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January 19, 2006

Google: Not Being Evil

News, news and more news.

1) The U.S. gummint is trying to re-animate COPA (or maybe it's not news ... I've had my head in a few books for quite a while now).

2) In its efforts for 1, the gummint subpeonaed an unspecified number of search engines to get data on how many porntastic queries are searched in a given week.

3) Most of the unspecified search engines gave it up [add tasteless yet apropos analogy to a sexually promiscuous person here]

4) Google is fighting the subpeona.

From the SJ Mercury News' SiliconValley beat:

The Bush administration on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Google to turn over a broad range of material from its closely guarded databases.

The move is part of a government effort to revive an Internet child protection law struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. The law was meant to punish online pornography sites that make their content accessible to minors. The government contends it needs the Google data to determine how often pornography shows up in online searches.

In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Justice Department lawyers revealed that Google has refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for the records, which include a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.

The Mountain View-based search and advertising giant opposes releasing the information on a variety of grounds, saying it would violate the privacy rights of its users and reveal company trade secrets, according to court documents.

Nicole Wong, an associate general counsel for Google, said the company will fight the government's effort "vigorously."

For those concerned with privacy of search engine usage, and especially concerned about Google's commitment to privacy, this is an interesting development. Some may even be heartened by it, until one remembers that:

a. some other search engines [at this point, there is some confirmation that Yahoo!, MSN and AOL were subpeoned and complied with the requests] acquiesed with nary a word; and
b. the U.S. government is continuing its quest to fight child pornography with constitutionally questionable measures that are vague and overbroad.

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch is doing great updates on what the govt wants and why, whether their request is the most efficaeous way of demonstrating the need for COPA, what search engines may be involved and why we should care, even if individual IP addresses aren't being included in the data dump. Gary Price has highlights of and links to the government's brief and supporting statements presented to the court to force Google's compliance with the subpeona.

As it happens, my school is throwing a privacy symposium next Friday (1/27) in downtown San Jose ... boy, are we going to have a lot to talk about.

January 18, 2006

Grassroots progressive conference on library education?

The NY Collective of Radical Reference is organizing a Library Education Forum on the state of LIS education.

What's it all about?

This will not be a place to critique specific programs or faculty members. Instead, we hope to give voice to students and recent graduates who have only been able to participate in this general discussion as passive listeners. Be a part of shaping library education for the future. Give light to your own education, your search for work, skills you were glad to have learned and those you wish you had. Gain perspective on where LIS education is heading. Although professors and administrators will be invited to attend, the voice that will be heard will be yours—the student or recent graduate, with the hope that this will be an opportunity for those who are used to teaching to learn from us, the students.

Sounds like fun. It's a bit far for a one-day conf., so I can't commit to being there ... but I find it generally intriguing.

Saying no to San Antonio

Unfortunately, I'm far too mired in law school to go to ALA MidWinter. Y'all have fun, though. Maybe next year ...

January 03, 2006

Copyright update from ALA-WO

ALAWON: American Library Association Washington Office Newsline

Volume 15, Number 1
January 3, 2006

Copyright Update

1. DMCA Section 1201 Rulemaking

The Library Copyright Alliance (ALA, American Association of Law Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, Medical Library Association and Special Libraries Association) and the Music Library Association filed comments on December 1 with the U.S. Copyright Office, requesting exemptions to the copyright law's prohibition on circumvention of technological locks that control access to copyrighted works.

Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides for exemptions from the prohibition on circumvention for users of "classes of works" who would be "adversely affected by virtue of such prohibition in their ability to make non-infringing uses" of those works. In their comments, the LCA and the Music Library Association requested two new exemptions plus a renewal of the four exemptions granted in 2003 by the Librarian of Congress. The exemptions from the anti-circumvention provision will be announced in October 2006.

2. U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal

ALA, AALL, MLA and SLA filed an amici curiae ("friends of the court") brief on November 17, in the U.S. Supreme Court in a copyright case, Psihoyos v. National Geographic Enterprises. The brief urged the Court to grant a petition for certiorari (appeal) and to affirm a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in favor of the National Geographic Society (NGS).

The case concerns whether publishers of collective works can re-publish those works in a digital format without seeking permission of authors or other contributors. The Second Circuit ruled that the copyright law allows NGS to re-publish the entire print version of the National Geographic magazine from 1888 to 1996 in a searchable format (such as CD-ROM or DVD).

On December 12, however, the Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari. The National Geographic Society had wanted the Supreme Court to hear the case, even though the NGS won in the appeals court in the Second Circuit. NGS had hoped the Court would rule in favor of NGS and, by doing so, resolve a confusing situation where two federal courts of appeals (the other being the Eleventh Circuit) have issued conflicting opinions about this provision of copyright law.

3. Congress Holds Hearing on Fair Use

On November 16, the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing entitled, "Fair Use: Its Effects on Consumers and Industry." The lively hearing, convened by the Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, lasted more than two hours and elicited views from eight witnesses on fair use, copyright law, and technology. Prue Adler of the Association of Research Libraries spoke on behalf of the Library Copyright Alliance (ALA, ARL, AALL, MLA and SLA) to explain to the Subcommittee why fair use is so critical to libraries.

4. Library Groups Applaud CURES Bill as Speeding Access to Vital Biomedical Research

ALA and its partners in a coalition of national library associations, representing more than 80,000 information specialists, praised the recent introduction of legislation to establish the American Center for Cures within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The bill, S. 2104, includes a provision that would help to make taxpayer-funded biomedical research available to all potential users – an important goal for the library groups. Introduced on December 14th by Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS), the bipartisan "American Center for Cures Act of 2005" would expedite development of new therapies and cures for life-threatening diseases and would require free public access to articles stemming from federally funded research.

5. Taxpayer Advocacy Group Lauds Call By NIH Advisory Panel For Mandatory Public Access To Research

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a national coalition of over 60 library, non-profit, and patient advocacy groups, issued a statement on November 22, 2005, praising the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Working Group (PAWG) for recommending that researchers be required to deposit published articles resulting from NIH funding in PubMed Central (PMC), NIH's online database of journal literature.

ALA, ACRL, AALL, ARL, MLA and SLA are all members of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a coalition of stakeholders who support reforms that will make publicly funded research accessible to the public.

Are you someone who finds copyright issues to be interesting and challenging? Then please check out ALA's Copyright Advisory Network. This Web site is a new way for librarians to learn about copyright and to get help when they have copyright troubles. The purpose of this site is to encourage librarians to discuss copyright concerns, and seek feedback and advice from fellow librarians and copyright specialists.

To subscribe to ALAWON, go to http://lp-web.ala.org:8000/.