Posts Tagged 'copyright'

My stint on the JLA Editorial Board: A few clarifications

Seems like a few clarifications about the story of my short stint on the JLA Editorial Board are needed. In no particular order:

  • I’m female. Some of the follow-on stories refer to me as “he”. I get it. It’s a gender-neutral name, and I guess if you googled me for a picture, that might not clear things up. But I am female. I figure if I write “Chris Bourg is female” here, future bloggers can google me and get it right next time.
  • I do not speak for the former Editorial Board of the Journal of Library Administration. My post about my stint with JLA is my own story. I thought that was obvious in the original post, but apparently not.
  • My crisis of conscience in the aftermath of the tragic death of Aaron Swartz was my own and not the board’s. I’m pretty sure I never even mentioned Aaron’s death or my feelings about it in any conversations ever with the Editor of JLA or any of my fellow board members.
  • Even after my crisis of conscience, at the time, I decided to stay on the board, and to submit the article I promised. Judge me if you will. Later, when negotiations with T&F went nowhere, I resigned along with the rest of the board.
  • Any connection between my crisis of conscience, Aaron’s tragic death, and the board’s resignation is tenuous and indirect at best. I suppose my hesitation to submit my article counted as one more piece of data adding up to the board’s conclusion that the restrictive and confusing licensing terms were making it difficult to attract quality content.
  • It is my opinion, and was my hope, that the terms negotiated by the authors of the articles in the special issue on Digital Humanities in Libraries should have served as a model for a new standard author license for JLA. I think Micah Vandegrift and the rest of the authors in that issue deserve enormous credit and praise for both the quality of that issue (which was hugely influential in my decision to join the board), and for their persistence in negotiating an amended license, and for doing so publicly. I just didn’t, and still don’t, think every potential JLA author ought to have to go through the same lengthy negotiation process.
  • As former Editor Damon Jaggars has stated: “Open Access writ large was not the fundamental issue in this disagreement.” I characterize it as about open(er) access and about author’s control of their own work.
  • And just for good measure, I am female. Always have been, always will be.

3/29/13, 6:30pm: Edited to make timeline clear and to reiterate that we all remain resigned.

My short stint on the JLA Editorial Board

In the Fall of 2012, I was persuaded by Damon Jaggars to join the Editorial Board of the Journal of Library Administration. This week, we all resigned.

When I was asked to be on the board, I warned Damon that I had actually never published anything in library literature, and that I was generally critical of the quality of much of the literature in the field. He convinced me this would be a chance to do something about it, and that he had some good ideas for publishing a quality product. Damon is a pretty persuasive guy, and I figured it was time for me to stop grousing about the problems with library literature and try to be part of the solution. So I signed on.

Later, Damon asked me to write an article about our Library Concierge project for JLA, and again I said yes. When Damon contacted me later with an actual deadline for the article, I told him I was having second thoughts. It was just days after Aaron Swartz’ death, and I was having a crisis of conscience about publishing in a journal that was not open access. Damon reminded me (gently) that not only had I agreed to write for JLA, but I was on the Editorial Board, so this could be a problem. More importantly, he assured me that he was working with Taylor & Francis to try to get them to adopt less restrictive agreements that would allow for some form of Creative Commons license. He told me his strategy was to work from within to encourage change among publishers. Once again, Damon’s power of persuasion worked.

So, I worked on the article, and just recently submitted it. In the meantime, Damon continued to try to convince Taylor & Francis (on behalf of the entire Editorial Board, and with our full support), that their licensing terms were too confusing and too restrictive. A big part of the argument is that the Taylor & Francis author agreement is a real turn-off for authors and was handicapping the Editorial Board’s ability to attract quality content to the journal. The best Taylor & Francis could come up with was a less restrictive license that would cost authors nearly $3000 per article. The Board agreed that this alternative was simply not tenable, so we collectively resigned. In a sense, the decision was as much a practical one as a political one. Huge kudos to Damon for his persistence, his leadership, and his measured and ethical stance on this issue.

So, if anyone has an opening on an editorial board of a journal with less restrictive author agreements, I just so happen to have some free time. I’ve also got a fairly decent article about our Library Concierge Project all ready if anyone wants to publish it.

(3/23, 5:43pm, Edited to correct some spelling and add a link. CB)


Google Books settles with AAP. Yawn.

Google and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) reached a settlement ending the lawsuit filed by the AAP in 2005 alleging that the Google Books project violated copyright by scanning books without permission. The gist of the agreement, from the New York Times Technology section:

The deal allows publishers to choose whether to allow Google to digitize their out-of-print books that are still under copyright protection. If Google does so, it will also provide them with a digital copy for their own use, perhaps to sell on their Web sites.

For books that it has digitized, Google allows people to read 20 percent of them online and purchase the entire books from the Google Play store, and it shares revenue with the publishers. The two parties did not disclose additional financial terms of the agreement, but the publishers had not asked for monetary damages.

Google has been offering publishers the opportunity to sell digital books for years, and digitizing new books has become routine for publishers. But under the settlement, publishers get the benefit of Google digitizing out-of-print books that they might not otherwise have turned into e-books. Meanwhile, Google can expand the library of e-books it sells to consumers.

According to Jiffy, there’s nothing to get excited about in latest settlement in Google Books case.

It is not at all clear how this settlement (which is not a class action settlement, therefore the terms are private) affects the kinds of issues most of us in library-land care most about. This settlement doesn’t address Google’s claim that creating digital copies of copyrighted works represents Fair Use. There is also no mention of institutional licenses for access to Google Books like the one described in the original proposed settlement with both the Authors Guild and the AAP. Of course, that settlement was rejected by the courts, and this recent settlement does not affect the Authors’ Guild’s ongoing class action suitagainst Google. This settlement is all about selling digital versions of books.

In an ARS Technica article, copyright expert James Grimmelmann suggests that although the settlement may exacerbate tensions between authors and publishers, the bottom line for him is “I can’t imagine there’s anything interesting in there.”

The always smart, and often acerbic, Peter Brantley sums up his thoughts on the settlement:

At the end of the day, the publisher litigation with Google feels like the remnant of a bad dream fading in the early morning hours. We are where we must be, except that a small number of authors and their lawyers are still clearly motivated to obtain their own payout for the purported harm done them by the hasty presumptions of networked culture. Hopefully, the absence of a falling sky will spur the minds of judges, lawyers, and juries that our conceptions of rights have evolved over the last 100 years.

I honestly don’t know where this settlement leaves us in terms of achieving the original high hopes many of us had when the Google Books project started back in 2005. The Fair Use question remains to be addressed, the availability of Orphan Works remains iffy, and the vision of a universal digital library available to all remains unrealized. All that said, the very fact that Google has scanned more than 20 million books has increased discoverability on a scale that was nearly unimaginable just a decade ago, and has provided scholars with text-mining possibilities that will surely continue to increase our understandings of human language, culture and literature.
And let’s not forget that without Google Books, there would not be a HathiTrust.

So, the while the recent settlement reached by Google with the AAP seems to have little direct impact on libraries’ interests and Google Books has not yet turned out to be all that we might have hoped for, I still think the benefits to scholars and to the public at large outweigh the disappointments.

Edited to add links to what others have to say about the impact of the settlement on university libraries:

Library Concierge Project: Initial assessment

Our Library Concierge project is in full swing, and because we included an assessment plan in the project from the start, we can already report some decent results.

To recap, our Library Concierge project is an ambitious initiative designed to promote exceptional public services across the Stanford Libraries, and to empower and equip all staff to provide that service. It refers to both a service perspective and a set of training experiences for all library staff. The training experiences are designed to increase staff familiarity with the full range of resources and services our organization offers, so that they can provide better public service, give more effective referrals, and can take advantage of opportunities to serve as fully informed ambassadors for the Stanford Libraries. Ultimately, our goal is to maximize Stanford scholars’ knowledge of and access to our resources and services; but we know we have to start by providing ways for our own staff to learn about the services offered by their colleagues throughout the organization. For a more thorough introduction to the project, you can watch this 8 minute video from our Introductory Session.

The core part of the project is our monthly Concierge sessions for library staff. Each session is designed to expose staff to some part of the Stanford Libraries and give them enough information about that service or resource that they can provide basic information to a patron and/or make an effective referral. We hold 3 sessions for each topic, which allows us to reach 150 staff each month with the live session. We also video each session and provide the videos on a secure CourseWork site dedicated to the project. The CourseWork site also serves as the home for discussion forums and supplemental materials on each topic.

Since our primary goal is to increase staff’s knowledge of various library resources and services, so that they can more confidently provide Concierge-level service to our scholars, our assessment plan consists of a series of pre-and post-test surveys assessing staff knowledge and confidence about the topics convered before and after the sessions on those topics. We also ask several questions designed to gather feedback on elements of the project itself, including suggestions for future topics.

To measure the impact of the training sessions on staff knowledge, we asked folks to answer the following question on a 1-100 slider scale:
“How confident do you feel in providing basic information about the following topics:”; and then we list both upcoming topics (pre-test), and past topics (post-test). We plan to deploy the surveys quarterly, so each survey will provide pre-test data for 2-3 topics, and post-test data for 2-3 topics.

We have now completed the initial baseline pre-test survey, and the first post-test survey, measuring change in staff knowledge for our first two topics: Copyright, Licensing, & E-Resources; and Numeric & Spatial Data Support. Preliminary results are very encouraging. On Copyright, Licensing, & E-Resources, average staff confidence in basic knowledge went from 40 before training to 46 after training. For Numeric & Spatial Data Support, average staff confidence ratings shot up from 21 to 44.

Library Concierge Project: Basic Knowledge Pre & Post Session

Write in comments on the Copyright, Licensing, & E-Resources session indicate that the smaller increase may be due to many staff coming away from the training with a realization that Copyright issues are more complicated than they had previously thought.

We employed a panel design, which will allow us to match individual answers over time (by means of an anonymous, randomly assigned ID). This means we will be able to look not just at aggregate change (which could be due to selection bias — e.g. people who felt they learned something may have been more likely to fill out the survey), but also at individual knowledge change over the course of the project. We also collected data on what parts of the training staff engaged in (live session, video, discussion forums, chat room, supplemental materials, etc.), what part of the organization they work in, and whether their job involves direct public service to scholars; so we will have the opportunity to do more sophisticated analysis (and better charts!) as we have time and more data. As always, stay tuned.

(Wrote this post on CalTrain, finished it up at the ballpark. Go Giants!)

2011 in review at Feral Librarian, courtesy of WordPress

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

WordPress provides a pretty cool summary report, complete with fireworks. I’m happy to see that my 2 most popular posts for the year are actually library related (Suit up: Some free advice on interviewing for library jobs, and Our Library Facebook Page); but I think the many folks who got here through searches for steroids, copyright symbol, and wooden gate may have been a little disappointed.
I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions, but will try to post more often. I will also try to post more about some of the projects going on her at Stanford Libraries.

Thoughts from Charleston Conference

This was my second Charleston Conference, and I have some thoughts, in no particular order:

Publisher presence: One obvious strength of the Charleston Conference is the integration of vendors and publishers as collaborators with librarians, rather than merely as sales folks in a huge exhibit hall. Hearing publishers give substantive talks and engage in thoughtful dialogue with us about the current and future state of libraries, publishing and higher education is refreshing.

I stayed at a lovely Inn, but was a little unnerved by the painting of doleful bunnies in the bathroom

Diversity of libraries present: I really, really want to count this as a strength of the conference, but I’m not so sure. It seems to me that the differences between large research libraries and smaller libraries are becoming more pronounced. This parallels the well-established trend that the gap between rich and poor increases in times of economic scarcity. I just wonder if our shared challenges and opportunities are maybe not so shared after all. Frankly, sessions on Speed Weeding, Serials Gone Wild, and all kinds of patron-driven and/or just-in-time instead of just-in-case acquisition models are just not that relevant for the Stanford Libraries. Sure, we are selecting items for off-campus storage, but we aren’t de-accessioning anything, and we aren’t really cutting back on our commitment to deep and wide collection building. I wonder if the plenary talks on the need for Linked Open Data, collecting and preserving Data Papers, and exposing Hidden Collections (all of which require significant resources) seemed just as irrelevant to my colleagues at smaller institutions. I fear this all sounds really elitist, and I certainly don’t mean it that way. I was just really struck by the very different perspectives across kinds and sizes of libraries. I guess I don’t see it as much at conferences like ALA, because I tend to self-select into sessions and meetings focused on large research libraries.

Long Arm of the Law: I loved it last year, and am very glad it got an encore this year. What I would love to see next year is a panel with both University Counsel and Library administrators. Let’s have a dialogue about what librarians need to know about copyright. Let’s find out how University administrators, especially University Librarians, make decisions about when to play it safe, and when to move ahead with projects that put their institutions at risk of being sued.
Tweeting Charleston: The Charleston twittersphere got awfully lonely at times! Despite having a pre-designated hashtag, the percentage of active tweeters seemed pretty low to me. Clearly there were plenty of lurkers though, as several folks either DM’d me or told me in the hallway (apparently my avatar photo actually looks like me) that they enjoyed my tweets. Actually, some people just said they were reading my tweets, without noting whether they liked them or not … I think I might be too snarky for some tastes. Several of the speakers mentioned things they saw on the tweet stream, and I overheard conference organizers talking about what they saw there. As one of the more active tweeters at the conference, I have to say I wish the lurkers had chimed in. I really enjoyed the online dialogue with those who did engage, and would have enjoyed it more if more folks shared their thoughts, questions, lunch recommendations, style critiques, etc.

Size and identity: The Charleston Conference strikes me as a medium-to-large sized conference that still thinks of itself as a small, intimate gathering. I think it’s cool that there is a cadre of folks who have been to Charleston every year for 31 years. I have to assume that it is those bonds that inspire all the inside jokes, personal references, singing and skits. But, those same things which make Charleston feel personal for some, can feel cliquish and alienating to newbies. And some of us just aren’t that into skits and sing-alongs.

Round up Part 2: Authors Guild v HathiTrust

An update to yesterday’s Round Up on Authors Guild v HathiTrust:

  • HathiTrust Statement on Authors Guild, Inc. et al. v. HathiTrust et al., which includes this bit clearing up the very important distinction between orphan works and public domain works:

    It is worth noting that the Authors’ Guild complaint propagates a common but incorrect assumption that all US works published between 1923-1963 are in copyright. Our Copyright Review Managment System has reviewed nearly 200,000 of these works, and found more than 50% of them to be in the public domain. The same will be true of many works published outside of the United States. How many among the 7 million volumes that they wish to sequester might also be in fact works that no one—including the plaintiffs—has the right to restrict from the public?

  • University of Michigan Library Statement on the Orphan Works Project, in which mistakes are admitted, scrutiny welcome, improvements promised, and rights-holders reassured that

    And as a result of the design of our process, our mistakes have not resulted in the exposure of even one page of in-copyright material.

  • Statement from Paul Courant, university librarian and dean of libraries, including this lovely statement of who research universities are and what libraries stand for:

    As a research university, we are a community of authors, and we have deep respect for copyright law and for the rights and interests of authors. Our digitization efforts simply reflect the library’s continuing legacy of prudence in curating the world’s scholarly and cultural record.

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation weighs in with No Authors Have Been Harmed in the Making of This Library, with this clear statement of their position:

    Simply put, it appears that the Guild is dead set on wasting time and money addressing imaginary harms, whether or not its efforts might actually benefit either its members or the public.

Updated to add Kevin Smith’s Open Letter to J.R. Salamanca; which brilliantly explains how and why the HathiTrust orphan works project will help books find readers and therefore benefit authors.

Round-up on Authors Guild v. HathiTrust

Plenty of folks are writing about the Authors Guild’s suit against HathiTrust (actually, against 5 universities who agreed to make orphan works available to their communities via HathiTrust). Below are my picks for the most informative, interesting and/or provocative so far, in roughly chronological order:

  • On September 1, 2011, 11 days before the Authors Guild files suit, Duke copyright expert, Kevin Smith makes a prescient fair-use argument on behalf of libraries providing access to orphan works via HathiTrust.
  • The Authors Guild blog announcement, posted September 12, 2011: Authors Guild, Australian Society of Authors, Quebec Writers Union Sue Five U.S. Universities
  • Excellent summary and analysis from New York Law School Associate Professor James Grimmelmann
  • Another excellent summary, this time from Jennifer Howard at CHE, complete with quotes from Paul Courant (of “elfin whimsy” fame) and John Wilkin.
  • An open letter to author Judy Blume (VP of the Authors Guild), titled Say it ain’t so Superfudge, captures many librarians disappointment with the Authors Guild approach:

    …now you say that you don’t trust the same librarians who dutifully preserved these books for decades to make a fair and honest determination of orphan work status? I understand that you believe that Google crossed the line, but the HathiTrust is not Google. Libraries are not Google.

  • After the Authors Guild gleefully announces that they Found One! (One = an orphan author), Grimmelmann declares HathiTrust Single-Handedly Sinks Orphan Works Reform
  • Kevin Smith again, this time answering the question Is it all about the Orphans with “…I think this is the next attempt by the content industries to sell what they do not own on behalf of parties they cannot identify, and then keep the money.”

Stanford signs new deal with Google

Stanford University has signed an expanded agreement with Google, affirming Stanford’s support for the amended Google Books Search proposed settlement and establishing Stanford as a Fully Participating Library under the terms of the amended settlement agreement.

As noted on the Google Public Policy Blog,

Stanford joins the University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Texas, who also expanded their original partnerships with Google.

Some key quotes from the Stanford Report:

“Stanford is on the cutting edge of technology development and is using technology to improve access to information not just for their faculty and students, but for the world,” said Dan Clancy, Google Books engineering director.

“Stanford is on the cutting edge of technology development and is using technology to improve access to information not just for their faculty and students, but for the world,” said Dan Clancy, Google Books engineering director.

Provost John Etchemendy signed the agreement for Stanford University. “This agreement is consistent with Stanford’s mission of sharing and disseminating knowledge, and allows us to expand our participation by sharing more works from our library,” Etchemendy said. “We support the efforts to make books more broadly available to the American public and to all of higher education.”

Clearly, a key motivation behind Stanford’s involvement in and support of Google Books is a desire to increase access to our collection beyond the Stanford community.

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Report on objections to Google Books settlement

The Public-Interest Book Search Initiative of the New York Law School has published Objections to the Google Books Settlement and Responses in the Amended Settlement: A Report (PDF):

This report collects information about the objections raised to the original proposed settlement in the Authors Guild v. Google litigation. We identified 76 distinct issues, which we grouped into 11 categories. This report briefly summarizes each issue, provides an illustrative quotation from a filing with the court, and indicates any related changes in the amended settlement.

Issues are categorized into these categories:

  1. Definitions
  2. Fairness to Rightsholders
  3. Fairness to International Rightsholders
  4. Unclaimed Funds
  5. Antitrust
  6. Jurisdiction
  7. Class Action Procedure
  8. Institutional Subscription
  9. Privacy
  10. Copyright Policy
  11. Information Policy

The report is a great summary of the variety of objections to the Google Books settlement that have been raised, and how the amended settlement addresses (or doesn’t) each issue. For each issue, the report includes a representative quote from a filing with the court.

My favorite part was learning that Arlo Guthrie has filed an objection.

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