On June 11, some 133 academic authors filed an amici curiae brief in the Authors Guild v. HathiTrust case, in support of the HathiTrust. (In October 2012, The Honorable Harold Baer, Jr., held that the HathiTrust’s mass digitization is fair use, but the Guild filed an appeal in November.) The brief distinguished their interest from that of the Guild’s members and pointed out that they are not only different, but diametrically opposed.
After coming down to the wire, with a trial scheduled to start June 3, Penguin announced May 22 that it will settle the remaining ebook price fixing class action suits, as well as claims filed by 33 states. The publisher had already settled similar Federal claims with the Department of Justice in December 2012. Under that settlement, Penguin agreed to end its allegedly anticompetitive agreements with Apple and other retailers for a period of two years.
Here we go again. Another academic librarian received a letter threatening legal action over criticizing a publisher’s practices in a personal blog. But it’s not Edwin Mellen Press that’s the plaintiff this time; Jeffrey Beall, University of of Colorado, Denver librarian and author of the Scholarly Open Access blog, received the letter from OMICS Publishing Group, an OA publisher based in India (with an office in Los Angeles).
Courtroom setbacks handed out to two Northern Kentucky library districts within 10 days of each other have placed their ability to collect tax revenue in jeopardy. The litigation stems from six members of the Northern Kentucky Tea Party who launched a legal assault against these libraries’ ability to collect tax money without voter approval. If pursued, the tax implications of these cases could imperil district funding for libraries across the state.
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.”
Do librarians really get sued, or threatened with lawsuits, all that often? It is hard to say. My initial impression is that they do not get haled into court very often, but it is very difficult to know about threats. There may be more saber-rattling than we know about, and if such threats actually prevent librarians from taking the challenged action, we might never know about it. That is called a “chilling effect,” and there is a website devoted to cataloging such threats, which librarians should be aware of and, I think, contribute to when appropriate.
A plan to replace an aging library in Washington, DC’s West End as part of a massive private development has opened a rift between some unlikely foes: the D.C. Library Renaissance Project (DCLRP), a library advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader, which has gone to court seeking to halt the project, and several neighborhood groups, led by West End Library Friends, who want ground broken as soon as possible.
The San Francisco Law Library filed a lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco, CA, on February 6. The case, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that since 1995 the city has violated both City Charter section 8.103 and state law, which requires the city and county of San Francisco to provide proper funding and adequate space for the library.
In 2010, Dale Askey was a tenured associate professor at Kansas State University (K-State) when he made a blog post about Edwin Mellen Press. Since removed from the blog, the post called Mellen a “dubious publisher,” saying that the press occasionally publishes a worthy title and is not technically a vanity publisher, but that “much of what they publish is simply second-class scholarship.” Askey removed the post in March 2012. Three months later, Edwin Mellen Press filed two libel lawsuits in Ontario’s Superior Court.