Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, May 31, 2002

The current Information Today poll asks whether ebooks have a place in libraries. When I checked a minute ago, the voting ran 61% yes v. 39% no.

On May 29, the UCITA Standby Committee submitted 38 amendments to UCITA. The amendments respond to criticisms from the ABA, not the ALA, but some of them will definitely help libraries. Here's my quick take on the relevant amendments. I'd like to hear from anyone who sees official responses to these amendments from library groups.

Amendment #3 would block enforcement of licensing terms that try to prohibit "lawful public comment". Amendment #6 would block enforcemenet of licensing terms that try to prohibit "reverse engineering" of lawfully obtained software in order to make that software interoperable with "independently created" software (some exceptions apply). Amendment #8 would block enforcement of any terms in a shrink-wrap or other "mass-market license" that users could not review prior to the act of agreement, and in some cases vendors must give refunds when licensing terms are refused. Amendment #11 would remove implied warranties from free software. Amendment #12 would allow consumers of products with shrink-wrap licenses to transfer their rights to others when they donate the products to public schools, public libraries, or other consumers. Amendment #13 wouuld legalize some kinds of "electronic self-help" (difficult to summarize without access to the provisions not being amended).

Lydia Pallas Loren, The Purpose of Copyright, Open Spaces Quarterly, May 31, 2002. An excellent overview of the history and purpose of copyright law and how it has been perverted in recent times. One of the best brief primers on why copyright is now part of the problem. (Thanks to C-FIT.)

Thursday, May 30, 2002

The EFF has released its comments on the final report of the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group, concluding that
  1. The BPDG is flawed
  2. The BPDG recommendations will abridge fair use rights
  3. The BPDG recommendations will harm free software and open source
  4. The BPDG recommendations will harm innovation
The EFF's comments are also available as a PDF, Microsoft Word document, or plain text file.

The Humbul Humanities Hub has launched My Humbul Include, a new service allowing web page creators to retrieve digital humanities resources dynamically from Humbul. Users select the Humbul records they want, cluster them in any way they want, generate the HTML code to retrieve them, and then paste the code into their pages. (Thanks to Michael Fraser.)

Duke University has received an $1.8 million grant from the National Oceanographic Partnership Program and the Sloan Foundation to create an online archive on marine mammals, turtles, and seabirds. More details in the Duke press release. (Thanks to ResearchBuzz.)

Subscribers to Elsevier's science portal, Nuclear Physics Electronic, thought they were buying long-term access to the ejournals in the collection. But now Elsevier has revoked access to five years' worth of these journals unless subscribers pay more to subscribe to Science Direct. This is not the first time Elsevier has taken such a step. For the Stuttgart University Library, it is the last straw. Quoting Bernd-Christoph Kaemper, a Stuttgart librarian:
[O]ur university's library advisory board unanimously decided to back up the library's proposal for a politically motivated "emergency decision" to cancel our Elsevier subscriptions. At the same time, we'll encourage faculty to publish in not-for-profit society and open access journals and to follow a consequent strategy to self-archive their refereed journal articles in open electronic archives. Stuttgart University library is a signatory to the Budapest Open Access Initiative.
See Kaemper's full public letter. (Thanks to LibLicense.)

At the same meeting that launched Lawrence Lessig's Creative Commons, Tim O'Reilly announced that all O'Reilly books by consenting authors would be given only a 14 year copyright before passing into the public domain. Copyrights lasted for 14 years at the time the U.S. Constitution was ratified, but now last for the author's life plus 70 years, or 95 years for works by corporations.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

The DMCA is harmful to libraries and scholarship. But how specific can you be in proposing a constructive alternative that would respect IP rights as far as they ought be respected and no further? There are several interesting discussion threads on the LibLicense list at the moment, all trying to do just that.

Monday, May 27, 2002

Publishers and librarians share some interests and conflict on others. As president of the AAP, Pat Schroeder has a record of emphasizing the conflict --e.g. that publishers want to limit access while librarians want to extend it. But on May 22, she held out an olive branch in a speech at the Australian Library and Information Association. She didn't bridge the conflict, but she seemed on intent on avoiding any mention of it and highlighting the common ground. She insisted that publishers must charge for online content, and that this benefits even academic authors, but she praised librarians for indexing the internet and joining publishers in the fight against censorship. (Thanks to LIS News.)

HINARI has added 17 publishers to its consortium of publishers offering online medical journals and databases to developing countries at tiered prices, free for the lowest tier. (See FOSN for 2/25/02.)

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Konrad Lischka, Der Geist, der aus der Flasche kam, in Telepolis for March 16, 2002. This is a very positive article on the Budapest Open Access Initiative from two months ago that I didn't know about until this week. Lischka's "ghost in/out of the bottle" metaphor is an allusion to Derk Haank's February interview in Information Today.