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One for the Public Domain

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!



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.

Research Works Act

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.

LLoPS Session: Managing Electronic Resources

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

Bits of Open Access

Bits of Open Access

So I’ve been officially registered at ALA for all of an hour, and already, my feet hurt. *grin*

Since I’m not on a committee, and I may only see 1 or 2 people I know from past years who’d recognize me, I’m taking it easy this conference. If a session doesn’t relate to the job hunt (more on that another time) or tickle my fancy, I will not castigate myself for missing it.  One session I must make, however, is this:

“Turning the Page on E-books”

Plan to attend “Turning the Page on E-books” from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 8, in SDCC, Room 02. This moderated discussion will focus on the big picture of libraries and e-books.  What are the challenges and opportunities for libraries face as they consider providing e-books to their patrons?  What are the differences and commonalities for libraries of all types?  Do e-books make us think differently about library service and librarianship?  Hear panelists, Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian and Founder of the Internet Archive; Tom Peters, CEO of TAP Information Services; Sue Polanka, Head, Reference and Instruction at Paul Laurence Dunbar Library at Wright State University; and moderator, Rick Weingarten, information technology policy consultant discuss these questions and many others.

Now as to the title of the post — 3 quick and interesting online reads about open access:

Peter Suber – Open access in 2010 Review

Michelle Pearse – Open access scholarship and policy

Richard Danner – Open access scholarship and law reviews



Bad maps, mushrooms and the Shallows

Bad maps, mushrooms and the Shallows

I am in New Orleans for the Special Libraries Association’s Annual Meeting. One of the things I’m looking forward to (besides the food and seeing old friends, of course) is hearing the remarks of keynote speaker Nicholas Carr.  Carr has written a new book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. The central thesis seems to be that ” the Net is having such far-reaching intellectual consequences,”[NYT] or even more ominously, “computers are destroying our powers of concentration.”[NYT]

I admit to having experienced the “state of perpetual distractedness” more than once, and I also know the fearsome power of an Internet timesuck [my Exhibit A: TV Tropes – Abandon all hope and a couple of hours, all ye who enter here, and be careful about sampling the nightmare fuel].  But are Carr’s points accurate? Fair? Reasonable? Are they even something we can act on? I hope to read more to find out.

In preparation for SLA Annual, Doug Newcomb, SLA Chief Policy Officer, asks in a blog post regarding Carr’s argument, “That has to make you wonder: Is less-than-perfect information a liability? Can you hold a party liable for the use, or misuse, of reasonably good information?” The post points to Carr’s editorial in the Washington Post that starts with the following:

Just before dawn on the morning of Jan. 19, 2009, a Los Angeles woman named Lauren Rosenberg was hit by a car while crossing a four-lane highway in Park City, Utah. Last month, more than a year after the accident, she filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming that the route for her walk had been suggested by Google Maps. She’s asking for more than $100,000 in damages, in part to cover the hefty medical bills she says she incurred.

Should Google be held liable for negligence based on “bad” or “less perfect” information? As a general principle, publishers of books, magazines, etc., which include dubious, even bad information, such as which mushrooms are not poisonous, aren’t liable (assuming it’s not defamatory, or the publisher had a duty that was breached and led directly to the injury of the plaintiff). As for maps … it’s a bit stickier:

Aeronautical charts are highly technical tools. They are graphic depictions of technical, mechanical data.

Courts tend to distinguish between one-on-one communication, where if an information-giver acts negligently or fraudulently, there is liability. For material published for wider audiences … not so much (I’m sure there COULD be exceptions, but this is the general rule).  Looking at professionals as well – doctors and lawyers are routinely sued for giving bad information to their clients, or at least often enough that the term malpractice can apply to such situations. Librarians and teachers, however, tend not to be held to the same standard, even when giving very direct, personalized and critical information to a single patron or student.  At least, I don’t know of any cases where a library system or librarian has been sued because they gave out wrong information … if you do, let me know.

Going back to the query of whether Google is likely to be found liable — the people who’ve left comments at some sites reporting on this story, such as Search Engine Land and the ABA Journal,  seem to think this case is not just laughable, but also frivolous and ridiculous.  Carr’s larger question, of whether the Internet and technology is changing us not only socially and economically, but also intellectually and biologically, is not likely to be resolved fully before Ms. Rosenberg’s situation, but there seems to be some food for thought in the discussion, even if you strenuously disagree.

Personally, despite years of appreciation for MapQuest and Google Maps, I think I’m still quite handy with a paper map … then again, I’ve never used a GPS system. Curiouser and curiouser.

Choose Privacy!

Choose Privacy!

It’s Choose Privacy Week. And despite the sentiments of one or two CEOs, privacy is not dead and IS worth fighting for. Even if your library isn’t having any special privacy-related events, consider going to the Privacy Revolution site on your own and checking out information and resources that can help you learn more about your online privacy.

Choose Privacy Week Video from 20K Films on Vimeo.

An Earth Day Message

An Earth Day Message

Window of Bell's Books in Palo Alto
The night before Earth Day

Since the picture was taken with my underfeatured Motorola cellphone (i.e. not good with night shots), here’s what the message said:


Taken in front of Bell’s Books in Palo Alto, CA on April 21, 2010.

Twitter, LoC and Social Media Privacy

Twitter, LoC and Social Media Privacy

If you have a Twitter account and are fairly active on the micro-blogging service, you’ve likely heard the news:

That’s right. Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions.

Hip hip hooray? Well, actually, reaction has been mixed in some quarters with lots of questions: who will have access to the content? Under what circumstances? Can users opt out? What exactly are “public tweets” versus private ones? Should Twitter have asked permission of its users? Is this sort of thing covered by the ToS? How do we know the information won’t end up being used outside of LoC? Reasonable questions, all.

My initial personal reaction was of the hip hip hooray variety, but the privacy questions (as prompted by some privacy advocates and academics) did come to mind. As I wrote briefly in a small email list, “This is a very interesting development. When I signed up for Twitter a year ago, I considered the openness of it and decided to treat it as a public space, i.e. nearly anything I said might be findable by just anyone else (like my blog), and I should use it accordingly. This isn’t to say I’ve been responsible w/ every tweet …” And for me, saving and making tweets available for research is analogous to the web archiving that the Internet Archive has done for nearly 15 years now.

But there are others who feel differently. And to try to understand why … I figured I would ask people about how they feel about the deal, and about Twitter in general. Voila, a Survey Monkey questionnaire. While I was involved in social science research long ago, it was long ago. The survey isn’t meant to be have validity or yield statistically significance results. I don’t even want to think about the margin of error. But if you participate, you will be doing me a great favor in learning more about how users approve privacy in regards to social media.

Please click here to take the survey.

For some more information about the Twitter donation of public tweets to the Library of Congress, is a small interview by Matt Raymond of LoC on C-SPAN: