User Rights Network Symposium: Protecting Copyright User Rights from Contractual Override

Public Symposium: May 18, 2023 - REGISTRATION
Private Workshops: May 16-19, 2023

American University Washington College of Law
American University Washington College of Law

The American University Washington College of Law Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP), the American Library Association, and the Association of Research Libraries are hosting a Global Symposium on Protecting User Rights from Contractual Override during this year’s annual meeting of the Global Expert Network on Copyright User Rights.

Symposium Theme 

It is a well-accepted principle in international and domestic copyright law that the rights of users are a fundamental part of the system. But what if the license under which the user obtains access to content inhibits the use that copyright law otherwise permits? International and domestic copyright are dealing with the problem of restrictions on user rights in a piecemeal fashion. The most recent multilateral copyright treaty, the Marrakesh Treaty, requires that Contracting Parties protects user rights to make accessible copies from override by technological measures, but does not address contract. Recent European Union directives require Member States to prohibit the enforcement of contract terms that restrict exercise of some of the exceptions mandated by those directives. Some individual countries (e.g. Singapore) have adopted protections from contractual override that apply to a broader range of exceptions. Despite having perhaps the most flexible and useful copyright exception in the world, the United States provides very little in the way of protection of fair uses from contractual or technological override.

The symposium will explore three questions:

  1. Why have some jurisdictions adopted protections from contract override and not others?
  2. What impacts have protections from contract override had on both licensors and licensees in the jurisdictions where they have been adopted?
  3. In jurisdictions where protections from contract override have not been adopted, such as the United States, are there alternative legal theories that could have the same effect? 

May 16. Private Workshops and Meetings of the User Rights Network

Members of the User Rights Network may apply to book a room to hold private meetings and workshops of committees and projects. 

May 17. User Rights Network Business Meetings (Private)

Morning: Workshop on Empirical Research on the Impact of Copyright Exceptions


  • Econometric analysis of the impact of research exceptions on TDM research 1990-2021, Joan-Josep Vallbé, University of Barcelona

Surveys and Interviews

  • A global survey of TDM researchers, Pat Aufderheide, American University and Bandon Butler, University of Virginia
  • Surveys of Researchers in the EU, Teresa Nobre, Communia
  • Surveys of Researchers in Latin America, Alice Lana, Internetlab, Brazil

Statutory and Case Law Mapping

  • Mapping Education and Preservation Exceptions, Mike Palmedo and PIJIP Fellows
  • To what extent is the parody exception truly harmonized? An empirical analysis of the Member States’ case law post-Deckmyn, Estelle Derclaye

Afternoon: Workshop on IP Research Center Projects on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions

  • Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam
  • University of Ottawa Centre for Law, Technology and Society;
  • University of Cape Town IP Unit
  • CREATe, University of Glasgow

May 18, Public Symposium: Protecting Copyright User Rights from Contractual Override

The main public event will take place on May 18 from 9am to 5pm, followed by a reception for speakers and special guests. In general, speakers will be arranged in topical discussion panels with active moderation. Each speaker will be given a specific question to answer based on their paper or presentation proposal and are invited to summarize their work or reflection for a maximum of 6 minutes (and one or two slides) each. The moderator will then facilitate an active discussion with all the panel members on the main questions of the symposium noted in the Synopsis. 


  • Welcome and Introduction
  • Panel I. What is the Contract Override Problem? 
  • Panel II. Enacted Legislative Solutions to the Contract Override Problem
  • Panel III. Possible Solutions in Other Jurisdictions
  • Panel IV. Possible Solutions in the United States
  • Dinner Reception  


  • Bita Amani, Queen’s University
  • Jon Band, Library Copyright Alliance
  • Lila Bailey, Internet Archive
  • Maja Bogataj Jancic, Intellectual Property Institute
  • Mike Carroll, American University Washington College of Law
  • Pascale Chapdelaine, University of Windsor Faculty of Law
  • Margaret Chon, Seattle University School of Law
  • Kyle K. Courtney, Harvard University
  • Naama Daniel, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Federmann Cyber Security Research Center – Cyber Law Program
  • Jeremy Debeer, University of Ottawa
  • Estelle Derclaye, Univ. Nottingham
  • David Fewer, University of Ottawa
  • Sean Flynn, American University Washington College of Law
  • Lucie Guibault, Dalhousie University, Schulich School of Law
  • Dave Hansen, Authors Alliance
  • Rowena Johnson, Canadian Association of Research Libraries
  • Ariel Katz, University of Toronto, Faculty of Law
  • Corynne McSherry, Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Cesar Ramirez-Montes, Leeds University 
  • Graham Reynolds, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia, Canada
  • Guy Rub, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
  • Sanya Samtani, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Pamela Samuelson, Berkeley Law School
  • Luca Schirru, CiTiP - KU Leuven
  • Tobias Schonwetter, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Martin Sentfleben, IVIR, University of Amsterdam
  • Joan Josep Vallbé, University of Barcelona
  • Luis Villarroel, Innovarte (Invited)
  • Benjamin White, Bournemouth University / Knowledge Rights 21
  • Leanne Wiseman, Griffith University, Brisbane Australia 

May 19, Private Invite-Only Workshops

9:30 - 3:30: Contract Override, Hosted by Library Copyright Alliance

All speakers at the symposium are invited to join a closed invite-only policy strategy workshop chaired by the Library Copyright Alliance, a partnership of the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries. That workshop will survey U.S. and international policy forums where protections from contract override of users rights are or could be discussed. 

4:00: Members Meeting, Global Expert Network on Copyright User Rights

Members of the Global Expert Network on Copyright User Rights are invited to attend the annual meeting to confirm new members and consider amendments to and actions guided by our bylaws. All invited speakers at the Symposium are invited to attend and to consider applying to join the network. Apply to join the User Rights network here.

5:00: Reception

Acceptance of Invitation and Travel Support

Application to present or attend. To accept an invitation to present at the Symposium or to attend as a member of the User Rights Network, please complete this form by March 1, 2023. 

Lodging scholarships. The Project on the Right to Research in International Copyright will cover all costs of meals and other expenses at the venue with no registration charge. 

Speaker lodging scholarships: All invited speakers are offered up to 3 nights accommodation at a downtown Washington D.C. hotel with easy metro access to AUWCL and to area airports. We will also supply a very limited number of full travel scholarships (air+lodging, no per diem) based on available funding. We request participants with access to institutional travel funding to consider co-sponsoring their lodging and we will allocate those expenses to our scholarship pool to assist those in need of full travel scholarships. Please note that we do not cover local travel (e.g. transfers), meals not provided at the venue, or incidental costs of attendance.