If you’re an academic librarian, you’re probably already awash, at least peripherally, in news about MOOCs—massive open online courses have been touted as the next big thing in higher ed since they burst on the scene about a year ago. If you’re a public librarian, on the other hand, you may not even have heard of them. Yet MOOCs are bringing unprecedented challenges and opportunities to both kinds of libraries already, and they’re only going to grow.
Copyright and Fair Use
Libraries and Friends groups interested in reselling or giving away used ebooks or other digital content files (or purchasing them) may be a little more cautious after the March 30 court decision, Capitol Records v. ReDigi Inc. ReDigi, a virtual marketplace for “pre-owned” digital music, was sued by Capitol Records in what the court characterized as “a fundamental clash over culture, policy, and copyright law.”
Damon E. Jaggars, Associate University Librarian for Collections & Services at the Columbia University Libraries, recently stepped down as editor of the Journal of Library Administration (JLA), along with the rest of the editorial board, because of disagreement with the publisher’s licensing terms. LJ caught up with him to hear his reasoning and plans for the future.
This country’s fascinating and invaluable patrimony of recorded sound and culture is at risk. Libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies have approximately 46 million recordings in their collections and more than six million are “in need” or “in urgent need” of preservation, according to the National Recording Preservation Plan released by the Library of Congress (LC) in December. The condition of another 20 million of the recordings is unknown, and these numbers do not include important material in private hands.
Most of us are aware of the basics of U.S. copyright law, including the categories of copyrightable and non-copyrightable works. Some materials are explicitly exempted from copyright in this country, a key example being U.S. Federal documents. Another exempted category is that of facts and compilations of facts that have no creative component. As you might imagine, “modicum of creativity” is itself very difficult to define. This question of facts versus creativity comes up in the discussion of ownership and copyrightability of library catalog data.
Planning and executing a MOOC, a Massive Open Online Course, is not an easy undertaking. It involves a lot of work, including a thoroughgoing reevaluation of pedagogical goals and methods, lots of planning, and extensive technological support to get each module in the MOOC just right. It also involves lots of “new” decisions about copyright.
I never met Aaron Swartz, though I certainly knew of him. I’ve been teaching library school students about him since his 2011 arrest for sneaking into an MIT server closet to mass-download the contents of JSTOR. I learned of his death by his own hand via airport wireless, early on the morning of Saturday, January 12. Exhausted by a week of teaching a data-curation bootcamp for librarians and digital humanists, the most I could muster was a weak, aghast “aigh. no.”