Legal Issues

Sherlock Holmes Is in the Public Domain, American Judge Rules

This New York Times story has the details.

"A federal judge has issued a declarative judgment stating that Holmes, Watson, 221B Baker Street, the dastardly Professor Moriarty and other elements included in the 50 Holmes works Arthur Conan Doyle published before January 1, 1923, are no longer covered by United States copyright law, and can be freely used by new creators without paying any licensing fee to the Conan Doyle estate."

LISTen: An LISNews.org Program -- Episode #263

This week we have an essay on information ethics, use the word "lethal" more times than usual in this program, and present a news miscellany that seems biased towards libraries news out of the United Kingdom.

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15:50 minutes (9.09 MB)
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Google Gets Total Victory Over Authors Guild: Book Scanning Is Fair Use

This one has been a long time coming, but this morning, Judge Denny Chin (who actually has a long history of siding with copyright holders) found that Google's book scanning project is fair use. This is a huge victory in a variety of ways. TechDirt has the story.

Content owners warn Congress of "fair use creep" draw ridicule

Groups representing the movie, music and photography industry testified before Congress on Thursday, and called on the government to consider changing laws to do more to address piracy and file-sharing.

The testimony, which took place before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, is part of a larger review by Congress of America’s copyright policy. The review is significant because it will help shape the rules for culture and creativity on the internet in coming decades.

http://gigaom.com/2013/07/26/content-owners-warn-congress-of-fair-use-creep-draw-ridicule/

Mendeley and RefWorks Flow: The next, next generation of citation management software

A decade or so ago, ISI's EndNote bought out most of the competition, practically obtaining a monopoly on the reference manager business. In the early Library 2.0 boom, web-based products like Zotero and CSA's RefWorks became the norm. Thomson Reuters played catch up by introducing EndNote Web, and NoodleBib and other adware/freemium clones cropped up in what is now again a crowded marketplace.

Mendeley, recently purchased by Elsevier, has gained fame by offering social media integration and and sharing cababilities. It notably works on the old Questia model of selling itself directly to individual users, not institutions. ProQuest is also putting the finishing touches on RefWorks Flow, which features similar collaboration tools.

The way these newer products allow users to share articles with peers raises interesting questions about them potentially being used as a new "Napster for subscription journals," especially since they are now both owned by major publishers. See my comment for some more philosophical questions....

Immigration Bill Gets a Library Add-On

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) is offering a library amendment to the immigration bill that the Senate is considering this week. The amendment, #1223, would make public libraries eligible for funding for English language instruction and civics education, and would also add Susan Hildreth, the director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to the Task Force on New Americans. The American Library Association (ALA) is asking its members to call their Senators in support of Reed’s amendment.

According to the Congressional Record, Reed said that the amendment “recognizes the longstanding role that libraries have played in helping new Americans learn English, American

civics, and integrate into our local communities. It ensures that they continue to have a voice in these critical efforts… This amendment expands on the recent partnership between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and IMLS.” He also cited IMLS statistics which say that more than 55 percent of new Americans use a public library at least once a week.

Story from Library Journal.

Academic Publishers Sues Librarian Blogger for Millions

From Melville House Books:

Beall’s list, created by University of Colorado metadata librarian Jeffrey Beall, collates the academic journals which he regards as questionable. His hard work on outing journals whose business and academic practices are less than reputable has caught the eye of one of the publishers he named and shamed, and now he’s being sued.

Bogus academic journals are a growing problem. Earlier this year, Gina Kolata in the New York Times called them a “parallel world of pseudo-academia”. Most of these journals are based on an online subscription model and call themselves “open access”. The ease with which people can be published in some of these journals, with only a semblance of legitimate oversight, has been met with concern by academics, who fear that junk research is being given the appearance of a properly accredited paper.

Jeffrey Beall is being sued by India’s The OMICS Group, which, according to Jake New in The Chronicle of Higher Education, has been the subject of scrutiny for bad practices, such as spamming and steep fees for authors after publication, not only by Beall, but also by The Chronicle.

Injured Emory law librarian sues Delta

An Emory University law librarian is suing Delta Air Lines, claiming she suffered permanent brain trauma when books and other items fell on her after a flight attendant opened an overhead bin two years ago.

Full article

Scott Turow: The Slow Death of the American Author

New York Times Op-Ed on how new legislation on imported copies of American authors works affects issues of copyright.

LAST month, the Supreme Court decided to allow the importation and resale of foreign editions of American works, which are often cheaper than domestic editions. Until now, courts have forbidden such activity as a violation of copyright. Not only does this ruling open the gates to a surge in cheap imports, but since they will be sold in a secondary market, authors won’t get royalties.

This may sound like a minor problem; authors already contend with an enormous domestic market for secondhand books. But it is the latest example of how the global electronic marketplace is rapidly depleting authors’ income streams. It seems almost every player — publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars — is vying for position at authors’ expense.

Copyright Ruling Rings With Echo of Betamax

NYT article discussing the Supap Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc case.

Excerpt from article:
More profoundly, the decision might even hasten the near-demise of print — spurring publishers into a digital world where they can license their books rather than sell them, adding some bells and whistles while gaining some protection from the first-sale clause.

Full article

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