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There will be no FOS News postings on Friday or Saturday, October 18-19. During this time our web server should keep the blog accessible for reading, but our FTP server will be down for maintenance, preventing updates. I apologize for the interruption of service.
More on post-9/11 censorship....The removal of sensitive information from web sites is undermining scientific research in many fields. Quoting Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' project on government secrecy: web censorship "either creates unnecessary labor to identify and track down a copy of the missing document or it yields an inferior or incomplete product."
Edmund Sanders and Jon Healey of the LA Times have written a good survey of pending U.S. copyright legislation: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Colin Steele, E-prints: the future of scholarly communication? inCite, October 2002. "Will 2002 be seen as the watershed year when the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) really took off and began to have an impact on global scholarly communication? The OAI develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content. The Eprints.org free software is OAI compliant and enables institutional archiving with appropriate harvesting." Steele's survey of eprint archiving progress is especially strong on recent developments in Australia.
More on the Eldred case....Lawrence Lessig has written some reflections on the case and the oral argument for his blog.
Chris Gutteridge has written a very helpful overview of the eprints software for building and maintaining scholarly eprint archives. The overview is a preprint of a future article and includes details to help institutions estimate the total cost of implementation in staff time and hardware. (The software itself is free.) Gutteridge is the chief programmer behind eprints.
More on the CBDTPA....Quoting Fred von Lohmann, lawyer for the EFF, at a San Francisco IP conference this week: The CBDTPA would be like "putting the dinosaurs in charge of evolution." (PS: Free registration required.)
It's bad enough to gain access to important literature only under oppressive licensing conditions. It's worse when you didn't fully assent to the terms of the license. Read the helpful report, Click-Through Agreements: Strategies for Avoiding Disputes on Validity of Assent, from the Working Group on Electronic Contracting Practices of the Electronic Commerce Subcommittee of the Cyberspace Law Committee of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association. (Thanks to LibLicense.)
I just updated the page of FOS Conferences. In addition to adding new items, I've highlilghted to the most FOS-relevant conferences in bold.
The October 15 issue of RLG DigiNews is now online. Here are the FOS-related articles.
More on the CIPR report....In yesterday's New York Times Steve Lohr argued that US opposition to these recommendations for developing nations forgets its own policies and needs during the 19th century when it was a net importer of intellectual property. "Indeed, the economies that were shining success stories of development, from the United States in the 19th century to Japan and its East Asian neighbors like Taiwan and South Korea in the 20th, took off under systems of weak intellectual property protection." (Thanks to Terry Foreman.)
Charles W. Bailey Jr. has released Version 45 of his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new edition cites over 1,700 books, articles, and other resources, both online and in print.
On October 1, IFLA released its report, Limitations and Exceptions to Copyright and Neighboring Rights in the Digital Environment: An International Library Perspective. (Thanks to Gary Price.)
Excerpt: "IFLA does not want to see an environment where total control over access to information is in the hands of a small number of large transnational companies. If all uses of information are controlled, only the affluent will be able to receive the benefit of access to the world’s creative output. IFLA is concerned that, unless this control is limited, it will interfere with the greater good of society. One cannot rely on rights owners to put the interests of society first. That is the role of governments. Although no one denies rights owners the right to obtain a return on their investment, limitations in the form of exceptions must be part of the equation to ensure that society may also obtain a similar return on its investment in education and research. Only in this way will a balance be achieved."
The International Federation of Library Associations and Associations (IFLA) and the International Publishers Association (IPA) have issued a joint Statement on Freedom of Expression. (PS: The statement was adopted on August 22, but for some reason the press release was delayed until October 9. Moreover, this statement is similar to, but different from, a statement issued by the same organizations, in the same week, in the same city, The Glasgow Declaration on Libraries, Information Services, and Intellectual Freedom.)
In today's News.com, Declan McCullagh reviews the state of the copyright war. "The problem is simple: Copyright law has diverged wildly from what the average Internet user and DVD owner believes it is reasonable to do. This can result in a dangerous and unstable situation, where the police have the legal authority to toss so many otherwise law-abiding people in prison. It creates contempt for the law and the courts. It's a throwback to Prohibition, when booze was illegal, but bootlegging was common."
More on the problem of excessive accessibility....The AP surveys state responses to the problem. Some open-records advocates "fear [that] lawmakers might use the Internet as an excuse to deny the public access to information off-line." Quoting Timothy Smith, director for the Ohio Center for Privacy and the First Amendment at Kent State University: "I'm deeply suspicious of anyone tinkering with open records laws because they're usually doing it for a specific self-serving reason." He adds that states can put public records online after deleting personal information about individuals such as name, address, and social security number.
Alice Keller, Looking at E-Journals and Beyond, IASP Newsletter, January 2002, pp. 3-7. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)
The October issue of D-Lib Magazine is now online. Here are the FOS-related articles.
The U.S. Copyright Office is seeking public comment on "whether there are particular classes of works as to which users are, or are likely to be, adversely affected in their ability to make noninfringing uses due to the prohibition on circumvention." That is, what exceptions ought to be made to the DMCA anti-circumvention clause? The Office will accept comments through a web form starting November 19, 2002. The first round of comments (proposing specific classes of works for exemption) will end December 18, 2002, and the second round (commenting on the proposals from the first round) will end on February 19, 2003.
Sir John Sulston, one the co-winners of this year's Nobel Prize for medicine, attributes his scientific success to a spirit of open sharing of knowledge and information. Quoting Sir John: The nematode worms on which he experimented "worked so well because the community held an ethos of sharing --just as the public genome projects have-- from the beginning. We gave all our results to others as soon as we had them. From sharing, discovery is accelerated in the community. Research is hastened when people share results freely." (Thanks to James Meek in The Guardian.)
Finland has reformed its copyright law. Finns may not import pirated content, but they may circumvent copy protection for private use and delete the regional coding on DVD players. A special tax on blank media goes to a fund that compensates copyright holders for unathorized private copies. Journalists and photographers, rather than their employers, retain the copyrights to their work.
"Several university officials told the House of Representatives Committee on Science on Thursday that they do not favor having the government designate some scientific work as "sensitive," as opposed to classified or unclassified....The university officials said scientists are the best judges of which unclassified information should be kept out of the hands of the general public. " (Thanks to Anne Marie Borrego in the Chronicle of Higher Education.)
Dan Bricklin, Copy Protection Robs the Future. "Works that are copy protected are less likely to survive into the future. The formal and informal world of archivists and preservers will be unable to do their job of moving what they keep from one media to another newer one, nor will they be able to ensure survival and appreciation through wide dissemination, even when it is legal to do so." (Thanks to C-FIT.)
Reuters on Friday: "Taiwan has turned down a U.S. demand on Friday to extend copyrights...for another 20 years as negotiators on both sides held talks on intellectual property rights....Washington has used Taiwan's desire to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States as a bargaining chip....Outside the Board of Foreign Trade where the negotiation was held, dozens of college students protested against the U.S. demand, shouting `'Knowledge can't be monopolised.'''