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Library Copyright Alliance Supports Mandatory Deposit Requirement as Essential to Comprehensive, Representative National Collection

Library of Congress, ca. 1902, image by Detroit Photographic Co.
Library of Congress, ca. 1902,
image by Detroit Photographic Co.

The mandatory deposit requirement codified in Section 407 of the US Copyright Act is essential in supporting the Library of Congress’s efforts to build a comprehensive national collection that includes works of underrepresented perspectives and voices. The library preserves and provides public access to these works for users throughout the country, facilitating the distribution of knowledge long before works enter the public domain. For instance, in 2020, people with print disabilities borrowed more than 20 million works in accessible formats from the Library’s National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. The benefit to the public good is immeasurable, while the modest cost to rightsholders of complying with the deposit requirement is likely to be offset by the commercial advantages of federal enforcement of their exclusive rights.

Providing public access to works is part of the essential bargain struck by our copyright laws, and the central mission of the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) and LCA’s members. As such, LCA filed an amicus brief in support of defendants-appellees US attorney general Merrick B. Garland and register of copyrights Shira Perlmutter in a case brought by Valancourt Books. The publisher challenged the mandatory deposit requirement as an unconstitutional taking. In 2021, the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the defendants and the mandatory deposit requirement; the plaintiff appealed that decision. The oral argument in the appeal is not yet scheduled. LCA thanks Erik Stallman and the students of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law for their work on the amicus brief, which lays out strong public-policy arguments in support of the mandatory deposit requirement.

 

About the Library Copyright Alliance

The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) addresses copyright issues that affect libraries and their users to foster global access to and fair use of information for creativity, research, and education. LCA consists of three major library associations—the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of College and Research Libraries. These three associations collectively represent over 300,000 information professionals and thousands of libraries of all kinds throughout the United States and Canada.

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