A Librarian's Take on public domain and "public domain"


Jessamyn West:
"As librarians, I feel we have to be prepared to find content that is freely usable for our patrons, not just content that is mostly freely usable or content where people are unlikely to come after you. As much as I’m personally okay being a test case for some sort of “Yeah I didn’t read all 9000 words on the JSTOR terms and conditions, please feel free to take me to jail” case, realistically that will not happen. Realistically the real threat of jail is scary and terrible and expensive. Realistically people bend and decide it’s not so bad because they think it’s the best they can do. I think we can probably do better than that."


information that is out there should be freely available in the simplest way to the largest number of people possible.
If there are no legal issues with access then yay!

So who is going to pay for it to be sorted out then?
Someone has to. Whether it's Cornell, JSTOR, Wiley, Google etc, someone bore the cost (as was mentioned in the article) of making these examples available. To make more things more easily available someone needs to categorise, sort, design new interfaces etc.
Who is going to do that and who is going to pay for the time and effort etc that is required to get it done (as I'm sure it could be done)?

Our expectations are so high, and the publics expectations (and assumptions of what they can have for free anyway) are so high these days. It's easy to forget that someone has to put the work in. If it's someone like Google then it's big bad business trying to take control and if it's Mr or Mrs Librarian in Kentucky doing it in their spare time it'll never get finished.

It needs doing, but who is going to do it? It's not JSTOR's problem, they don't cater for the general public, that's secondary and lucky that they bother making anything free.

Years ago when doing online searching, was it Dialog that had a pricing scale that if an article, let say 7 people were then going to read it, you had to paid an additionaly multiplier fee of some such charge per downloaded document for the 6 additional people who were going to read it?

Is my memory fading on this (just straight out of library school and used to use DIALOG each work day) and I also wonder who can tell whether or not that article is NOT or IS going get seen by that set limit of viewers/readers?

Okay. Is it technically stealing when that additional person then saw that technical journal article in which only one copy was purchased for viewing off of Dialog? Did anybody ever try and enforce that or was that dropped like a dial up internet connection over a phone line?

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