The turn of the year brings commentary on the past 12 months and thoughts on the future. This edition of DLTJ Thursday Threads looks at the relationship between libraries and electronic books with an offer by Sony to explain e-reader hardware to libraries and an opinion piece that libraries need to get their act together on the adoption of e-books. Then there is a look forward at possible trends for the new year; I try to pick out the ones that I think will have an impact on libraries. One trend that does seem to be emerging is the migration of libraries from proprietary software to open source software for their integrated library systems. Lastly, we’ll wrap up with a look at Public Domain Day.
When I say “<blank> is a question answering system. A question can be posed in natural language and … <blank> can come up with a very precise answer to that question” — what comes to mind to fill in the <blank>? If you guessed a system developed by IBM to appear alongside human contestants on Jeopardy, you’d be right. That quote comes from video posted by IBM earlier this year that is the topic of the first DLTJ Thursday Threads entry. This weeks other entries look at possible erosions of copyright first sale doctrine, the state of open access publishing, and a proposition for new definitions to terms of art in data modeling.
If you find these threads interesting and useful, you might want to add the Thursday Threads RSS Feed to your feed reader or subscribe to e-mail delivery using the form to the right. If you would like a more raw and immediate version of these types of stories, watch my FriendFeed stream (or subscribe to its feed in your feed reader). Comments and tips, as always, are welcome.
This week’s Thursday Threads highlights includes two legal cases that bear watching. The first is the case of SkyRiver/Innovative Interfaces versus OCLC (covered on DLTJ previously); now that the case has been moved to OCLC’s home court (the federal district court located in Columbus, OH), it is asking for the case to be dismissed. The second legal cases is the UCLA streaming media case, with issues ranging from fair use to licensing terms to DMCA violations; if this one goes to trial we might get some new case law surrounding the intersection of copyright and libraries. The remaining two pieces are a look at how publishers (and librarians) should avoid paving cow-paths and the origins of the hash symbol.
It has been a long week, so for many of you this edition of DLTJ Thursday Threads will actually be read on Friday. The spirit was willing, the topics were certainly out there in the past seven days, but the necessary distractions were numerous. Please enjoy this edition whenever you read it. As always, there is lots more on my FriendFeed aggregation page.
Google Refine 2.0, a power tool for data wranglers
Late, late in the day last Friday, the principle parties in the Google Book Search case submitted a revised settlement agreement agreement to the court. This post takes a look at the changes to the settlement from a library perspective. To keep this manageable, I’m not including discussion of library-oriented elements that haven’t changed; to read more about that I recommend the ALA/ACRL/ARL paper and/or previous posts on DLTJ. I’m also not including discussion on some aspects of the legal impact of the settlement (the appropriateness of setting policy via class action, the antitrust considerations of Google’s sole license to unclaimed works, etc.); for that I encourage browsing the writings of James Grimmelmann (any posting of his prefaced with “GBS” in the title). I will link off to some of the library-oriented discussion pieces of Grimmelmann and others in this post. If you really want the in-depth view of the settlement and the surrounding discussion, visit The Public Index, a website devoted to chronicling and commenting on aspects of the settlement.
An interesting thing happened at my place of work (OhioLINK) today. We recently added links to our central catalog pointing to manifestations in Google Books. The way it was decided to set it up, though, was to only point to Google Books if the full text was available. We tweeted about it to let our community know that this option was now available. The tweet included a link to a particular record that showed (at the time) an example of this change: Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi.
A few weeks ago, a reporter at the Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed Adam Smith, Google’s director of product management, about the Google Book Search settlement and posted the interview in audio form. The page isn’t dated, but guessing from metadata in the URL it was somewhere around the publication of paper issue dated June 26, 2009. I’m calling out this particular interview because Mr. Smith said things that I hadn’t heard in other forms yet — Google’s intentions about privacy in Google Book Search, an explicit statement about the Book Rights Registry releasing information about the status of orphan works, and a statement on what Google expects the size of the orphan works problem to be once the Registry has been in operation for a while.
A controversy is starting to pick up in the business librarian community — primarily in the U.K. it would seem — regarding the licensing demands of Harvard Business Press (HBP) for the inclusion of Harvard Business Review articles in EBSCOhost. HBP content in EBSCOhost carries a publisher-specific rider that says use is limited to “private individual use” and explicitly bars the practice of putting “deep links” of articles from EBSCOhost (so called “persistent links“) into learning management systems. In my words, HBP is attempting to limit access to its content in EBSCOhost to those who find it through the serendipity of searching. And now HBP is going after schools that are using persistent linking, and this raises all sorts of troubling questions.
The American Library Association (through the Association’s Washington Office and the Association of College and Research Libraries Division) and the Association of Research Libraries filed a brief [PDF] with the court in support of the Google Book Search Settlement while asking the judge to “exercise vigorous oversight” over details the settlement. In the 22-page amicus1 brief, the library associations say they do not oppose the settlement, but they do request that the courts provide strict oversight of the activities of Google and the Book Rights Registry. From page 2 of the brief:
The Settlement, therefore, will likely have a significant and lasting impact on libraries and the public, including authors and publishers. But in the absence of competition for the services enabled by the Settlement, this impact may not be entirely positive. The Settlement could compromise fundamental library values such as equity of access to information, patron privacy, and intellectual freedom. In order to mitigate the possible negative effects the Settlement may have on libraries and the public at large, the Library Associations request that this Court vigorously exercise its jurisdiction over the interpretation and implementation of the Settlement.
The brief then describes “concerns with the Settlement, and how the Court’s oversight can ameliorate those concerns.”
New York Judge Denny Chin recently issued two rulings in the Google Book Search settlement. In the first, he ‘ the request by the Internet Archive to intervene as a defendant in the lawsuit (and thus, presumably, be on firmer founding to guide aspects of the settlement). In his response, Judge Chin said:
The Court has received requests for pre-motion conferences by the Internet Archive, Lewis Hyde, Harry Lewis, and the Open Access Trust, Inc. seeking leave to intervene in this action. I have construed their letters as motions to intervene, and the motions are denied. The proposed interveners are, however, free to file objections to the proposed settlement or amicus briefs, either of which must be filed by the May 5, 2009 objection deadline.