Archive for April, 2006

PERFORM Act to restrict recording, broadcasting rights

PERFORM Act to restrict recording, broadcasting rights From Ars Technica, a disturbing story about the way some members of Congress think about technology and copyright law with the new PERFORM Act, and this just after the scary new intellectual property bill (via Library Juice).


Cyberporn and Society

I had an interesting trackback from a student in a course at the University of Buffalo School of Informatics called Cyberporn & Society. They’ve got some interesting student posts at the course blogroll. I won’t even hold it against them that they might skip the copyright law section this year. ๐Ÿ˜› My post was about Oklahoma’s bill to remove homosexual and sexually explicit materials from children and youth collections. I’m glad to report that the bill is no longer active.

In response to the trackback- I don’t think this blog is particularly controversial. ^_- When I was using “censorship” I am usually referring to government actions related to denying access to information, and not parental actions. I do believe that parents must have a role in their children’s access to information. The government does regulate certain materials, but there are issues- even obscenity’s “community standards” are problematic, particularly in the online environment, when we start getting into availability and jurisdiction.

IMHO, a problem is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for “appropriate” materials, including children. Different people will want their children to have access to different things. Parents definitely can’t be there 100 percent of the time, I agree- but I don’t believe that censorship of media is a particularly good alternative. Broad and vague laws like Oklahoma’s do little to help this issue, party because of their vagueness (which I discussed briefly in the earlier post). Regulating the Internet or media, however, is also a losing proposition as well. We risk potentially denying children access to information that should be available to them if we are overly restrictive. We risk potentially providing access children to information that their parents do not want them to have if we do not- but the parents can get involved at that point for their own children (and not others’ children). Librarians can’t, and shouldn’t, replace parental decisions in that respect.

Of course, there are guidelines for “age appropriate” materials and collection development policies. It’s the controversial areas, such as homosexuality and racism, that are complicated. I would far prefer providing more access to information and letting the parents decide what is appropriate for their children then removing those materials for everyone- because there are also parents who believe that those materials should be there.

There are difficult issues. ๐Ÿ˜›

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New Copyright Advisory Network!

The new Copyright Advisory Network website from ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy is up. Ross Housewright and I have spent quite a bit of time on that site (it’s what I took some time off last week to work on). Please let us know if you find it useful or if you’d like to see something else there!


ALA Copyright News

From Miriam Nisbet,
Copyright News updates & reminders:

(1) Section 108 Study Group: Due to a delay in posting the public roundtable transcripts on the Section 108 Study Group website, and because many commenters are busy responding to an Orphan Works legislative deadline, the deadline for submission of written comments on the issues raised in the February 15 Federal Register notice has been extended from Monday, April 17 to Friday, April 28.

The transcripts will be posted on the Section 108 Study Group website this week. The Study Group is charged with preparing findings and makeing recommendations to the Librarian of Congress by mid-2006 for possible alterations to the copyright law that reflect current technologies.

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Librarian Job Prospects?

According to this job prospects list from Money magazine, Librarians are pretty low on the list for best jobs in America in terms of salary and job prospects over the next ten years, falling just under economists and tax collectors. Interestingly, library clerical workers rank much higher on the list- lower salary, but higher chance of finding a job (and presumably lower stress or other factors the magazine looked at). Of course, I have no idea how valid this list is…

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Microsoft’s Academic Live Service

Microsoft’s Academic Live Service is now available (in beta, naturally- does that mean it’s actually live?). Did quick keyword searches on copyright, fair use and “fair use” by date and relevance. In each case, relevance produced better results than date, and “fair use” probably produced the most useful information. Like Google Alerts, just copyright alone tends to produce articles that have a copyright notice rather than anything about copyright itself, and this caused some problems particularly with searching by date. Not sure how it gathers information yet- in the “for publishers” FAQ, it seems to indicate it uses general crawls in addition to feeds for publisher-provided content.


Who owns Superboy?

From The Comic Wire, JUDGE SAYS SIEGELS OWN SUPERBOY. WILL IT AFFECT “SMALLVILLE?” So, who owns Superboy? For the trademark, it’s pretty clear that DC owns it. For the copyright of the character, it’s not nearly so clear. The copyright histories of Superman and Superboy are fairly complicated. This article has a brief history of some of the struggles of the authors and publishers about control of the Super characters. (รขโ€žยข?)

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Copyright Resources

Haven’t been posting much recently because I’m working on the next version of Several people on ALA’s copyright advisory network group, including me, have been creating lists of resources. I hope to be able to put up the new version of the site later this week/weekend.

For the part of this collecting process involving books, I’ve been in the library and online. I find the Amazon reviews of some of books we have listed interesting. I’m slightly surprised at the accusations of communism and marxism directed towards the authors of some copyright-related books… occasionally very heated reactions against proposed reforms to copyright and IP law. I wonder if the authors read them (looking at Lasica, Lessig, Litman, Stallman, Vaidhyanathan)?

At any rate, if anyone has any good copyright resources that must be listed, let me know.


Smithsonian Agreement Angers Filmmakers – New York Times

Smithsonian Agreement Angers Filmmakers (New York Times, free registration required)

I had been hoping this was an April Fools joke, since I first heard about it on that day, but no such luck. The news has actually been around since early March.

The Smithsonian- a public archive and museum- is making an exclusive deal with Showtime. Documentaries that feature exhibits or personnel from the Smithsonian will have to be shown on Showtime first, and not PBS or other forms of distribution. Officials say that the deal “was not meant to be exclusionary,” but that’s completely untrue. They’re using public resources to sustain themselves in an exclusionary manner. While finances are obviously an issue- and not just for the Smithsonian, but museums and archives in general- this type of abuse of public goods has some pretty terrible implications. We’ve seen this type of behavior from museums and archives before, particularly when there are monetary problems, but these types of actions tend to defeat the purpose of why we have these public services in the first place. Without public access, public institutions are not serving their purpose.