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From relative obscurity, Textbook Torrents, the world’s largest BitTorrent index of textbooks, found itself in the world spotlight during July 2008 and was forced to close down by its host. The site returned weeks later, growing massively in the process, but now, just a couple of months on, the site has closed for good.
Wal-Mart has decided to keep the music that it sold wrapped in a layer of copyright protection playable, following a flurry of customer complaints about legally purchased music becoming unplayable. The probably wishes it had never tangled with digital rights management, because it's going to keep paying for it long after its switch to selling DRM-free MP3s.
An e-mail sent to Wal-Mart digital music store customers said the company will continue to support the DRM-ed song files sold on walmart.com starting in 2003. The e-mail reversed last month's announcement that Wal-Mart would shut down the servers that authenticate the copyright protected music it no longer sells. Unfortunately, doing so would render all protected music purchased from the store in the past five years unplayable.
Full story at Wired.com
This story is something to think about for libraries that collect materials that have DRM.
Lost in the House of Representatives' push to pass $700 billion bailout legislation is the so-called Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008.
Late Friday, the Senate passed the measure and sent it to the House, where it landed dead on arrival.
The act changes the rules and reduces and sometimes nullifies damages for infringing uses of so-called "orphaned" works as long as there was a "diligent" effort to locate the copyright owner. Orphaned creative works are those in which the copyright holder cannot be promptly located.
Ellyssa Kroski, who writes at iLibrarian, also teaches a class at San Jose State University on the Open Movement and Libraries (Fall of 2008). As part of the class shes has done interviews with such notable figures as Stephen Downes of the National Research Council in Canada, and Nicole Engard of LibLime. Her guest a couple weeks ago was Jimmy Wales. You can hear the full 10 minutes interview with Jimmy Wales here.
Here is the.effing.librarian's opinion of the broader issue:
For years, librarians have been looking at books and telling people what the book is about: Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863 -- Fiction.
And for years, people, including competing authors, have been able to riffle through these collections of book records, or "card catalogs," to see what other authors are publishing. Visiting the stacks to examine these texts is time-consuming, but librarians have been bypassing the originals materials to make this very valuable and useful information freely available to competitors for years.
You can argue that the nature of cataloging is necessary to libraries; but is it, really?
Do libraries really need to decide in which subject category to classify a book for someone to find it? Can't people just browse through all the books to find what they want?
And worse yet, libraries have been uploading these catalogs onto the Internet, thus making all of this copyrighted material available to anyone with Internet access. Shouldn't authors and publishers be protected from this blatant disregard for their intellectual property rights?
Is this legal?
Sure, you can argue fair use, but really, what is fair? -- Read More
The Bush administration is opposing sweeping legislation granting it the ability to prosecute civil cases of copyright infringement.
The legislation, backed by Hollywood, labor unions and manufacturers, sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee, 14-4, on Sept. 11.
In a letter (.pdf) to Sens. Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter, who were among the sponsors of the legislation, the Justice Department wrote Tuesday it "strongly" opposes expanding its powers. Doing so, the letter said, could undermine the department's prosecution of criminal cases and transform it into an office "serving as pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders."
Full story at Wired.com
Blog post at LibrarianInBlack:
Ah the perennial library webmaster question: can libraries use book cover images on their websites? Lawyer and librarian Mary Minow weighs in on her blog, the LibraryLaw Blog. She posted a few weeks ago with her opinion (it's a case by case thing, unfortunately) and in the meantime many comments have been submitted with additional thoughts and questions.
News today that a ruling has been made in favor of author J.K. Rowling in her copyright infringement lawsuit against fan, Web site operator and former librarian, Steven VanderArk, who was set to publish a Potter encyclopedia. The judge found that the lexicon "appropriates too much of Rowling's creative work for its purposes as a reference guide."
U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson said Rowling had proven that Vander Ark's "Harry Potter Lexicon" would cause her irreparable harm as a writer. He permanently blocked publication of the reference guide and awarded Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. $6,750 in statutory damages.
From the Muskegon Chronical, the would-be Lexicon publishers response to the ruling. Says Roger Rapoport of RDR Books: "We are encouraged by the fact the Court recognized that as a general matter authors do not have the right to stop the publication of reference guides and companion books about literary works. As for the Lexicon, we are obviously disappointed with the result, and RDR is considering all of its options."
Recently two librarians had their accounts torched by Twitter due to coming up in an anti-spam sweep. Their accounts were considered to have been false positives and it took time for access to be restored. Two librarians in particular, Connie Crosby and Patricia Anderson, were affected.
AFTER scanning his textbooks and making them available to anyone to download free, a contributor at the file-sharing site PirateBay.org composed a colorful message for “all publishers” of college textbooks, warning them that “myself and all other students are tired of getting” ripped off. (The contributor’s message included many ripe expletives, but hey, this is a family newspaper.)
All forms of print publishing must contend with the digital transition, but college textbook publishing has a particularly nasty problem on its hands. College students may be the angriest group of captive customers to be found anywhere.