Washington E-Bulletin - December 2013

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Vol. 2013, Issue 12

A Look Ahead

Upcoming Hearings on GPO, Copyright as Congress Comes to a Close
As the first session of the 113th Congress winds down, the Government Relations Office (GRO) doesn’t expect to see much legislative progress before the end of the year. However, a few committees have announced work on AALL’s top policy priorities. Here’s what’s coming up: On Thursday December 4 at 10:30am EST, the Committee on House Administration will hold a hearing on “GPO in 2023: Keeping America Informed in a Post-Print World.” The hearing will focus on the vision for the Government Printing Office (GPO) in the next ten years, with testimony from Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks. AALL continues to advocate for GPO to ingest and harvest more federal agency content, as expressed in our recent letter to Public Printer Vance-Cooks. We also promote the importance of a strong Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). To that end, GPO will host its FDLP Virtual Conference, “Expanding the Forecast Framework: Engage and Discuss,” online between December 3-5 and December 10-12, and we encourage you to attend. The agenda includes a welcome by Superintendent of Documents Mary Alice Baish and sessions led by members of the Depository Library Council, including AALL member Kate Irwin-Smiler. Register online to access the conference site, session handouts, and recordings following each program.

In the sphere of copyright reform, the House Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing on “The Rise of Innovative Business Models: Content Delivery Methods in the Digital Age,” where Center for Democracy & Technology’s David Sohn urged Congress to protect fair use, reform the statutory damages provisions of the Copyright Act, and simplify the Act. The Committee has announced that its next round of copyright hearings, which will be held over the coming months and into next year, will focus on digital business models, the scope of copyright protection (Sections 102 and 106), the scope of fair use (Section 107), and the notice and takedown provisions (Section 512).  After these initial hearings, the Committee plans to proceed “roughly in numerical order through the sections of the Copyright Act.”  In addition, on December 12, the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force, led by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and National Telecommunications and Information Administration, will hold a conference to hear stakeholder views and to initiate discussion on the Task Force’s recent green paper, “Copyright Policy, Creativity, And Innovation in the Digital Economy.” Director of Government Relations Emily Feltren will be in attendance. AALL’s Copyright Committee has been keeping abreast of copyright developments on their blog, including a recent analysis of the November 14 decision in the Google Books case (Author's Guild v. Google), a victory for fair use and innovation.

Learn more about the progress made in the first session of the 113th Congress and what’s in store for 2014 at our December 11 online advocacy training, “2013 Advocacy in Review: Lessons Learned and Strategies Ahead” (more information below). As legislation advances, we’ll update our 113th Congress Bill Tracking Chart.

Act Now

Register Now for “2013 Advocacy in Review” on December 11
Join the GRO staff on Wednesday, December 11 from 12:00-12:30pm EST as we conclude our year-long online advocacy training series with “2013 Advocacy in Review: Lessons Learned and Strategies Ahead.” We'll asses the progress made and future of AALL's policy priorities this Congress, including: public access to government information; balance in copyright law between rights holders and users; protection of privacy; and access to justice.  Learn what to expect at the federal and state levels in 2014 and how you can be involved. This training is complimentary for AALL and chapter members and will be archived. Advanced registration is required by December 10.

Nominations Sought for 2014 Public Access to Government Information and Oakley Advocacy Awards
The Government Relations Committee is now accepting nominations for its two prestigious awards. Each year, AALL recognizes individuals and/or groups with our Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) and Robert L. Oakley Advocacy Awards. The PAGI Award is given annually to recognize individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to protect and promote greater public access to government information. Past recipients include Aaron Swartz, Awarded Posthumously, Internet Activist, co-founder of Demand Progress (2013); Michele Timmons, Revisor of Statutes, Minnesota Office of the revisor of statutes and chair of the Drafting Committee for the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (2012); Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) (2011); and the Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell Law School (2010). The Oakley Advocacy Award is given to recognize an AALL member or group for outstanding advocacy work contributing significantly to the AALL policy agenda at the federal, state, local, or international level. Past recipients include Timothy L. Coggins, Associate Dean for Library and Information Services & Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law Library, Richmond, VA (2013); Barbara Bintliff, reporter for the Drafting Committee for the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (2012); Joan Bellistri, director and Law Librarian, Anne Arundel County Public Law Library in Annapolis, MD (2011); and the Ohio Regional Association of Law Libraries (ORALL) County Law Library Special Interest Group (2010).

If you would like to nominate an individual or group for one or both of these awards, please send your nominations to Government Relations Committee chair Susan Nevelow Mart by February 1, 2014. More information, including judging criteria, is available on the awards pages for each award.

AALL in the States

LLAW Letter on Government Shutdown
The Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin (LLAW) recently sent a letter to the Wisconsin Congressional delegation detailing how the lack of access to government information affected constituents during the federal government shutdown. You can find a copy of the letter that was sent to Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-01) here.  The letters included specific, anonymous anecdotes by LLAW members on their experiences during the shutdown.

LLAM Works to Put UELMA on General Assembly’s Agenda
Submitted by Mary Jo Lazun, Government Relation Chair of the Law Library Association of Maryland
Many counties in Maryland have open forums to allow community organizations to make an “elevator pitch” to their delegations. Last Tuesday, LLAM members Joan Bellistri, Paul Lagasse, and I attended the Anne Arundel County delegation’s forum in order to give them a quick introduction to the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA). The delegates examined our packet of materials and appeared to be engaged by what we shared, including a four-minute talk based a sample speech from the AALL’s UELMA Resources page. Following our presentation, delegates asked questions and we also had the opportunity to chat about the importance of preserving born-digital legal materials. We referenced the Chesapeake Project linkrot study that revealed that after five years, over 50% documents with .gov domain were no longer available at their original URLs.

Forums like this are a great (and easy) opportunity to educate our delegates and senators about UELMA. Keep an eye out for similar forums in your area.

Roundup and Review
  • GPO emphasizes the need to harvest, archive, and provide access to electronic content in its working paper on Preservation.
  • Petition to reform ECPA: tell the government to get a warrant.
  • EFF has put together a compendium of all disclosed NSA spying documents.
  • The House USA FREEDOM Act has over 100 cosponsors. If your representative hasn’t yet signed on, you can ask them to today.
  • 64 federal courts now publish opinions on FDSys.