In what analysts are describing as a big win for scholars and libraries, federal circuit court judge Denny Chin today dismissed a lawsuit against Google brought by the Authors Guild claiming that the company had violated copyrights by digitizing millions of books and making short samples of the works available via its Google Books service. In the decision, Chin stated that Google Books provided “significant public benefits,” and that the digitized works were protected by the principle of fair use.
Copyright and Fair Use
Black Elk Speaks has been published by three different publishers in the U.S. The rarity that this movement creates is the availability of different editions of the book from different publishers. That is, there is a semblance of competition in the publishing of Black Elk Speaks. This anomaly brings into relief the normal effects of the copyright monopoly. It offers an opportunity to reflect on what alternatives to the strict publishing monopoly might look like.
Citing concerns about the privacy of employees and the security of their networks, both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and nonprofit JSTOR have filed motions intervening in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that seeks to obtain Secret Service documents regarding internet activist Aaron Swartz.
Having written a column a couple of weeks ago expressing skepticism, even cynicism, about the prospect of the international diplomatic conference sponsored in Marrakesh by the World Intellectual Property Organization actually producing a treaty on copyright exceptions for the blind and visually impaired, I was both pleased and surprised to hear that such a treaty was agreed to by the delegates in the wee hours of June 25.
The HathiTrust Digital Library will become The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)’s single largest content hub, the two institutions announced on June 18. The metadata records associated with some 3,384,638 volumes (and growing daily) held by the HathiTrust will be accessible on the web at dp.la, and through the DPLA application programming interface (API). (The digitized volumes themselves will continue to reside in HathiTrust.)
During these last two weeks of June, delegates to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, to negotiate around a proposed treaty on Limitations and Exceptions for Visually Impaired Persons. Such a treaty would require that each country allow copies of copyrighted materials that are compatible with assistive software to be made.. Such an exception would be very limited, and would serve a very laudable purpose. So it is fair to ask why it has taken so long, seen several reversals on the part of the U.S. administration, and remains controversial.
What would happen to our libraries if the following statement became a reality: “If you can buy a book, you can’t borrow it?” What if I told you that it’s on the verge of happening internationally, and in a way that is pretty despicable? For years, international negotiations have been moving forward on a treaty is to make it possible for people who are blind, or have other print disabilities like dyslexia, to get access to the books they need. At first, private interests were supportive. Then, they realized they could squeeze something out of this treaty that would greatly benefit them—stricter international copyright law.
On May 21, SIPX, which provides cloud-based end-to-end copyright management and digital document delivery for higher ed, announced customer agreements with several schools and consortia, including the company’s former home, Stanford University, where the research underlying the technology was conducted over the last three years. (SIPX has now “spun-out” from Stanford, completed its financing, and is operating as a separate, for-profit company.)
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.