Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Lowry’s Reports Inc. v. Legg Mason: Settled in 2003 and still relevant

This fall I had cause to refer someone to the court case Lowry’s Reports Inc. v. Legg Mason, and that made me realize that I had never mentioned it here. This post is to rectify that and so I can find information on it more easily in the future.

An employee at Legg Mason routinely made unauthorized copies of a newsletter from Lowry Reports and disseminated those copies to people within the company, who had not subscribed to the newsletter. If I remember correctly, Legg Mason failed to cease and desist, which made matters worse. In 2003, a jury ordered Legg Mason to pay $19.7 million in damages.

If someone in your organization wants you to copy a newsletter, for example, and disseminated it widely...perhaps even to do so routinely...ask them what their risk tolerance is and mention this court case to them. It only takes one person, who has received or seen a copy of the newsletter, to alert the publisher.  Is your organization okay with that risk?


Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Conference: The Religious Origins of White Supremacy: Johnson v. M’Intosh and the Doctrine of Christian Discovery

Cover of the conference program

Earlier this year I wrote about my new role as the executive director of Widerstand Consulting. Widerstand works with organizations that are trying to dismantle racism within their institutions. Accepting that role has changed what I pay attention to, what I read, the conference sessions I attend, and more. This past weekend I attended the conference entitled, The Religious Origins of White Supremacy: Johnson v. M’Intosh and the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. This was an international conference held at Syracuse University and it was packed with information. I want to use this post to share some of it. (There is no way I can share all that I learned. Wow!)


Much has been written - and will continue to be written - about Johnson v, M'Intosh, which is a court case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1823. CaseBriefs has a short synopsis. Notice that it says:

The United States holds absolute title with the exclusive right to convey land while the Native Indians only had a right of occupancy that can be extinguished at any time.

The Supreme Court opinion in this case was written by Chief Justice John Marshall and is part of the "Marshall Trilogy"that became the basis for U.S. Indian Law (also known as U.S. Anti-Indian Law). The ruling in this case - and in many others including City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York (2005) where Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion - use the Doctrine of Discovery as their foundation, even if not named specifically.  

What is the Doctrine of Discovery? The Doctrine is part of a framework established in the 15th Century by Catholic Popes and European Kings to acquire land. According to the Cornell Legal Information Institute:

The doctrine of discovery refers to a principle in public international law under which, when a nation “discovers” land, it directly acquires rights on that land. This doctrine arose when the European nations discovered non-European lands, and therefore acquired special rights, such as property and sovereignty rights, on those lands. This principle disregards the fact that the land oftentimes is already inhabited by another nation. In fact, this doctrine was used in order to legitimize the colonization of lands outside of Europe.

The doctrine has affected Indigenous people around the world. It was this doctrine, the Johnson v. M'Intosh decision, and the ongoing effects of both that were the basis for this 2 1/2 day conference.

Indigenous-Centered Space

Haudenosaunee Social Dancers
I need to note that this conference was held on the unceded ancestral and current land of the Onondaga Nation at Syracuse University. Many sponsors supported this conference, including the Henry Luce Foundation. The Onondaga Nation and speakers from other Indigenous communities - including Māori creatives and activists from the land we know as New Zealand - were ever present to provide their point of view. They helped the rest of us see the deep impact of the Doctrine of Discovery. Because of them, I learned more than I could have imagined.

Maori art projected on a digital screen
Besides the numerous and intense conference sessions, I'm glad that I was able to participate in the social dances on Friday evening, view Māori art on Saturday, and partake in a Māori event on Sunday.  Those, along with a play (mentioned below) gave respite from the overwhelming amount of information I was ingesting, while also keeping me focused on my Indigenous siblings.

Legal Perspectives

Several attorneys and law school faculty presented at the conference including - and likely not limited to - Robert J. Miller, Steven Newcomb, Joe Heath, Beverly Jacobs, Nicolas Robinson, Paula Johnson, Dana Lloyd, and Peter d’Errico. These are people who have been studying Indian Law, fighting against the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery and Johnson v. M'Intosh, and working nationally and internationally on Indigenous rights. Their command of the facts and of court cases was amazing. 

What really stood out to me is that we can't just look at recent history and the Doctrine of Discovery. We must go back to the 1400s and understand what the Papacy, Spain, France, Portugal, and England were doing and why. Then we must follow the impact of those intentions, and see how the Doctrine of Discovery continued to have impact, including in the Louisiana Purchase and other actions that the U.S. has taken. The Doctrine needs to be a constant lens that we use to view what is happening around us. And since the Doctrine was used worldwide, we should use that lens as we view politics, conflicts, etc. in other regions.

By the way, the Doctrine of Discovery is also referred to as the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, since the Papal Bull (papal decree) was issued by the Christian/Catholic Church (and before the Protestant Reformation). It is also referred to as the Doctrine of Domination, since its result was that one group (Europeans) used it to dominate those they encountered in other parts of the world.

The Doctrine of Discovery website contains information on relevant court cases. I believe that Steven Newcomb, Robert Miller, and others have written books on this and there may be relevant talks available on YouTube. For example, a quick Internet search shows that Robert J. Miller has a number of articles and videos on this.

Sebastian Modrow
Re-translating the Papal Bulls

Sebastian Modrow, from Syracuse University, is interested in the papal bulls and  has visited the Vatican Library where they are held. And he is translating them from Latin to English, mindful that how we think about the Latin now will be different than how they were translated years ago. One document is already available on the Doctrine of Discovery website.

During his presentation, Sebastian showed a map of the known world in the early 1400s, which helped to set the stage for speaking about the various papal bulls. We don't think about what the world looked like to those European explorers and what they hoped to be sailing to...and what they wanted to do once the arrived. We learn that Columbus, for example, was trying to get to India. However, would he have laid claim to land in India as explorers did in the Western Hemisphere? We they "just" exploring or were they trying to blatantly expand the empires of Spain, Portugal, France, and England.

At any rate, I look forward to reading Sebastian's work and hearing what he learns. I'm sure his translations will be important for those opposing what those papal bulls did.

Lutheran, Episcopal, and Catholic Bishops along with Freida J. Jacques
Religious Racism

There were several sessions on religion and the Doctrine of Discovery, including a panel with the Episcopal Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe, Lutheran Bishop Lee Miller II, and Catholic Bishop Douglas Lucia. All of the bishops are from Central NY. The session was moderated by Turtle Clan Mother Freida Jacques (Onondaga). Jake Haiwhagai’i Edwards offered replies to the statements made by the bishops.

This session stood out because the bishops were guarded, as might be expected. While information was flowing freely in the other sessions, this group was mindful - I think - of their role in their larger denominations. They can't go further or go faster than their denominational colleagues.  

Bishop Lucia did ask how we can live out the repudiation issued by the Vatican. One person in audience asked the bishops about rematriating land that their churches hold, which would be one way doing more than just saying words.  Both the Lutheran and Episcopal bishops said that they are in the process of giving back land and hope to have something to announce in the (near) future. The Catholic bishop noted that it is the parishes who hold the land and so he will work to convince them to rematriate land as they can. 

I'll note that Bishop Lucia did not mention the statue of Columbus which stands in front of the Catholic Cathedral in Syracuse. That statue has been hotly discussed by many.  As of Nov 20, 2023, a NYS appellate court has ruled that the statue can be removed. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh wants to move the statue to a different area.

It would have been wonderful if the bishops had talked about how they are confronting the ongoing impact of the Doctrine of Discovery in their religious structures. And if they had nothing to point to, perhaps they could have talked about what they want to do in the future. What are their plans?

Episcopal Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe said that she had told her congregations that they cannot do a land acknowledgement without having done some action to support the Indigenous communities. That seems wise.

Poster Sessions and Student Papers

On Saturday, three students from Northern Virginia Community College presented on the political origins of the January 6, 2021 event which occurred at the U.S. Capitol. Professor Joel Harrison uses that event to engage students in how religion is impacting politics. It was good to see students thinking about this. They mentioned ideas and images that date to the Crusades as well as modern imagery. As undergraduates, their work was not as in-depth as what a master's or doctoral student would do, but it was still thought-provoking.

On Sunday, several SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry students, from the Diversity and Knowledge of the Environment Class, presented posters from their class taught by Sarah Nahar. I spent a lot of time talk with one student (I believe Duncan Spatz) about his poster which showed what Manhattan might look like if it had never been colonized. Wow!

In the Court of the Conqueror

George Emilio Sanchez
Writer and performance artist, George Emilio Sanchez, in collaboration with Patty Ortiz, performed his one-person play on Saturday evening. In the Court of the Conqueror:
...confronts the history of how the courts have diminished the Tribal Sovereignty of Native Nations, juxtaposed against sanchez’ experiences navigating generational trauma and Indigenous identity in an Ecuadorian immigrant household.

It is an amazing piece, which reinforced what I had heard during the day. I laughed as I heard Sanchez talk about aspects of his life and then left speechless as he talked about the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery. This is a play that should be performed on college campuses as a way for students to think about U.S. law and its impact. I could imagine a performance being followed by an extended conversation, perhaps with law professors and Indigenous activists. 

Because of an images that Sanchez showed, one of the things that occurs to me is that we do not learn in K-12 schools that the United States has land within its borders that is occupied by Indigenous nations. The U.S. is not a contiguous land, but has "holes" in it that are other nations. Imagine if children learned that?!  That is something I learned as an adult and I should have learned it in fourth grade history.

Only Scratching the Surface

I wanted to get some thoughts written in a place where I could share them, but this post only scratches the surface of what I heard and experienced.  One person likened the weekend as providing more information than an academic class and that is true. It was overwhelming.  And because there was so much to say and discuss, nearly every session ran long and every break was eliminated! Very full days!

I'm looking forward to talking with some folks I know who attended the conference and sharing what we learned. I think the more I talk about it, the more it will become working knowledge and the more I may find ways of helping to counter the harm done by the Doctrine of Christian Domination.

Thanks goes to Philip Arnold and Sandra Bigtree for organizing this conference. Thanks also to everyone who helped with the event and to all of the sponsors. Organizing an event like this requires many hands.

One final note. I have not inserted which nation specific speakers were from, because I do not want to be incorrect. I mean no disrespect and hope they and you who read this post will understand.


There are MANY resources - books, websites, articles, videos - so this are just a few to get you started. 

Thursday, September 21, 2023

U.S. Copyright Office Extends Deadline for Comments on Artificial Intelligence Notice of Inquiry

 From the U.S. Copyright Office:

The U.S. Copyright Office extended the deadline to submit comments in response to its August 30, 2023, notice of inquiry regarding artificial intelligence and copyright. The new deadlines will ensure that members of the public have sufficient time to prepare fulsome responses to the Office's questions so the Office can proceed with its inquiry with the benefit of a complete record of public input and feedback.

Initial written comments are now due by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Monday, October 30, 2023. Reply comments are now due by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Wednesday, November 29, 2023.

The Federal Register notice announcing this extension and additional information, including instructions for submitting comments, are available at

The Copyright Office webpage entitled "Copyright and Artificial Intelligence" contains a lot of useful information and I encourage you to look at it.  One of the resources on that page is "Artificial Intelligence: The Copyright Connection" from 2021. I think the questions asked by Steve Andreadis are still at the center of this discussion:

  • How are artists, scientists, and businesses inspired by the technological advances of AI? 
  • When AI produces a creative work, is the expression owned by human or machine? 
  • What is owed to creators of AI input data from a copyright or moral rights perspective? 
  • What ethical implications are involved in selecting a data set and building an AI system?

If you have thoughts on these and other questions regarding AI and copyright, consider submitting them to the Copyright Office.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Article: Generative AI is Disruptive, But More Copyright Isn’t the Answer

This article appeared in a recent Public Knowledge email and it seems appropriate to post because of the ongoing questions about generative AI (GAI). The article covers:

  1. The training data
  2. The training process
  3. User inputs

I'm sure the last section on "Expanding Copyright Law Won’t Protect Artists from GAI’s Disruption" will attract your attention.

Copyright and artificial intelligence is worth keeping an eye on, but when you do that recognize that the law isn't going to suddenly change. As I said to someone on Friday, the law changes slowly. It also changes purposefully. Right now, we all still studying what AI means to creators and how the law can help (or hurt) the situation.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Article: A Book Is a Book Is a Book—Except When It’s an e-Book

Likely you have been reading about the Hachette v. Internet Archive litigation. This is an article that you might want to add to your reference list on the topic. This article by Maria Bustillos starts with an analogy:

Buying a book should be no different from buying an apple. When you buy an apple, the farmer can’t show up in your kitchen later and decide your time is up, and you’ve got to pay for it again. It’s yours forever—to eat, or paint in a still life, or cut up for a kid’s snack. And thanks to the first sale doctrine of copyright law, codified by Congress in 1909, the books on your shelves are yours forever, too, in exactly the same way your apple is; you’re free to read them (or not), loan them to friends, or sell them to a used bookshop, without restriction. Copyright law balances the public good—our collective right to access information—with the rights it grants to authors and inventors.

Are you intrigued? You can read the entire article on The Nation website.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Starting Oct. 23: U.S. Copyright Law in the Library: A Beginner's Guide

Graphic of a brain and gear
I want to let you know that I’ll be teaching a course on U.S. copyright law in libraries this fall/winter. This is a course that I have taught before through ALA eLearning (and always with updates).

Do you - or someone in your library - need to know more about copyright? This course will guide you through the basics of copyright law and provide you with the foundation to become your library's copyright expert. Each week, we’ll explore how copyright law informs what libraries, library staff, and patrons can do with their materials and how you can stay up-to-date as copyright law and practice evolves. No previous experience or knowledge is required.

This course starts on Monday, October 23 and runs for 7 weeks (which includes a one-week break for Thanksgiving). You can register on ALA eLearning. Bulk and institutional pricing is available.

If you have any questions and/or are interested in bulk pricing, you can contact the folks at ALA Continuing Education at

Monday, August 28, 2023

Moving Theory into Practice

Screenshot from the conversation with Oya Rieger
In 2000, Anne R. Kenney and Oya Y. Rieger wrote "Moving theory into practice: digital imaging for libraries and archives", which was an important book on digitization. The book was born out of the workshops they developed. That book is still considered an important resource. Now the 208 page book is available to everyone through the Internet Archive.

On August 24, the Internet Archive hosted a conversation with Oya Rieger about the work she and Anne Kenney did and the book they developed. A recording of the event is available through the Internet Archive (66 min.).

Listening to Chris Freeland and Oya Rieger talk about digitization activities in the 1990s and early 2000s brought back many memories. If you have been involved in digitization over the last 30 years, it is likely the conversation will bring back memories for you too.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Now in paperback: Change the World Using Social Media

Have you dipped your toe into Threads, the new social media platform by Meta? Are you thinking that you need to learn more about how to use social media, rather than using trial and error?

In 2021, Paul Signorelli published the book, Change the World Using Social Media, through Rowman & Littlefield.What is it about?

Starting with an overview of what social media tools provide, Signorelli shows how social media tools can be quickly learned and easily adapted to produce small- as well as large-scale changes when used effectively in conjunction with other collaboration resources and tools. 

Book chapters include:

  • What Is Social Media and What Can It Do for You?
  • Facing the Pros and Cons of Facebook
  • Twitter: Small Messages With Large Results
  • LinkedIn and Collaborative Project Management Tools: Tapping Into Business Networks
  • Picturing Change: Instagram, Snapchat, and Flickr
  • Blogging for Social Change
  • Broadcasts and Podcasts: YouTube, TalkShoe, and Zencastr
  • Videoconferencing and Telepresence: Meeting Online to Change the World
  • Follow the Money: Changing the World through Online Fundraising
  • Facing Incivility: Trolls, Online Harassment, and Fake News
  • Organizing to Change the World

I was among the people Paul interviewed for the book, along with many others. We provided examples of positive social media use, how-tos, and more. All of the topics are covered in a way to be helpful as you adopt newer or different platforms.

Now the book is available in paperback (in addition to Kindle and hardbound), which makes it available to a wider audience. Amazon provides a peek inside the book, so take a look!

In 2021, Paul Signorelli, Maurice Coleman, and I were interviewed by San Francisco Public Library about the book and using social media. That one-hour interview is available on YouTube. (Yes, my face is this first thing you see! Ha ha!)

This post contains paid links from Amazon.

Friday, July 07, 2023

Little Free Libraries and Diversity

little free library

This spring and summer, I have seen many photos of little free libraries. Each one is carried for and each one is used.  However, let's think about the items in those little free libraries.

The mantra of a little free library (LFL) is: 

Take a book. Share a book.

That means that the LFL is dependent on donations. Someone may be curating the LFL, but it is unlikely that the person is filling the LFL based on a collection development policy. Even if that person does have some standards, do those standards assure diversity of content? Is the content inclusive? Is there accessible content? Does the LFL support the diversity in the community (racial, ethnic, gender, etc.)?

I've helped to install little free libraries and I've placed books in them, but the fact that they are generally reliant on donations means that a LFL may not contain the books that will resonate with the community it's in. Imagine an LFL in a Black and Hispanic community that is filled by non-Black and non-Hispanic people who don't live in that community. Will the materials in the LFL represent the community that is using it? No.

This hit home for me when I looked at a little free library outside of a food pantry and realized that the people filling the LFL were from a different demographic.

I don't know how to ensure that a little free library is filled with works that are diverse and inclusive, without causing more work and more cost. Perhaps if folks recognize the problem, that can be a first step towards making each LFL more inclusive, more diverse, and better connected with the community it serves.

If you have ideas on how to solve this problem, post a comment.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Library Futures: Copyright Booth to Go!

A few weeks ago, Library Futures released their 2022 Annual Report, which is a website that links to other resources.  Library Futures had an amazing 2022 including submitting 3 amicus briefs, hosting 18 webinars, and producing 3 research papers.

One thing that caught my eye is that:

Community Fellow Emily Finch converted the American Library Association Conference copyright booth into a portable Open Educational Resource that can be used anywhere.

You know that copyright questions often fall into specific categories and this handout captures that idea, while also provide using advice and pointing to other resources. 

Yes, use it! It's an Open Education Resource (OER), which means it is meant to be used and shared.

Article: What generative AI means for copyright

Rachel Alexander's opening text to this article gets at our fears:

Creatives are worried about being thrown out of a job by generative AI, while artificial intelligence developers leave themselves open to copyright infringement claims by training their AI on unlicensed material.

Her article is written from a UK perspective but does touch on approaches being used in the U.S. and EU. And if you're wondering why you should read it, this should capture your attention:

Generative AI presents a new scenario on which to apply questions that copyright has been grappling with for centuries such as: Who can be an author? What is original? What constitutes ‘fair dealing’ with a protected work? 
Information Age, which published this article, has a number of stories on generative AI.  If that is a topic you are following, you may want to follow Information Age.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Article: The Smithsonian Puts 4.5 Million High-Res Images Online and Into the Public Domain, Making Them Free to Use

Ernest C. Peixotto's drawing of Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia
This Open Culture article is from April, but sharing good news about public domain images is something that shouldn't be bound by time. (In other words, better late than never!)  Smithsonian Open Access provides now provides new platforms and tools, which give "easier access to more than 4.5 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections—with many more to come. This includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s 21 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo." (Smithsonian) Note that you can search and retrieve only images that have CC0 licenses (free of copyright restrictions).

This is a collection that is worth bookmarking and using! Consider how you can connect images from the past to events that are happening today, which could help you broaden the media that you are using.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Controlled Digital Lending and Libraries: A follow-up to Hachette v Internet Archive

Right now libraries are under pressure from several different forces including those who want to limit access to specific topics (e.g., critical race theory, LGBTQ, parts of U.S. history, etc.) and publishers who are focused on what a library is, digitization, and digital books. You might feel like hiding your head in the sand, but not is not the time for that. Knowing what has happened and what is happening is important.  

It is with that in mind that I'm sharing these posts/articles that provide links to articles/commentary on the on Hachette v Internet Archive decision. Read them, skim them, save them for later...just don't ignore this, because we can't have publishers using this decision as a further step in limiting what libraries can do.



Monday, April 24, 2023

Article: Born to be authors: the copyright of the child

This article - Born to be authors: the copyright of the child - describes a prospective research project by Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference.  

I think that we rarely talk about children as creators who may hold copyright in their words, so I'm thrilled to see that Dr. Frabboni is focused on this.  My belief is that we need to teach children to value and respect each other's work as a step towards then teaching them about copyright. Would I teach a five year old about copyright law? No, but I would teach that child about the value of their creativity and the creativity of others. As that child gets older, they will be able to learn more about their rights in their work and the rights of others. If taught well, then we would have adults who are much more knowledgeable about the law. (Wouldn't that be awesome!)

I look forward to hearing more about Dr. Frabboni's research. I hope it is widely circulated!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

New Book: Complete Copyright for K–12 Librarians and Educators, Second Edition

Can you have too many copyright books? Perhaps not!

Written by Carrie Russell, who worked with copyright law for over 20 years, this new edition of Complete Copyright for K–12 Librarians and Educators, Second Edition is scheduled to be release this spring (so any day?). Its description is:

Reflecting the dominance of digital technologies and networks across much of the country, this timely update of Russell's handbook demonstrates how school librarians and educators can effectively advance learning while respecting intellectual property law.

Particularly in places of learning, technology is all-pervasive; because everyone is always making copies, copyright is center stage. And copyright law, when misapplied or misinterpreted, affects not only the way that you teach but even what you teach. With decades of experience interpreting the intricacies of copyright law as it pertains to librarianship, Russell is the ideal authority to address the concerns of librarians, teachers, and teaching librarians who work in the K–12 environment. Her book will encourage you to stop allowing your fear of copyright issues to limit how and what you share or teach, and instead be more involved in shaping copyright law to better serve your learning community. Through scenario-based discussions, it covers key topics such as

  • the reasons librarians and teachers have so many misconceptions about copyright, and why understanding copyright is a process, not a one-time event;
  • recent legislative and policy developments that impact schools and libraries; 
  • situations often encountered by educators, such as using copyrighted material in class assignments, digital lesson plans, bulletin board displays, social media, school plays, and band performances and talent shows;
  • the use of licensed content in a variety of settings;
  • what constitutes "fair use," so that you can be empowered by knowing exactly what's possible within the law; and
  • guidance on making long-term strategic decisions and developing copyright policies.

The book is priced at $54.99 (ALA members, $49.49). Pre-ordering is available through the ALA website.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Webinar Resources: Developing Cultural Humility

Today I'm giving a webinar for the Finger Lakes Library System on cultural humility. This blog post is for them, so they have easy access to the resources I'm sharing. 

Webinar Description

New to your community is a large group of people from various cultures. When they come to the library, what happens? Are you excited? Anxious? Curious? Ready to learn? 

When we interact with library patrons, community members, and other staff, we are often moving among different cultures. Sometimes we move among various cultures without thinking about it. Other times, we recognize the cultural difference and are unsure how to bridge the divide. These interactions demonstrate the need to develop a life-long process of self-exploration and self-critique, along with a willingness to learn from others. This process, called “cultural humility,” helps us see beyond our own culture as we work to become culturally competent.   

No matter your community or library, you are working across cultures, including some that may not be apparent to you. In this webinar, we will explore what culture is and the process for developing cultural humility, while also creating a plan for expanding our knowledge of the apparent and hidden cultures in our communities.


 Presentation Resources

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Publisher Playbook: A Brief History of the Publishing Industry’s Obstruction of the Library Mission

 The pre-print of this new book is available.


Courtney, Kyle K. and Juliya Ziskina. 2023. "The Publisher Playbook: A Brief History of the Publishing Industry’s Obstruction of the Library Mission." Pre-print.


Libraries have continuously evolved their ability to provide access to collections in innovative ways. Many of these advancements in access, however, were not achieved without overcoming serious resistance and obstruction from the rightsholder and publishing industry. The struggle to maintain the library’s access-based mission and serve the public interest began as early as the late 1800s and continues through today. We call these tactics the "publishers' playbook." Libraries and their readers have routinely engaged in lengthy battles to defend the ability for libraries to fulfill their mission and serve the public good. The following is a brief review of the times and methods that publishers and rightsholder interests have attempted to hinder the library mission. This pattern of conduct, as reflected in ongoing controlled digital lending litigation, is not unexpected and belies a historical playbook on the part of publishers and rightsholders to maximize their own profits and control over the public’s informational needs. Thankfully, as outlined in this paper, Congress and the courts have historically upheld libraries’ attempts to expand access to information for the public’s benefit.


April 20: Digital Copyright book talk with Brewster Kahle and Jessica Litman

 From the Internet Archive. Register here.

April 20—Digital Copyright

Join Internet Archive’s founder BREWSTER KAHLE for a virtual book talk with author & professor of law JESSICA LITMAN.

In Digital Copyright, law professor Jessica Litman questions whether copyright laws crafted by lawyers and their lobbyists really make sense for the vast majority of us. Should every interaction between ordinary consumers and copyright-protected works be restricted by law? Is it practical to enforce such laws, or expect consumers to obey them? What are the effects of such laws on the exchange of information in a free society?
This discussion is co-sponsored by Authors Alliance.
April 20 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET

Friday, March 03, 2023

Sumposium: Exploring the Future of Digital Library Loans: Controlled Digital Lending, March 10 (in-person & virtual)

Details are below and at Note that registration will close on March 7.

Exploring the Future of Digital Library Loans: Controlled Digital Lending

 March 10 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm (EST)

Register here for the virtual only version of the symposium

Register here for the in-person version of the symposium. Lunch will be provided only to in-person attendees.

Join us in person or online for a one day symposium on controlled digital lending. You will learn what controlled digital lending is, where the concept came from, the technical aspects of how it works in the library, and the legal frameworks of controlled digital lending.

This symposium is being offered in a hybrid format. There are two registration pages - one for in-person, one for online. Please ensure you are on the correct page for the format you desire before registering.

The in-person version of the conference will be hosted at the Western New York Library Resources Council (Airport Commerce Park East, 4950 Genesee Street, Suite 170, Cheektowaga, NY 14225). Lunch will be provided.

Online registrants will receive the Zoom information one day prior to the event taking place. Live transcription and closed captioning will be provided via and Zoom.

Tom Bruno (University of Pennsylvania Libraries)
Charlie Barlow (Boston Library Consortium)
Reed Jones (State University of New York at Buffalo)
Sui Mei Grierson (State University of New York at Buffalo)


Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Stepping into the role of Executive Director of Widerstand Consulting

Tobin Miller Shearer

Tobin Miller Shearer entitled his post "Stepping down" and so it seems fitting that I use the words "Stepping into" as part of the title of my post, as I step into the role that Tobin has held as founder and executive director of Widerstand Consulting. Tobin is leaving the E.D. position due to his increased academic role at the University of Montana. So in May, I will step into shoes that have "walked the walk" or, in other words, talked about being antiracist while working to be antiracist and help others to do the same. Tobin is leaving large "shoes" for me to fill!

I have yet to find a written bio of Tobin that tells all he has been involved in. When looking at his CV as well as the books he's written, you can see the depth of his thinking and work. However, his CV doesn't show his non-academic work, work with non-profits, or all of anti-racism efforts. He's being doing this work for a long time, including working with the Damascus Road Antiracism Process, Roots of Justice, and then founding Widerstand.

What is Widerstand Consulting?

Widerstand (pronounced wider-stand) was born out of a long history of antiracism work done by Tobin and others, and in response to requests for antiracism consulting and training in the wake of the racial justice events of 2020. Widerstand is a 501(c)(3) with a majority BIPOC1 board of directors and a consulting team of folks with a breadth of identities, experience, and industry expertise. In Widerstand, interracial teams are the norm and not the exception.

Widerstand Consulting logo

While Widerstand, as an organization, is relatively new, the folks within Widerstand are not new to this work. In fact, I am impressed by the decades of antiracism work some folks have done with non-profits, libraries, and religious groups.  Some are involved in several groups that are focused on this work, because they understand the importance of this effort.

Widerstand is hired by organizations that want to understand how they can be more antiracist. For them, Widerstand conducts antiracism audits. In addition, Widerstand provides online and in-person training, and consulting services.  

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Widerstand re-invests at least 50% of its net income in BIPOC-led racial justice groups.That is an amazing commitment!

By the way, besides its website, Widerstand has a presence on Facebook and Twitter. When you sign-up for the free resources on the Widerstand website, you will also be registered to receive its monthly newsletter.

What will I be doing?

Jill Hurst-Wahl
I've already been meeting with members of the Widerstand team and getting to know everyone, asking what their vision for Widerstand is, and getting a sense for our capacity. We know that the need for the work we do is great and we know Widerstand can do more.

On a day-to-day basis, I will talk with prospective clients, check-in on current projects, ensure that the Widerstand teams have the resources they need, and work with our staff and board members, including our treasurer. The Widerstand team is geographically dispersed. Thankfully negotiating different time zones is not a problem for me!

I have been on an antiracism audit team which specifically conducts antiracism audits for libraries, and I'll continue that work. (Widerstand also does antiracism audits for other types of organizations.) Those audits help an organization understand where it is on its journey of becoming  an antiracist organization and how it can continue to move forward.

What about the rest of my work (and this blog)?

Widerstand now becomes part of what I do and I will continue to do other work, including consulting projects, webinars, serving on committees, etc. Yes, I'll continue to think, write, and teach about copyright. I am and will be a busy person.  It seems that being busy is what I enjoy! What this has done, though, is made me think about "how busy" I want to be. And in that regard, I know that I need to be mindful of balancing work, friends, and family. 

As for this blog, it will continue. From 2018-2022, I've averaged 72 blog posts per year, and I hope to continue that trend. And, yes, I will keep most of those posts focused on copyright, digital assets, and libraries.

If you have read this far, thank you! Unknowingly, you have been on a journey with me and I hope you will continue walking with me through this blog.

1 This acronym stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. This is person-first language, which shifts away from terms like “marginalized” and “minority.” The phrase “People of Color” is a broad term, which includes those who are Black or African American, East Asian, Hispanic, Latinx, South Asian, and Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

eCourse: U.S. Copyright Law in the Library: A Beginner's Guide, April 17-May 28

I'm pleased to again be offering a six-week online course in copyright law for library staff. The course is being given through ALA and will run from April 17 to May 28. Registration for this spring 2023 course is open at Information about the course is below and at the link above.

Whenever I teach copyright, I always update the material. Besides those updates, I'm looking forward to encouraging participants to form their own communities that are focused on understanding and applying copyright law.  As with everything else in life, being part of a community is always helpful!

The library is a hub of content, all of it subject to copyright law. The legal reality of copyright is dynamic—changes in technology have created a landscape that is constantly adapting and can be difficult to predict. If you don't have any formal training in copyright law, it can be intimidating to know how to answer your patrons' copyright questions and to know what you can and cannot do with your library’s content and resources. It can be tough to understand the line between providing information and answering a legal question.

In this eCourse, consultant, speaker, writer, and educator Jill Hurst-Wahl guides you through the basics of copyright law and provides you with the foundation to become your library's copyright expert.

Each week, you'll learn how copyright law informs what libraries, library staff, and patrons can do with their materials and how you can stay up-to-date as this area evolves. You'll be able to check and affirm your knowledge through focused self-assessments.

After participating in this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the basics of copyright law
  • Evaluate whether or not a work is copyrightable
  • Determine if a work is still under copyright protection
  • Appraise whether a work can be used under Fair Use
  • Understand how to locate additional information on U.S. Copyright Law
  • Assist a member of the community or library staff in understanding the real meaning of Fair Use

If you have questions or requests regarding accessibility, contact us at or at 312-280-5100.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Article: Librarians Are Finding Thousands Of Books No Longer Protected By Copyright Law

 This is a fascinating article, so read it all and the details matter. As a teaser:

According to Greg Cram, associate general counsel and director of information policy at [New York Public Library], an initial overview of books published in that period shows that around 65 to 75 percent of rights holders opted not to renew their copyrights. 

If this project can get a firm handle on what from 1923 and 1964 is in the public domain, that will benefit all of us. A flood of new works would enter the public domain. Imagine the history and literature that would instantly be available. The result would be fantastic!

Vermont State University to move to a digital-only library

Academic libraries are becoming places that contain many different things to support the academic life of the campus, and that means books need to be moved. Many academic libraries are moving physical books out of their open stacks, placing those books in closed stacks, and then often delivering materials digitally to students and faculty upon request.  So the move to digital is happening. That means the news from Vermont State University should not be a surprise.

Vermont State University seems to moving to digital as a way of cutting costs (i.e., financial sustainability).  As this article states, this move:

...involves eliminating all physical resources in the university’s libraries and transitioning to a digital-only library. Books, collections and other materials are set to be redistributed, in part to community members, according to an FAQ published by the university

The FAQ states:

This was a data-driven decision. The libraries of Vermont State University have seen year-over-year declines in circulation of physical materials. We also met with and surveyed students. What we heard was that students need and want access to library resources where they are, whether on or off campus. Students also want to see physical libraries repurposed to better suit their needs.

Sadly, I suspect that all of the works the academic programs need will not be available in digital format. I wonder how VSU will handle that?

Question: As you digitize materials and license more digital assets, is a digital-only library in your future? If that is a possibility, are you preparing your leadership, staff, and patrons for the transition?  Have you spent time envisioning what a digital-only library might be like, perhaps as a way of thinking about the "distant" future? If yes, how is that informing what you're doing today?

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Feb. 7 webinar: Copyright and Fair Use in Academic Libraries

Jill Hurst-Wahl
On Feb. 7, I'm giving a copyright webinar for Lyrasis. Details are below and registration is still open.

Ahead of the webinar, Lyrasis has written an instructor spotlight about me, which I hope helps folks understand ta bit about me and why I love talking about copyright.

Feb. 7, 2023, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. ET: Copyright and Fair Use in Academic Libraries. Webinar for LYRASIS. 

While U.S. copyright law changes slowly, what does change is how we think about the application of that law to situations in our libraries. This webinar will use common scenarios to discuss the application of fair use in academic libraries, including digital lending in a controlled environment (a.k.a. CDL), the use of digital resources, interacting with students and faculty on fair use in photocopying, and much more. Basic copyright information will be provided, so that everyone enters the scenarios with similar knowledge. There will be time for participant questions throughout.

This webinar will use interactive components to allow participants to apply what they are learning to their own situations.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

New York State Legislation Makes Available Tools and Parts to Enable Consumer to Fix Their Own Electronic Devices

 On Dec. 28, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul "signed the Digital Fair Repair Act (S4104-A/A7006-B) into law making New York the first state in the nation to guarantee the right to repair, protecting consumers from anticompetitive efforts to limit repair." Full-text of the bill is available on the State Senate's website. The act takes effect one year after it became law. According to Consumer Reports, this act only applies "to digital devices that are sold or used in New York state after July 1, 2023."  So this does not, for example, apply to farm equipment, which was the subject of my last post. Yes, this legislation is a step forward, but it is only a step. We need broader right to repair guarantees.

Article: Deere gives farmers long-sought ability to repair their own tractors

Good news - John Deere has bowed to pressure and will let farmers repair John Deere equipment themselves.

US farmers will have the right to repair tractors and other agricultural equipment from John Deere without having to use the manufacturer’s own parts and facilities, under an agreement the company signed Sunday with farm industry representatives. 

Yes, this is good news for farmers because they need to be able to repair their equipment quickly, especially during the growing season or their crops will be lost.

Bad news?

First, this is for farmers and not for other folks who might own John Deere equipment. (I owned a John Deere garden tractor many years ago and this would not have covered me.)

Second, this MOU is not permanent and can be retracted.

Third, in it the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) "agrees to encourage state Farm Bureau organizations to recognize the commitments made in this MOU and refrain from introducing, promoting, or supporting federal or state "Right to Repair" legislation that imposes obligations beyond the commitments in this MOU. In the event any state or federal legislation or regulation relating to issues covered by this MOU and/or "Right to Repair" is enacted, each of AFBF and Manufacturer reserve the right, upon fifteen (15) days written notice, to withdraw from this MOU." So this agreement turns Farm Bureau organizations into advocates against the right to repair.

It will be interesting to see how this agreement impacts non-farmers and the right to repair movement. Let's hope that the right to repair movement ignores any pressure this MOU might create on it.


Thursday, January 05, 2023

New from Canada: Canada extends copyright protection for 20 more years under new trade obligation

In keeping with a trade deal made with the U.S., Canada has extended copyright protection for "any author, composer or screenwriter whose works would have been added to the public domain between now and 2043, meaning for 20 years nothing new will be added to the public domain in Canada."(Global News) Tech Dirt argues that instead of extending copyright protections, government should be decreasing the length of time a work is protected. Clearly, that isn't something that creatives - like those who make millions on their works - want.


Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Internet Archive celebrates Public Domain Day in 2023 (Jan. 19 & 20)

Below is an invitation from the Internet Archive (IA) to celebration Public Domain Day with them. The events are open to all and are free to attend. I've been to a few online IA events and they definitely know how to celebrate!

People dancing with the text "the best things in life are free"

The moon belongs to everyone, so says the 1927 hit musical composition, “The Best Things In Life Are Free.” We agree! In January of 2023, a treasure trove of new cultural works will become as free as the moon and the stars, and we at Internet Archive, Creative Commons and many other leaders from the open world plan to throw a party to celebrate!

Next year, works published in 1927 will join the myriad creative building blocks of our shared culture heritage. The public domain will grow richer with books from authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Marcel Proust, and Virginia Woolf, silent film classics like the controversial The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson and Fritz Lang’s dystopian Metropolis, and snappy musical compositions like You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream.

You can welcome new public domain works and party with us two ways:

Join us for a virtual party on January 19, 2023 at 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern time where we will celebrate our theme, The Best Things In Life Are Free, with a host of entertainers, historians, librarians, academics, activists and other leaders from the open world, including additional sponsoring organizations Library Futures, SPARC, Authors Alliance, Public Knowledge, and the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain. REGISTER FOR THE VIRTUAL EVENT HERE!

The Internet Archive will also host an in-person Film Remix Contest Screening Party on January 20, 2023 at 6pm at 300 Funston Ave in San Francisco. We will celebrate 1927 as founding year of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, while watching this year’s Public Domain Day Remix Contest winning entries, eating popcorn and ice cream. Come dressed in your best golden age of Hollywood inspired costume and walk the red carpet with the Internet Archive as we celebrate the entry of “talkies” into the public domain. REGISTER FOR THE IN-PERSON PARTY IN SAN FRANCISCO HERE!