Amazon’s monopoly is squeezing your public library, too – The Washington Post

“Turns out, the tech giant [Amazon] has also become a publishing powerhouse — and it won’t sell downloadable versions of its more than 10,000 e-books or tens of thousands of audiobooks to libraries. That’s right, for a decade, the company that killed bookstores has been starving the reading institution that cares for kids, the needy and the curious. And that’s turned into a mission-critical problem during a pandemic that cut off physical access to libraries and left a lot of people unable to afford books on their own….

Amazon is the only big publisher that flat-out blocks library digital collections. …

In testimony to Congress, the American Library Association called digital sales bans like Amazon’s “the worst obstacle for libraries” moving into the 21st century….

“All books in all formats should be available through libraries. Authors want their books available through libraries,” Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, told me….”

 

LIBRARY COPYRIGHT ALLIANCE COMMENTS ON “DIGITAL COPYRIGHT ACT OF 2021” DISCUSSION DRAFT

“The Library Copyright Alliance (“LCA”) welcomes this opportunity to provide its comments on the December 18, 2020 discussion draft of the “Digital Copyright Act of 2021.” LCA consists of the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries. These associations collectively represent over 100,000 libraries in the United States employing more than 300,000 librarians and other personnel. An estimated 200 million Americans use these libraries more than two billion times each year. U.S. libraries spend over $4 billion annually purchasing or licensing copyrighted works. At the outset, LCA states that it disagrees with the basic premise of the draft articulated in the press release announcing the release of the draft. Contrary to the press release, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) does not “show the strain of a statute that has not adapted well to the technological advancements and changing business practices that have occurred since” 1998. Likewise, copyright law today is not “ill-suited for the needs of most copyright owners and individual users.” Further, the copyright framework does not need to “better encourage the creation of copyrightable works.” Based on this disagreement with the draft’s premise, LCA strongly opposes section 2 of the draft, which would amend the DMCA’s safe harbors for online service providers….”

Are price barriers in the national interest?

“[Adler] rejected the idea that taxpayer financed research should be open to the public, saying that it was in the national interest for it to be restricted to those who could pay subscription fees. “Remember — you’re talking about free online access to the world,” he said. “You are talking about making our competitive research available to foreign governments and corporations.” …

Note that we’re talking about published research, not classified research that isn’t published. Thank goodness our enemies can’t afford to pay subscriptions or visit libraries. Thank goodness harming Americans has the side-effect of harming foreigners.  At least our sacrifice is not in vain. Thank goodness Americans have never benefited from scientific advances made by non-Americans.  Thank goodness publishers are willing to collect subscription fees for this patriotic purpose. Thank goodness publishers are willing to shoulder the responsibility of controlling access to our research.   We know that they don’t have to.  They didn’t conduct this research, write it up, or fund it….”

Poland’s ‘legislation’ of Holocaust history vs. Netherlands’ open-access archive | The Times of Israel

“When historians seek to research what Dutch citizens did during Nazi Germany’s occupation of the Netherlands, they have access to a stack of files that’s taller than the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Twenty years ago, those files of the “Central Archive of Special Jurisdiction” were deposited at the Dutch National Archives in The Hague. Suddenly, 300,000 case files on Dutch citizens suspected of having collaborated with Nazis were made available to everyone….

The climate in the Netherlands differs sharply from an allegedly “research-muzzling” atmosphere in Poland. On February 9, a district court ordered prominent Holocaust historians Jan Grabowski and Barbara Engelking to apologize to a woman who claimed the scholars slandered her deceased uncle….

In Poland, research into the Holocaust has become a lightning rod since the Law and Justice party was elected in 2015. Simultaneously, the digitization of the Netherlands’ “special jurisdiction” archive has helped researchers piece together a diverse mosaic of Dutch citizens’ wartime behavior….

Poland has its own version of the “Central Archive of Special Jurisdiction.” In 1989, files from the communist-era security services became available to the public, including those related to Nazi collaborators….

According to Grabowski, Poland’s “History Laws” are intended to “defend the good name of the Polish nation.” Any claims that Poland bore responsibility for the Holocaust are now criminalized, despite the historian’s documentation that 200,000 Jews were murdered by their Polish neighbors….”

Suggested changes to the Open Courts Act

“We write on behalf of a group that has extensive experience building large public sites on the Internet. The purpose of this letter is to advance action on improving public access to federal court records, which are presently offered by the government through an outdated PACER system. We have extensive experience putting large government databases on the Internet and then working with public officials to help government do this work better. Our experience includes making available federal databases such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark database, the Securities and Exchange EDGAR database, the IRS Form 990 database, 14,000 hours of Congressional video from hearings posted at the request of the Speaker of the House, and over 6,000 government videos from the U.S. National Archives posted in cooperation with the Archivist of the United States. We have extensive experience working with legal information, and operate some of the largest sites for access to federal court filings, as well as the U.S. Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, the regulations of all 50 states, and much more….”

Suggested changes to the Open Courts Act

“We write on behalf of a group that has extensive experience building large public sites on the Internet. The purpose of this letter is to advance action on improving public access to federal court records, which are presently offered by the government through an outdated PACER system. We have extensive experience putting large government databases on the Internet and then working with public officials to help government do this work better. Our experience includes making available federal databases such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark database, the Securities and Exchange EDGAR database, the IRS Form 990 database, 14,000 hours of Congressional video from hearings posted at the request of the Speaker of the House, and over 6,000 government videos from the U.S. National Archives posted in cooperation with the Archivist of the United States. We have extensive experience working with legal information, and operate some of the largest sites for access to federal court filings, as well as the U.S. Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, the regulations of all 50 states, and much more….”

LIBRARY COPYRIGHT ALLIANCE EXPRESSES CONCERNS WITH DIGITAL COPYRIGHT ACT DISCUSSION DRAFT

“The Library Copyright Alliance (“LCA”) has serious concerns with the discussion draft of the Digital Copyright Act of 2021 released today by Senator Thom Tillis, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. LCA consists of the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries. These associations collectively represent over 100,000 libraries in the United States employing more than 300,000 librarians and other personnel. The discussion draft proposes sweeping changes to the safe harbors for online service providers contained in the Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. These changes would threaten libraries’ ability to provide internet access to Americans in every community across the country. They would lead to increased filtering, which would limit free speech and fair use rights. They would result in less consumer privacy, and increased risk of the termination of consumers’ internet access….”

 

House Passes Bill To Make Federal Court Records Free to the Public – Reason.com

“The House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday, over the objections of the federal judiciary, to make access to federal court records free to the public. 

By a voice vote, the House passed H.R. 8235, the Open Courts Act of 2020, which aims to modernize PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records)—a clunky and frustrating database of federal court filings maintained by the Administrative Office of the United States Court—and eliminate its paywall.

The database has long been the bane of lawyers, reporters, researchers, and citizen sleuths. PACER charges 10 cents a page for searches, court dockets, and documents, capped at $3.00 per document. Users who accrue less than $30 in fees every three months do not have to pay anything, which keeps casual users from being charged. But for others, costs can quickly pile up and there’s no alternative. Reason uses PACER on a daily basis to monitor civil rights lawsuits and report on the criminal justice system. As Seamus Hughes, a terrorism researcher who scours PACER for new prosecutions, lamented in Politico Magazine last year, “My work at The George Washington University’s Program on Extremism generates a quarterly PACER bill that could fund a coup in a small country.”

 

Even the Justice Department has to pay to use PACER. Between 2010 and 2017, the DOJ spent $124 million on federal court records….”

The federal judiciary should allow free access to public court records | R Street

“In September, the House Judiciary Committee passed the Open Courts Act of 2020 (H.R. 8235) by voice vote. The bipartisan bill—co-sponsored by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.)—seeks to knock down the current paywall around public federal court filings.

Today, the federal judiciary maintains online public court records, called the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system (PACER, for short). But, to view these records, PACER forces users to register for an account, provide credit card information, and then charges users 10 cents a page to download and view most public filings….”

Senate Explores Changing DMCA

“A Senate committee is investigating updating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The goal is to modernize the DMCA to make it easier to protect copyrighted content while also defending fair use rights. The Internet Archive responded to a call for feedback by encouraging the committee to keep things as they are….

What Thom Tillis wants to do is streamline the takedown process and make it into a staydown system, where a copyright holder only needs to notify an Online Service Provider (OSP) once about infringing material….

The Internet Archive argued that a staydown approach would be unworkable for five reasons:

1. By making content removal automatic in a staydown approach, it removes the human element from judging whether something is indeed fair use or a copyright infringement. They argue that manual inspection cannot be scaled, meaning that the burden should remain on the copyright holder to identify violations….”