ARCHIVED: Participation in the Study of the Promotion of Distance Education

PrintEmail

December 7, 1998

Ms. Shira Perlmutter
Associate Register for Policy and International Affairs
Office of the Register
James Madison Memorial Building
Room LM-403
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

Dear Ms. Perlmutter:

I write to you today on behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries to express our interest in participating fully in the process which the Copyright Office is undertaking in its study of the promotion of distance education, as required by Section 403 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) was founded in 1906 to promote and enhance the value of law libraries to the legal and public communities, to foster the profession of law librarianship, and to provide leadership in the field of legal information. Today, with over 5000 members nationwide, the Association represents law librarians and related professionals who are affiliated with a wide range of institutions: law firms; law schools; corporate legal departments; courts; and local, state and federal government agencies.

AALL has worked with the Copyright Office during the past two years on issues relating to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and we have participated as well in both congressional hearings and negotiating sessions. We remain committed to promoting and protecting the rights of the public to take optimum advantage of the transfer and use of digital information through digital networks. The foundation upon which the Copyright Act exists is the delicate balance between the rights of copyright owners and the public's need to access information in published or publicly available works.

We strongly believe that the limited exemption for traditional broadcast technology in Section 110 should be updated to include new rights of reproduction and distribution of digital information through interactive digital networks for the purpose of distance education. We look forward to assisting you in your important task of exploring and analyzing the eight comprehensive issues summarized in the Federal Register notice of November 16, 1998 regarding this study.

Our members serve in academic law libraries, law firms, government agencies and court libraries-- all have a stake in the outcome of this important study. I'd like to give you a brief snapshot of areas in which our institutions are exploring and experimenting with new models of distance education through the Internet. The Technology Committee of the American Bar Association (ABA) has drafted "Principles for Distance Education" that encourage law schools to experiment with various models of distance learning. Their ultimate objective is to develop guidelines for the use of distance educational technologies to submit to the ABA's Standards Review Committee. On another front, to assist your review of issues and challenges that the library community is facing in providing information services to students in college and university distance education programs, I recommend The Journal of Library Services for Distance Education (http://www.westga.edu/library/jlsde/).

Perhaps one of the most cutting edge legal education programs currently available is the one offered at Regent Law School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Regent is the first to offer a distance learning LL.M. in International Taxation that is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (http://www.regent.edu/acad/schlaw/llm/home.html). Here is a brief overview of this innovative program, as described on their Web site:

Keeping in step with modern communication for business and professionals, the program's courses, teaching and research are electronically delivered through the internet.

The curriculum comprises courses in offshore financial centers, global tax planning of companies and individuals, treaty structuring, and many specialist fields, like asset protection and intellectual property.

The faculty resides both at Regent Law School, as well as around the world through the internet. The faculty, consisting of law professors, tax professionals, and Revenue officials, lectures weekly through chat rooms and is available by email for course specific questions.

Research may be undertaken through electronic databases provided by Regent Law School, including those of the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD), Tax Analysts, RIA, Lexis-Nexis, WESTLAW, International Fiscal Services (IFS), Foreign Tax Law Publishers, amongst others. Also, through email, you have access to the Regent law library consisting of approximately 300,000 volumes.

Finally, students network with each other through the internet campus, and also in person during a short residency.

Other law schools are developing distance learning through the Internet for special programs, such as graduate, clinical or Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs. In addition, law firms engage in distance education as a means of legal training for staff and professionals at their branch offices that can be located in different states or even distant countries. Law firms are also beginning to experiment with distance learning programs in the for-profit setting as they develop educational programs for their clients.
Other law schools are developing distance learning through the Internet for special programs, such as graduate, clinical or Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs. In addition, law firms engage in distance education as a means of legal training for staff and professionals at their branch offices that can be located in different states or even distant countries. Law firms are also beginning to experiment with distance learning programs in the for-profit setting as they develop educational programs for their clients. Other law schools are developing distance learning through the Internet for special programs, such as graduate, clinical or Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs. In addition, law firms engage in distance education as a means of legal training for staff and professionals at their branch offices that can be located in different states or even distant countries. Law firms are also beginning to experiment with distance learning programs in the for-profit setting as they develop educational programs for their clients.

We appreciate the opportunity to continue to work closely with the Copyright Office during the next few months as you proceed through the various steps, as outlined in our November 20, 1998 meeting with you, for this important study on distance learning. Please don't hesitate to contact me for any additional information or assistance as you continue to collect information and plan hearings for early next year. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Robert L. Oakley
American Association of Law Libraries
Washington Affairs Representative