As I mentioned in my last post, I was inspired by a letter written by the library deans at the College of William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia, George Mason University, and Virginia Tech to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte about copyright reform to write to my own congressman, John Sarbanes (D-MD). The text of this letter is copied below in case you’d like to use it as a template. Don’t know who your representative is? Click here!
The Honorable John Sarbanes
United States House of Representatives
2444 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
September 16, 2016
Dear Representative Sarbanes:
As you may already know, the U.S. Copyright Office published a Notice of Inquiry in June inviting interested parties to schedule meetings to discuss a limited set of very pointed questions regarding potential revisions to Section 108 of the Copyright Act, which addresses “Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives.” As a librarian living in your district, I am writing to make sure you are aware of the library community’s widespread opposition to Section 108 reform.
As described in the Library Copyright Alliance’s statement on the Copyright Office’s NOI and an open letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte written by the library deans at the College of William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia, George Mason University, and Virginia Tech, many librarians feel that the potential costs of Section 108 reform far outweigh the possible gains. More specifically, we believe that rights holders are likely to push for changes which restrict libraries’ ability to rely on fair use to pursue socially-beneficial activities such as web archiving and the reformatting and preservation of library-owned materials in obsolete media formats. Additionally, Section 108 reform is likely to be a contentious, time-consuming process which unduly taxes library and Congressional resources. For these reasons, we would strongly prefer that Section 108 be left alone.
Unfortunately, the wording of the Copyright Office’s NOI indicates that they have already decided to pursue revisions to Section 108. If a bill is introduced to this effect, I hope you will take time to talk to those of your constituents who would be most affected by it: librarians and archivists like me. We would be happy to tell you more about how Section 108 works for us every day.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this letter!
University of Maryland Libraries
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