One for the Public Domain

Perhaps this wouldn’t be quite as big a deal if:

  1. The public domain in the U.S. wasn’t currently in a state of suspended animation due to the Copyright Term Extension Act (do people still call it the Sonny Bono/Mickey Mouse Copyright Act?); and
  2. There weren’t those stories (not apocryphal, but perhaps not as common as one hears) about ASCAP going after scout troops for royalties.

But it IS a big deal. U.S. District Judge George H. King has ruled that “Happy Birthday” is in the public domain. And thus, the public domain has expanded by just a little bit. Not a huge victory, but I think we’ll take it.

The opinion is here. As noted in the article, the case isn’t over yet, and there is the possibility of an appeal – but still … PROGRESS!

Open Access & Open Ed: from SLA Annual 2015

I had the good fortune to catch a talk by Scholarly Communications Librarian Marilyn Billings (UMass Amherst), who talked about initiatives and best practices for open access models beyond journals publishing. Learned a lot from that talk, despite my scattered note-taking.

Encouraging Openness at your Institution: Trends in Open Ed and Open Access

Marilyn Billings
Scholarly Communications Librarian
University of MA Amherst

Textbook Trends
The high cost of commercial print textbooks is a major concern for parents, students, and even the federal government

2015 Horizon Report – mentions the proliferation of open ed resources
Babson Report:
Faculty not aware of OERs
Faculty appreciate OER concepts
Perceived quality of OERs
Lack of time to find and evaluate OERs
Faculty are key decision makers for OER adoption

What are OERs
O – Open
E – Educational
R – Resources (content)

5 Rs:
Reuse, redistribute, revise, remix, retain

OER includes:
Curriculum materials (syllabi, content modules)
Course materials (texts, assignments, simulations, learning objects, labs)
Collections (journal articles, e-books, art galleries, video libraries)
Tools (software, calculators, analytics)
… and more

Goals of Open Ed Initiative
To provide small incentive grants to faculty to adopt alternatives to high-cost textbooks – funded by Provost and University Libraries & other partners
To provide support infrastructure for creation and/or use of open educational resources and library content
To engage T&L partners and faculty in open ed
Academic Computing
Center of Teaching & Faculty Development
University Libraries

Workshop & Consultation Process

Two 1-hour workshops reviewing available OpenEd Resources and library resources
Individual consulting sessions for faculty with Scholarly Communications librarians and parters as needed

Topics: OER availability, copyright and licensing issues, etc.


Copyright and Author Rights
How do I protect my copyright on the works I create?
How do I make sure I’m not infringing on the copyright of others?

Licensing and Sharing Your Work: Creative Commons

Open Access and Fair Use
* Check the CC license to see how the creator would like something to be used.
* Exercise your fair use rights as academic researchers and educators


Lessons Learned: What Worked

Value of mini-grants and peer review
Meet faculty where they are – create cohorts
Capitalize on library strengths and value of existing services
Leverage complementary strengths of the partners.

Lack of knowledge by faculty
Time consuming to find or develop OE content
Lack of search tool or comprehensive catalog
May lack prepared quizzes and other content
Students may prefer print
Time commitment from partners
Getting beyond the pilot phase


Babson Survey Research Group Report
Horizon Report 2015
Open Textbooks: The Billion Dollar Solution
UMass Amherst’s OER LibGuide


The temptation to include a gif of the Futurama robot, Bender, saying “I’m back, Baby!” is strong, but I shall resist.

But yes … I’m reviving this blog to explore issues around access to information. Copyright, of course, privacy and confidentiality, scholarly communication and open access, e-scholarship, speech and censorship. And more, I’m sure.

Forgive me as I dust away the cobwebs and scrub away the mold. It may take quite a while to get the lay of the landscape again, but I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into it again.

Reaction Round-Up: Golan v. Holder

In the midst of the SOPA/PIPA protests of yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court released a 69-page opinion, deciding Golan v. Holder [PDF] in favor of the government.  These are only some of the stories, analyses and reactions out there in the press and blogosphere. Some content excerpted following links.

Press and Tech Press

Ars Technica – Supreme Court rules Congress can re-copyright public domain works

New York Times – Public Domain Works Can Be Copyrighted Anew, Supreme Court Rules

TechDirt – Supreme Court Chooses SOPA/PIPA Protest Day To Give A Giant Middle Finger To The Public Domain

Thomson Reuters – Amid SOPA debate, SCOTUS gives Congress broad copyright power

Wired’s Threat Level – Supreme Court Says Congress May Re-Copyright Public Domain Works

Library & Educational Press/Blogs

Chronicle of Higher Ed – Supreme Court Upholds Law That Pulled Foreign Works Back Under Copyright

But the ruling could open the door for Congress to craft further changes in copyright law that scholars might consider even more restrictive, said Kenneth D. Crews, director of the copyright-advisory office at the Columbia University Libraries.
“It is a grant of sweeping authority to Congress to shape copyright law in almost any way that it chooses,” he said of the decision. “This should raise a red flag to be watchful about other developments in congress like SOPA,” he added, referring to the Stop Online Piracy Act (HR 3261).

Kevin Smith at Duke University – Losing our focus

Last night my colleague Will Cross and I were teaching a class session on copyright for library students.  Will discussed (among other things) two aspects or principles of copyright decision making that seem relevant to today’s decision.  First was the idea that the federal courts tend to show great deference to Congress in the area of copyright.  That deference is very evident in today’s majority opinion: “This Court has no warrant to reject Congress’ rational judgment that exemplary adherence to Berne would serve the objectives of the Copyright Clause.”
The other principle Will discussed was the incentive purpose that is given as the reason, in the Constitution, for allowing Congress to enact intellectual property laws.  This purpose is pretty clearly rejected by the majority, when Justice Ginsberg writes that “Nothing in the text or history of the Copyright Clause, moreover, confines the ‘Progress of Science’ exclusively to ‘incentives for creation.’” …

Library Journal – Supreme Court Upholds Law Restoring Copyright to Some Public-Domain Works

Law Blogs

SCOTUSblog had the opinion and probably the first analysis of it – Opinion Recap: The Public Domain Shrinks

Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy – Supreme Court Considers Case on “Unprecedented” Assertion of Congressional Power

Timothy Sandefur at Freespace – The smug analogy falls flat (in reaction to Kerr’s post)

Wendy Seltzer – Copyright in Congress, Court, and Public

Golan reminds us too that we can’t count on the courts to help us where Congress gets copyright wrong. The majority leaves a great deal to Congressional discretion, as it did in Eldred (striking down a challenge to copyright term extension): “the Copyright Clause does not demand that each copyright provision, examined discretely, operate to induce new works.” In a chilling phrase, the Golan majority quotes the district court’s finding of a “settled rule that private censorship via copyright enforcement does not implicate First Amendment concerns.”

Going Dark

Like a lot of other sites, this blog will be going black tomorrow to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Now, this blog isn’t active, isn’t popular, isn’t necessary in the larger scheme of things.  But I believe that SOPA, and its Senate analogue, Protect IP Act (PIPA), would do serious disservice to the open exchange of information and knowledge on the Internet.

So, I will stand with EFF, with the Internet Archive, with Wikipedia, and more.  See you on the other side.

Research Works Act

The Research Works Act is a very small bill, text-wise. Oh, but the ripples …

H.R.3699 — Research Works Act (Introduced in House – IH)
HR 3699 IH

1st Session
H. R. 3699
To ensure the continued publication and integrity of peer-reviewed research works by the private sector.

December 16, 2011
Mr. ISSA (for himself and Mrs. MALONEY) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

To ensure the continued publication and integrity of peer-reviewed research works by the private sector.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the `Research Works Act’.


    No Federal agency may adopt, implement, maintain, continue, or otherwise engage in any policy, program, or other activity that–
      (1) causes, permits, or authorizes network dissemination of any private-sector research work without the prior consent of the publisher of such work; or
      (2) requires that any actual or prospective author, or the employer of such an actual or prospective author, assent to network dissemination of a private-sector research work.


    In this Act:
      (1) AUTHOR- The term `author’ means a person who writes a private-sector research work. Such term does not include an officer or employee of the United States Government acting in the regular course of his or her duties.
      (2) NETWORK DISSEMINATION- The term `network dissemination’ means distributing, making available, or otherwise offering or disseminating a private-sector research work through the Internet or by a closed, limited, or other digital or electronic network or arrangement.
            (3) PRIVATE-SECTOR RESEARCH WORK- The term `private-sector research work’ means an article intended to be published in a scholarly or scientific publication, or any version of such an article, that is not a work of the United States Government (as defined in section 101 of title 17, United States Code), describing or interpreting research funded in whole or in part by a Federal agency and to which a commercial or nonprofit publisher has made or has entered into an arrangement to make a value-added contribution, including peer review or editing. Such term does not include progress reports or raw data outputs routinely required to be created for and submitted directly to a funding agency in the course of research.

This shot across the bow appears to be nothing less than an effort to shut down future open access mandates AND kill off PubMed.  Simply put, the time to organize against this is now.

Cultural Gems That Should Be in the Public Domain Today – The Atlantic Wire

Cultural Gems That Should Be in the Public Domain Today – Entertainment – The Atlantic Wire

This has been passed around, I’m sure. But the geekier parts of me finds it interesting that all of Lord of the Rings and most of the Chronicles of Narnia could be in the public domain by now, if not for the 1976 Copyright Act.

New Directions in Scholarly Communication

Open Access Week has started off with a very good webinar, led by Joe Kraus and with presentions by John Wilbanks, Heather Piwowak and Molly Keener. And in the spirit of OA, their presentations are available on Slideshare!

John Wilbanks
Heather Piwowak – Open research data: fun, important, and in need of librarians
Molly Keener – Scholarly Communication: A Changing Landscape

Very informative, very interesting … if you’re involved with scholarly publishing or academic copyright, definitely take a look at these presentations.





LLoPS Session: Managing Electronic Resources

Managing Electronic Resources

Merrill Chetok & Julie Fontenelle

Microsoft Corporate/Law Library

MS library services (in-house) customers worldwide – 180,000 customers


MS Library & Legal Library were separate — now in the midst of merging

How users access materials:

MSLibrary site

  • Broken out by resources
  • Alerts available to push info to users
  • Basic form provided for “customer reviews”
  • Chat with MSLibrary
  • Articles, podcasts and the blog
  • Legal Resources tab on MSLibrary tab
  • List of enterprise-wide resources by name AND
  • Breakout menu of legal resources by practice group category — includes enterprise-wide and site license-restricted databases for specific practice groups

Library site based on Sharepoint 2010

Marketing to the Legal staff – going to where they are, talking with them.


Custom delays holding up books

Customers wanted anytime, anywhere access

MS Library was offering tethered access – no longer the best option

But people still want their print books (about 50/50 split)

Issues in expanding into ebooks

Download limitations:

Restriction on # of times document is downloaded

Restriction of # of devices

One account per customer

Lending limitations:

B&N Nook (“LendMe”)


Sony Reader


Bulk hardware purchase?

Format compatibility

Needs assessment survey:

Many customers already owned a reader

Kindle the majority reader

Mobi content is the most difficult format to find outside of the Amazon store, but it is possible to find and license such content (Safari, Springer, Overdrive)

Suggestion #1:

Examine all new content for format compatibility — talk to your vendors about format compatibility now

Suggestion #2:

Buy e-readers for testing (about $500)

Podcasts and blog posts on how to transfer ebook content to each device, as well as a print flier

% of Total Circulation

Print — 25%

e-books — 75%

Legal content

Westlaw Next has option to download content directly to the Kindle

Lexis is working on an ebook/epub database

Still investigating other publishers/access points for legal content

Comment: legal publishers are starting to develop their ebook market – have the capacity to “catch up” to the STM (Science, Tech, Medical) market within a year

Other resources

LLoPS Workshop Session: Mining SEC Documents

Session I: Mining SEC Documents

Elizabeth Osbourne

Authorized SEC Filing Agent

Morningstar Document Research

EMO EDGARizing Services


Most common types of SEC Documents

Contents of Documents

Frequency of Filing

Who Files




10-K — Annual report

10-Q — Quarterly report

8-K — Unusual report issued between quarter – material disclosure/extraordinary event


Who files:

All public companies

A few privately-held companies with public debt will file

Companies preparing to go public (optional)






Def 14A – Proxy Filed Annually

S-1 – Registration Statement

Sch13D – Beneficial ownership


Contents in Docs:

* Annual report on 10K

Report comprehensive overview of the co. for the past year

AKA annual report

Audited and approved by the CEO, CFO and etc.

Filed once a year 40 days after year end

Financial statements (income statement & balance sheet) that show you how much money a co. made, its debt levels, and other important data

SEC & Sarbannes-Oxley have required plain-english, understandable, legible filings and data tables

(XBRL – gives financial statements as a clean table)

* Quarterly report on Form 10Q

Smaller version of the 10K; filed at the end of each business quarter; 3x a year 40 days after end of quarter; approved but not audited

*Interim current report on Form 8-K

Current report cos. must file with the SEC to announce major events that shareholders should know about.

Filed as many times as needed in between quarter & year-end reports

Co’s annual proxy statement

* Proxy statement in Form Def14-A

Contains info about corp. operations to ensure voters have the big picture

Includes a great deal of compensation detail, bios, etc.

Also called Schedule DEF-14A

Filed once a year prior to the annual shareholder’s meeting b/c that’s when directors are elected by shareholders

Shareholder proposals to reform executive compensation

* Beneficial ownership filed on Sch13D

Filed within 10 days of transaction

Must be submitted to the SEC within 10 days by anyone who acquires beneficial ownership of more than 5% of any class of publicly-traded securities in a public company. A filer must promptly update its Schedule 13D filing to reflect any material change in the facts disclosed, including, among other things, the acquisition or disposition of 1% of the securities that are the subject of the filing

* Registration Statement on Form S-1

Initial filings with the SEC – IPO status (i.e. going public)

1st time a private company sells shares to the public. Tells your basic facts about the firm that is about to go public, and you should read it carefully before you consider investing in those brand-new shares. Has loads of juicy info about a firm, from its financial situation to a description of the competitive challenges it is likely to face

S-1 may be used to generate leads.


Areas of interest:

Exhibits (i.e. extrinsic documents/attachments)

Summary Compensation Table

Management Discussion and Analysis (MD&A)

Risk Factors

Compensation Discussion & Analysis (CD&A)

Audit Committee Reports

Executive Compensation

Beneficial Ownership

Directors & Exec. Officers

Financial Statements

Financial footnotes


Other Resources for SEC Filings

Morningstar Document Research

Edgar Online

Westlaw Business (EDGAR)

Securities Mosaic