Library of Congress Group Urges Copyright Law Changes

Library of Congress Group Urges Copyright Law Changes

The independent Section 108 Study Group, which was set up in 2005 by the Library of Congress to reexamine the exceptions that apply to libraries found under Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act, issued its final report March 31 with recommendations on how the law could be adapted to the digital environment. The report will serve as the basis upon which legislation may be drafted and recommended to Congress.

The group focused on the limited exceptions that allow libraries and archives to make preservation or replacement copies of copyrighted works in their collections. Among the recommended changes:

  • Include museums as well as libraries and archives.
  • Strengthen eligibility requirements to apply only to institutions “possessing a public service mission, employing a trained library or archives staff, providing professional services normally associated with libraries and archives, and possessing a collection comprising lawfully acquired and/or licensed materials.”
  • Permit qualified libraries to make a preservation copy of an at-risk published work prior to damage or loss, but strictly limit access to such a copy.
  • Allow libraries to capture publicly available websites and other online content as long as the content is labeled as “an archived copy for use only for private study, scholarship, and research” with the date of capture.
  • Authorize libraries to outsource allowable copying or preservation activities to outside contractors.
  • Amend the television news exception to permit archive streaming but not downloading.
  • Clarify that libraries are not liable for unsupervised use of personal scanners or cameras by patrons.

The Section 108 Study Group was cochaired by Laura N. Gasaway, associate dean for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and Richard S. Rudick, former senior vice president and general counsel of John Wiley and Sons. The Library of Congress acted as a facilitator for the study group but had no influence over its conclusions.

The report was delivered to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters.

Posted on April 4, 2008. Discuss.