Thursday Threads: HarperCollins, Google Book Search Settlement, DPLA, Juggling Robots

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It is another e-books issue of DLTJ Thursday Threads with updates on three significant efforts: HarperCollins, Google Book Search Settlement, Digital Public Library of America. And, just for fun and to keep this from turning into purely a legal and blue-sky policy blog, we have a video of juggling robots.

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More Libraries Decide To Give HarperCollins the Cold Shoulder

Library consortia, organizations, and individual library systems around the country continue intensely to debate the HarperCollins decision to limit ebook checkouts to 26, and many are joining a growing list of those deciding not to purchase HarperCollins ebooks. …

[Jo Budler, State Librarian of Kansas] is now heading a task force that has been formed by the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) that is debating a response to HarperCollins. The task force teleconferenced on March 9 with representatives from Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Alaska, Colorado, Ohio, Texas, and Tennessee participating.

The past couple of weeks have seen more libraries and library consortia making decisions not to buy ebooks from HarperCollins after the 26-checkout limit came into force earlier this month. The article quoted above from Tuesday gives the latest roundup. HarperCollins’ March 1st Open Letter to Librarians is still on their blog, still accepting comments (overwhelmingly against the policy), and would seem to be the last official word from the company to date. OverDrive’s CEO Steve Potash is interviewed about e-books in a 4-minute video from Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop” show, and part of the clip contains his commentary about the HarperCollins situation (“That is one publisher that is adding a new term based upon some of the concerns their authors and agents expressed about a continuing right that a library could have for many years.”). Competitors to HarperCollins are trying to use the outrage to their advantage. Some, such as Library Journal Editor in Chief Francine Fialkoff, see this situation as a call to action on the wider topic of ebook licensing. And the most creative response I’ve seen comes from Dave Bott who proposes a “borrow it now” upcharge and revenue share for libraries.

The Google Settlement Rejection: What Comes Next?

When it was introduced in 2008, the Google Book Settlement was hailed by its creators as historic. Now, it is history. On March 22, after more than two years of contentious debate, Judge Denny Chin rejected the controversial proposal on copyright and antitrust grounds. A status conference is set for April 25 in New York, and the parties are free (and some say likely) to appeal the decision, though at press time no appeal had been announced.

Seen as the solution to a straightforward copyright claim lodged by authors and publishers against Google in 2005, the settlement offered a complex blueprint for a new digital book business, a $125 million legal puzzle that involved a dizzying array of moving parts: thousands of authors, millions of titles, libraries, the public interest, murky copyright law, orphan works, and even the creation of a new central rights authority, the Book Rights Registry, all of which appear to be off the table now.

PW takes a quick look at what the settlement’s rejection means for the parties and other stakeholders.

- The Google Settlement Rejection: What Comes Next?, Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly

A few more things have been written since last week’s DLTJ summary on the Google Book Search settlement rejection. Publisher’s Weekly has a high-level overview of impact and plausable desires of the various groups: Google, publishers, authors, libraries, objectors and the public. James Grimmelmann continues to put out great work with a 10-minute interview from Bloomberg Law that gives an overview of the “legal and political implications” of the Judge Chin’s decision. And Robert Darnton, director of the Harvard University Library and member of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) steering committee, wrote an article for the New York Review of Books that is part analysis of the rejected class action and part cheerleading for the DPLA. Interestingly, at the same time this settlement about the Google Books Library scanning project was rejected Google confirms Canadian launch of eBookstore will go forward | Quill & Quire using the Google Books Publisher Program materials.

Digital Public Library of America “Concept Note”

On behalf of the Steering Committee, I wanted to share with you a draft “concept note” that describes where we stand in the DPLA planning process after our recent workshop. We are posting this document to this list, and to our planning wiki, with the intention of prompting discussion. Our next steps include development of the six workstreams; convening a group of potential funders; convening a series of further workshops on the specific questions that need to be decided; and building a proof of concept of the DPLA system to demonstrate the potential of this ambitious undertaking. I know I speak on behalf of the Steering Committee when I say that I look forward to your views.

- Concept note, published by John Palfrey to the dpla-discussion mailing list, 26-Mar-2011

Late last week, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) steering committee published a “Concept Note” that represents the current thinking based on the work of the workshop earlier this month and the subsequent discussions. As noted above, Robert Darnton, member of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) steering committee, wrote an article for the New York Review of Books that outlines in part some of the reasons and processes the DPLA might follow. Comments are happening on the dpla-discuss mailing list.

Quadrocopter Ball Juggling


Video of Juggling Robots


Markus Waibel from robotspodcast pointed us to this amazing video showing two quadcopters juggling a small ball. The video is made by the Control of Distributed, Autonomous Systems lab of professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ), Raffaello D’Andrea. It is shot inside the Flying Machine Arena, a facility that provides a control environment for motion control research. The two quadcopters are based on the ‘Hummingbird’ quadrotor made by Ascending Technologies with new controls and custom made electronics fabricated by the institute. A vital component is a state of the art Vicon motion capture system that provides the localization data to the robots and makes extremely precise and dynamic control possible. You can learn more about the labs other projects here.

Alright — that quote is admittedly filled with a bunch of technical gobbledegook (I don’t sound like that, do I?), but the video itself is pretty cool. It is one minute long and shows one then two hovering robots juggle a ball to a height of what looks like about 20 feet.

The text was modified to update a link from http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/dpla/Concept_Note to http://dp.la/wiki/Concept_Note on September 26th, 2013.

(This post was updated on 26-Sep-2013.)