Issues concerning libraries and the law - with latitude to discuss any other interesting issues Note: Not legal advice - just a dangerous mix of thoughts and information. Brought to you by Mary Minow, J.D., A.M.L.S. [California, U.S.] and Peter Hirtle, M.A., M.L.S. Follow us on twitter @librarylaw
Online service providers section http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/ has form to file for safe harbor for user generated content, as well as directory of institutions on file
Orphan works – including comments from SAA and others
By way of introduction, you might wonder: what is the Uniform Electronic
Legal Material Act (UELMA)?
UELMA was approved in July 2011 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform
State Laws (now the
Uniform Law Commission). UELMA addresses the challenges states face
in providing permanent public access to trustworthy electronic legal material. UELMA gives states a lot of flexibility. It does
not require them to make an online version of the law official. But if a state
does designate an online version as official, then UELMA requires that the
online version be:
Authenticated, by providing a method to determine that
it is unaltered;
Preserved, either in electronic or print form; and
Accessible, for use by the public on a permanent basis.
The types of legal materials that might be included in an UELMA
enactment are state constitutions, state session laws, codified laws, and
agency regulations which have the effect of law. lUELMA
also establishes a presumption that a state’s authenticated laws are accurate
copies, and that presumption applies in every state that has enacted UELMA. So
adopting UELMA will harmonize standards for acceptance of electronic legal
material across state boundaries.
If a state designates an online version of its primary legal materials as
official, UELMA’s preservation component requires provisions for backup and
recovery, and procedures to ensure the integrity and continued usability of the
When UELMA was first enacted, the
Government Relations Office (GRO) of the American Association of Law Libraries
(AALL) reached out to AALL members and chapters, looking for people to get
involved with promoting the passage of UELMA.
I had moved to Colorado in July, 2011. In November, the GRO
got in touch with me and asked if I would be the lead advocate in Colorado for
UELMA. I was really excited about UELMA and I said yes. The GRO sent me
position statements and FAQs and a contact in the Colorado Senate. It was about
then that I began to wonder what I had done.
I was entirely new to the state, had no personal relations
with any state legislators, stakeholders, librarians, Library groups, or anyone
else. But I read my materials and went off to meet the senator with all my
materials to ask for someone to sponsor the uniform law.
So what did I actually wind up doing, besides meeting with
the senator? I personally emailed every senator on the senate judiciary
committee and every representative on the house judiciary committee, explaining
what UELMA was, sending links, and offering to help. The senator who introduced
the bill asked for some further help with issues about disability access under
UELMA, and I sent her my comments.
No one else
took me up on my offer until a day in March 2012 when I got an email,
apologizing for the lateness and asking if I could testify before the Senate
Judiciary committee on UELMA the next day . Sadly I was on a business trip in California, so I called
the trusty GRO and asked for help. Together we put together a letter,
which I emailed in. It was a helpful letter, according to the sponsor. It was
read into the record. The bill passed the senate committee unanimously and was
sent to finance.
I sent legislators lots of information about the many ways
that documents can be authenticated because the Code of Colorado Regulations
online is the official version and if UELMA was passed in Colorado, it was
going to cost money to authenticate it. The bill sailed through the finance
committee and headed to the house. Without any help from me, it passed through
both committees in the house and went to the governor.
After UELMA was law, I got in touch with the agency that had
been given the job of implementing UELMA and sent them all of the information
the GRO had gathered on authentication and put them in contact with Michele
Timmons, the Minnesota Revisor of Statutes, who was working on an in-house
The key takeaways for me from this process were: you don’t need to know your legislators
or have a network in place in order to effect change and work within a new
system; there don’t need to be large groups of people involved; the GRO was an
amazing resource; and it wasn’t really that much work!
Other states have had a
much different road to enactment. For example, in California, an experienced
group of law librarian advocates worked closely with Uniform Law Commissioner
and Legislative Counsel of
California Diane Boyer-Vine to ensure enactment. Each story is different and some of these stories are
collected at Local Advocacy Networks: Adopting UELMA in
Your State and How You Can Help, by Catherine M. Dunn,
Head of Reference Services at
the University of Connecticut School of Law Library. There are wonderful
resources at the GRO’s UELMA
Resources page. AALL has also posted case studies about the Colorado
experiences written by me and Michele Finerty, Assistant Director for Technical Services at the Pacific McGeorge
School of Law.
Which states have enacted UELMA so far? In order of enactment: Colorado,
California, Minnesota, North Dakota, Hawai’i, Oregon, Connecticut and Nevada.
If your state has not already passed UELMA, think about getting
involved as an advocate. You can contact AALL’s
Government Relations Office or your local law library chapter. A few people
can really make a difference!