Legal Issues

ALA Releases Statement Regarding Confidentiality of Library Records

The ALA issued a statement yesteday, Monday December 10, on the issue of confidentiality of library records. More


What Every Librarian Should Know about the Americans with Disabilities Act

\"Reprinted from American Libraries, September 1991, This Article by Michael Gunde discusses some of the legal facets of providing library access to patrons with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act has made many librarians aware of a group of people who libraries have failed to serve. Some see the Americans with Disabilities Act as a newly imposed burden and seek only to find how to fulfill its minimum requirements with as little effort and cost as possible. Others see it as an exciting challenge to include entirely new populations of patrons into their service. What the law means and how to apply it is still in flux. Many specific items will only be defined through case law. In order to avoid the expense and unpleasant publicity of legal action, this article suggests that a pro-active policy can keep a library out of court and at the same time provide the satisfaction of giving meaningful access to previously under-served library users.\"


Sklyarov Update

An update on Dmitri Sklyarov\'s case from Politech:

This is an update from the status conference for Dmitry and Elcomsoft today. As expected, the only issue discussed was the setting of dates for pre-trial motions. The issues were divided into two categories:

DMCA (possible claims are unconstitutionality including vagueness, First Amendment and lack of constitutional authority), and non-DMCA issues (possible issues are jurisdiction, a bill of particulars, and the conspiracy charge).

The non-DMCA dates are:
Jan. 14, 2002 - the opening brief is due,
Feb. 11 - the opposition (govt.) brief is due,
Feb. 25 - the Dmitry reply brief is due, with the
March 4, 2002 - hearing.

Thanks to Library Juice.


U.S. Hearing on Intellectual Property Due Soon

Thanks to Cryptome:

The Federal Trade Commission announces public hearings beginning in January 2002 on ``Competition and Intellectual Property Law and Policy in the Knowledge-Based Economy.\'\' The hearings will focus primarily on the implications of
antitrust and patent law and policy for innovation and other aspects of consumer welfare. Copyright and trademark issues as they arise in particular high-tech contexts also may be considered . . .

The knowledge-based economy has grown in economic significance over the past few decades. It is increasingly important that competition and intellectual property law and policy work in tandem to support and encourage ongoing innovation underlying that economy. Policies for both
competition and intellectual property raise legal and economic questions that are substantially interlinked . . .



Library to Pay Portion of Legal Settlement Over Meeting Room Policy

The city of Portage, WI has been sued over the local library\'s refusal to let a group use their meeting room. The library was forced to pay for a portion of the settlement. Those who filed the suit weren\'t after monetary damages, but rather, a change to the library\'s meeting room policy. Since the suit was filed, libraries across the state of Wisconsin have begun updating their policies. The library in Portage will no longer refuse to allow meetings to be held in the meeting room based solely on content.More


Conference on the Public Domain: Papers Online

/. pointed me to The Conference on the Public Domain papers online. There are some excellent resources here.

A Very Large PDF is available, or This Page has some short summaries. Interesting titles include, \"the cultural public domain: fair use and appropriation\", and \"the history and theory of the public domain\".

\"This conference, the first major meeting to focus squarely on the topic of the public domain, will try to answer some of these questions in areas ranging from the human genome to appropriationist art, from the production of scientific data to the architecture of our communications networks.\"


Pay To Sing

Washington Law Quarterly has A Sad Story on federal copyright law.
They say, if current copyright law is enforced to its narrowest confines, it is likely that nonprofit service or camping organizations may be subject to copyright infringement suits for just signing a song.

They cover the history of copyright, and many other details.
Also note, this is 4 years old, things has gotten much worse since then.


Canadian Court Rules in Favor of Freelance Authors

From Information Today:

For anyone interested in copyright, electronic databases, and freelance writers, there’s a new Canadian decision you should know about that promises to be a landmark case: Robertson v. Thomson Corp. [2001 O.J. No. 3868]. The case has not yet been reported in printed Canadian law reports, but a summary of the decision is available.

Robertson v. Thomson Corp. is a major Canadian copyright decision in a CDN $100 million class-action suit between Heather Robertson, on behalf of freelance authors, and Thomson Corp.; its electronic publishing affiliate, Information Access Co.; and The Globe and Mail newspaper (recently sold and now owned by Bell GlobeMedia). This is the first Canadian case to examine the ownership of—and the subsequent right to be compensated for the use of—articles by freelance writers in online databases . . .



Public Comments on Canadian DMCA Available

The Canadian government is making select public comments on proposed modifications to the Copyright Act available - and the response appears to be overwhelmingly critical. A sample:

I am a student of Computer Science . . . a programmer, designer and user. I have been following the legal developments in our neighbour countries with respect to technological measures for preventing copyright infringement and I am dismayed to see our liberal country considering the adoption of such extreme concepts of copyright \"protection\" reinforcement.

I protest the planned legal reinforcement of such technological measures. As noted in the \'Consultation Paper on Digital Copyright Issues\', technological measures have failed in the past and are often a serious hindrance for legitimate users. Reinforcing technological measures with the law encourages corporations to ineffectively attempt to stall infringement at the expense of legitimate users. These users become forced to endure odious constraints and limitations on the private use of media they have legally purchased and copyrighted information they have licensed.



First Amendment Advocates Lament halting of Internet access to criminal filings

This story from AP reports on the recent court decision about online
access to some government docs. Federal criminal filings are no longer
available online.
\"Though court records remain publicly available on paper at
courthouses, they were deemed too public when it came to the Internet.




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