Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property

Jimmy Wales Interview on Open Licenses

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.

Do library catalogs violate copyright and intellectual property rights?

Here is an article which discusses whether it's a copyright violation to display a book cover on library web sites.

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?

White House Opposes Expanded DOJ Copyright Enforcement

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

Libraries, book cover images, and websites, oh my!

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.

Full blog entry here.

Judge Blocks the Potter Lexicon

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."

Lessons Learned After Twitter Blackout

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.

As an aid to others, Anderson has posted a lessons learned review. In light of the recent Gmail outage some lessons are worth considering in other contexts.

First It Was Song Downloads. Now It’s Organic Chemistry.

AFTER scanning his textbooks and making them available to anyone to download free, a contributor at the file-sharing site 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.

Full story in the New York Times

Yahoo and The Dangers of DRM

This week, Yahoo Music e-mailed customers who purchased music from their site and let them know that as of September 30, 2008, Yahoo Music will go dark.

And they will take the DRM key servers down with it.

That means that anyone who legally purchased tunes through Yahoo Music will lose the right to transfer that music to other devices or computers, even though they paid for that right.

Microsoft's MSN Music sent a similar notice out earlier this year, but acquiesced to leaving the DRM servers online until 2011.

Once again, this truly provides food for thought for libraries signing up for content services who cripple their wares with DRM. When they decide to leave, they can take their toys with them. Unfortunately, they can also take your toys with them too.

Family Loses Narnia Web Name

For £70, a father bought his son a present, the web name The 11 year old is a huge fan of CD Lewis and he used the domain for his e-mail address.

Then the estate of CS Lewis demanded that they hand over the name and WIPO concurred.

More from the BBC.

Piracy of books on the increase, publishers start taking notice

The MPAA is taking a heavy hand with piracy, as is the RIAA, but that only covers audio and video. What about books?

According to book publishers the threat of piracy from illegally downloaded text books is growing. Rather than students spending as much as US$100 per book to get the texts they need, they are turning to the Internet to download scanned versions for free.

Full article here.

U.S. copyright renewal records available for download

For U.S. books published between 1923 and 1963, the rights holder needed to submit a form to the U.S. Copyright Office renewing the copyright 28 years after publication. In most cases, books that were never renewed are now in the public domain. Estimates of how many books were renewed vary, but everyone agrees that most books weren't renewed. If true, that means that the majority of U.S. books published between 1923 and 1963 are freely usable.

How do you find out whether a book was renewed? You have to check the U.S. Copyright Office records. Records from 1978 onward are online (see but not downloadable in bulk. The Copyright Office hasn't digitized their earlier records, but Carnegie Mellon scanned them as part of their Universal Library Project, and the tireless folks at Project Gutenberg and the Distributed Proofreaders painstakingly typed in every word.

Thanks to the efforts of Google software engineer Jarkko Hietaniemi, we've gathered the records from both sources, massaged them a bit for easier parsing, and combined them into a single XML file available for download here.

Twitter Scooped NBC on Russert's Death

In the world of broadcast news, it's normally a given courtesy that, when a well known news personality dies, the station they worked for will be the first to break the news after the family has been notified. It's one of the unwritten rules of journalism.

In the case of beloved NBC newsman Tim Russert, Twitter scooped the massive network on the big story.

Turns out that a minor lackey at the station heard the news and, assuming it was public knowledge, edited Russert's Wikipedia page to reflect the death. Someone at the station caught it, which makes me wonder who they pay to watch Wikipedia, and changed it back some eleven minutes later.

Too late.

By the time they made the changes, the story was already out on Twitter.

The Associated Press to Set Guidelines for Using Its Articles in Blogs

The Associated Press, one of the nation’s largest news organizations, said that it will, for the first time, attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright.

The A.P.’s effort to impose some guidelines on the free-wheeling blogosphere, where extensive quoting and even copying of entire news articles is common, may offer a prominent definition of the important but vague doctrine of “fair use,” which holds that copyright owners cannot ban others from using small bits of their works under some circumstances. For example, a book reviewer is allowed to quote passages from the work without permission from the publisher.

Full article here.

Discovering the Undiscovered Public Domain

The University of Michigan has begun a project to determine the copyright status of books in it's collection, as described in <A HREF="">John Wilkin's blog post.</A> "At Michigan we're engaged in an activity that I hope will one day seem ordinary and a routine part of library work. Resources from several departments are devoted to determining the copyright status of works typically presumed to be in copyright.

Bits, Bands and Books

In his <A HREF="">New York Times column</A>, Paul Krugman reflects on the the digitization of everything and how this will change the economics of publishing as we know it. "Basically, the Kindle’s lightness and reflective display mean that it offers a reading experience almost comparable to that of reading a traditional book.

Little Orphan Artworks

Op-ed by Lawrence Lessig in the New York Times:

CONGRESS is considering a major reform of copyright law intended to solve the problem of “orphan works” — those works whose owner cannot be found. This “reform” would be an amazingly onerous and inefficient change, which would unfairly and unnecessarily burden copyright holders with little return to the public.

Full op-ed here.

Libraries: Eliminate DRM!

Hey Hey Ho Ho This DRM Has Got To Go! DefectiveByDesign asks you to send a message to all libraries that they too should respect their patrons' freedom, and urges you to sign their open letter. To take action against your local library, they urge you to customize a letter from the template.

Calls Needed TODAY to HOUSE JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE Opposing “Dark Archive” Provision of Orphan Works Act

The American Association of Law Libraries on their "Washington Blawg" has the following appeal: Take Action! Calls Needed TODAY to HOUSE JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE Opposing “Dark Archive” Provision of Orphan Works Act


Copyright and the World's Most Popular Song

Copyright and the World's Most Popular Song: Happy Birthday to You" is the best-known and most frequently sung song in the world. Many - including Justice Breyer in his dissent in Eldred v. Ashcroft - have portrayed it as an unoriginal work that is hardly worthy of copyright protection, but nonetheless remains under copyright. Yet close historical scrutiny reveals both of those assumptions to be false. The song that became "Happy Birthday to You," originally written with different lyrics as "Good Morning to All," was the product of intense creative labor, undertaken with copyright protection in mind. However, it is almost certainly no longer under copyright, due to a lack of evidence about who wrote the words; defective copyright notice; and a failure to file a proper renewal application.

Stealing via the internet is like stealing a kiss.

I was reading the Patent,Trademark, and Copyright Journal and there is a story today titled "Indian Film Maker Faults Failure To Address Counterfeit Movie Sales in U.S.". The gist of his argument is that a massive amount of Indian films are pirated in the U.S. and that just like Hollywood is cracking down in India, Bollywood needs to crack down here. I did some quick reading about the film maker Bobby Bedi and found that he presented a paper to WIPO (WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION). The paper has many of the arguments that were discussed in the Patent, Trademark, and Copyright Journal article.

It also has some great quotes:
"At the end of the day, the creative space is an emotional
space and if ever there is a solution to the piracy issue it will be emerge out of emotion and passion, not technology and logic."

There is a “Robin Hood” in all of us that believes that it is less of a crime to steal from the rich than it is to steal from the poor. We think we are stealing from limo driving, red carpet walking stars, not the two hundred people who helped create the IP and still struggle to make ends meet.

Stealing via the internet is like stealing a kiss. “There’s plenty more there, isn’t it?”.

You can read his full report here. (And you can see the quotes in context, which is important)


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