In 2015, Authors Alliance submitted comments to the U.S. Copyright Office in response to a proposal in the Report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization to establish a pilot program for Extended Collective Licensing (ECL) for mass digitization projects. We suggested that the Copyright Office’s proposal, while well intentioned, is not the solution we need to realize the potential of mass digitization, and urged the Office to reconsider implementing its proposed pilot program.
Yesterday, the Copyright Office announced that it submitted a letter to Congress reporting on the results of the Office’s public inquiry on establishing the pilot program. The letter explains that the proposal was met with a lack of stakeholder consensus on key elements of such a program, and concludes that proposed legislation in this area would be premature at this time.
We still believe that mass digitization plays a crucial role in disseminating knowledge for the public good, and welcome the attempts to simplify the copyright and permissions complexities that can impede digitization efforts. However, as we wrote in our comment, the ECL proposal did not adequately address the interests of authors who write to be read, nor did it consider the complexity and feasibility of managing permissions and licenses across multiple groups of potential rightsholders. For these reasons, we are pleased to see that the Copyright Office declined to move forward with its proposal at this time.