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The Problem of Orphan Works and Mass Digitization: The Copyright Office Seeks Input

The Copyright Office has today, October 22, 2012, published a Notice of Inquiry on the subject of orphan works and mass digitization.  The Office is reviewing the problem of orphan works under current U.S. copyright law in order to advise Congress as to what has changed in the legal and business environments and what additional legislative, regulatory, or voluntary solutions are necessary.

An “orphan work” is an original work of authorship for which a good faith, prospective user cannot readily identify and/or locate the copyright owner in a situation where permission from owner is necessary. (For further information, see the U.S. Copyright Office, Report on Orphan Works (2006) at:

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The HathiTrust Decision: A Win for Fair Use and the Use of Technology

On October 10, 2012, Judge Harold Baer of the U.S. District Court in New York ruled in favor of the HathiTrust Digital Library (HDL) and its university partners in a copyright infringement suit brought by the Authors Guild (AG) and other groups. In his ruling the judge dismissed the AG’s arguments that the HathiTrust had violated copyright law by making scanned works available for certain uses.

Settlement Reached in the Google Books Suit

On October 4, 2012, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and Google announced an agreement that will provide access to publishers' in-copyright books and journals digitized by Google for its Google Library Project.  The settlement ends seven years of litigation.

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OECD Internet Economy Outlook 2012 and Its Policy Implications

Evolving from a data network of wire-connected computers to a broader network of portable devices, the Internet has become fundamental infrastructure in our economy. Supported by time series data, OECD Internet Economy Outlook 2012 begins with an overview of trends. It highlights how the Internet sector has proven to be resilient during the recent economic crisis. It then examines the various drivers and impacts of Internet use and deployment, as well as emerging technologies, e-health, digital content, security and privacy, and it also discusses a methodology for measuring the Internet economy.  This raises many important socioeconomic and political issues, as economies and societies become increasingly intertwined.

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Supreme Court Cases of Interest to the Higher Education Community

The U.S. Supreme Court began its fall term on Monday, October 1, 2012.  Among the array of cases it has agreed to hear, two are of interest to the higher education community.  The first of these, to be argued on October 10th, is Fisher v. University of Texas.  In this case a white student who was denied admission to University of Texas at Austin is suing the University on the grounds that its use of race in admissions decisions is unconstitutional.

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ECPA Amendment Adopted

On September 20, 2012, the Senate Judiciary Committee adopted an amendment that would require law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant in order to access the contents of email and other electronic communications. The amendment to the Senate version of the Video Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 2471) would update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which currently extends the warrant requirement only to email 180 days old or less, and does not protect documents stored “in the cloud” by remote computing services. The Committee is expected to take up the bill again when it returns after the November elections.

As the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) noted,

Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Topics at EDUCAUSE 2012

As you plan your sessions for the EDUCAUSE 2012 Annual Conference (E12) in Denver, CO (November 6-9, 2012) and Online, I want to highlight sessions that focus on copyright and other intellectual property (IP) issues (i.e., licensing and contracts) that you might want to consider attending.  While each speaker listed brings expertise and knowledge to the subject and whose sessions will be well worth your time to attend, I want to particularly point to the session (specifics below) featuring Cary Sherman of the Recording Industry of America Association (RIAA).  The RIAA was a vocal proponent of the “anti-piracy” SOPA-PIPA legislation, and it has actively engaged with campuses around the peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing issues.  Mr.

ECPA Reform Tied to the Video Privacy Protection Act: Senate Mark-Up Set and EDUCAUSE Joins Letter in Support

The Senate Judiciary Committee will take action on September 20, 2012 on an update of the Video Privacy Protection Act(H.R. 2471), which the House passed in December 2011, and attach provisions to that bill that would amend parts of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). On Thursday, September 13, 2012, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced his amendment to the Video Privacy Protection Act that would prevent companies from sharing customer emails without a search warrant in most cases. Leahy’s amendment would require the authorities to get a probable-cause warrant from a judge to access electronic information.

E-Book Settlement and What It Means

A federal judge has approved the U.S. Justice Department's settlement with three publishers of electronic books accused of conspiring in a price-fixing scheme.  The ruling released on September 6, 2012 disregards the objections of Apple, other book publishers, book sellers, and authors who argued the settlement will empower to destroy the "literary ecosystem" with deep discounting that they say they cannot afford to match.

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Electronic Communications Privacy Act Modernization Act of 2012

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act Modernization Act of 2012 (H.R. 6339), sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), aims to bring legislation originally enacted as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) in 1986 up to date with technology and clarifying issues of electronic privacy. The bill was introduced on August 2, 2012.