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February 27, 2005

CHE article on Google/Europe remarks

There's an article at the Chronicle of Higher Ed about the recent essay by Jean-No�l Jeanneney, president of the National Library of France, about the Google digitizations projects [the non-subscriber, one-week link].

In an essay published in January in Le Monde, Jean-No�l Jeanneney, a prominent French historian and president of the national library, argued that the Google project would inevitably be biased in favor of English-language and "Anglo-Saxon" publications.

"The libraries that are going to be involved in this enterprise are certainly generously open to the civilization and works of other countries," he wrote. "It does not matter: The criteria of choice will be powerfully marked ... by the view of Anglo-Saxons, with its specific coloring with regard to the diversity of civilizations."

Mr. Jeanneney called on European countries to build their own large-scale digital library in response, in what could become an international e-book arms race.

Karen Schneider and Mary Minow have commented on Jeanneney's reaction.

February 26, 2005

Certified, Pre-Owned Content?

The Outsell Now blog had a post earlier this month about what they called the Ownership Society ... specifically content ownership. It starts with a discussion of Napster's new subscription model and goes on to provide points in a discussion of content and perceptions of ownership. The post concludes:

We've concluded that all parts of the content industry are lined up along a "rent vs. buy" spectrum, but that the concept of owning content is slowly losing ground to other models of access.

Now, Outsell is a market research firm that specializes in the information industry. So, it's a descriptive, not prescriptive, conclusion. Which made the klaxons in my head ring even louder.

A world in which most standard content is leased/licensed (from music files to e-books to pay-per-view movies) and all set to expire after a few playbacks or a fixed time limit) ... I can hardly imagine a greater threat to fair use and first sale than this. Leasing is a form of licensing and licensing trumps copyright. I don't think there's any fair use defense for violating a licensing agreement. It means more locks, more DRM and more restrictions.

Just as I don't believe that all content should only be available in digital formats, I don't believe all digital content will be un-ownable by end users/listeners/readers/watchers. But is it too farfetched to worry that if people can't use their fair use rights for a growing number of items, they may no longer expect those rights? If the "rent vs. buy" scenario fully develops, will libraries merely change their operations to adapt or will they have to alter their missions in order to remain operational/relevant? And at what cost (tangible and intangible)?

February 25, 2005

Google's Analyst Day

From It's All Good:

Gary Price has a concise, intriguing round-up of the media coverage of Google's Analyst Day (its first). Most of it is simply interesting from a Google obsession standpoint (like, why didn't the CFO present to the analyst; isn't that like #3 on the standard job desc of a CFO for a public company?)

Something that'll make personalization advocates squeal while perking up the ears of those concerned with privacy was:

"We are moving to a Google that knows more about you." -- Eric Schmidt

February 23, 2005

Paper on FLDP Changes

James A. Jacobs, James R. Jacobs, and Shinjoung Yeo, librarians at UC San Diego, have written an article for the May 2005 of Journal of Academic Librarianship about the upcoming changes to the Federal Library Depository Program (FLDP). These proposed changes include the elimination of print distribution of all but essential titles (as determined by the Government Printing Office) to be replaced by electronic document distribution, and a digitization project of legacy collections.

The authors have made available the article preprint. The abstract of the article:

Rapid technological change has caused some to question the need for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). We argue that the traditional roles of FDLP libraries in selecting, acquiring, organizing, preserving, and providing access to and services for government information are more important than ever in the digital age.

February 21, 2005


I seem to be getting an uptick in traffic (and spam).

To that end, I've made a link and heading on the sidebar to the post regarding the Google deal at Stanford. Over time, if there are other posts of apparent interest (which is by no means guaranteed), I'll put up front-page links to them. In addition, I added a caveat to the post to point out that while the information was given at a staff meeting, the people who ran the meeting explicitly referred to it as a "public forum" and differentiated between information disseminated in such forums and information acquired behind the scenes by those working directly or indirectly on the project.

So, I didn't violate any confidences with my post or release any super-secret info.

February 17, 2005

Article on Berkeley PL and RFID

The Berkeley Daily Planet newspaper has an article on Berkeley Public Library and its upcoming implementation of RFID tags to facilitate self-checkout. Given BPL's budget woes (with planned layoffs) and Berkeley's cred as a progressive bastion, the two main focuses of the article are:

1. whether the new system is meant to/will make some library staff extremely dispensible, and
2. short-term and long-term privacy concerns over RFID tags.

February 11, 2005

Fired for blogging?

Can you get fired for posting about your job/institution on your blog?

In theory -- perhaps. It depends not only on what you post and whether the information could be reasonably viewed as sensitive or libelous, but also whether you're an at-will employee who can be fired without cause (or if you're covered by contractual/informal guidelines that require documentation, warnings, etc.).

In practice -- Oh, yes. It can and has happened.

In the most recent case, Google has apparently fired a new employee over posts he made to his blog. Mark Jen began a blog called ninetyninezeros in mid-January to discuss his new job and living situation (he used to work for Microsoft and moved here from Washington). On January 26, c|net news reported that Jen redacted some information due to criticism that he was posting sensitive information. (The original post can be found here.)

Google Blogoscoped has two posts about Jen's blog and the reprecussions of what he posted: one before it was known what actions might be taken by the company and/or Jen, and one after it was reported that Jen was fired.

Jeremy Zawodny and Robert Scoble are bloggers who write about their companies openly (respectively, Yahoo! and Microsoft) and both comment on Jen's situation. And both give good advice about blogging as employees of specific institutions.

Libraries tend to have really different organizational cultures than publicly-traded, high-profile technology companies (even libraries within those companies). And there may be institutions where none of your supervisors or co-workers read any blogs, let alone your blog. However, don't take that as carte blanche to went whatever frustrations you may have without forethought. Be smart; think before you link (sorry, I couldn't resist ...).

February 08, 2005

Eyes on the Screen

I've been remiss.

Today is Eyes on the Screen, a multi-city effort to promote mass screenings of the PBS documentary about the Civil Rights movement, Eyes on the Prize.

I first posted about EotP (and my personal reaction to the documentary itself) here.

Since then, a number of newspapers, commentators and bloggers have written about the copyright issues that are impeding re-broadcast and new sales of the series. Downhill Battl, a "non-profit organization working to support participatory culture and build a fairer music industry," who also brought you Grey Tuesday has mobilized volunteers to host personal or community screenings of various episodes, all on February 8th (today).

If you are interested and you don't have plans for this evening, there might be a screening near you.

The media continues to report on the issue of copyright, with a nod towards the EotP controversy. The New York Times [reg required] has an story about the "battle" over copyright (and Rick Weingarten of ALA-OITP is the first person quoted ... wow!). Democracy Now! devoted an entire segment to the issue of EotP -- one of the guests was my colleague (although I haven't met him yet), Rick Prelinger of the Prelinger Film Archive, a part of the Internet Archive.

February 04, 2005


Yesterday, while trapped in traffic, I came up with an article title:

The Internet IS Your Permanent Record

It would basically be a discussion of how permanence has become a major value of the Internet. There would be a small aside on the light and dark side of having your most shining achievements AND ignoble actions/words saved for far longer than you would have expected at the time you wrote/did them. A significant portion of the article would be the recent call to arms by various bloggers for newspapers to open their online archives (with reactions from news librarians/news archive managers). Finally, it would look at the role of librarians/archivists, as record managers, archivists and searchers of info, to make heads or tails of this miasma that, at least in some ways, is much less ephemeral than we thought.

Eh ... maybe the title should be, "And This Is Going On Your Permanent Record (And By Permanent Record, I Mean The Internet)!" It has that nostalgic kick and it'll give people something to argue over.

Unfortunately, it's too ambitious for me, and I'm behind on even getting some already-written material prepped for submission and rejection. But, I liked the title. So, I decided to share.

February 02, 2005

Copyright Office to examine orphan works

Woo hoo!


The Copyright Office seeks to examine the issues raised by "orphan works," that is, copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or even impossible to locate. Uncertainty surrounding ownership of such works might needlessly discourage subsequent creators and users from incorporating them in new creative efforts or making such works available to the public. The Copyright Office requests written
comments from all interested parties on whether there are compelling concerns raised by orphan works that merit a legislative, regulatory, or other solution, and if so, what type of solution could effectively address these concerns without conflicting with the legitimate interests of authors and right holders. Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. EST on March 25, 2005. For detailed information on submission requirements and further information, go to the | | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (1)