Legal Issues

Conan Doyle Estate Says Sherlock Not Free Yet

In a follow up to an earlier story, the Conan Doyle estate may appeal the ruling against it's copyright claim according to this Publishers Weekly story.

"Is Sherlock Holmes truly a free man? Not so fast say attorneys for the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In a December 23 decision, an Illinois federal court held that Holmes and other characters and story elements in more than 50 Sherlock Holmes stories are in the public domain. But attorneys for the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle this week insisted that the complete characters of Holmes and Watson won’t be freed until the final 10 stories published after 1922 enter the public domain, in 2022."

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2014?

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2014?
The books On the Road, Atlas Shrugged, and The Cat in the Hat, the films The Bridge on the River Kwai, Funny Face, and The Prince and the Showgirl, the play Endgame (“Fin de Partie”), and more. . .
Congress Shrugged

Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years – an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1957 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2014, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” (Mouse over any of the links below to see gorgeous cover art from 1957.) Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2053.1 And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019. The laws in Canada and the EU are different – thousands of works are entering their public domains on January 1.


Sherlock Holmes Is in the Public Domain, American Judge Rules

This New York Times story has the details.

"A federal judge has issued a declarative judgment stating that Holmes, Watson, 221B Baker Street, the dastardly Professor Moriarty and other elements included in the 50 Holmes works Arthur Conan Doyle published before January 1, 1923, are no longer covered by United States copyright law, and can be freely used by new creators without paying any licensing fee to the Conan Doyle estate."

LISTen: An Program -- Episode #263

This week we have an essay on information ethics, use the word "lethal" more times than usual in this program, and present a news miscellany that seems biased towards libraries news out of the United Kingdom.

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Google Gets Total Victory Over Authors Guild: Book Scanning Is Fair Use

This one has been a long time coming, but this morning, Judge Denny Chin (who actually has a long history of siding with copyright holders) found that Google's book scanning project is fair use. This is a huge victory in a variety of ways. TechDirt has the story.

Content owners warn Congress of "fair use creep" draw ridicule

Groups representing the movie, music and photography industry testified before Congress on Thursday, and called on the government to consider changing laws to do more to address piracy and file-sharing.

The testimony, which took place before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, is part of a larger review by Congress of America’s copyright policy. The review is significant because it will help shape the rules for culture and creativity on the internet in coming decades.


Mendeley and RefWorks Flow: The next, next generation of citation management software

A decade or so ago, ISI's EndNote bought out most of the competition, practically obtaining a monopoly on the reference manager business. In the early Library 2.0 boom, web-based products like Zotero and CSA's RefWorks became the norm. Thomson Reuters played catch up by introducing EndNote Web, and NoodleBib and other adware/freemium clones cropped up in what is now again a crowded marketplace.

Mendeley, recently purchased by Elsevier, has gained fame by offering social media integration and and sharing cababilities. It notably works on the old Questia model of selling itself directly to individual users, not institutions. ProQuest is also putting the finishing touches on RefWorks Flow, which features similar collaboration tools.

The way these newer products allow users to share articles with peers raises interesting questions about them potentially being used as a new "Napster for subscription journals," especially since they are now both owned by major publishers. See my comment for some more philosophical questions....

Immigration Bill Gets a Library Add-On

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) is offering a library amendment to the immigration bill that the Senate is considering this week. The amendment, #1223, would make public libraries eligible for funding for English language instruction and civics education, and would also add Susan Hildreth, the director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to the Task Force on New Americans. The American Library Association (ALA) is asking its members to call their Senators in support of Reed’s amendment.

According to the Congressional Record, Reed said that the amendment “recognizes the longstanding role that libraries have played in helping new Americans learn English, American

civics, and integrate into our local communities. It ensures that they continue to have a voice in these critical efforts… This amendment expands on the recent partnership between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and IMLS.” He also cited IMLS statistics which say that more than 55 percent of new Americans use a public library at least once a week.

Story from Library Journal.

Academic Publishers Sues Librarian Blogger for Millions

From Melville House Books:

Beall’s list, created by University of Colorado metadata librarian Jeffrey Beall, collates the academic journals which he regards as questionable. His hard work on outing journals whose business and academic practices are less than reputable has caught the eye of one of the publishers he named and shamed, and now he’s being sued.

Bogus academic journals are a growing problem. Earlier this year, Gina Kolata in the New York Times called them a “parallel world of pseudo-academia”. Most of these journals are based on an online subscription model and call themselves “open access”. The ease with which people can be published in some of these journals, with only a semblance of legitimate oversight, has been met with concern by academics, who fear that junk research is being given the appearance of a properly accredited paper.

Jeffrey Beall is being sued by India’s The OMICS Group, which, according to Jake New in The Chronicle of Higher Education, has been the subject of scrutiny for bad practices, such as spamming and steep fees for authors after publication, not only by Beall, but also by The Chronicle.

Injured Emory law librarian sues Delta

An Emory University law librarian is suing Delta Air Lines, claiming she suffered permanent brain trauma when books and other items fell on her after a flight attendant opened an overhead bin two years ago.

Full article


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