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By way of introduction, you might wonder: what is the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA)?

UELMA was approved in July 2011 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (now the Uniform Law Commission). UELMA addresses the challenges states face in providing permanent public access to trustworthy electronic legal material. UELMA gives states a lot of flexibility. It does not require them to make an online version of the law official. But if a state does designate an online version as official, then UELMA requires that the online version be:

  1. Authenticated, by providing a method to determine that it is unaltered;
  2. Preserved, either in electronic or print form; and
  3. Accessible, for use by the public on a permanent basis.

The types of legal materials that might be included in an UELMA enactment are state constitutions, state session laws, codified laws, and agency regulations which have the effect of law. UELMA also establishes a presumption that a state’s authenticated laws are accurate copies, and that presumption applies in every state that has enacted UELMA. So adopting UELMA will harmonize standards for acceptance of electronic legal material across state boundaries.

If a state designates an online version of its primary legal materials as official, UELMA’s preservation component requires provisions for backup and recovery, and procedures to ensure the integrity and continued usability of the material.

When UELMA was first enacted, the Government Relations Office (GRO) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) reached out to AALL members and chapters, looking for people to get involved with promoting the passage of UELMA.

I had moved to Colorado in July, 2011. In November, the GRO got in touch with me and asked if I would be the lead advocate in Colorado for UELMA. I was really excited about UELMA and I said yes. The GRO sent me position statements and FAQs and a contact in the Colorado Senate. It was about then that I began to wonder what I had done.

I was entirely new to the state, had no personal relations with any state legislators, stakeholders, librarians, Library groups, or anyone else. But I read my materials and went off to meet the senator with all my materials to ask for someone to sponsor the uniform law.

So what did I actually wind up doing, besides meeting with the senator? I personally emailed every senator on the senate judiciary committee and every representative on the house judiciary committee, explaining what UELMA was, sending links, and offering to help. The senator who introduced the bill asked for some further help with issues about disability access under UELMA, and I sent her my comments.

No one else took me up on my offer until a day in March 2012 when I got an email, apologizing for the lateness and asking if I could testify before the Senate Judiciary committee on UELMA the next day .  Sadly I was on a business trip in California, so I called the trusty GRO and asked for help. Together we put together a letter, which I emailed in. It was a helpful letter, according to the sponsor. It was read into the record. The bill passed the senate committee unanimously and was sent to finance.

I sent legislators lots of information about the many ways that documents can be authenticated because the Code of Colorado Regulations online is the official version and if UELMA was passed in Colorado, it was going to cost money to authenticate it. The bill sailed through the finance committee and headed to the house. Without any help from me, it passed through both committees in the house and went to the governor.

After UELMA was law, I got in touch with the agency that had been given the job of implementing UELMA and sent them all of the information the GRO had gathered on authentication and put them in contact with Michele Timmons, the Minnesota Revisor of Statutes, who was working on an in-house authentication system.

The key takeaways for me from this process were:  you don’t need to know your legislators or have a network in place in order to effect change and work within a new system; there don’t need to be large groups of people involved; the GRO was an amazing resource; and it wasn’t really that much work!

Other states have had a much different road to enactment. For example, in California, an experienced group of law librarian advocates worked closely with Uniform Law Commissioner and Legislative Counsel of California Diane Boyer-Vine to ensure enactment.  Each story is different and some of these stories are collected at Local Advocacy Networks: Adopting UELMA in Your State and How You Can Help, by Catherine M. Dunn, Head of Reference Services at the University of Connecticut School of Law Library. There are wonderful resources at the GRO’s UELMA Resources page. AALL has also posted case studies about the Colorado and California experiences written by me and Michele Finerty, Assistant Director for Technical Services at the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.

Which states have enacted UELMA so far? In order of enactment: Colorado, California, Minnesota, North Dakota, Hawai’i, Oregon, Connecticut and Nevada.

Bills to enact UELMA are pending in the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania. For more details on dates of passage, and the status of pending bills, go to the American Association of Law Libraries’ Government Relations Office website, the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act Bill Chart, at http://www.aallnet.org/Documents/Government-Relations/UELMA/uelmabilltrack2013.pdf.

If your state has not already passed UELMA, think about getting involved as an advocate. You can contact AALL’s Government Relations Office or your local law library chapter. A few people can really make a difference!

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The Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force (Task Force) released its Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy (Green Paper) July 31, 2013 and now seeks public comment on copyright issues critical to remixes, first sale, cultural development, economic growth, job creation, damages, secondary liability, licensing etc.

The Task Force will have an initial public meeting on October 30, 2013 in D.C., and will consider public comments received before Oct 15.

DATES: Comments are due on or before November 13, 2013. Any comments received before October 15, 2013 will be considered in the discussions in the public meeting. The public meeting will be held on October 30, 2013, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time. Registration will begin at 8:00 a.m.
ADDRESSES: The Task Force intends to hold the public meeting in the Amphitheatre of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20004.

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When we buy print books, we own them.  We don’t own the intellectual property, the copyright, but we own the print book. We can give it away, resell it, burn it. It’s ours.

When we “buy” ebooks, we rarely own them. We certainly don’t own the intellectual property, but we also don’t really have ownership of the files.  This makes library lending of ebooks truly problematic.  The libraries are paying for expensive licenses to files that can and do disappear, and that usually can’t be legally transferred from an old library ebook system to a new one.

Consumers face the problem of ebook ownership too. Even if the consumer is able to buy an ebook “file,”  he or she can’t do much with it besides read it in the original device that it enters.  They may not even be able to lend it or give it away, even if they delete their copy of the file.

Public Knowledge has just issued a thinkpiece, “Really Owning Your Stuff” that says that PK THINKS that consumers who legally own copies of works have personal property rights in those copies, just like they have property rights over other goods.  I agree. Well put.

PK points out that in the seminal Supreme Court case that determined that the user owns the print book, this language was used:   “secure to the owner thereof the exclusive right to multiply copies…”    This is an important point.  When we resell an ebook, we need to make a copy.  Yet if we delete the original, has there really been a “multiplication” of copies?  No.

 

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Theresa Hackett has alerted us that a new EIFL guide out for libraries on the EU Orphan Works Directive.  The October 2012 Directive 2012/28/EU, she says, set out common rules for digitization and online display of orphan works, but unfortunately it has not realized hopes for large-scale digitization of orphan works by libraries.

The Guide explains the background and key provisions, and it makes  recommendations for libraries to implement in EU countries, and advises libraries in countires that have bilateral agreements with the UE.

Download or browse the Guide.
Check out other EIFL resources here, http://www.eifl.net/eifl-ip-resources
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Here’s a sampling of recent copyright decision summaries written by Justia lawyers:

 

  • Enterprise Management Limited, Inc. v. Warrick

    May 21, 2013
    In a copyright infringement case, Enterprise Management Limited, Inc. and Mary Lippitt appealed a summary judgment in favor of Donald Warrick. Lippitt contended, contrary to the district court’s holding, she demonstrated a prima facie case of copyright… read more »
  • Righthaven LLC v. Hoehn

    May 9, 2013
    Plaintiff filed separate copyright infringement suits against defendants for posting articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal online without authorization. In consolidated appeals, the court agreed with the district court that plaintiff lacked standi… read more »
  • Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Smith

    May 21, 2013
    In 1974, songwriter, recording artist, producer, and performer Tilmon, composed the song “You’re Getting a Little Too Smart.” In 1976, Tilmon assigned all of his rights to the song to Bridgeport Music. In 1997, rapper Rashaam A. Smith a/k/a Esham A. Smith released the song “You & Me,” which, according to Bridgeport, unlawfully contained samples of the composition “Smart.” In 2003, plaintiffs, including Bridgeport, sued for copyright read more »
  • Cariou v. Prince

    April 25, 2013
    Plaintiff sued defendant and the Gagosian Gallery, alleging that defendant’s series of paintings and collages infringed on plaintiff’s registered copyrights in certain photographs from a book of classical portraits and landscape photographs that plaint… read more »
  • WNET v. Aereo, Inc.

    April 1, 2013
    Two groups of plaintiffs, holders of copyrights in programs broadcast on network television, filed copyright infringement actions against Aereo. Aereo enabled its subscribers to watch broadcast television programs over the internet for a monthly fee. P… read more »
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As you may know, the U.S. Copyright Office had approved an allowance for consumers to unlock their cellphones, as part of a triennial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) rulemaking process, and consumers rejoiced. Fast forward to the renewal of that exception only to find that the exception was closed up in this year’s rulemaking.

Many folks are upset about this, and a recent bill could fix the situation.  The Unlocking Technology Act would allow users to unlock their cell phones, without the need to go through the triennial hearing process.

PopVox, at the moment is running an 83% support to a 17% oppose, but with a base of less than 100 voters. What do you think?

https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/113/hr1892

 

 

 

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Sherwin Sly, over at Public Knowledge, distills the testimony from last week’s Congressional hearing on copyright reform here. Personal note – it could be devastating for libraries if the library copyright provision is repealed. Libraries rely both on the specific exception (Sect. 108) and the general contours of Fair Use.  The specific exception allows some measure of certainty under limited conditions.

http://www.publicknowledge.org/blog/what-expect-todays-copyright-reform-hearing

 

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Congressional recording available from the May 16 hearing on the Copyright Principles Project.  You may need to move the play button pretty far in to get to it.

Here are the details:

A Case Study for Consensus Building: The Copyright Principles Project

Thursday 5/16/2013 – 2:00 p.m.

Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet

2141 Rayburn House Office Building

Witness List

Mr. Jon Baumgarten
 Former General Counsel Copyright Office (1976 – 1979) 

Professor Laura Gasaway
 University of North Carolina School of Law

Professor Daniel J. Gervais
 Vanderbilt University School of Law

Professor Pamela Samuelson
 University of California Berkeley School of Law

Mr. Jule Sigall
 Assistant General Counsel for Copyright Microsoft Corporation


Chairman Goodlatte:
  This afternoon we will hear from several participants in the Copyright Principles Project who collectively have worked on or studied copyright issues for decades. They have also traveled here from all over the United States and I thank them for their willingness to be here today.Watch Webcast

By Direction of the Chairman

Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Hearing on “A Case Study for Consensus Building: The Copyright Principles Project”

Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte
Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet
Hearing on “A Case Study for Consensus Building: The Copyright Principles Project”

Copyright is a fundamental economic principle enshrined in our Constitution. It has become a core part of our economy and society in ways the framers of our Constitution could never have imagined. The ways in which creators could express themselves when the Constitution was written were very limited. Photography, musical recordings, film, and software did not arrive for decades, if not centuries, afterwards. Even many of these creations have changed significantly as digital technologies made the creation of content more diversified. Digital technologies have also enabled wider distribution to occur -local artists can have a global reach. The passion and skills of our nation’s creators have enhanced our society and culture. Creators deserve our support and respect.

Despite rapidly changing technologies and business models since the enactment of the 1976 Copyright Act, there appear to have been few efforts to bring together parties from different perspectives to discuss how the 1976 Act has worked as technology and business models evolve. There have certainly been short-term events where interested parties spoke for a few minutes each about the latest technology or the latest court decision. What has been lacking is something broader in perspective.

What impressed me about the Copyright Principles Project was not its report or even on what issues its participants were able to agree or disagree. In fact, the Committee does not endorse the specific recommendations and findings of the report. However, we do want to highlight that its participants with strongly held views on copyright law, many of which were in direct opposition to each other, committed to spending three years together in an effort to productively discuss copyright issues. The Committee has invited five of the participants here today as an example of how people with divergent views on copyright law can productively debate a range of copyright issues. Their written testimony highlights the fact that they are all here this afternoon, certainly not speaking with one voice, but speaking with a recognition that the person next to them at the witness table has just as much right to advocate their position on copyright law as they do.

This Judiciary Committee is no stranger to policy issues on which opinions vary widely. This hearing room has, and is continuing, to debate numerous policy issues in which there are sharp disagreements. There were of course sharp disagreements on the 1976 Copyright Act that we use today and whose hearing record in the Committee journals is before me.

Since announcing my interest in a comprehensive review of copyright law several weeks ago, a variety of interested parties began identifying their specific areas of interest that they wanted to see reviewed. I appreciate their input and I look forward to working with all interested parties. We should not be in a rush to focus on specific issues without first recognizing the fundamentals of copyright and the social and economic benefits that copyright brings to our economy. It is my intention to conduct this broad overview by hearing from everyone interested in copyright law as we begin by holding hearings on important fundamentals before we begin to look at more specific issues.

There are numerous questions that will be raised by interested parties during this review. I have several myself including:

How do we measure the success of copyright and what metrics are used?
How do we ensure that everyone’s voice is heard?
How is copyright working for individual artists?
How is copyright working for our nation’s economy?

These are only a few of the issues we will be looking into. This review of copyright law will not be a quick process simply because the issues are so numerous. However, we must undertake this review to ensure that copyright law continues to incentivize creativity and innovation in the digital age.

 

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You probably know that the Register of Copyrights testified before Congress last month that we need a new copyright act.  [See The Register’s Call for Updates to U.S. Copyright Law Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet (3/20/13) Related Lecture  View Webcast Part 1 | Webcast Part 2]

You probably have also noticed the erosion of First Sale as we live more and more in the land of digital. Witness the Redigi decision that said that even if you forward and delete, you can infringe copyright. That’s because you need to make a copy for sending before you delete your original.

You may also live in the real world where everyone is remixing digital content, yet the uncertainty that accompanies these creative efforts can be stifling to those that are aware of copyright penalties.

To that end, it is important to speak out and say what you need in the Next Great Copyright Act. Read the short petition below, and if you agree with it, sign it. If you know of communities that would sign, please forward. There’s a short deadline to get this out by May 14th.  If you don’t have a White House account, you can create one very easily.

http://tinyurl.com/recastcopyright

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

Recast copyright law for the digital era. It’s time to regain public respect with laws that make sense.

The public disregards copyright law because it is out of sync with the digital age. We want the right to resell digital content (ebooks, etc.) that we’ve paid for. We need transparency in the marketplace to understand what rights we have.

Additionally, as responsible creators we need to be able to freely remix existing music and other forms of creative expression to create new works without undue fear of prosecution. This upholds the original Constitutional purpose of copyright, which is to promote progress.

This will nurture the process of innovation and the sharing of our culture. The language of the existing copyright law must be changed to accommodate the way information is being created and consumed in our digital world.