Welcome to the Free Online Scholarship (FOS) NewsletterDecember 5, 2001
Budapest FOS conference
On December 1-2 I attended a small, intense, productive, and very enjoyable conference in Budapest to map strategies for achieving FOS world-wide. The conference was hosted by the Open Society Institute (OSI), which supports this newsletter with a grant. Formally around a table and informally at meals and in walks along the Danube, we talked and talked and talked about our separate FOS initiatives, how they could achieve synergy and assist one another, how OSI could assist us, and how to accelerate progress for all. We're still at work on a product of the conference, which I'll be able to describe more fully when it's ready for the public.
The conference was deeply gratifying for several reasons. It was gratifying that a major foundation was committed to the FOS cause and had brought us together to work out a common strategy. It was gratifying to find that we could agree on a path forward. It was gratifying to be thrown together with this bunch of knowledgeable and hard-working people. We were able to put aside the burden of informing newcomers and answering critics --the walking FAQ problem-- and enjoy the company and unique perspectives of like-minded activists from around the world. We were able to presuppose esoteric knowledge and jump-start deep and fruitful conversations. We were able to draw on the wide experience in the room to examine FOS obstacles in detail and take their true measure. We are able to meet people whose work we had long admired. We made many new friends. We juiced our confidence that FOS is inevitable.
The trip took four days out of my news-gathering schedule. I'm about half caught up and have decided to draw the line here for this issue. By next week's issue should I should be back up to date. I'm eager to tell you the rest of the conference story, but first I have to carve out some time for the conference homework. To be continued.
The living dead problem
In the November 27 _Los Angeles Times_, David Colker points out that sensitive information removed from the web to keep it from terrorists is still available in many web archives (e.g. the Wayback Machine) and search engine caches (e.g. Google's).
David Colker, The Web Never Forgets
Chris Sherman deserves credit for making the same point as early as October 9.
The difficulty of total deletion of net content is only a problem for information that lends itself to abuse, like open discussions of security gaps at nuclear power plants. But for valuable content like FOS, it's a boon. The difficulty of total deletion is really a proof-of-concept for LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe), a strategy for long-term preservation that systematically caches content in a self-correcting P2P network. See FOSN for 6/25/01.
The difficulty of total deletion has one more benefit for FOS. If you put an unrefereed preprint of your work on the web, well before the moment when you might assign the copyright to a journal, and then later publish a revised or unrevised version in a journal, the journal may ask you to remove the preprint from the web. You needn't comply; but even if you try to do so, the preprint will almost certainly survive in some freely accessible form. A recent thread of the September98 forum discussed the effect of this phenomenon on copyright negotiations.
Thread name, "Copyright: Form, Content, and Prepublication Incarnations"(The topic is more explicit later in the thread than earlier.)
Two courts put copyright ahead of the freedom to publish research
On November 28, Edward Felten lost his suit to overturn parts of the DMCA, and immediately appealed the decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Felten seeks a declaratory judgment that he has a First Amendment right to publish his encryption research, and that any statute to the contrary (in this case the anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA) must be struck down as unconstitutional.
Felten lost because the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has said in public that it would not sue him for publishing his research. However, before the RIAA made these public statements, an RIAA lawyer threatened to sue Felten in writing. Felten didn't go to court because the lawyer's letter was more credible than the RIAA public statements, but because scholars in his position shouldn't have to guess. Moreover, scholars shouldn't have to ask the entertainment industry to make public statements before they feel free to exercise their First Amendment rights.
Declan McCullagh, Code-Breakers Go To Court
Robert Lemos, Court dismisses free-speech lawsuit
EFF archive on the Felten case
FOSN back issues on the Felten case
Before you get too optimistic about Felten's appeal, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, where Felten's appeal will be heard, just decided that 2600 Magazine had no First Amendment right to publish the source code to DeCSS, a program to bypass encryption on DVD's. This decision was also handed down on November 28.
The court made the important concession that source code is "speech" protected by the First Amendment. But it held that the DMCA anti-circumvention clause is a "content-neutral" regulation of speech, and is therefore subject to a less hostile level of scrutiny from courts. This enabled the court to rule that the anti-circumvention clause survives the relevant level of scrutiny. (PS: Is this prohibition really content-neutral if it picks out all and only those compilable texts enabling users to circumvent copyright protection schemes?)
The court also ruled that sites that knowingly link to other sites containing the source code are as unlawful as sites that publish the code themselves. This upholds the strongest "guilt by linking" decision to date. (For more on the legality of linking, see FOSN for 6/1/01.)
If you think you've read contradictory news about this case, you're almost right. On November 1, a California court upheld the right to publish the DeCSS source code and to link to other sites doing the same. (See FOSN for 11/9/01.) There are two reasons why the November 1 case doesn't help 2600 Magazine. First, it vindicates Andrew Bunner, not 2600 Magazine. Bunner had been separately prosecuted for publishing the DeCSS code on his site. Second, it was decided by a California state court (interpreting federal law), not a federal court. Since the issues in the case are federal law issues, the federal verdict will trump contrary state verdicts.
Evan Hansen, Ban on DVD-cracking code upheld
John Schwartz, 2 Copyright Cases Decided in Favor of Entertainment Industry(On both the DeCSS and Felten cases.)
Declan McCullagh, Copyright Law Foes Lose Big(On both the DeCSS and Felten cases.)
Decision of the federal appeals court against 2600 Magazine, November 28, 2001
Decision of the California court for Bunner, November 1, 2001
EFF archive on the DeCSS cases
Stefan Bechtold, The [Legal] Link Controversy Page(Last updated in September but still valuable.)
FOSN back issues on the DeCSS cases
* Postscript. In related news, Dmitry Sklyarov's trial has been set for April 15.
FOSN back issues on the Sklyarov case
* JournalSeek and LinkOpenly will merge into a new service called LinkFinderPlus. The result is a library-based (as opposed to publisher-based) reference linking system. LinkFinderPlus is based on OpenURL metadata.
* The Canadian National Site Licensing Project (CNSLP) is an unusual and award-winning national consortium to bargain down the price of licences to priced online journals. (See FOSN for 9/14/01.) CNSLP met in late November to discuss expanding the scope of its activities.
* On November 28, BioOne announced the first 15 consortial subscriptions since its launch nine months ago. BioOne aggregates 46 influential, peer-reviewed online science journals and makes them available at a low, competitive price. (This announcement from SPARC, one of BioONe's founding organizations, is not yet on the web at SPARC or BioOne. Sorry I can't give you a link.)
* On November 28, ISI announced the official launch of its Web of Knowledge service, a very unfree library of online science and related tools.
* On November 28, _The Dismal Scientist_ from economy.com left the FOS domain and began charging a subscription. The new price is $16.95 a month. (PS: Giving the monthly rather than the yearly price is a strategy that I associate with K-Mart for making its TVs and riding mowers seem more affordable than they really are. Will economists fall for it?)
* You've probably heard that British Telecommunications (BT) claims a patent on the hyperlink, filed in the U.S. in 1976 and granted in 1989. Last December it showed that it was willing to defend the patent in court by suing Prodigy, the first U.S. commercial ISP. The recent news is simply that this case hasn't gone away yet. The next pre-trial hearing on the case has been set for February 11-12, 2002, in a federal district court in New York.
* The International Digital Electronic Access Library (IDEAL) has announced that eight African nations (Sudan, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia) have acquired the reduced-rate national license it offers through Academic Press. Some of the nations are receiving financial help for the license from the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP).
* At the conclusion of its November conference in Qatar, the World Trade Organization issued a statement asserting that public health supersedes intellectual property rights. The intent is clearly to increase the accessibility of medicines, and therefore pertains more to patents than copyrights. But the statement's language is intriguingly general. The WTO's new TRIPS agreement (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) "does not and should not prevent Members from taking measures to protect public health." If we read this principle as extending to copyrights, then it might imply e.g. that a licensee of ScienceDirect may share articles on medical research with non-licensees in developing countries. Does anyone know of a test case in the pipeline?
Paul Blustein, Getting WTO's Attention
* FractalEdge Technology has released a program to organize a large collection of information as an image-map with a quasi-fractal structure. Mouse rollovers highlight different aspects of the collection's structure. When you click on a piece of exposed structure, its sub-structure opens for further browsing, and so on and so on as far as the collection reaches. A compact and elegant way to organize very large collections.
Example at work, organizing the books for sale at The Book Place
* A new technology called Network Diversity can transmit information securely without encryption. The basic trick is to divide the data into packets so small that each represents less than a single character, and then to send the packets over different networks. The motivation was not that hackers were breaking encryption but that encrypted files took too long to transmit. Files secured with the new technology transmit even faster than the unsecured version of the same files. Network Diversity is made by Amino Communications.
Amino's press release on Network Diversity
Postscript: This won't replace the encryption of ebooks sitting on ebook readers, since there is no transmission involved. So it won't affect DMCA anti-circumvention problems. But it could streamline secure transmissions enough to make it an attractive way to authenticate articles in online journals. It will also survive any regulation of encryption currently contemplated by Congress.
* ContentGuard has launched version 2.0 of XrML (eXtensible rights Markup Language), which is designed to integrate DRM protection with data files. Now that 2.0 is finished, ContentGuard plans to turn over control of the language to a yet-unnamed international standards organization.
XrML press release
XrML home page
Postscript: ContentGuard claims that XrML is the only rights language currently at work in DRM software. This seems to be a dig at XMCL, another variant XML with the same purpose (see FOSN for 11/2/01). There's probably a difference in the specs, but without looking too closely the main difference seems to be that XrML is supported by Microsoft and XMCL is supported by RealNetworks, Adobe, IBM, Sony, Sun, and the usual gang of giants fighting for their lives against Microsoft. Since both languages will be turned over to international standards organizations, the question for both groups is how far the international bodies are above market pressures and how far they might be willing to blend concepts from the separate approaches. The question for FOS is how to prevent these DRM-mutants from infecting the XML standard.
XMCL home page
PPS. In November the Open Digital Rights Language Initiative released version 1.0 its language, which will require no licensing payments. This culminates a six-month series of sub-1.0 releases.
New on the net
* The International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) has revised its guidelines for measuring the usage of online resources. It's the first revision of its guidelines since November 1988.
ICOLC has also revised its statement on selecting and buying electronic information. The revised version includes an update on licensing ejournals. This is the first revision since March 1998.
* The proceedings of the Science and Technology Libraries Section of the August IFLA conference at Cornell University are now online.
* If you want to write your own taxonomy software (see FOSN for 11/2/01, 11/9/01) or just understanding better how it works, these white papers from Quiver should help.
* Florida Atlantic University has put up a web page comparing the costs of journals and databases to luxury items like cars and houses.
See Brown University's similar page on outrageous journal prices.
Recall Cornell's Sticker Shock page (FOSN for 8/16/01)
Share your thoughts
* How would you use a digital library on gender and science, what criteria should guide its development, and are you willing to help? If you're interested, answer these survey questions for the Gender and Diversities Institute.
* The eVALUEd project is conducting a literature review on the evaluation of digital libraries and would like your pointers to relevant literature and related projects.
* The Media Access Project (MAP) is working to prevent monopolies from growing up in the cable industry. If you are a content producer with a horror story you'd like the FCC to hear, then MAP would like to hear from you.
* If you're worried about harm to the free internet, either from terrorists or from governments fighting terrorists, here are some initiatives that can use your help. I'll add more in future issues as I find more.
National Emergency Technology Guard (NetGuard): a proposed volunteer force, to be debated in Congress in December
Open Anti-Virus: an open-source, non-censoring platform for data security
In other publications
* An article forthcoming in the January 2002 _Portal_ is excerpted in the October-November _SPARC E-News_. Lance Lugar and Kate Thomes survey the ways that ARL member libraries use their web sites to help patrons understand the controversies affecting access to scholarly literature. No one doubts that ARL is a champion of free and affordable online access, especially through SPARC and CNI. However, the survey shows that the "ARL libraries do not make widespread, extensive use of their capacities for web publishing to present the issues of scholarly communication to their patron groups."
* The December 3 issue of ISI's _InCites_ computes England's percentage of the world's published papers in 22 scientific fields and its national citation impact in the same fields. (PS: Next, tenure will depend on one's national impact factor.)
* In the December _Journal of Electronic Publishing_ (JEP), Charles Bailey tells the 10-year story of the evolution of his huge and useful Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography.
* Also in the December _JEP_, John Willinsky and Larry Wolfson argue that the pain of the serials crisis has not sufficed to usher in widespread FOS, but that if we add a new generation of services to index online journals, we may create a "tipping point" that will accelerate progress. Online indices have the potential to surpass existing indices and full-text search engines in precision, consistency, completeness, integration (one-stop shopping), and of course in cost. Willinsky and Wolfson back this up with an extensive survey of the weaknesses of the existing body of indices.
* Also in the December _JEP_, Mike Sosteric, Yuwei Shi, and Olivier Wenker issue a call to arms to fight for FOS. A key breakthrough, they argue, will be the shift from paper-first journals to electronic-first journals. To prepare a document first for print and then for the web requires unnecessary DTD's and effort, while new tools make the reverse path highly efficient. The authors include a detailed account of how two organizations, ICAAP and BlueSky, implement electronic-first publishing and how much it can reduce journal operating costs.
* Also in the December _JEP_, Marshall Poe describes why online publishing will save the specialized monograph. You'll enjoy his funny, first-person account of an experiment with informal peer review, the public domain, Printing Service Providers (PSP's), and print-on-demand.
* In the December 1 _Econtent_, Martin White analyzes the serials pricing crisis for an audience of commercial publishers. For example, as journal prices rose, "[t]he publishers were in an enviable position, as journals are not substitutable." Or, "[t]he problem is that no one walks into a library and asks for all the Elsevier journals on hypertension. They want all the journals on hypertension." Or, "[l]ibraries are very keen to have [the data generated by publishers], since it would enable them, for the first time, to have reliable usage statistics on which to base their cancellation policy. For obvious reasons, publishers are unwilling to release this information!"
* In the November 27 _Wired News_, Karlin Lillington interviews Lawrence Lessig and other copyright critics on the growing copyright stranglehold on culture and creativity.
* Does opening up the review of public school textbooks from a small board of state-paid reviewers to the general public increase or decrease the power of extremist groups to push their ideologies? Michael Quinn Sullivan reports in the November 15 _Houston Chronicle_ that in Texas, so far, it seems to decrease it.
* In the November issue of the _High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine_ (HEPLW), Guenther Eichhorn gives a comprehensive tour of the NASA Astrophysics Data System, a major source of FOS in astronomy and astrophysics.
* Also in the November _HEPLW_, Jean-Blaise Claivaz, Jean-Yves Le Meur, and Nicholas Robinson describe a method worked out at CERN to automate the extraction of structured citations from full-text documents. This should be seen in the larger context of automating the extraction of metadata from arbitrary resource files and automating retroactive reference linking within a set of arbitrary resources.
* In a November conference paper now online, Peter Haddad argues that libraries should catalog digital resources and integrate them into their overall collections. In addition to helping users, this effort by individual "hybrid libraries" will help develop a national infrastructure for information services. "My advice would be to continue to create the data that outlives changing rules and transient library management systems...."
* The October issue of _ASSIGN_ (a journal for social science librarians) is devoted to ebooks. Only the table of contents and one of the 11 articles is available online.
* Chris Ridings has written the most detailed account I've seen of Google's algorithm for computing page-rank.
At the same time, Google is planning to tweak its algorithm to allow user ratings to affect page-rank.
Download the 1.1.51 beta of Google's new toolbar which lets you rate pages (IE users only).
* In the summer issue of _The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship_, Champa Jayawardana, K. Priyantha Hewagamage, and Masahito Hirakawa describe tools for personalizing a learning environment within a digital library.
* In the last issue I reported that University of California libraries received a Mellon grant to study how users respond when they have online access, and not print access, to selected journals. But I linked to a news story which didn't in turn link to the study. Here's the home page for the study.
* When Google started indexing Word, Excel, PowerPoint, RTF, and PS files recently (see FOSN for 11/2/01), it started shining a public light on confidential information like passwords and credit card numbers, and spreading format-dependent viruses.
If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your observations with us through our discussion forum.
* Online Information 2001London, December 4-6
* Second Meeting of the Centre for Educational Technology Interoperability Standards (CETIS) Educational Content Special Interest Group (EC SIG)Luton, December 7
* The Electronic Library: Strategic, Policy and Management IssuesLoughborough, December 9-14
* 4th International Conference of Asian Digital LibrariesBangalore, December 10-12
* Moving Beyond the Catalog: Bibliographic Access in a Web WorldWorcester, Massachusetts, December 11
* Academic Institutions Transforming Scholarly Communications (SPARC/ARL Forum at the ALA Midwinter Meeting)New Orleans, January 18-23
* Book Tech 2002New York, February 11-13
* International Spring School on the Digital Library and E-publishing for Science and TechnologyGeneva, March 3-8
* Database and Digital Library Technologies (part of the 17th ACM Symposium on Applied Computing)Madrid, March 10-14
* Computers in Libraries 2002Washington D.C., March 13-15
* The Electronic Publishers Coalition (EPC) conference on ebooks and epublishing (obscurely titled, Electronically Published Internet Connection, or EPIC)Seattle, March 14-16
* Internet Librarian International 2002London, March 18-20
* The New Information Order and the Future of the ArchiveEdinburgh, March 20-23
The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.
This is the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (ISSN 1535-7848).
Please feel free to forward any issue of the newsletter to interested colleagues. If you are reading a forwarded copy of this issue, you may subscribe by signing up at the FOS home page.
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Copyright (c) 2001, Peter Suber