The Copyright Office is trying to redefine libraries, but libraries don’t want it — Who is it for?


The Library Copyright Alliance (which represents the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries) has said it does not want changes, the Society of American Archivists has said it does not want changes. The Internet Archive does not want changes, DPLA does not want changes… So why is the Copyright Office holding “hush hush” meetings to “answer their last questions” before going to Congress with a proposed rewrite of the section of Copyright law that pertains to libraries?

This recent move, which has its genesis in an outdated set of proposals from 2008, is just another in series of out of touch ideas coming from the Copyright Office. We’ve seen them propose “notice and staydown” filtering of the Internet and disastrous “extended collective licensing” for digitization projects. These and other proposals have lead some to start asking whose Copyright Office this is, anyway. Now the Copyright Office wants to completely overhaul Section 108 of the Copyright Act, the “library exceptions,” in ways that could break the Wayback Machine and repeal fair use for libraries.

We are extremely concerned that Congress could take the Copyright Office’s proposal seriously, and believe that libraries are actually calling for these changes. That’s why we flew to Washington, D.C. to deliver the message to the Copyright Office in person: now is not the time for changes to Section 108. Libraries and technology have been evolving quickly. Good things are beginning to happen as a result. Drafting a law now could make something that is working well more complicated, and could calcify processes that would otherwise continue to evolve to make digitization efforts and web archiving work even better for libraries and content owners alike.

In fact, just proposing this new legislation will likely have the effect of hitting the pause button on libraries. It will lead to uncertainty for the libraries that have already begun to modernize by digitizing their analog collections and learning how to collect and preserve born-digital materials. It could lead libraries who have been considering such projects to “wait and see.”

Perhaps that’s the point. Because the Copyright Office’s proposal doesn’t seem to help libraries, or the public they serve, at all.

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13 Responses to The Copyright Office is trying to redefine libraries, but libraries don’t want it — Who is it for?

  1. Teri says:

    Why can’t the government just leave well enough alone. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There are plenty of other issues this country needs to address.

  2. Steve Wilbur says:

    As T. Bert (Thomas Bertram) Lance said “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

  3. Brandon King says:

    Thank you, Internet Archive folks, for making the public aware of this issue. For anyone who’s interested, here’s an article from Priceonomics that also explores the question “Whose copyright office is this?”

    http://priceonomics.com/how-mickey-mouse-evades-the-public-domain/

  4. Dr. G. William Walster, Ph. D. says:

    Keep libraries as they are: Free and open to all.

  5. Thomas says:

    Just another government agency doing stuff to make our lives worse.

    Trying to remain relevant by imposing new rules, expanding authority, etc.

  6. Bierce says:

    The USPTO has long ago abandoned every interest in the public weal. Why expect the Copyright Office should be operated differently? Come to thin of it, which government agencies aside from the USPS and the SSA actually display any interest in the benefit to the public?

  7. Bierce says:

    Ummm … it’ nice to know y;all flew to DC, etc and state that “good things [was that sufficiently vague?] are beginning to happen as a result.” As a matter that you correctlyidentify as being in the public interest, you fail to identify anything specific the public should do in support of this. How about it? How about some links. Internet anyone?

  8. Pingback: Copyright Office Intent On Changing The Part Of Copyright That Protects Libraries & Archives, Even Though No One Wants It Changed | Curtis Ryals Reports

  9. Malcolm Stevens says:

    We are from the Copyright Office we are here to help you…. REALLY!!!
    STOP…………….
    DO NOT rewrite of the section of Copyright law that pertains to libraries
    If this the help, Stop tampering with the internet.

  10. R. TRUE says:

    Thank you for pointing out this ridiculous example of unneeded bureaucracy !
    NO UNNECCESSARY LAWS !

  11. Until you know what these “Hush Hush” meetings are about, my hope are in Defining “Library of Science Degree, means Prioritize Factual & Cultural Works over Keeping Fictional Best Sellers dropped like Lucille Désirée Ball and Conveyor Belts”, via improved Copyrights and Book Archive Defined Goals, so please fear “verbum quotatum” and not possibility of a Scientific Affirmation to maintain shelves of outdated facts is the best way to track the evolution of Newest Lie and/or Oldest Fibs, as there is still much to improve, so i am very optimistic, as many people who want an easing and focus on reference and lack of fiction, to get more freedom and better archiving methods.

    There are really people from the CIA, who have noticed our students and researchers, at times get a head vise between the butt cheeks of Death plus 70, and possible bridge trolls of post mortem anal corpus constipated then late factus excretions.

  12. Marc says:

    I am new to this topic. My impression is that, in information, the more, the better. Except in rare cases. When an organization controls the past, it can modify the present and the future. When published matter, that was available publicly, 12 months ago, is ‘disappeared’ (scrubbed) from servers, and made unavailable, the absence of such info, teaks the perception of reality in the field in question. This is very obvious in history studies. It may also happen in the legal life of a state. The other thought that comes to mind, is, perhaps someone wants to charge money, to obtain permission to do something?
    Perhaps the two interesting questions here, would be, who lobbied the people who wrote such proposed changes to Section 108? And, is there some sort of link with current secret deals such as T P P and its Trans Atlantic equivalent? Perhaps an F O I A inquiry is called for?

  13. Dr Colin D Goldberg says:

    Copyright is biggest load of nonsense ever to be created and under the sun, for it gives a clear impression of greed and the denial of knowledge and progress and hinders mankind big time. It is the duty of artists, authors, publishers, music labels, dvd producers and software manufacturers to go out there and actively promote their products, and when concerts are being held to sell cd and dvd recordings of that event after the performance and for authors and publishers to have book launches. A lot of people will still buy the original book, cd dvd, movie and software, whereas some will make copies thereof. Copyright needs to be made more flexible should not be for more than five years with renewal for another five years if a good and valid reason can be given. Because of copyright a lot of great material ends up being lost for the future. A paradigm shift is urgently needed in this regard.

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