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

Public Symposium: May 18, 2023 
Private Workshops: May 17 and 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? 

Background Paper: Jonathan Band. Protecting User Rights Against Contract Override 


9:00 - 5:00 | Yuma 401 | Zoom Webinar Link

The main public event will take place on May 18 from 9am to 5pm, followed by a reception. 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. 

9:00 Breakfast

9:30 Welcome and Introduction

  • Jonathan Band

9:45 Panel I. How Do Contracts Purport to Override User Rights?

  • Moderator: Michael Carroll, American University
  • Benjamin White, Bournemouth University/Knowledge Rights 21
  • Dave Hansen, Authors Alliance
  • Rowena Johnson, Canadian Association of Research Libraries
  • Lila Bailey, Internet Archive

10:50 Coffee

11:00 Panel II. Legislative Protections Enacted Overseas  

  • Moderator: Sean Flynn, American University
  • Jonathan Band, Library Copyright Alliance
  • Lucie Guibault, Dalhousie University, Schulich School of Law
  • Estelle Derclaye, University of Nottingham
  • Maja Bogataj Jancic, Intellectual Property Institute
  • Martin Sentfleben, IVIR, University of Amsterdam
  • Leanne Wiseman, Griffith University, Brisbane Australia

12:30 Lunch  

1:30 Panel III. Possible Protections in the United States  

  • Moderator: Christine Haight Farley, American University
  • Guy Rub, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
  • Pamela Samuelson, Berkeley Law School
  • Margaret Chon, Seattle University School of Law
  • Kyle K. Courtney, Harvard University
  • Corynne McSherry, Electronic Frontier Foundation

3:00 Break  

3:30 Panel IV. Possible Protections in Other Jurisdictions  

  • Moderator: Carys Craig, York University
  • Naama Daniel, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Cesar Ramirez-Montes, Leeds University
  • Pascale Chapdelaine, University of Windsor Faculty of Law
  • Bita Amani, Queen’s University
  • David Fewer, University of Ottawa
  • Graham Reynolds, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia, Canada
  • Ariel Katz, University of Toronto

5:00 Reception