Is it a coincidence?
While the HathiTrust imbroglio has seen a frenzy of accusations and press releases about Google scans and orphan works, copyright has certainly been flavour of the last few months. The British Library, for example, has published a study into rights clearance and mass digitization which examines the issue of orphan works. Of interest is the electronic clearance of orphan works using the ARROW system. Score a bull's-eye on this page.
Out of commerce books get a new life
That's what the EU calls orphan works which are about to get a new lease of life under an agreement in which libraries, publishers and authors and their collecting societies have the possibility to digitize and make available out of commerce books. The agreement encourages voluntary licensing agreements while respecting copyright. Read about it here.
eBook price comparison tools
Buying eBooks is different from buying print books. You are much more tied with the eBookstore as it's also giving you the access to your virtual bookshelf with all the titles you've bought. Does comparing eBook prices between different sources make sense, then? Piotr Kowalczyk says it does. He describes two price comparison sites, Inkmesh and Luzme.This page has the story.
Where the bribes are
Ever wondered who is paying who for what and where, to win a business contract? A new database allows users to access details of more than 200 cases in 80 countries. It couldn't be simpler. Roll your mouse over the online map and start clicking for details of the FCPA cases there. Which country in Asia has the most corruption cases? This page has the story.
Bibliogo the mashup tool
Bibliogo is a mashup for everything you want to do with scientific papers says its maker. It combines aspects of RSS readers, alerting services, bibliographic reference management software and more. There are free and paid versions of Bibliogo which employs Google App Engine. Want to sign up for a free account? This page tell you how.
Contracts with Google
If you're thinking of bringing in a company to digitize your collections and want to understand the commitments and business arrangements, look no further than the KB website. KB, the National Library of the Netherlands has put online its contract with Google to digitize 160,000 books. This was after it received requests to do so under the Dutch freedom of information act. The British Library-Google contract is also online. This page tells you where.
Google Scholar Citations open to all
Is there anything that Google does which isn't of interest to libraries? With Google Scholar Citations authors can compute their citation metrics for articles published in the last five years. What's more, the metrics update automatically. Authors can also make their profiles public making it easier for colleagues around the world to follow their work. Here has more.
Teaching students research methods
They come straight from high school and are soon asked to prepare a research paper using all the sources the library has to offer. At Singapore Management University, the librarians and teaching stuff have developed a course, Research for Your First Assignment, which introduces students to research methods, library collections and advanced search skills. Wei Xia tells us what happened on this page.
Is cloud computing catching on in Asian libraries?
ACCESS believes it isn't but that could be because the ins and outs of it are complex. So a new survey which looks at how academic and special libraries are using or plan to use cloud computing services is a valuable read. The study from Primary Research Group gives detailed data about the use of services from Amazon, Google, DropBox and others as well as presenting an objective look at the benefits and costs, data security, reliability and impact on staff time. A lot more on this page.
The British Empire in local newspapers
Although the new British Newspaper Archive of nearly 4 million searchable pages from 200 newspapers is preoccupied with domestic news, it has a lot of coverage from everywhere, especially former British colonies in Asia. Coverage is mainly from the 19th century. Highlights include contemporary accounts of transportation to Australia for minor thefts, the Indian Mutiny, encounters with native people of Borneo, and plenty more. See this page for subscription details.
E-learning at the Li Ka Shing Library
Online learning has been employed in the library for several years. To follow up on student feedback and to focus e-learning efforts, an e-learning initiative was included in the strategic plan of the library. Did it work? Were students happy with it? What effect did it have on librarians? The e-learning team tell us on this page.
Authors Guild, Australian Society of Authors, Quebec Writers Union sue five U.S. universities
On 12 September the Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors, the Union Des Écrivaines et des Écrivains Québécois (UNEQ), and eight individual authors filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in a U.S. federal court against HathiTrust, the University of Michigan, the University of California, the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, and Cornell University. Plaintiff authors include children’s book author and illustrator Pat Cummings, novelists Angelo Loukakis, Roxana Robinson, Danièle Simpson, and Fay Weldon, poet André Roy, Columbia University professor and Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro, and Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning biographer T.J. Stiles.
The plaintiffs argue that the universities obtained from Google unauthorized scans of an estimated 7 million copyright-protected books, the rights to which are held by authors in dozens of countries, and pooled them into the HathiTrust repository. In June, the University of Michigan announced plans to permit unlimited downloads by its students and faculty members of copyright-protected works it deems ‘orphans’ according to rules the school has established. Other universities joined in Michigan’s project in August.
“This is an upsetting and outrageous attempt to dismiss authors’ rights,” said Angelo Loukakis, Executive Director of the Australian Society of Authors. “Maybe it doesn’t seem like it to some, but writing books is an author’s real-life work and livelihood. This group of American universities has no authority to decide whether, when or how authors forfeit their copyright protection. These aren’t orphaned books, they’re abducted books.”
“I was stunned when I learned of this,” said Danièle Simpson, president of UNEQ. “How are authors from Quebec, Italy or Japan to know that their works have been determined to be ‘orphans’ by a group in Ann Arbor, Michigan? If these colleges can make up their own rules, then won’t every college and university in every country want to do the same?”
The complaint also questions the security of the 7 million unauthorized digital files. It asserts that the universities have, without permission, digitized and loaded onto HathiTrust’s online servers thousands of editions, in various translations, of works by Simone de Beauvoir, Italo Calvino, Bernard Clavel, Umberto Eco, Carlos Fuentes, Günter Grass, Mario Vargas Llosa, Haruki Murakami, Octavio Paz, and Jose Saramago, among countless other authors. Works from nearly every nation have been digitized. HathiTrust’s databases house more than 65,000 works published in the year 2001, for example, including thousands of works published that year in China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, and the U.K., and hundreds from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Mexico, The Netherlands, The Philippines, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam.
“These books, because of the universities’ and Google’s unlawful actions, are now at needless, intolerable digital risk,” said Authors Guild president Scott Turow. “Even if it weren’t for this preposterous, ad-hoc initiative, we’d have a major problem with the digital repository. Authors shouldn’t have to trust their works to a group that’s making up the rules as it goes along.” View the complaint from this page.
The Library Copyright Alliance joys the fray
The Library Copyright Alliance, LCA, issued a statement saying how deeply disappointed it was that the Authors Guild’s had filed the lawsuit. “The case has no merit, and completely disregards the rights of libraries and their users under the law, especially fair use.” The LCA maintains that HathiTrust and its partners have ensured secure, long-term preservation of nearly 10 million volumes held in member library collections. “The majority of these works are not available commercially and will disappear completely if not for library stewardship...It is deplorable that eight authors and three special interest groups are trying to dismantle this invaluable resource out of a misplaced fear of the digital future.” To view a PDF of this statement, visit here.
Reunite orphan works with their authors
The Author’s Guild in a blog addressed the ease with which ‘orphan works’ can be reunited with their authors said, “about two minutes of googling turned up a professor emeritus of one of the HathiTrust ‘orphan works’ candidates. He lives in suburban Maryland. His second book sold a reported one million copies, and he’s listed in IMDb (two of his books were turned into movies: one starred Elvis Presley, the other Warren Beatty). He has a literary agent, and he signed an e-book contract earlier this month. No, we’re not making this up. Just before we filed our lawsuit, we did some cursory research into some of the names on the list of ‘orphan works’ candidates at the HathiTrust website to see if we could find contact information for a copyright holder. There are now 166 books (the original 27 listed by Michigan in July plus others added in August by various institutions) being readied for distribution. Works deemed ‘orphans’ by HathiTrust are scheduled to be available for full-text display and unencrypted downloads to at least 250,000 students and faculty members at campuses in several states, starting in less than a month.” Read more here.
Release of orphan works suspended
Following these and many other comments, the University of Michigan suspended the release of 163 books on Orphan Row . In a statement the University of Michigan Library said, “the close and welcome scrutiny of the list of potential orphan works has revealed a number of errors, some of them serious. This tells us that our pilot process is flawed.” The university pledged to re-examine its procedures and create a “more robust, transparent, and fully documented process” and continue the project. “We remain as certain as ever that our proposed uses of orphan works are lawful and important to the future of scholarship and the libraries that support it.” The University of Michigan says that its main purpose has been to identify copyright owners.
Meanwhile, University of Michigan Librarian and Dean of Libraries, Paul Courant, says he was disappointed by what he called a “misguided and unnecessary” lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild and others. “As a research university, we are a community of authors, and we have deep respect for copyright law and for the rights and interests of authors. Our digitization efforts simply reflect the library’s continuing legacy of prudence in curating the world’s scholarly and cultural record.” Mr Courant went on to say that the U-M Library will continue its Orphan Works Project “because we remain as certain as ever that our proposed uses of orphan works are lawful and important to the future of scholarship and the libraries that support it.” Courant added that “we have not changed our plans or activities in any way as a result of the Authors Guild lawsuit.” Visit here for the full statement containing Mr Courant’s views.
In a Q&A with itself the university says that it is not violating copyright law by digitizing books it owns because “the federal Copyright Act authorizes the public (and libraries specifically) to make a variety of uses of copyrighted works.” The university describes the Orphan Works Project as an effort “to identify rights holders of in-copyright, out-of-print works published in the U.S. from 1923-1963. It is a well-known issue that many of these rights holders cannot be identified or contacted. Publishing houses have gone out of business, authors have died, and documentation is scant or missing entirely. We and other libraries believe that providing our patrons with digitized access to orphan works for research purposes is essential to the future of scholarship—researchers today expect to be able to access material digitally, and from locations other than the library.” In spite of the lawsuit, “we continue to digitize the works in our collection, and we continue our effort to identify and share digitized orphan works...”
The Author’s Guild files an amended complaint
On 6 October, The Author’s Guild was again in the news when it filed an amended complaint against HathiTrust, the University of Michigan and four other universities over the storage and use of millions of copyright-protected books. The original complainants have expanded to include the U.K. Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, the Norwegian Nonfiction Writers and Translators Association, the Swedish Writers Union, The Writers’ Union of Canada, and four individual authors. The latter joining the lawsuit include University of Oslo professor Helge Rønning, Swedish novelist Erik Grundström, and American novelist J. R. Salamanca. The Authors League Fund, a 94-year-old organization supported by Authors Guild members that provides charitable assistance to book authors and dramatists, is also now a plaintiff, as holder of rights of to an ‘orphaned’ book by Gladys Malvern.
“How is it they couldn’t find Jack Salamanca?” asked literary agent John White, who has represented the author for more than ten years. “He’s a bestselling novelist, he’s lived in suburban Maryland for decades, he’s in the University of Maryland’s current online catalogue as an emeritus professor, and he signed an e-book agreement for Lilith four weeks ago. It boggles the mind.”
“I’ve been in this business for decades, but this is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen,” said Trond Andreassen, President of the Norwegian Nonfiction Writers and Translators Association. “These American universities, with Google’s help, decide to digitize and put on their servers thousands of books that were published in Norway. Why didn’t they ask? We can find the authors, but those authors have rights, and sometimes the answer might be no.”
The Authors Guild noted that “although many U.S. universities, including Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford, have participated in Google’s library digitization program, most allow Google to scan only books that are in the public domain. Only a few, principally defendants Michigan and California, have allowed Google to scan books protected by copyright. As state-run institutions, both schools are shielded by 11th Amendment sovereign immunity protections from paying damages for copyright infringement.”
The latest development is that HathiTrust defendants have filed answers and response with the court in a document dated 3 December. Read it here. The trial will reportedly begin in November 2012.
Resource Packet on Orphan Works
Finally, while the HathiTrust imbroglio was developing, ARL published the Resource Packet on Orphan Works: Legal and Policy Issues for Research Libraries. Prepared by Prudence Adler, Jonathan Band and Brandon Butler, the resource packet provides general information on legal and policy issues concerning orphan works, and the University of Michigan’s Orphan Works Project, a FAQ, and a legal memorandum by Jonathan Band, policybandwidth, which describes the legal issues associated with making orphan works digitally available. While not a comprehensive response to or analysis of the HathiTrust lawsuit, this packet may help ACCESS readers to understand some of the core issues in that suit, including the scope and applicability of fair use to orphan works. To view the Resource Packet visit here.