Government Relations Policy

Approved April 2020, Board Meeting, Minutes: Tab 14

AALL monitors proposed legislation and regulations to evaluate their impact on members, on access to justice, and on the legal information industry. AALL also implements grassroots advocacy programs that engage members in communicating the Association’s message to policymakers. The Association may also organize and participate in short- and long-term coalitions with other groups to address issues of common interest that advance AALL’s public policy agenda.

I. Access to Legal Information

Governments have a duty to create, collect, disseminate, and preserve government and legal information and to ensure equitable permanent public access to official government information. The AALL Guiding Principles for Public Access to Legal Information on Government Websites and the AALL Preservation Policy reflect this. For information about AALL’s positions relating to the legal publishing industry, see the AALL Vendor Relations Policy.

  1. Government information must be in the public domain, available without restriction, and accessible to the public at no cost.
  2. The federal government agencies responsible for the lifecycle of government information, including the Library of Congress and Law Library of Congress, U.S. Government Publishing Office, and National Archives and Records Administration, must have sufficient funding to meet their missions. The Law Library of Congress is particularly important to AALL as it serves a critical role in comprehensively collecting legal information materials.
  3. Adequate funding for public law libraries is essential to ensuring the availability of legal information for all who seek access to the justice system.

II. Balance in Copyright Law

An equitable balance between the rights of information users and the rights of copyright owners and licensors is essential to the free flow of information.

  1. Copyright laws should support fair use, first sale, and library exemptions that allow law libraries to provide access to copyrighted materials, make, distribute, and preserve copies under specific circumstances, and lend materials.
  2. Copyrighted materials should enter the public domain when their copyrights expire. When information is in the public domain, licensing regimes should not impose barriers to the access or use of information.

III. Privacy of Library Users

The privacy of library users and confidentiality of library records are of utmost importance to the profession. Laws, regulations, and guidelines should protect the privacy of library users and support the free and open exchange of ideas and information.

IV. Openness in Government 

Government transparency promotes an informed public and an accountable government. Freedom of information laws should be modernized periodically to ensure government openness.