November 22, 2015

Copyright Incentives in the GSU Appeals Court Ruling | Peer to Peer Review

Kevin L. Smith

The word “incentive” appears ten times in the ruling issued last month by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the Georgia State University (GSU) copyright infringement case, but it is slightly unclear in this rather odd opinion just who is the object of the incentive created by copyright. In seven of those ten instances, the incentive is clearly intended to benefit the author. But there are three sentences at the very end of the majority opinion (the other three uses of the word) where the court seems to interrupt its analysis to state that the incentive belongs to publishers, not authors. It is, I think, worth parsing this apparent contradiction in order to guess at how the trial court might think about incentives on remand.

Ex-Detroit Library Official Timothy Cromer Sentenced to Ten Years


Former Detroit Public Library chief administrative and technology officer Timothy Cromer was sentenced on September 16 to ten years in federal prison. He had been charged with taking more than $1.4 million in bribes and kickbacks from library contractors.

NYC Mayor Appoints First Replacement for Dismissed Queens Trustees

Jukay Hsu

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on August 12 appointed Jukay Hsu, founder of the community development organization Coalition for Queens (C4Q), to the Queens Borough Public Library (QL) Board of Trustees. The appointment fills one of eight positions left vacant since July 23, when de Blasio dismissed two of the library’s trustees and Queens Borough President (QBP) Melinda Katz dismissed six.

Library Freedom Fighter Zoia Horn Remembered

Zoia Horn

Activist librarian Zoia Markovna Horn died on July 12 at the age 96. She was famous for being the first U.S. librarian to be jailed for refusing to divulge information that violated professional principles of privacy and intellectual freedom. An activist member of the American Library Association (ALA) and a member and chair of its Intellectual Freedom Committee, Horn was jailed for 20 days for contempt after refusing to testify in the 1972 conspiracy trial of the “Harrisburg Seven.”

Appeals Court Upholds Wins for Fair Use in HathiTrust Case

Hathi Trust logo

On June 10, the U.S. Second Court of Appeals handed down its latest decision in the continuing legal battle between the HathiTrust and the Authors Guild, and it is good news for fair use advocates. A three judge panel largely confirmed the decision handed down in 2012, which found that the HathiTrust’s activities of digitizing books from its member libraries and increasing their discoverability by letting users search for key terms within titles are fair use. The court also upheld Baer’s finding that the Guild lacks standing to bring cases as an association, though individual members can do so.

KY Legislature Won’t Fix Library Funding

In northern Kentucky this spring, the more things change the more they stay the same for the embattled Campbell (CCPL) and Kenton County Public Libraries (KCPL). After the state General Assembly came close, but ultimately failed to deliver a legislative solution to their longstanding legal woes, the library systems have little recourse except to wait for an appeals court decision that will help determine how they—and potentially the majority of Kentucky libraries—can raise tax revenue.

Authors Guild Appeals Dismissal of Google Books Lawsuit

Google Books Logo

Last November Judge Denny Chin dealt a blow to the lawsuit filed by publishers and the Author’s Guild against tech giant Google and its Google Books Service (GBS). Chin, of the 2nd Circuit U.S. Appeals Court, dismissed the case, which challenged the legality of GBS providing searchable PDFs of copyrighted works when Judge Denny. On Friday, April 11, the Guild filed an appeal in the case, marking the latest flareup in a long-running suit with major implications for copyright law in the U.S.

ALA and Freedom to Read Foundation File Briefs in Two Lawsuits

Freedom To Read Foundation

The first weeks of March were busy for litigation in the library world as the American Library Association (ALA) and Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) weighed in on a pair of cases headed to the Supreme Court. While neither impacts libraries directly, both have the potential to be big decisions that shape precedent on freedom of speech and privacy rights.

Queens Library Controversy Expands Into Construction Investigation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and New York City’s Department of Investigation (DOI) have launched a joint investigation into Queens Library (QL) president and CEO Thomas Galante. The New York Daily News reports that on February 28, federal investigators arrived at the Central Library branch in Jamaica, Queens, NY. There they served subpoenas to Galante and Frank Marino, a construction consultant whose firm has managed 15 projects for QL since 2008—and who works at the Elmont Union Free School District, the same Long Island, NY, school system where Galante holds a part-time consulting position netting him compensation in the six figures.

FCC Takes Another Swing at Net Neutrality While Netflix Agrees To Pay for Faster Streaming

FCC logo

In the wake of a January court ruling that struck down the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) standards for ensuring that Internet traffic is delivered without bias—a standard industry watchers refer to as ‘net neutrality’—the agency has issued a new proposal outlining a new set of rules to ensure Internet users have uncensored access to the full content of the Internet. Some experts, though, don’t think these new rules will be any more enforceable than those overturned earlier this year.