The website repository Sci-Hub, which enables users to freely download scholarly articles that normally require institutional subscriptions or individual payments, has found itself at the center of a series of conflicts over the past year. Many publishers are increasingly angry at the theft of copyrighted material, with the Association of American Publishers (AAP) going so far as to censure an academic librarian for his comments on Sci-Hub during a panel at the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference in Orlando in June.
Copyright and Fair Use
The Difference between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism—and Why It Matters | Peer to Peer Review
Reading a recent article in the Atlantic and the subsequent comments, I was struck again by how much confusion there is among the public about the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement.
Copyright is the only right defined in the main text of the U.S. Constitution. It is specified in Article 1, Section 8, so it didn’t have to be added in the amendments known as the Bill of Rights, which tells us how important the concept of copyright was to the founders. They enumerated its dimensions in a sparse sentence: “To promote the Progress of science and useful Arts by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”
It’s been a while since I spoke with the inimitable Kyle K. Courtney, 2015 LJ Mover and Shaker, “Harvard Hero” (for his work on copyright), and the organizer of the Copyright First Responder program at Harvard, among many, many other roles. With Fair Use / Fair Dealing Week upon us (Feb. 22nd – 26th), it seems like a good time to see what developments have taken place in Kyle’s universe since last we chatted in 2013.
As President Obama ponders his choice for the next Librarian of Congress, the first time in nearly three decades that such a nomination will be necessary, the U.S. Senate has passed a bill to put a ten-year term on the position, stripping the job of the lifetime tenure it has carried since 1802.
It has been a busy time for those of us who watch the doings of the Copyright Office. In addition to releasing a massive report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization, about which I have written here, the Copyright Office (CO) is the subject of a piece of legislation introduced as a discussion draft on June 3. The bill, if it were officially introduced and ultimately enacted, would remove the CO from the Library of Congress (LC) and establish it as an independent agency of the federal government, under the Executive Branch. Then, while we were still considering the ramifications of this idea, came the announcement on June 10 of the pending retirement of Dr. James Billington, who has been the Librarian of Congress for the past 29 years.
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) joined forces with Europeana and Creative Commons (CC) to create a collaborative, interoperable platform for international rights statements. The International Rights Statement Working Group (Working Group), composed of representatives from the three organizations, spent the past 12 months outlining a proposal for a common framework to provide rights statements for both national and international cultural heritage objects.
James H. Billington, who has served as the 13th Librarian of Congress since he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, announced on June 10 that he would retire effective January 1, 2016.
A group of technology companies, trade associations, and civil society organizations have joined forces to form Re:Create, a national coalition to advocate for balanced copyright policy. In the wake of recent proposals to amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, as well as constant advances in the field of knowledge creation, coalition members are calling for responsive copyright law that balances the interests of those who create information and products with those of users and innovators, providing robust exceptions as well as limitations to copyright law in order that it not limit new uses and technologies.