By Lizzie Devitt

On June 2, 2020, Duke Libraries’ David Hansen testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property during a hearing on Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) on a panel that also featured music legend Don Henley. Hansen opened his testimony stating, “Our mission as a university and research libraries is almost identical to that of the Copyright Act. Ultimately, our goal is to help our nation better understand each other and the world around us.”

He explained that Duke is a service provider that operates a large network, which serves as the technological backbone to education and research materials as well as provides vital health care information. “At Duke, we straddle all sides of Section 512,” Hansen said, in being both a service provider and content producer and stated that, in general, the current framework is balanced.

Hansen went on to note that higher education has been essential to copyright law over the years and expressed hope that research and teaching will not be an afterthought in Congress’ decision related to Section 512 of the DMCA. “We aim to get people to engage with those works, usually with no financial return. Given our interest in widespread dissemination of ideas, our strong preference is a system that keeps content up online unless there is significant evidence that infringement has occurred.”

Especially during the coronavirus pandemic where instruction has moved online, Hansen pointed out that “denying a student access to the network can be debilitating… Given how dependent we all are on internet access, I encourage the committee to consider whether termination of internet access continues to be an accurate remedy.”

“I realize that some stakeholders believe that Section 512 needs significant change, I hope that the subcommittee will understand the unintended consequences that it will have on research and teaching.”