Welcome to the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter
August 16, 2001
Edward Felten speaks
Princeton's Edward Felten finally described in public how he bypassed the copy-protection methods created by the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI).
You probably know the backstory, but here's a brief overview just in case. The SDMI is a consortium of 200+ music and technology companies. Last September it offered a reward of up to $10,000 to anyone who could bypass its experimental copy protection schemes on a music CD in less than a month. Felten and his team broke five of the six in three weeks. They refused the prize money so that they would be free to publish their methods and results.
Felten planned to present his team's work at a Pittsburgh conference in April, but cancelled his talk when a lawyer from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) wrote him a threatening letter. The RIAA later said that the letter was not a threat to sue. However, since the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) prohibits bypassing copy-protection on copyrighted works, even for academic purposes, Felten worried about liability. The recent arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov has proved that Felten's fears were justified. In June, Felten asked a U.S. District Court to declare that he has a First Amendment right to give his presentation, and to overturn the parts of the DMCA that would stop him, but the court has not yet ruled. In its motion to dismiss Felten's lawsuit, the RIAA repeated its insistence that it was not Felten's legal adversary. With that assurance, Felten agreed to give his presentation last night at the Usenix Security Symposium, in Washington, D.C.
Felten has said he will continue to press his lawsuit even after he presents his paper. In my view he is right to do so. Sklyarov is being prosecuted even though Adobe has dropped its complaint against him. Even if the RIAA doesn't file a legal complaint against Felten, a zealous prosecutor could still prosecute him. In that sense, he needs a court to defang the DMCA and affirm his First Amendment right to describe his research in public. However, a court disinclined to examine the merits of his claim could decide that it is moot now that he has given his presentation.
Lessons from the SDMI Challenge, by Felten and others
(Links to PDF text, Ogg Vorbis audio, and RealVideo)
Usenix Security Symposium
SDMI home page
The SDMI challenge (September 2000)
("So here's the invitation: Attack the proposed technologies. Crack them.")RIAA home page
The EFF page on Felten v. RIAA
Good pages on the DMCA
From the EFF, http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/
From Anti-DMCA, http://www.anti-dmca.org/
Public Library of Science deadline imminent
If you're reading this, then you probably know about the Public Library of Science (PLoS), one of the boldest recent FOS initiatives. It all started with a March 23 letter to the editor of _Science Magazine_ signed by Richard Roberts, Harold Varmus, and eight others. The gist of the letter was to call on biomedical journals to put their contents online, free of charge, in public archives, within six months of print publication. The call has since been widened to all scientific and scholarly journals. Roberts, Varmus, et al. also called on scientists to sign a pledge not to "publish in, edit or review for, or personally subscribe to" journals that do not heed the call. The web list of signers now includes more than 26,000 scientists from 170 countries.
Quoting the PLoS FAQ: "No institution that asks for our money and voluntary contributions of work and intellectual property has a right to take these for granted."
The deadline for journals to comply and pledgers to act is September 1. If you want to add weight to the PLoS call on journals, there is still time to sign the web pledge. If you want to coordinate your action with research and library colleagues, now is the time to talk to them. If you want to write up this story for a journal covering your discipline, now is a good time to start.
Start to watch your favorite news sources and scholarly journals for responses to the pledge, the deadline, and the action of pledgers. I imagine this story will be covered fairly well in the scientific and mainstream press. But I also imagine that there will be many small, telling episodes that never make the bigger news outlets, including individual struggles with conscience by pledgers. If you learn of any details not being covered elsewhere, or if you have thoughts on the PLoS initiative, I hope you'll post them to our discussion forum.
Public Library of Science
Original letter to the editor of _Science Magazine_, March 23, 2001
Web version of PLoS Open Letter (shorter than the _Science Magazine_ version)
List of journals meeting PLoS conditions
Sign the PLoS petition
FOS discussion forum
(Anyone may read; only subscribers may post; subscription is free.)
In June the American Psychological Association (APA) revised its policy on posting articles to the internet. Authors may post unreviewed preprints to the web provided they label them as unreviewed. The APA warns authors that some journals will regard this as prior publication and will refuse to consider them. It does not condemn or discourage this practice by journals, but at least it has dropped the explicit endorsement contained in previous policy statement.
Authors of articles accepted for publication in APA journals may post electronic versions to their personal or institutional websites, but not to third-party repositories, and may do so as soon as the articles are accepted. This is a liberalization of the previous policy, which held that authors could not put reviewed post-prints online until three years after print publication. Authors may not create the digital version of an article by scanning the print version from an APA journal. (Thanks to Christopher Green's 8/12 posting to the September98-Forum for details on the APA's previous policy.)
APA policy on posting articles to the internet
* Postscript. What positions do the major professional societies in your discipline take on these questions? If you can find online policy statements and send me the URLs, I'll collect them on a web page.
* PPS. Since scholars can have FOS as soon as they decide to have it, it's heartening to see professional associations take steps in the direction of having it. The APA is ahead of most scholars and even more publishers in its willingness to see scholarship free and online in some form. On the other hand, it is still endorsing unnecessary impediments to FOS. This is only a problem if you want to follow the professional associations and not lead them. Bottom line: you needn't wait for publishers and you needn't wait for professional associations. You can make an individual or institutional archive for unreviewed preprints at any time. You and colleagues can create new free online peer-reviewed journals at any time. If you serve on the editorial board for an existing print journal, you and your board colleagues can move the journal to the web at any time, divorcing your current publisher if necessary. (For an inspiring example, see the _Journal of Logic Programming_ story in our May 11 issue.)
Do it yourself
* Sun has released the second edition of its Digital Library Tool Kit. This is the first upgrade in the tool kit since 1998. The title may be misleading: this is not software but a document of advice and instruction. It can be downloaded free of charge.
* The Scout Report has released the Scout Portal Toolkit. If you want to assemble an online collection of academic content and focus on the content, download this free software.
* Make your own e-books from your desktop publisher. New software allows you to export QuarkXPress documents to Microsoft Reader e-book format. The software is free for downloading.
Share your thoughts
* Mark Jordan of Simon Fraser University and Dave Kisly of the British Columbia Electronic Library Network are conducting a survey on how libraries handle electronic serials. They would like no more than one reply per library. If you represent a library, share your thoughts before the September 30 deadline.
* The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative seeks your comments on the first draft of its library application profile.
* Gerry McKiernan is looking for examples of Library Knowledge Bases to add to his web-based registry.
* The Open eBook Forum is calling for all eBook stakeholders (e.g. readers, publishers, librarians, vendors) to contribute "any need, want or wish that a participant determines should be reviewed by others to facilitate an effective and efficient ePublishing industry."
* The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) wants your comments on its plan to streamline access to technical reports. It proposes to enhance its search engine hit links with digital object identifiers (DOIs) that resolve to the copies of the reports in the agencies that created them. This will enable users to link directly to free versions of the documents. By contrast, downloading the same documents from NTIS is not free. (So what's the catch?) Comments will be accepted until September 13.
New on the net
* The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) home page has moved from Los Alamos servers to Cornell University. Note the new URL.
* Imagine a work of web art which makes your browser window into an abstract map of Dewey Decimal space. As you move your cursor around, you mouse over Dewey numbers embedded in an ever-changing 3D grid of active links to real web pages. If you click, you'll open a new window to the page your mouse is then highlighting, although you will almost always be surprised what this page turns out to be. It's cool and confusing at the same time. You'll hope this not the future of online information cataloging, but you'll hope it influences that future. It's Babel by Simon Biggs. (You'll need Shockwave installed.)
* Cornell's Engineering and Computer Science Library created Sticker Shock, a text and image slide show on the serials crisis.
* The National Academies (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council) have launched a web site on intellectual property topics, especially those that arise in the scholarship and research. It contains a library of valuable papers, a discussion forum, and a newsletter.
* Yahoo is now offering free online course management tools, which will make it a competitor with WebCT, Blackboard, and other priced vendors. This is a good deal for academics. But two provisos: (1) you might prefer MIT's free online course management tools, which have the advantage of open source, and (2) Yahoo has recently started charging for services it originally offered free of charge.
MIT's Open Knowledge Initiative
In other publications
* In their September issue, the editors of _Smart Business_, name Sigma-Aldrich as #20 among the Smart Business 50. These are companies that make exceptional use of the internet. Sigma-Aldrich sells chemicals, but won this distinction because it provides useful, voluminous, and free information about its chemicals. The result is a free online content provider as much as a for-profit chemical vendor.
Smart Business story on Sigma-Aldrich (scroll down to #20)
Sigma-Aldrich home page
* In the August 15 _DigiNews_, Daniel Greenstein and Gerald George describe the Digital Library Federation (DLF) project to develop a standard of minimum digital fidelity when digitizing printed texts. A higher standard will enhance the interoperability of different archives but exclude more legacy data. The DLF will soon post its proposed standard to its web site for discussion and approval.
* In the same issue of _DigiNews_, David Holdsworth and Paul Wheatley argue for emulation as a method of digital preservation. Emulation goes beyond preserving a data file to recreating the digital environment in which the file can be viewed or executed.
* In the August 14 issue of the _Chronicle of Higher Education_ Goldie Blumenstyk tells how the Cal State University System used its large size to bargain for more advantageous terms with netLibrary. Normally e-books purchased from netLibrary may be read read or "borrowed" by only one library patron at a time. Under the new contract, about half of Cal State's e-books from netLibrary may be borrowed by an unlimited number of readers at once, and Cal State pays no more for this arrangement. The Cal State director of e-book projects who negotiated the deal is named Evan Reader.
* In the August 13 _Content Exchange_ Ethan Casey reports on how the _Chronicle of Higher Education_ uses the web to supplement its print publication.
* In the August 10 _Chronicle of Higher Education_, Andrea Foster describes the disagreement between David Touretzky and Michael Shamos, both on the CS faculty at Carnegie Mellon. Touretzky is a leading critic of the DMCA and publicizes source code for bypassing encryption on DVDs and ebooks. Shamos is a computer scientist, former IP lawyer, and former teacher of Touretzky, who believes that Touretzky's actions unlawfully undermine e-commerce. The two were expert witnesses on the opposite sides of the DeCSS case and may face each other again in the Edward Felten case.
* In the July 24 issue of _Time Magazine_, Katherine Bonamici asks how libraries will far in the digital age if they must make ongoing payments in order to retain the rights to the e-books they "buy". Both publishers and libraries are waiting for a study by the Copyright Office on just this question --which was due last fall.
* The Duke University Digital Library Initiatives Task Group recently put its report online. The group was charged to develop a 3-5 year vision statement for digital library initiatives and to suggest strategies to achieve the vision.
* Sam Vaknin has posted a review of the DOI-EB to his growing collection of articles on digital content. The DOI-EB is an initiative to apply digital object identifiers (DOIs) to e-books (EB's). His review also functions as a useful introduction to DOIs.
* Human Rights Watch reports that China has further tightened controls over the internet. It calls on corporate sponsors of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to use their influence to improve freedom of expression in China.
* On June 22, the DC Court of Appeals awarded billions of dollars' worth of radio spectrum to NextWave Telecom, Inc. NextWave made the highest bid for them, but when it defaulted on its payments, the FCC took the spectrum licenses back. The court ruled that the licenses still belonged to NextWave, which was going through bankruptcy at the time of the default. On August 6, the FCC decided to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court. This is only FOS-related because if NextWave wins, it will diminish the proceeds from the spectrum auction, and hence undermine the very attractive Digital Promise Project (DPP). The DPP is a proposal to set aside $18 billion from the spectrum auction for digital media and digital content to improve American education. This is a tough one. On the one hand, I want to see fairness for debtors in bankruptcy; on the other, I want to see the DPP fully funded.
Christopher Stern, U.S. Govt Will Appeal NextWave Case To Supreme Court
NextWave v. FCC (June 22 decision, U.S. Court of Appeals)
The Digital Promise Project
* Our July 3 issue described the precarious fate of PubScience after the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), a trade association of for-profit publishers, lobbied Congress to stop government subsidies for free online scholarship. The SIIA even persuaded a House appropriations subcommittee to cut funding for PubScience and adopt the SIIA's rationale as its own. Now, however, the Senate has rejected the House measure and restored PubScience funding in its own recent spending bill. Next month the House and Senate must agree on a final version of the bill.
Andrea Foster, Senate Bill Offers Tacit Approval of Scholarly Web Portal Scorned by House
Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)
In the discussion forum this week, Jo Kirkpatrick and Steve Hitchcock have thoughtful analyses of the RePEc case study in commercial exploitation presented in our last issue. Join the conversation.
FOS discussion forum
(Anyone may read; only subscribers may post; subscription is free.)
Only two weeks ago I announced that our subscriber count had passed 400. Now it has passed 500. I thank all of you again for announcing the newsletter in your own publications, forwarding copies to colleagues, and spreading the word in other ways. You're turning this into a real newsletter.
If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your observations with us through our discussion forum.
* 67th IFLA Council and General Conference; Libraries and Librarians: Making a Difference in the Knowledge Age
Boston, August 16-25
* INSPIRAL workshop on integrating digital learning environments with digital library services
Leicester, August 21
* The Fundamentals of Digital Projects (Illinois Digitization Workshop)
Urbana, Illinois, August 28 and September 20
* The International Cultural Heritage Informatics Meeting http://www.archimuse.com/ichim2001/index.html
Milan, September 3-7
* 5th European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries
Darmstadt, September 4-8
* DELOS Workshop on Interoperability in Digital Libraries
Darmstadt, September 8-9
* Experimental OAI Based Digital Library Systems
Darmstadt, September 8
* Preserving Online Content for Future Generations
Darmstadt, September 8
* International Autumn School on the Digital Library and E-publishing for Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics
Geneva, September 9-14
* Digital Libraries: Advanced Methods and Technologies, Digital Collections
Petrozavodsk, September 11-13
* Intellectual Property and Multimedia in the Digital Age: Copyright Town Meeting
New York, September 24; Cincinnati, October 27; Eugene, Oregon, November 19
* Digital Resources for Research in the Humanities
Sydney, September 26-28
* EBLIDA Workshop on the Acquisition and Usage of Electronic Resources
The Hague, September 28
* Summer School on the Digital Library 2001: Electronic Publishing
Florence, October 7-12
* IT in the Transformation of the Library
Milwaukee, October 11-14
* International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications 2001
Tokyo, October 22-26
* Electronic Book 2001: Authors, Applications, and Accessibility
Washington D.C., November 5-7
This is the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (ISSN 1535-7848).
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