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July 27, 2007

ALA looking for copyright scholars

Sigh. The ironic thing is that because I'm going to be taking Copyright Law, I know I won't have the time to do this ... at least, this year.

The ALA Office for Information Technology Policy is seeking individuals interested in serving as a Copyright Scholar for the Copyright Advisory Network.

The Copyright Advisory Network (CAN) is a Web site (www.librarycopyright.net) and network forum where librarians discuss copyright dilemmas and concerns online. Since 2005, eight librarians have served as Copyright Scholars on the forum. It is time to recruit a new batch of librarians who are keenly interested in copyright and want to volunteer their time to the Network.

Selected individuals will attend an all expenses paid 2-day orientation meeting in Washington, DC, train with the Copyright Scholar class of 2005, and help craft new improvements to the Network. Once you become a Scholar, you agree to devote a small amount of your time (estimated 2 hours a week) responding to copyright queries posted to the Network. You can decide how long your commitment to the Network will last but it must be for at least one year.

Qualifications for interested applicants:

Expertise in US copyright law and its application in libraries and educational institutions
Excellent writing skills
Flexibility in scheduling time to serve on the Network
Experience working in teams
Permission from your institution to participate

All applicants must be ALA members.

To be considered, send a letter expressing your interest in becoming a Copyright Scholar. Tell us of any special training or expertise you already have that would make you a good candidate for the job. The Copyright Advisory Committee will select the lucky applicants from the pool of letters received.

Send your letter or any questions you have to Carrie Russell via email at crussell@alawash.org. Deadline for applications is August 31, 2007 (deadline extended).

July 19, 2007

Potter mania, writ large

I have fallen sway to Pottermania. My helpmeet was adamant that if Scholastic started threatening those who've managed to get their hands on copies of the latest book, like they did with the last one, we wouldn't buy it (and no, we still don't own #6, but we have read it). I've ordered a copy for pick-up after midnight at my semi-local independent bookstore. But while I wait, there's the curious phenomenon of not wanting to be spoiled. I find it interesting ... sometimes, I want to be spoiled and sometimes I don't.

But spoiling is a big deal nowadays. It's tied up with publicity, of course. And criticism and review ... for instance, the NY Times has already posted its review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I'm not sure that a book review that wasn't at least somewhat spoilery would really be much good.

And now there's linkage between spoilery and contract law, as Scholastic threatens to to sue book retailers who allowed HP7 to ship early to buyers. There's issues of copyright law, as pointed out by Salon's Farhad Manjoo in his entry about HP7 being leaked online. A later entry discussed copyright, the expectations and readers versus authors and publishers, fan fiction and control over information products. Meanwhile, a local tech writer believes that "[t]he real issue is the sense of entitlement that prompts many on the Net to believe that everything's up for grabs, that you shouldn't have to pay for anything found online because digital content wants to be free."

That's a lot for one little series of children/YA fantasy. What does it all mean? Maybe little, maybe nothing. Or maybe it's a grand example of what Nick Gillespie, Editor-in-Chief of Reason magazine describes as identity creation, "how actual people use culture to create identity, take pleasure, and negotiate their relationship to the world."