University of Arkansas library suspends Washington Free Beacon’s research privileges

The Washington Free Beacon has been combing through document archives at the University of Arkansas for a series of stories about Hillary Clinton.  This week, however, the University of Arkansas suspended the WFB‘s research privileges for violating library policies.  In particular, according to a letter from library dean Carolyn Henderson Allen, the WFB‘s unauthorized publication of materials from the collection violates library policies and infringes upon the university’s intellectual property rights in the relevant materials.  The letter further demands that the WFB remove all of the offending materials from its website and return all copies of materials obtained from the library’s special collections.

The WFB‘s attorneys have responded with forceful letter of their own, challenging the library’s claims. Specifically, the letter claims that copies of the relevant materials were provided to WFB reporters without condition, and that publication of the relevant materials constitutes fair use.  It further suggests the library is acting contrary to the principles of the American Library Association and may even contravene relevant state law.  The WFB suggests the library’s letter is in response to its publication of unflattering stories about Hillary Clinton, and notes that Dean Allen was a donor to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Here’s more on the story from Politicowhich reports that the library is not threatening any legal action at this time.  For what it’s worth, the relevant policies, referenced on the special collections permission form, do provide that permission must be obtained before materials from special collections may be published.

UPDATE: Business Insider has more on the dispute.

 

Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in constitutional, administrative, and environmental law at the Case Western University School of Law, where he is the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation.

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Eugene Volokh · June 20, 2014