In 2011, the Copyright Office released “Legal Issues in Mass Digitization: A Preliminary Analysis and Discussion Document" to begin assessing ways to facilitate and support mass digitization projects while appropriately balancing the interests and concerns of copyright owners. The following year, the Office began an in-depth study of this issue, and the related issue of orphan works. As part of its subsequent Orphan Works and Mass Digitization Report, the Office proposed the creation of a limited “pilot program” that would establish a legal framework known as extended collective licensing (ECL) for certain mass digitization activities. The ECL pilot program recommended by the Office would enable users to digitize and provide access to certain works for research and education purposes under conditions to be agreed upon between rightsholder and user representatives.
Because the success of any such pilot program depends on the voluntary involvement of both copyright owners and users, the Office will continue to engage with the public on how best to develop the specific legislative framework necessary to create a pilot program. The Office invites public comment on several issues regarding the practical operation of such a system. The Office will then seek to facilitate further discussion through stakeholder meetings and, if necessary, additional requests for written comment. Based on this input, the Office will draft a formal legislative proposal for Congress’s consideration.