Mass Digitization Pilot Program



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, published in June 2015, 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 published a Federal Register notice inviting public comment regarding the structure and operation of an ECL system. In response, the Office received over eighty written comments from a variety of interested parties. In September 2017, the Office submitted a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees summarizing the comments received. The letter concludes that there currently is a lack of stakeholder consensus on key elements of an ECL pilot program and that any proposed legislation therefore would be premature at this time. The Office stands ready to assist stakeholders in developing a consensus‐based legislative framework should Congress wish to pursue further discussion in this area.