair, AALL Copyright Committee


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]

Coverage of First Annual World’s Fair Use Day

January 14, 2010

The First Annual World’s Fair Use Day (WFUD) took place on January 12 here in Washington, D.C. in a free event produced by Public Knowledge. It included discussions with artists, documentary filmmakers, lawyers, activists and musicians interested in celebrating and supporting the concept of Fair Use for artistic and cultural expression. This was a unique way to hear about projects employing fair use topics from the people who created them. Examples of speakers include:

  • Irish artist Dan Walsh who created “Garfield Minus Garfield“, an almost existential reworking of the Garfield comic strip
  • Chris Burke, producer, This Spartan Life, which uses video content from video games like Halo for an entertaining talk show
  • Musician DJ Earworm who creates music mashups combining the top Billboard songs of the year, which also appear on his YouTube channel

In addition to talking to creators, the event highlighted legal and policy work in this area, such as the work of the Center for Social Media at American University and their efforts in various areas of best practices. At the lunch talk, Professors Peter Jaszi (American University) and Anthony Falzone (Stanford Center for Internet and Society) responded to audience questions surrounding fair use topics. Even in discussing failed defenses in a fair use case involving a Harry Potter Lexicon, Professor Jaszi sees positive developments. He called this a victory for fair use, saying that the federal court’s decision should help refine judicial tests for fair use factors, especially in the Second Circuit. For instance, he says that loss of licensing revenue is gone from the factor analysis here.

Look to Rebecca Tushnet’s blog for a detailed summary of the entire event: Part One | Part Two. You can also read a Wrapup on TechDirt, and all recordings from the events will be online at

Mark your calendars for January 2011 for next year’s event.

[Submitted by Roger Skalbeck, AALL Copyright Committee Vice Chair]

Summary of This Week’s Hearings

March 14, 2008

This week, the House held many hearings on issues of interest to AALL. Mary Alice Baish and I attended hearings on network neutrality, orphan works, and EPA library closures. Here are our summaries of those hearings.

Hearing on Network Neutrality

On Tuesday, March 11, the House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Task Force held its hearing on network neutrality. The hearing brought together an interesting set of bedfellows, including Michele Combs, Vice President of Communications Christian Coalition of America and Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, who argued that net neutrality is a free speech issue. Damian Kulash, Lead Vocalist and Guitarist of the band OK Go and Susan P. Crawford, Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School also testified in support of net neutrality. Christopher S. Yoo, Professor of Law and Communication and Director of the Center for Technology, Innovation, and Competition at University of Pennsylvania Law School, argued against mandating network neutrality, and Rick Carnes, President of the Songwriters Guild of America testified that internet regulation would harm the fight against internet piracy. Testimony is available on the Committee website.

While members of OK Go were up on the Hill, they sat down to talk with Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA-7), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, about why net neutrality is important to them and why they support Chairman Markey’s recently introduced net neutrality bill (H.R. 5353). OK Go has relied heavily on the internet, especially YouTube, to popularize their music videos, and one of their videos, “Here it Goes Again,” won a Grammy in 2007. “This video certainly would not have gotten out if it weren’t for Net Neutrality,” Kulash said.

Hearing on Orphan Works

On Thursday, March 13, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property held an important hearing on “Promoting the Use of Orphan Works: Balancing the Interests of Copyright Owners and Users.” The term orphan works refers to the large volume of works that are likely still protected by copyright although their owners cannot be located after a reasonable effort. This is not a new issue for us. Following a 2005 investigation on orphan works by the U.S. Copyright Office, they published a report and recommendations that led to the introduction of the Orphan Works Act of 2006 (H.R. 5439). AALL strongly supported H.R. 5439 and many of you helped get cosponsors by responding to our action alert. Unfortunately, that bill did not move because of concerns raised by textile manufacturers and photographers.

Both groups were represented by witnesses at yesterday’s hearing who raised their continued concerns with the 2006 bill. Speaking on our side in support of the need for orphan works legislation were Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters; Karen Coe, Associate Legal Counsel for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; and Allan Adler, Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs for the Association of American Publishers. Testimony of all witnesses is available on the Committee website. It was clear from the hearing that the Subcommittee wants to move forward on a new bill while at the same time responding to concerns from the photographers and textile manufacturers. Stay tuned for next steps and, hopefully, the introduction of a new orphan works bill shortly.

Hearing on EPA’s Library Closures

Also on Thursday, the House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing titled, “EPA Library Closures: Better Access for a Broader Audience?.” The hearing was a lively one, and Chairman Brad Miller (D-NC) criticized the Environmental Protection Agency for its failure to talk to stakeholders and the public before closing the libraries and its continued failure to engage stakeholders on its plan to reopen the libraries, as authorized by the FY 2008 appropriations omnibus bill. EPA began closing regional libraries and its Headquarters library in 2006.

Witnesses included John Stephenson (GAO), Charles Orzehoskie (American Federation of Government Employees), Francesca Grifo (Union of Concerned Scientists), Jim Rettig (President–Elect of the American Library Association), and Molly O’Neill (Assistant Administrator for the Office of Environmental Information (OEI) and Chief Information Officer at the Environmental Protection Agency). Witness statements are available on the Committee website. AALL signed on to ALA’s statement.

The FY 2008 appropriations omnibus bill gave a $1 million order to the EPA to restore its library services across the country. The order included a direction to EPA to produce “a report on actions it will take to restore publicly available libraries to provide environmental information and data” to the Appropriations Committee by March 26. The report will include an explanation of EPA’s plan and progress for reopening the libraries.

AALL has been involved in this issue since February 2006, and we are pleased that at long last, the GAO report, “EPA Needs to Ensure That Best Practices and Procedures Are Followed When Making Further Changes to Its Library Network” has been released. We applaud its findings.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


House Hearing on Orphan Works

March 12, 2008

Tomorrow (Thursday, March 13), the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property will hold a hearing on orphan works, titled, “Hearing on Promoting the Use of Orphan Works: Balancing the Interests of Copyright Owners and Users.” The hearing will take place at 10:00 AM in Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building. A live webcast will be available.

Mary Alice Baish, Acting Washington Affairs Representative for AALL, wrote a letter on behalf of the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) to the Subcommittee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-CA-28 ) and Ranking Member Howard Coble (R-NC-6) to express gratitude to the Subcommittee for holding a hearing on orphan works. The LCA consists of five major library associations: the American Association of Law Libraries, the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association. The letter associated the LCA with Karen Coe’s testimony on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and emphasized the importance of orphan works to museums, libraries and archives as institutions that collectively preserve our cultural heritage.

Witnesses will include:

Marybeth Peters
Register of Copyrights
U.S. Copyright Office
Washington, DC

Allan Robert Adler
Vice President of Legal and Governmental Affairs
Association of American Publishers, Inc.
Washington, DC

Corinne P. Kevorkian
President and General Manager
Schumacher, A Division of F. Schumacher & Company
New York, NY

Karen C. Coe
Associate Legal Counsel
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,
Washington, DC

Victor S. Perlman
General Counsel and Managing Director
American Society of Media Photographers, Inc.
Philadelphia, PA

Maya Gura
Director of Marketing and Sales
San Franciso, CA

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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