Legal Issues

Librarian Tells It As She Sees It, is Fired, and Sues

Maybe you've blogged about a disturbing patron, or posted something on a tumblr account about the not-quite-with-it daily visitor to your library.

From M (Michigan) Live: Former library assistant Sally Stern-Hamilton (under the pen name Anne Miketa) wrote a fictionalized book about about her experiences in the library and was fired for it. Now she's suing.

Stern-Hamilton’s literary work, entitled 'Library Diaries' — a disturbing look at life in the library — wound up on the shelves at Mason County District Library. It got her fired there as a library assistant.

Now the author has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the library violated her free-speech rights by firing her.

“(Stern-Hamilton’s) First Amendment interests, combined with the interests of the public, outweigh the government’s interest in the efficient performance of the workplace,” her attorney, David Blanchard wrote. “(She) was explicitly fired for engaging in protected speech.”

Library director Robert Dickson declined to comment. Attorney Kathleen Klaus, representing the library, Dickson, and Marilyn Bannon, president of the library board, said she would respond to the complaint next month. The controversy created headlines three years ago when Stern-Hamilton was fired from her job of 14 years.

"After working at a public library in a small, rural Midwestern town (which I will refer to as Denialville, Michigan, throughout this book) for 15 years, I have encountered strains and variations of crazy I didn’t know existed in such significant portions of our population,” Stern-Hamilton wrote in the introduction.

Britons Sue Government for Closing Libraries

Is closing a library comparable to child abuse? At least one Brit thinks so.

Campaigners are seeking a ruling that decisions to close six libraries in the London (UK) borough of Brent are legally flawed.

The Brent case is expected to be followed in the near future by similar challenges to library cuts proposed by Gloucestershire and Somerset county councils, and on the Isle of Wight.

Nick Cave, Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys and Goldfrapp are among those who have contributed to campaign legal costs.

Playwright Alan Bennett launched a scathing attack when he spoke at a church benefit to raise legal funds to save Kensal Rise library, one of the six under threat in Brent. He compared the loss to ''child abuse''.

Brent campaign lawyers yesterday applied for judicial review, arguing council officers unlawfully failed to assess local needs and the likely impact of closing half the borough's libraries.

From the Telegraph UK.

Economic Contributions Of Industries relying On Fair Use

Industries that rely on fair use exceptions to U.S. copyright law have weathered the recent slow economy better than other businesses, according to a new study released by a tech trade group.
Economic Contributions Of Industries relying On Fair Use[PDF]


Data retention bill could lure sex predators into libraries

Unhappy meal: Data retention bill could lure sex predators into McDonalds, libraries
If this legislation passes with the wireless loophole intact, residential broadband providers will be forced to retain identifying records that can be used to link users' online activities to their authenticated identities. Mobile phone carriers will continue to retain data voluntarily, and public WiFi networks will remain one of the last places where people, whether angels or devils, can browse the Internet anonymously.

City Sued Over Book

City library director Vicki Elkins never imagined that the hardcover book about Zephyrhills history she helped compile would end up controversial. It was supposed to be a gift to the community, preserving its history in 285 pages that took nearly a decade to compile. Then in April, more than two years after Zephyrhills From A to Z's release in December 2008, a resident sued the city not about its content, but about its price tag of $29.95, plus tax.

Police Department Finds Complaint Against Librarian Unfounded

A Dixon Police Department two-month investigation finds a claim that District Librarian Gregg Atkins violated the California Government Code as unfounded.

Back in April, former librarian Nancy Schrott claimed that Atkins and his staff violated the Government Code when they distributed 3,500 library cardholders’ e-mail addresses to a private public relations firm – AIM Consulting – hired by the library to drum up support for the library’s expansion project

Full article


Can Work Previously Held In The Public Domain Be Recopyrighted?

A legal battle that examines whether Congress has the right to recopyright works that were already placed into the public domain will take place during the Supreme Court's October session. The plantiff is Lawrence Golan a conductor at the University of Denver where the decision has been detrimental to his program as the increased cost of newly copyrighted works has placed a large selection of previously accessible material off limits. The law which was passed in 1994, gave foreign works the same legal protection that US works enjoy.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Why non-academics should be following the Georgia State U case

Why non-academics should be following the Georgia State U case
"But no institution can police use decisions on the part of all its participants at the level of responsibility this suit seeks to impose without creating policies that wipe out any contextual sensitivity or flexibility in what is supposed to be copyright's "breathing space". Additionally, because copies for classroom use are an archetypical fair use, if the publisher-plaintiffs prevail in this suit, it undermines fair use claims in all of the other areas explicitly listed in the statute (including "criticism, comment, news reporting, [...] scholarship, or research") - much less those not enumerated specifically as examples of fair uses. This obscure academic fair use lawsuit has the potential for broad impact on us all."
[Thanks Steven!]


What You Don't Know About Copyright, but Should

What You Don't Know About Copyright, but Should
A lawyer and a librarian, Ms. Sims is copyright-program librarian at the University of Minnesota Libraries. She's there to help people on campus and beyond—both users and owners of protected material—understand their rights.

"I'm not sure anybody has a very good knowledge" of copyright, she says.


GSU E-Reserves Trial To Begin Next Week

Despite a flurry of last-minute briefs, as of today the most significant copyright trial since the Kinko's coursepack litigation, Cambridge University Press et al v. Patton et al, is still on track to begin on Monday, May 16. The case revolves around the practice known as electronic reserves at Georgia State University. And while initial reports have characterized publishers as facing a difficult road, a pre-trial memorandum filed by publishers' attorneys on April 29 outlines a case that could be stronger than previously thought.

Full story at Publishers Weekly



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