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Call for Papers and Save the Date—User Rights Network Symposium: Protecting Copyright User Rights from Contractual Override, May 18–19, 2023

photo of exterior of Pence Library, Washington College of Law, American University
image courtesy of Washington College of Law

The American University (AU) Washington College of Law (WCL) Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP), the American Library Association (ALA), and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) invite papers and presentations for a global symposium on “Protecting Copyright User Rights from Contractual Override” to be held May 18–19, 2023, in Washington, DC, and online.

When licensing digital content, publishers and vendors sometimes include terms to restrict certain uses that are lawful under copyright law. These limitations present barriers to research functions, which affect libraries, researchers, and society. Globally, some jurisdictions have adopted provisions in their copyright law that explicitly  render unenforceable contract terms that restrict certain uses permitted by statute. Notably, the US Copyright Act does not include such explicit contract-override provisions.

This symposium will bring together the library community and copyright experts from around the world as we continue to explore these questions:

  1. Why have some jurisdictions adopted protections from contract override and not others?
  2. What impacts have protections from contract override had on both licensors and licensees in the jurisdictions where they have been adopted?
  3. In jurisdictions where protections from contract override have not been adopted, such as the United States, are there alternative legal theories that could have the same effect?


To apply to make a presentation at the symposium, please complete the Symposium Submission Form by January 31, 2023. The form asks for an early outline of your presentation. The initial draft should include your claim or hypothesis.

More Information

For more details about the symposium and about applying to make a presentation, see the call for papers on the PIJIP website.

You may also wish to consult KnowYourCopyrights.org, a website recently launched by ARL that invites a broad audience to consider how the rights afforded to libraries under the US Copyright Act can be asserted to advance equitable digital access to information.


About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of research libraries in Canada and the US whose vision is to create a trusted, equitable, and inclusive research and learning ecosystem and prepare library leaders to advance this work in strategic partnership with member libraries and other organizations worldwide. ARL’s mission is to empower and advocate for research libraries and archives to shape, influence, and implement institutional, national, and international policy. ARL develops the next generation of leaders and enables strategic cooperation among partner institutions to benefit scholarship and society. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.

About the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property

The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) is the internationally recognized intellectual property and information law research and academic program of American University Washington College of Law. PIJIP’s prolific IP faculty has expertise in every major topic of the field, including Copyright, Patent, Trademark, Trade Secret, Cyberlaw, and international IP. For more information, visit https://www.wcl.american.edu/impact/initiatives-programs/pijip/.