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.
One of the baffling elements I’ve found in discussions of the history of OCLC is that of its tax exempt status under Ohio law. The latest example of this comes from documents filed in the SkyRiver/Innovative-vs.-OCLC case that make disparaging remarks about how OCLC got its state tax-advantaged status. (The text of the remarks in those documents are included below.) I was curious about this a while back and so did some research on the topic. I had set it aside and forgotten about it until this latest lawsuit brought it up again. So, to set the record straight, here is at least one version — hopefully written from a neutral perspective — of what happened nearly three decades ago.
Within the span of a recent week we’ve had two views of the OCLC cooperative. In one we have a proposition that OCLC has gone astray from its core roots and in the other a celebration of what OCLC can do. One proposes a new mode of cooperation while the other extols the virtues of the existing cooperative. Both writers claim — independently — to “talk to librarians” and represent the prevailing mood of the profession. Can these two viewpoints be reconciled?