Today Authors Alliance submitted comments to the U.S. Copyright Office in response to a proposal in the June 2015 Report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization to establish a pilot program for Extended Collective Licensing (ECL) for mass digitization projects. We believe that mass digitization plays a crucial role in disseminating knowledge for the public good, and welcome the attempt to simplify the copyright and permissions complexities that can impede digitization efforts. However, we are concerned that the ECL proposal does not adequately address the interests of authors who write to be read. Nor does it consider the complexity and feasibility of managing permissions and licenses across multiple groups of potential rightsholders. These latter issues in particular have also been addressed by Authors Alliance co-founder Pamela Samuelson in her own comments to the Copyright Office, which detail specific reservations about the scope, creation, and implementation of the ECL pilot project.
We suggest that the Copyright Office’s proposal, while well intentioned, is not the solution we need to realize the potential of mass digitization, and urge the Office to reconsider implementing its proposed pilot program.