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LCA Submits Comments to US Copyright Office Regarding Orphan Works NOI

The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) today filed comments (PDF) with the US Copyright Office in response to their October 22, 2012, Notice of Inquiry (NOI) about the current state of play with orphan works and mass digitization.

The Copyright Office is seeking comments on orphan works regarding “what has changed in the legal and business environments during the past few years that might be relevant to a resolution of the problem and what additional legislative, regulatory, or voluntary solutions deserve deliberation.”

In its comments, LCA explains that “significant changes in the copyright landscape over the past seven years convince us that libraries no longer need legislative reform in order to make appropriate uses of orphan works.” Specifically, two key developments make it possible for libraries to engage in mass digitization and other projects that involve orphan works:

  • court decisions have further solidified libraries’ rights under fair use; and

  • libraries have successfully engaged in a range of projects involving orphan works and mass digitization.

While other communities may prefer greater certainty concerning what steps they would need to take to fall within a safe harbor, libraries can rely on their existing rights, including fair use. If Congress does consider legislation, LCA suggests that Congress abandon the overly complex arrangement it arrived at in 2008 and instead make a simple one sentence amendment to the Copyright Act giving courts the discretion to reduce or remit statutory damages in appropriate circumstances.

LCA also submitted to the Copyright Office a stand-alone policy statement on the kind of copyright reform that could benefit libraries. Originally published by LCA in May 2011, the statement emphasizes the same fundamental principles as the LCA comments: confident reliance on fair use and related rights together with the suggestion of simple reform focused on limiting remedies against libraries acting in good faith.

LCA encourages librarians and libraries to submit comments, which are due February 4, 2013, and can be submitted online at http://www.copyright.gov/orphan/.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in the US and Canada. Its mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org.

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