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08 June 2015 - U.S. Copyright Office: Report on Orphan Works & Mass Digitization

The U.S. Copyright Office has released a report on the study of issues surrounding orphan works and mass digitization projects. Recognizing that, while "...the use of individual orphan works and mass digitization offer considerable opportunities for the diffusion of creativity and learning... the public is deprived of the full benefit of such uses, not because rightsholders and users cannot agree to terms, but because a lack of information or inefficiencies in the licensing process prevent such negotiations from occurring in the first place." (p. 105)

Included in the report is a comparison of licensing provisions in other countries, as well as a draft and discussion of potential legislation.

The Music Library Association was among those parties that submitted comments, and at least one of our members participated in the public roundtables.

Read the full report here: Orphan Works and Mass Digitization: A Report of the Register of Copyrights

29 May 2015 - ARSC Goes Back to Washington to Fight for Copyright Reform

"...the [ARSC] Copyright & Fair Use Committee has been advocating for U.S. copyright reform to promote the preservation of an public access to historical sound recordings." (ARSC Newsletter, no. 137, p. 5)

The Association for Recorded Sound Recordings remains active in the effort to affect positive change in U.S. copyright laws regarding historic sound recordings. ARSC members recently visited with key players in Washington D.C. to discuss the issues at hand and to determine what else can be done to continue moving reform in the right direction.

"The U.S. deserves laws that support, not hinder, preservation of sound recordings, and allow the public to hear this rich heritage..." (p. 5)

Read more about the ARSC Copyright & Fair Use Committee's visit and their efforts toward a better future for sound recording copyright in the latest issue of the ARSC Newsletter:

27 March 2015 - Public Meeting: Facilitating the Development of the Online Licensing Environment for Copyrighted Works

The Department of Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force will be holding a public meeting to "explore whether and how the government can facilitate the further development of the online licensing environment for copyrighted works, focusing specifically on the development and use of standard identifiers for all types of works of authorship, interoperability among databases and systems used to identify owners of rights and terms of use, and a possible portal for linking to such databases and to licensing platforms".

For more information, an agenda of the meeting, and access to the webcast, visit

17 February 2015 - Fair Use Week, 2015: Feb. 23-27

09 December 2013 - News on three cases of general importance to libraries

Oral arguments began on October 30th at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals for the Authors Guild v. HathiTrust case. Kenneth Crews wrote a summary on Columbia University's Copyright Advisory Office's page.

On November 14th 2013, Judge Denny Chin issued a decision in the Google Books case. Brandon Butler wrote a summary on ARL's Policy Notes page.

Oral arguments began on November 20th for the Georgia State E-Reserves Case in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Kevin Smith wrote a summary on his blog: Scholarly Communications At Duke.

05 June 2012 - More News in the Georgia State E-Reserves Case

The Georgia State case now moves into the remedies phase.

The plaintiffs, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Sage, recently filed their required proposed injunction as part of Judge Orinda Evans' decision on May 11th.

Kevin Smith provides a helpful summary of the plaintiffs' proposed injunction. The plaintiffs seek to enjoin GSU from using without permission any excerpted materials from the publishers unless they met every single one of the four factors of fair use in a very specific manner. For instance: GSU would only be able to use the lesser of a single chapter or 10% of a book; they would not be able to use the heart of the work as an excerpt; and GSU would need to determine whether there was a license available for using the excerpt through the Copyright Clearance Center or directly through the publishers. The most controversial item in the plaintiffs' proposed injunction would allow the publishers access to GSU's course management system so that they would be able to ensure compliance.

According to Judge Evans' order, GSU has fifteen days to respond to the publishers' proposed injunction.

12 May 2012 - Decision Issued for Georgia State E-Reserves Case

A verdict was issued in the Georgia State case yesterday evening.

For a helpful summary and analysis of the case, please visit the most recent posting on Kevin Smith's blog, Scholarly Communications @ Duke: "The GSU Decision-- Not an Easy Road For Anyone"

Please click below to access the full text of the case:

02 February 2012 - U.S. Copyright Office Issues Report on Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

On December 28th 2011 the U.S. Copyright Office released its report on potentially placing pre-1972 sound recordings under federal copyright protection.

To summarize, the Copyright Office recommends federal copyright protection for pre-1972 sound recordings with provisions mainly pertaining to length of copyright protection and issues of copyright ownership.

For further reading:

1. Michael Kelley's Copyright and Fair Use column in Library Journal

2. Joan Cheverie's blog post from Educause

02 February 2012 - U.S. Supreme Court Decision for Golan v. Holder

On January 18th, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued their decision against the plaintiffs in Golan v. Holder. Justice Ginsberg wrote the decision for the 6-2 majority. Justices Alito and Breyer dissented; Justice Kagan recused herself from the case.

To summarize the opinion, the majority states that Congress does have the authority to reinstate copyright in public domain works.

For further reading on this decision please consult:

1. Kevin Smith's post on the Scholarly Communications Blog at Duke University

2. Jeffrey R. Young's Technology column from the Chronicle of Higher Education

3. David Rapp's Copyright and Fair Use column from Library Journal

4. Lyle Denniston's analysis on SCOTUSblog

20 November 2011 - News on Two Cases of Importance to Libraries

Here is an update on the AIME v UCLA case as well as some news on another case of relevance to libraries.

1. On October 3rd, 2011, a federal judge dismissed the AIME v. UCLA case. The two main reasons for the dismissal of the case were: 1. AIME failed to prove that UCLA waived its state sovereign immunity through signing a license agreement, and 2. AIME lacks associational standing to sue for copyright infringement. AIME was given two weeks to refile the case and they have since done so.

For further reading on the case, please consult the following:

University of Maryland's Center for Intellectual Property Scholar, Peggy Hoon, gives an explanation of associational standing on the Collectanea Blog.

Duke University's Scholarly Communications Officer, Kevin Smith discusses the dismissal of the case as well as details of its refiling by AIME in his Scholarly Communications Blog.

2. On September 12, 2011, the Authors Guild filed suit against HathiTrust's Orphan Works Project claiming that they infringed members' copyrights in the digitization and distribution of their books.

HathiTrust is a group of university and research libraries that initially participated in the Google Books scanning project and are now collaborating on other digitization efforts. Last summer, HathiTrust posted a list of digitized orphan works that it would make available on a limited basis to logged-in institutional users only after a thorough search determined that a copyright holder could not be identified. HathiTrust posted these orphan works with the proviso that if a copyright holder did come forward then the works would be removed.

The Authors Guild's complaint does not seek monetary damages, but wishes to enjoin HathiTrust from proceeding with the Orphan Works Project as well as to impound nearly seven million files.

For further reading on this case, please consult ARL's "Authors Guild v. HathiTrust et. al. Resources."

29 September 2011 - Safe Harbor Protection for Online Music Lockers

In the case of EMI v. MP3Tunes, a District Court judge has ruled that the music locker service MP3Tunes is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbor protections (as codified in 17 USC 512(c)). The DMCA provides that online services are not liable for the copyright infringements of their users when the services do not have actual knowledge of copyright infringement and move expeditiously to remove infringing material when they learn of it ("notice and takedown"). The ruled against MP3Tunes on other points, including its liability for contributory infringement.

This case is being closely watched by many industries as it tests the ability of music locker services to proceed without securing licenses from copyright holders. Amazon and Google are also moving forward with unlicensed music locker services. EMI has appealed the ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

The opinion can be found here.

Contributed by Eric Harbeson

24 August 2011 - Decision from the U.S. 2nd Circuit Affects Use of First Sale Doctrine By Libraries in Lending Foreign Manufactured Items

The U.S. Second Circuit Court decided in the recent Wiley v. Kirtsaeng case that the First Sale Doctrine does not apply to foreign printed items.

Jonathan Band in a post to ARL Policy Notes states that because of this recent ruling, libraries in the 2nd Circuit can only rely upon fair use to lend foreign printed items in their collections.

13 July 2011 - Conductors Guild and MLA File Amicus Brief in Golan v. Holder case

Can Congress restore copyright in works that are in the public domain? This is the main question of the case, Golan v. Holder, which will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court beginning in October of this year.

One of the plaintiffs, Lawrence Golan, is a professor and conductor at the University of Denver. The basis of the complaint is that Congress passed legislation that restored copyrights in foreign works according to the Uruguay Roundtable Agreements Act (URAA) in 1994. A significant number of orchestral standard repertoire titles, which were in the public domain, were restored to copyright protection due to the passage of this act. This has created a barrier to access and purchase of scores as well as other scholarly materials which were once in the public domain.

In conjunction with the Conductors Guild, the Music Library Association has filed an amicus brief in support of the Plaintiffs

For more information on this case, here is a link to a New York Times article, Chronicle of Higher Education article, and a posting on SCOTUSblog.

11 June 2011 - Georgia State Case Arguments Ended

The arguments in the Georgia State case have finally wrapped up and a decision from Judge Orinda Evans will be forthcoming. A recent development was that Judge Evans granted the defendants' (GSU's) motion for a "directed verdict" stating that the plaintiffs' (publishers') claim for GSU's contributory infringement is dismissed.

Please read the following Publisher's Weekly article for further information.

25 May 2011 - Georgia State Case Update: Potential Fair Use Injunction Sought by Plaintiffs

17 May 2011 - Library Copyright Alliance issues a Statement on Copyright Reform

The Library Copyright Alliance, consisting of the American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries, has issued a Statement on Copyright Reform. The statement outlines the implications of the rejected Google Books Settlement as well as failed orphan works legislation and discusses the flexibilities and benefits of fair use available to libraries in dealing with orphan works.

09 May 2011 - MLA submits reply comments to the U.S. Copyright office on Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

In February, the Music Library Association submitted its initial comments to the United States Copyright Office on the issue of pre-1972 sound recordings. Upon reading comments submitted by other stakeholders, MLA submitted a reply to the U.S. Copyright Office.

These reply comments were mainly written in response to points made by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM). To read the entire text of the reply comments, please click here.

29 March 2011 - Google Books update: settlement rejected

On March 22nd, Judge Denny Chin rejected the Google Books settlement. Please see the March 23rd posting, "Please Refine Your Search Terms", on the Inside Higher Ed blog for more information.

26 March 2011 - Update on Georgia State Case

Here is an update on the Georgia State case written by Kevin Smith at Duke University Library's Scholarly Communications @ Duke blog.

He first discusses the Google Books settlement case and then the Georgia State details follow afterward. To summarize, Georgia State's motion for dismissal of the case due to state sovereign immunity was denied and the case will be going to trial on May 16th.

21 March 2011 - Supreme Court to hear case which will affect the public domain

On March 7th, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Golan v. Holder in the new term starting in October. The main issue in this case is whether Congress can restore copyright in works that are in the public domain. For more information on this case, here is a link to a "New York Times" article, "Chronicle of Higher Education" article, and a posting on "SCOTUSblog".

03 February 2011 - MLA submits comments to the U.S. Copyright office on Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

The Music Library Association recently submitted comments to the U.S. Copyright Office in regards to potentially bringing pre-1972 sound recordings under federal protection.

For the full text of these comments, please click here.

To see all comments on this issue from other organizations and individuals, including those from the Association of Recorded Sound Collections and the Recording Industry Association of America, please click here.

29 December 2010 - ARL posts its first report on fair use in academic libraries

The Association of Research Libraries, in conjunction with American University's Center for Social Media and the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, recently issued a report entitled, "Fair Use Challenges in Academic and Research Libraries".

This report documents the first stage of the group's research on fair use and academic libraries funded by a Mellon Grant. The culminating goal of this project is to create a code of best practices in fair use for academic libraries.

29 December 2010 - AIME sues UCLA for copyright infringement

Earlier this year, the Association for Information Media and Equipment (AIME), a trade group that represents educational video and media companies, approached UCLA to cease its practice of digitally streaming videos to students on course web sites without seeking permission of copyright holders. AIME claimed that UCLA's streaming video practices violated their copyrights and took away potential revenue from streaming services which some members already provide with license agreements.

After a brief period of ceasing to stream videos for course web sites, UCLA resumed this practice in March 2010. UCLA claims that streaming videos to its students falls under fair use, as well as sections 110 (1) and (2) of the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C.).

AIME filed suit against UCLA on December 7th 2010. For further reading on this topic, please read Kevin Smith's postingon Duke University's Scholarly Communications blog.

22 December 2010 - Supreme Court deadlocked decision in Omega v. Costco case

In a 4-4 split, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment made by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Omega v. Costco case on December 13th, 2010.

At the heart of this case was the First Sale Doctrine in U.S. copyright law. The First Sale Doctrine is what allows libraries to lend books and other materials without infringing on a copyright holder's distribution rights.

Costco purchased watches made by the Swiss company, Omega, and imported them into the United States to be sold in their wholesale stores. Omega objected to their products being imported and further distributed by Costco without their consent and claimed copyright infringement based on a copyrighted image on the backs of the watches.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Omega's arguments stating that the First Sale Doctrine did not apply to copyrighted materials created outside of the United States.

For further information on how this ruling may affect libraries, here is a summary of this case written by Kenneth Crews.

30 July 2010 - New Creative Commons License!

With the launch of the new MLA website, the Copyright for Music Librarians website also got a minor update. As of June 24, this website and its contents are being licensed under a Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 license. Details about the license are linked at the bottom of each page. This does not affect the Music Library Association's main website or any other MLA web space.

30 July 2010 - Statement on Digital Audio Reserves

The Music Library Association's board has approved a revised version of "Statement on the Digital Transmission of Electronic Reserves." The new statement can be found here: Statement on Digital Audio Reserves

03 August 2009 - Glossary added

A glossary has been added to the "resources" section. Additions to the glossary will happen continually. Suggestions are welcome!

See: Glossary

20 February 2009 - New to Online Resources: HRCAP

The Historical Recording Coalition for Access and Preservation (HRCAP) is an effort to create a copyright regime more conducive to both providing access to, and to preserving historic sound recordings.

28 October 2008 - Google, Authors Guild, agree to settlement

The Authors Guild and Google have come to an agreement which will end their three-year-old legal stand-off. Under the terms of the settlement, which must still be approved by a federal judge, Google will pay the Authors Guild $125 Million. The Guild will use a portion of those funds to establish a Book Rights Registry, through which holders of US Copyrights can arrange to be compensated for the use of their works.

Author's Guild statement in PDF

22 September 2008 - First Sale decision in UMG v. Augusto

17 July 2008 - EU moves to increase copyright term

The European Union has moved to increase their term of copyright in sound recordings from 50 to 95 years. The press release, which was released yesterday (July 16), also includes a proposal to update the copyright term in the case of co-authorship in a musical composition to 70 years following the death of the last surviving author.

Official press release

02 July 2008 - Defense response filed in Georgia State case

The defense has filed its answer in Cambridge University Press, et al. v. Patton, et al., claiming both sovereignty immunity and fair use. The case, the outcome of which would likely affect numerous U.S. colleges and universities, involves Georgia State University's use of electronic reserve materials.

Initial complaint
Defendants response

01 June 2008 - ACTA negotiations to begin

is reporting that negotiations are set to begin next week in Geneva over the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The agreement is controversial, especially over reports that it includes extended power to conduct ex parte searches and seizures at border crossings.

The full article can be found here: Embattled ACTA Negotiations Next Week In Geneva; US Sees Signing This Year.

21 May 2008 - Orphan Works legislation introduced

The U.S. Congress is once again considering legislation to address the problem of orphan works (works still under copyright for whom there is either no living owner or the owner cannot be found). The bills are S.2913 ("Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008") in the Senate and H.R. 5889 ("Orphan Works Act of 2008") in the House of Representatives.

As of this writing, H.R.5889 has been approved by the subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, and has been referred to the Judiciary Committee. S.2913 has been recommended for debate by the full Senate.

A 2006 Orphan works bill considered by the 109th Congress was voted down.

20 May 2008 - Section 108 Study Group report released

The Section 108 Study Group has released its long-awaited report. The 212-page document details the groups recommendations for revising and updating 17 U.S.C. 108, which grants copyright exemptions to libraries and archives.

The report is available in PDF here:

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Copyright for Music Librarians by the Music Library Association
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