September 21, 2017

OITP Gets $630K for Copyright Work

By Norman Oder

Advocacy grant will fund outreach, education, international conference

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) has been awarded a three-year, $630,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation to support copyright advocacy.

The amount dwarfs previous grants and, said OITP head Rick Weingarten, “because it’s over longer time and a higher level, it’s really going to allow us to expand.” According to Weingarten, OITP will work to educate the library community about copyright, do more policy analysis, and do more outreach. “What we’re going to do is focus on high-quality, serious pieces of work. We’re preparing a resource kit for libraries, and some online tutorials for fall,” he said.

While OITP can’t spend the money for lobbying, the broader advocacy might help level the playing field. For example, Weingarten said OITP will spend a year investigating the new realm of digital rights management and its potential impact on libraries. Also, the grant will help OITP staff attend international forums and participate in amicus briefs in court cases; at the annual ALA conference this June, staffers will begin planning an international conference on fair use and the library community.

Grant monies will be used to hire consultants rather than add staff. The foundation, Weingarten said, is “concerned about the impact of copyright law on the ability of libraries to provide services.”