Notes on 2013 ACRL Legislative Agenda

Joseph Straw, Marietta College, Government Relations Committee Chair

In 2013, ACRL has focused on three legislative and judicial issues at the national level. A summary and current status is as follows:

  1. Copyright and “First Sale” Doctrine
    The U.S. Supreme Court case of Kirtsaeng V. John Wiley & Sons took on the important issue of “first sale” and the provisions in the copyright law that allow purchasers of a particular copy to sell or use the copy without the permission of the copyright owner. This case hinged around whether the “first sale” doctrine could be understood to extend copyright protection to material manufactured abroad. On March 19, 2013, the Court ruled 6-3 to offer broad protections to purchasers of copyrighted material from a variety of sources. For libraries, this decision favorably resolved questions regarding their ability to lend or purchase material made abroad. A link to the U.S. Supreme Court slip opinion is below:

    The library and ALA position is well summarized by John Band:
    This decision is very positive for libraries and strongly affirms the “first sale” doctrine. The court did leave open the possibility for copyright holders to change the law through legislation, and clearly the issue of copyright in the broader legislative process will still need to be monitored in the future.

  2. Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR)
    On February 13, 2013, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) was concurrently introduced by both the House and Senate (S.350/H.R.708). If passed, FASTR would provide for free online online access to publication slated manuscripts that are generated through federally funded research. The bill would also set-up at the agency level digital repositories that permit open access, interoperability, storage, and preservation of these submitted manuscripts. Links to the text of these bills is provided below:

    FASTR has bi-partisan congressional support and is strongly endorsed by ALA and by learned societies in the sciences. Despite a number of co-sponsorship efforts, FASTR has not gathered momentum to get out of committee. Much of this is tied to uncertainties surrounding the ongoing budget process, and the bill could get some life if a general budget agreement is reached later in the fall. Some in ALA speculate that the bill might likely be reintroduced in a slightly different incarnation early in 2014.

  3. Federal Funding for Libraries
    Since 1996, the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) is the principle annual funding source for libraries in the federal budget. This program is basically a population based grant funded to the states and administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). These grants generally support specialized programming for libraries of all types. LSTA was heavily impacted by the March sequestration with funding cut 5.23 percent for 2013 at 175 million. In April, the President’s 2014 budget request restored some funding at 177 million, while ALA has been advocating for a 184 million baseline for the programs funding. In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended increasing LSTA funding at the ALA level. LSTA appropriations are going to be closely tied to a very uncertain and partisan budget process. The path ahead for the LSAT program at ALA funding may be rocky with some in ALA thinking that a potential 2014 budget agreement will likely be at the 175-180 million level.
    This is the call for volunteers:

    As Government Relations Committee Chairperson, I would like to invite ALAO members to become a part of the Legislative Advocacy Network across Ohio. Advocates serve as grassroots voices for legislation that impacts academic libraries. This involves:

    • Assist in monitoring key legislation
    • Responding to legislative alerts
    • Contact state and congressional legislators on key legislation
    • Encourage colleagues to contact legislators
    • Be eligible to participate in ALA’s annual Legislative Day in Washington D.C. by applying for the ALAO Legislative Advocate Travel Award

For any interested members please contact:
Joseph Straw, Government Relations Committee Chairperson
Marietta College

This entry was posted in Vol. 31 no. 3 (Sept. 2013). Bookmark the permalink.

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