NWU and SFWA comments to the US Copyright Office on “Mass Digitization”

The NWU and our fellow writers of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) have filed joint comments with the US Copyright Office in response to a public inquiry concerning the possibility of a “pilot program” for mass digitization of written work through the legal device of “extended collective licensing” (ECL) and without the permisison of the writers of the works that would be scanned and made available online or in other digital formats.

Our comments enlarge on the objections to ECL as a basis for mass digitization that we raised when the Copyright Office first suggested this possibility.

Any ECL scheme, even as a “pilot program”, would be possible only if Congress changes the US Copyright Act to allow it.  Writers, readers, and librarians have all generally opposed authorizing ECL as a legal basis for mass digitzation. It’s not clear who, if anyone, supports the Copyright Office push for ECL legislation other than perhaps the copyright licensing agencies that would administer and earn a cut of the revenues from it.

Very few of the other comments submitted to the Copyright Office supported the ECL proposal.

We  expect that, as with other recent Copyright Office public inquiries, this first round of comments will be followed by public roundtable hearings and/or an opportunity for reply comments once the initial responses to the request for comments are made public.