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Library Organizations File Amicus Brief Supporting Net Neutrality

Electronic Superhighway by Nam June Paik, image CC-BY-NC-SA by The Q

ARL joined the American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries, and Chief Officers of State Library Agencies in submitting an amicus brief (PDF) today, September 21, 2015, in the DC Court of Appeals case United States Telecom Association, et al., v. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the United States of America. The brief expresses the organizations’ support of the FCC’s Open Internet Order establishing rules protecting net neutrality. The Open Internet Order, which became effective in June, prohibits blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of content on the Internet. 

The library organizations’ brief focuses on the importance of net neutrality for libraries and their patrons, noting:

As broadband subscribers, providers of Internet access points to patrons, and providers of digital content and services, libraries rely on the open character of the Internet to achieve their missions of providing equitable access to information, enhancing education and promoting life-long learning, supporting democracy and informed citizenry, and protecting intellectual freedom.

The brief points to several areas where libraries serve as creators and providers of content and information, often serving as “edge providers.” These examples include the National Library of Medicine (NLM), which provides trillions of bytes of data each day to users; the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) digitization of content from the 1939 New York World’s Fair and creation of a free app that is used in New York public K–12 schools; the Florida Memory Project, which provides free online access to archival resources from the State Library and Archives of Florida; and the Digital Public Library of America’s (DPLA) creation of a portal that delivers millions of materials from archives, libraries, museums, and cultural heritage institutions to students, teachers, scholars, and the public.

The brief continues:

All of these examples—which range from medical information, historical documents, cultural materials including video and audio works, and educational resources—demonstrate a clear need for an open Internet. Without bright-line rules and more general policies to preserve the open character of the Internet, access to these services and content provided by libraries may be slowed and impeded, resulting in reduced access to information and frustration for users.

For more details, see the September 21 ARL Policy Notes blog post, “Libraries File Amicus Brief Supporting Net Neutrality.”

About ARL

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s 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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