Washington eBulletin – December 2019

A Look Ahead

AALL Advocates for Legislative Priorities as First Session of 116th Congress Enters Final Weeks

AALL is advocating for several legislative priorities as the end of the first session of the 116th Congress quickly approaches, including urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to mark up the Electronic Court Records Reform Act, or ECRRA (H.R. 1164/S. 2064). The Southeastern Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries (SEAALL) also sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in support of ECRRA.

AALL is preparing for possible action on copyright issues, following a commitment earlier this year by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, to introduce legislation based on feedback gathered from a months-long working group established to discuss U.S. Copyright Office modernization. AALL has concerns about proposals to make the Copyright Office independent of the Library of Congress because we believe it would ultimately weaken the Copyright Office and erect barriers to an effective, balanced copyright system. We are also monitoring the expected introduction and debate of privacy legislation to determine any potential impact on the privacy of library users and confidentiality of library records.

Congress has until December 20 to negotiate fiscal year 2020 funding bills, giving the House and Senate several more weeks to determine top-line spending allocations. AALL continues to urge that any legislative branch appropriations agreement include as close to full funding as possible for the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Library of Congress/Law Library of Congress, which would allow, among other priorities, the continued digitization of historical Congressional and other public domain materials.

Changes Coming to the Washington eBulletin 

Starting in January 2020, the Washington eBulletin will shift to a biannual publication schedule, with more regular government relations updates moving to the AALL eNewsletter and Weekly eNews. Chapter and SIS news, including news related to advocacy, may be submitted for publication in the AALL eNewsletter’s Community Corner. Submissions should be sent to Heather Haemker at hhaemker@aall.org.

Roundup and Review

  • AALL endorsed the nomination of Hugh Nathanial Halpern to lead the GPO and R. Crosby Kemper III to lead the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
  • AALL and the American Library Association raised concerns and suggested changes to proposed updates to GPO’s regional depository library discard policy, which would alter the conditions under which tangible titles may be discarded.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org Inc on December 2. This case addresses the question of whether the government edicts doctrine extends to works that lack the force of law, such as the annotations in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA), and therefore cannot be copyrighted. AALL signed on to an amicus brief with other national library associations in the case. The oral argument transcript is available from the Supreme Court’s website, and the audio recording of the oral argument will be available on December 6.