Adventures in Copyright (Part 1)

The following is the first offering of a multi part series on Copyright that will be published over the next month.

In library circles it’s a dirty word.
When I use the word “copyright” in my professional capacity, it is usually when I am trying to convince someone to desist from something, preferably immediately.  As a librarian, it is my least favorite conversation.  I’m sure you hate having it as well.  And copyright probably comes up far more often than you would like.  I don’t know about you, but the reason I hate the conversation is because there is so much debate about what copyright law is exactly and how it works.

Copyright law can be loosely defined as the combination of laws governing the rights of the producers or owners regarding the use, sale and availability of works. As professionals, we work with copyright material every day.  We also rely on a number of exceptions written into copyright law that apply specifically to libraries in order to serve our patron’s needs. Copyright is not just the law that protects the owners rights. It is also a framework that allows for fair use or license agreements with people who want to use what they created (Us!).

Deceptively straightforward looking, isn’t it?
Sorry to burst your bubble.  Those of you who breathed a sigh of relief upon reading the last paragraph will be distressed to learn that the copyright landscape is changing in a number of significant ways.  By “changes”, of course, I mean lawsuits.
There are two recent cases in particular which we as a profession should be looking at very closely.  The first is  Authors Guild,Inc. v. HathiTrust. The second, the  Google Books case, is currently before the Supreme Court.  Both have significant implications regarding the role of technology, accessibility and the transformational nature of fully searchable titles. There have also been rumblings of changes coming from the Legislative branch of the Government.  The times, they are a’changing (was that a copyright violation?  Read on!)

The Honorable Maria A. Pallante (who is the U.S. Register of Copyrights) gave a well-received lecture at Columbia Law last year. Her remarks set off a firestorm of discussion. Her basic position is that the law governing copyright needs an overhaul. Changes in technology have always driven changes in copyright law.  Usually, law has lagged behind somewhat.  In the past, when technology did not change quite so quickly, that lag was a drag race between a souped-up hot rod and a VW bug.  In the last few decades however, the lag is more like a bicycle trying to keep pace with a space shuttle.
Not surprisingly, Congress has been holding hearings on this subject in the last year. Sources in the know have hinted that a series of bill will be introduced in the near future. These bills will amend copyright law for the first time since 1976 (legislation passed in 1976 but effective date was January, 1978).  As a point of reference, 1976 was the year that Steve Wozniak designed a single board computer for hobbyists called the “Apple 1”.  Everyone take a moment now to glance at your i-phone and marvel at the fact that we are working off legislation that was created when the fanciest technology available looked like something from The Flintstones.


I am an unabashed policy nerd, so I am looking forward to the upcoming opportunities for public comment.  While this definition of excitement may call into question my quality of life, I think that, in this instance, the entire profession really ought to be excited about this opportunity. Because 2016 will be an election year (and we all know how much legislation gets passed in an election year), this next cycle may be the next window for quite some time in which THE LAW MIGHT ACTUALLY CHANGE.  Look at your i-phone again.  Think of that vintage 1976 Rube Goldberg device you just saw.  Judging by the historical record of copyright revision, this is possibly the only time in our professional careers that copyright law will be rewritten. Think of what you do daily at work.  You make decisions about purchasing information and granting access to information.  You help people find and use information.  You are the information guide and sherpa.   Your voice, the voice of the library professionals, is the most knowledgeable voice in the arena of the use of copyrighted information.  Shouldn’t it logically be the loudest voice in the debate over what the laws that govern copyright say?

Yes, it should be.  It should be (I say loudly with exclamation points)!  We, the librarians, the information lighthouses that lead the meandering ships of knowledge seekers towards safe shores, we should be the ones advocating for changes in antiquated laws!
We should advocate the heck out of it! And other, stronger, words! Think of every time you’ve been confounded by usage, every time you’ve had to warn someone (using very sharp words) to read but not copy under pain of death by copyright infringement lawsuit.  We have a duty to our library patrons, our profession, and (dare I say it) to our own sanity to advocate for laws that actually reflect the technology that we are using.
Don’t touch that dial (as they used to say in the days when our current copyright laws were written). I will be keeping all of you informed of opportunities for public comment as the process of revision goes forward in Congress.  Stay tuned to this station (or blog in the current technological parlance) for part 2 of our series on Copyright!

-Rachel Englander


Workshop Announcement: Alternative Revenue Streams: Development, Fundraising, and Grant Writing for Libraries

Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Library Development and Services will be hosting a workshop and panel discussion called “Alternative Revenue Streams: Development, Fundraising, and Grant Writing for Libraries.” The event will include a panel discussion by development and fundraising specialists from across the state, an introduction to and presentation on Finding Funders by Maryland’s Foundation Center Funding Information Network Supervisors, a lightning round discussion of fundraising events that have succeeded and failed, and a grant writing workshop focused on developing a specific idea or project into a grant proposal that can be used to win grants and entice funders.

The program will take place at Miller Library on September 9 from 9am to 4pm. The day’s agenda is attached. You can register here.

Please contact Rocco DeBonis with any questions at




Rocco DeBonis
LSTA Grant Coordinator
Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Library Development and Services
200 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore MD 21201
410.767.0437 phone | 410.333.2507 fax |

Head of Content Acquisitions and Management


Head of Content Acquisitions and Management
Georgetown University Law Library

The Head of Content Acquisitions and Management is responsible for the supervision and management of all aspects of acquisitions and serials operations, which includes ordering and receipt of library materials in all formats, implementing collection management policies, and overseeing vendor relations and purchasing/licensing agreements.  This position directly supervises seven staff in the library’s Acquisitions and Collection Care department.

The Head of Content Acquisitions and Management also plays a key role in the assessment and management of the library’s collection.  This includes coordinating the selection and de-selection of library materials; compiling and reporting statistical data for collection assessment; coordinating and pursuing intercampus and interlibrary collaborative collection development opportunities; and working cooperatively with subject selectors, staff across all departments in the library, and faculty to provide access to information.

Master’s degree from an ALA-accredited school of library and/or information studies, or equivalent; strong supervisory skills; excellent written and verbal communication skills; at least two years of collection development experience; familiarity with integrated library systems.


Law library experience or familiarity with legal publishing trade and vendors; Acquisitions experience; JD or equivalent.
Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications.
To apply for this position, please submit applications via the Georgetown University Jobs website by using Job Number 20141165. Address applications to Stacy Queen, and include a cover letter, a current resume, and the names and contact information for three references. 

Review of applications will begin on August 6, 2014 and continue until the position is filled.

Georgetown University is an EOE/AA employer.  


Reference Librarian – Venable LLP


Venable LLP, one of the top 100 law firms in the U.S., is seeking a Reference Librarian to be responsible for daily operations of the Baltimore office reference desk.  Responsibilities include working with other reference librarians at the firm conducting research, responding to research requests, and delivering in-house training and outreach to legal staff.


Requirements include a Master of Library Science degree and a minimum of two years library reference experience.  Law firm library experience is preferred but not required.


At Venable, employees enjoy a professional work environment, competitive compensation and a comprehensive benefits package.  We strive to foster a culture of teamwork, enrichment and work/life balance to allow our employees to grow professionally and thrive!


If this sounds like the right opportunity for you, we invite you to apply:


Venable LLP is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or protected Veteran status.

LLAM Dine Around in San Antonio

Join the LLAM Dine-Around in San Antonio
Saturday, July 12th at 6:30 pm

If you are you attending the 2014 AALL Annual Meeting & Conference in San Antonio, please consider joining the members of LLAM for the annual “LLAM Dine-Around.” This year, the group will meet at La Paloma Riverwalk, 215 Lasoya, on the San Antonio Riverwalk, which is a short distance from the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The reservation, under the name of “Maryland Law Librarians,” is for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday evening, July 12. We have requested a patio or Riverwalk table, if available. To view photos and a menu, visit Vegetarian options are offered. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to, so that the reservation can be amended to accommodate the actual size of our group. See you in Texas!

By: James G. Durham, Deputy Director of the Maryland State Law Library


404/File Not Found: Link Rot, Legal Citation and Projects to Preserve Precedent

SAVE THE DATE for this upcoming symposium about link rot that will be held at Georgetown University Law Library!

The Web is fluid and mutable, and this is a “feature” rather than a “bug”. But it also creates challenges in the legal environment (and elsewhere) when fixed content is necessary for legal writers to support their conclusions. Judges, attorneys, academics, and others using citations need systems and practices to preserve web content as it exists in a particular moment in time, and make it reliably available.

On October 24, 2014 Georgetown University Law Library in Washington, D.C. will host a symposium that explores the problem of link and reference rot.

Preliminary Agenda
•                 Keynote speech to contextualize the issues and discuss conflict between the naturally fluid state of the internet and the expectations by legal professionals that once something is published (in whatever form) that it should be static.
•                 Presentations and panel on “Whose problem is this?” with members from academia, government, the judiciary, law reviews
•                 The webmaster’s view – what pressures are there to continually change websites to reflect current look/feel trends, new usability technologies, etc. that contribute to link rot?
•                 Presentations and panel on current initiatives with members from organizations like The Chesapeake Project,,, etc. What tools exist, and what are the remaining needs?
•                 Wrap-up detailing current, pragmatic steps attendees can take upon going home.

Presenters include
•                 Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard University
•                 Robert Miller, Internet Archive
•                 Prof. Karen Eltis, University of Toronto Law School
•                 Rod Wittenberg, Reed Technology and Information Services
•                 Kim Dulin, Harvard University
•                 Carolyn Campbell, Georgetown University Law Library

We will post additional information as it gets finalized to the event webpage at:

Access 2 Justice LRI A Success!

LLAM’s All Access to Justice Legal Research Institute was held last Friday, March 21st at the University of Baltimore Angelos Law Center.  The event was a huge success; Kate Martin and her committee did a terrific job and we thank them for their efforts!

Librarians from across the state and all over the country convened at UB to learn about current issues and solutions for ensuring Access to Justice for all of our patrons. The programming covered the A2J topic from a variety of aspects; discussions included the basics of what Access to Justice is, how Public Libraries play a role in the future of the movement, what Private Law Librarians can do to advance the cause, the Academic Library’s role, and the type of assistance State and County Law Libraries should provide. The major theme throughout the day was that we need to remember we are librarians and while we can help a patron locate and utilize the correct resources, we must be careful not to give legal advice.

The number of Self-Represented Litigants (“SRLs”) in the country is growing for a variety of reasons and the Librarian’s role in helping them navigate the confusing and tumultuous legal landscape is an essential one.  It was exhilarating to gather with librarians from a variety of backgrounds and learn how each of us can contribute to this effort.

You can find more information, videos, slides, and PDFs of all of the handouts from the seminar HERE.

-Sara Thomas
Communications Committee Chair

We want to make next time even better! If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to give us some feedback about your conference experience at