Archive for Cultural Institutions

Part 2

danah boyd:

Timothy Burke:

Barbara Fister:

Scott Jaschik:

David Karpf:

Matt Stoller:

Democracy Now:


Remember Aaron:


There’s a new Orphan Works Bill in Town

As always, there’s good news and bad news.

There’s an immense amount of erroneous information about the new orphan works bill, primarily from certain people who are worried about their livelihoods. I don’t at all begrudge someone being concerned about their livelihoods. There are definitely some legitimate concerns about the course such a bill could take. I do begrudge hyperbole and poor analysis and the spreading of such information without any attempt at verification. I’m also not entirely happy with some interpretations of copyright law I’ve seen that misconstrue the purpose of copyright and that are flat-out wrong about how existing copyright law works, especially in the international context. That’s more understandable though, since it’s confusing. 😛

It’s not all bad, though. Although the blog world seems to have a lot of the negative talk, there are actually some civil discussions going on from and amongst these same groups.

The bill isn’t intended to be anti-artist. It’s not part of a scheme by the corporate overloads to make more money. It’s not about the government attempting to censor artists. It’s not “a license to steal.” It doesn’t reinstate registration requirement for artists. I find it fascinating that people are making all kinds of allegations about the bill when they haven’t read any version of the proposal- they’re pretty much responding to the initial messages and articles that were sent out by certain individuals and groups.

All I’m really asking is that you read the text of the bill yourself when you have the opportunity, make legitimate criticisms public, and if you think the bill isn’t satisfactory, attempt to come to a solution of the orphan works problem. Because the orphan works problem is not getting any better. That’s actually something a lot of people agree on, artists, educators, librarians, etc. alike. Reading the bills is rarely fun, but if you’re going to share an opinion, please make it an informed one. 😛

You can find pdfs of the current round of Orphan Works legislation at Public Knowledge.

Orphan works are a problem. To quote Georgia Harper

Orphan works are one of the biggest challenges we face today. These are works that are destined never to see the light of digital day unless we find a way to get them online while making reasonable efforts to protect the interests of their owners. The time when obscurity was the only option for non-economically viable works is over. We need to find ways to get on with it.

For a decent introduction to some of the issues, check out the U.S. Copyright Office’s page on orphan works. Most creative works in existence are orphan works. They’re not the ones that are making people’s livelihoods. They’re the ones people are concerned about.

Part of the issue about history, and the preservation and conservation that is necessary to maintain the cultural record. It is very, very difficult for archives, libraries, and museums to preserve certain types of materials in a usable form- particularly when they’re dealing with digital works. The proposed law provides such institutions with some protections for using orphan works. And guess what? People who work at libraries, archives, and museums are not out to destroy art or artists. Far from it.

Part of the issue is about education. We deal with these orphaned materials on a daily basis at the iSchool, and we’re heavily constrained in what we can do with them. Other departments face similar issues, although I suspect the impact on us is a bit stronger because of digitization curriculum. I might be wrong there, though.

In the text at least one version of the bill, users of orphan works also have to register their intent to use such orphan works, and also mark the use in a way that identifies the work as used as an orphan work. Furthermore, people cannot simply find an unmarked image and declare that worked orphaned. Additionally, people do have to make a reasonable search in order to use the work at all. In the case where the creator is found, there are provisions for the creator to receive payment. And woe betide the person who acts in bad faith (whom are what most of those who are maligning the bill are worried about). We all worry about bad actors.

There are burdens all around, but it’s a start.

Comments (2)

Section 108 Study Group Report Released

At 212 pages, it’s not going to be a quick read. Let’s see what happens to copyright and libraries, archives, and museums…


Information through time

Every so often I am amazed by the ingenuity that exists between people today and in the past- about the kinds of things we rediscover so many hundreds of years after their creation.

Originally seen on Slashdot, here’s the story of a pair of musicians who have decoded music from 600-year-old carvings in the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.

I wonder how what will happen to the recordings of our culture in that time frame…


Internet Archive pages not evidence?

Saw on BNA Internet Law News… apparently a New York federal court has ruled that materials from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine are inadmissible without “authenticating testimony from someone familiar with how the pages were created” (quote from BNA). Really interesting! I wonder if IA will be able to supply additional metadata (if there is any) or other ways to authenticate that information. At the very least, the decision will certainly bring up questions about the site’s reliability and possible uses, even outside of the courtroom. Of course, those questions have existed, but here’s another reason to try to answer them. ^_^

Comments (8)

Measuring the effectiveness of copyright

How do we measure whether or not copyright is working? That’s one of the main reasons I came to doctoral school. We’re stuck in a legal and strict economic framework rut in a lot of ways, in my opinion. This makes sense in many ways; copyright is both a legal issue and is based on economic incentives. Talking with Georgia has helped me think about these things. Legal research generally uses legal analysis to advocate for or against a particular position, using statutes and case law as primary sources and other information as secondary sources. When we talk about copyright research, that’s the type of research that immediately comes to mind for many people. Economics often plays a big role in copyright-related research, and in my survey of copyright-related research this semester economics and business were the sources for a lot of the empirical data that has been gathered related to copyright. But I don’t think they’re measuring the right things much of the time, and I think they’re coming to the table with a lot of assumptions that are neither elucidated nor entirely correct. The kinds of things that tend to be measured are profit-related, sales related, or otherwise market-related. That’s useful information, but there’s more to looking at the effectiveness of copyright than those things. However, we don’t have good ways of structuring arguments that judges and policy-makers seem to find compelling about effects other than those that are strictly market-oriented. That’s a problem.

The paper I was referring to in an earlier post was based on a number of questions, including the above. I was attempting to look at research about how copyright affects education. I’m interested for a variety of reasons: my association with ALA, my knowing people in education both primary and secondary, and so on. But how are its affects on the missions and practices of educational institutions measured? There really hasn’t been a great deal of research in the area. There isn’t a lot of empirical research about copyright in education. There are some exceptions to the usual market-based information produced- and Siva’s Critical Information Studies bibliography is a perfect starting point for that kind of research. CIS in general is useful as both a lens to use when examining existing copyright research and as a framework for using other types of research. So, what are the appropriate metrics and methodologies that should be used?

How effectively is copyright doing it’s job? How effectively is it promoting the progress of science and useful arts? Is the economic incentive actually helping the dissemination of knowledge and promoting the creation and use of new works? As is often pointed out on Scrivener’s Error, publishers and authors are not the same- and a lot of copyright talk treats them the same. I found this recent post related to the Gowers Report out of the UK particularly interesting.

Comments (6)

Critical Information Studies

I liked the concept of Critical Information Studies when Siva Vaidhyanathan first made his bibliographic manifesto available on his website. After a semester of “Doctoral Research and Theory I” at the School of Information, I like it much, much more. I’m currently working on a paper about copyright research in “the field” I study in, and CIS provides a great way to look at the field. More on this when I’m done.

Comments (1)

Georgia Harper’s blog; UT Libraries

Copyright attorney Georgia Harper is now attending the iSchool and has an interesting blog.

She’s currently working for the University Libraries, which is a great thing. The libraries have made some interesting decisions recently. One of decisions I’m troubled by is that they no longer public post their Tea with the Vice Provost or Director’s Meeting minutes. They still exist, but they’re now behind the UT EID, staff-only. They’ve also gone and removed all previous notes that were up, so links from previous blog entries here no longer work (although I still have copies). Of course, I could ask to see them, or even make an open records request, but I found them more useful where they were where everyone could see and discuss.


ALA’s President-Elect’s blogs

Loriene Roy, ALA’s president-elect, is a faculty member here at the School of Information. I’ve been acquainted with her from some time, first as a student, later as a staff member, and now both. I didn’t really write about her during her campaign for various reasons (although I did leave a few comments here and there), but now that she’s been elected I feel freer to.

Loriene’s a pretty interesting person. Of all the faculty members here, I think she’s the person who most integrates community service in her courses, although several faculty members are starting to rival her (notable some of our recent arrivals). She’s been both complimented and criticized for that practice, but I personally believe it’s a positive thing.

Yesterday, she did something pretty interesting- she had a meeting with the some of the tech staff (including me) and talked about her plans related to the ALA presidency for the coming years. She sought our opinions about how to approach some of her ideas, particularly when they involve utilizing technology. I really appreciated that- you might be surprised at the kinds of things that we don’t get consulted about that we should be, and in this case there really are ways we can contribute that coincide with our existing projects. I’m not sure if the situation is the same in every iSchool/LIS school out there, but here all of the full-time tech staff have MLIS or equivalent degrees as well, so we do believe strongly in the success of the school and of the professions.

One thing I learned from this meeting is that she’s continuing her use of blogs- her campaign blog is now her president-elect blog, and she’s had blogs set up for the various task forces and groups that she’s creating/working with. I don’t like the navigation to find the blog listing and on the page with the blog listing (navigation text identified via rollover- well, I plan to direct the usability class her way ^_^;), but the sites have potential. Here are the blogs:

Loriene Roy’s President-Elect Blog
Workplace Wellness Blog
Circle of Literacy Blog
Supporting LIS Education through Practice

Each of those ventures seem worth following, to me.


DSpace on Gentoo

I’ve put up some instructions on installing DSpace 1.4 on Gentoo Linux, along with some minor configuration instructions. I’ll be updating it with additional information throughout the Fall semester.


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