August 17, 2005 Library Launches Web Site on Independent Copyright Committee

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

The Library of Congress has launched a new public Web site to cover the groundbreaking work of a special independent committee. By 2006, this committee will recommend changes to copyright law that recognize the need for exceptions to the law for libraries and archives in the digital age.

The site, at, offers the group’s mission statement, its schedule of meetings and links to relevant sections of the Copyright Act. The site also offers links to background papers pertinent to libraries and archives and the rights issues they encounter when working with digital materials.

Members of the independent committee include representatives from the private and public sector. The group is co-chaired by Laura Gasaway, director of the law library and professor of law at the University of North Carolina, and Richard Rudick, former vice president and general counsel of John Wiley and Sons. The 17 other members are from various interests and bring a broad range of perspectives to the group. The group was limited to 19 members to ensure efficiency and to meet the mid-2006 deadline for making recommendations. Public meetings are being planned, and the dates and locations will be posted once finalized.

The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) and the U.S. Copyright Office, both part of the Library of Congress, are sponsoring the Section 108 Working Group, whose mission is to study how section 108 of the Copyright Act may need to be amended to address the relevant issues and concerns of libraries and archives, as well as of creators and other copyright holders, when dealing with digital media. The group will provide findings and recommendations on how to revise the copyright law in order to ensure an appropriate balance among the interests of creators and other copyright holders, libraries and archives in a manner that best serves the national interest. The findings and recommendations will be submitted by mid-2006 to the Librarian of Congress.

Digital technologies are radically transforming how copyrighted works are created and disseminated, and also how libraries and archives preserve and make those works available. Cultural heritage institutions, in carrying forward their missions, have begun to acquire and incorporate large quantities of “born digital” works (those created in digital form) into their holdings to ensure the continuing availability of those works to future generations. Yet it has been observed that section 108 of the Copyright Act – which provides limited exceptions for libraries and archives – does not adequately address many of the issues unique to digital media, either from the perspective of rights owners or libraries and archives.

The Library, by sponsoring this independent group, is looking forward to obtaining a greater understanding of the issues through the collective expertise of the group and to receiving its balanced, solid recommendations for revisions to section 108.

Because NDIIPP is a national program, led by the Library, that focuses on the collection and preservation of important at-risk digital materials, the recommendations will be helpful to NDIIPP and other digital-preservation initiatives as they fulfill their missions. The Library is leading NDIIPP ( ) at the request of the U.S. Congress, which passed legislation in 2000 establishing the program. A key NDIIPP goal is to form a nationwide network of partners to collect and preserve digital information that will be important to scholars, researchers and lifelong learners now and in the future.


PR 05-179
ISSN 0731-3527