This year, Congress passed the CASE (Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement) Act, a messy and ill-conceived provision attached to a must-pass spending bill. The Act establishes a “Copyright Claims Board” within the United States Copyright Office and allows copyright owners to seek damages up to $30,000 for copyright violations through the claims board system.
This is concerning on a number of levels, but right now there’s an opportunity to challenge dangerous proposed rulemaking around the CASE Act specifically for library workers. Congress drafted a preemptive “opt-out” for libraries to permanently remove themselves from the Copyright Claims Board system, but the Copyright Office has recently said that when libraries take this action, the opt-out would not apply to staff working for the libraries. This could mean that the simple act of sharing a resource such as a website or an open access scientific journal with a library patron could cost librarians their job, and force them to pay $30,000 to copyright trolls. This is completely unacceptable. Librarians play an essential role in access to knowledge and information in our communities, and they must be protected.
The Copyright Office is accepting public comments on this proposal to fire library workers for doing their jobs until October 4th. That means we have just one week to voice our strong opposition to their dangerous proposal. Help us protect librarians – submit a comment, spread the word, and we will make sure everyone’s voice is heard before the deadline!
Default Comment Text:
Librarians and other library workers should never be fired or sued simply for doing their jobs. While libraries can permanently remove themselves from the Copyright Claims Board system, the Copyright Office’s proposed rule separates libraries from library employees and would place the burden on individual library workers to remove themselves or face legal action for their traditional role in connecting patrons to resources. This separation does not make sense under any law, policy, or real-world experience. I urge the Copyright Office to rework their proposed rulemaking to protect library workers and the essential role they play in access to knowledge and information in our communities.