An Irregular Newsletter for the UIUC Community

UIUC Library

#1, August 27, 2001

WELCOME to the first issue of this irregularly issued electronic newsletter. Its purpose is to bring to readersí attention a variety of topics that affect the current system of scholarly communication. This newsletter should reflect the interests of its readership; to that end, please send me comments and suggestions (at about what content is useful to you and what topics youíd like to see covered. And donít hesitate to send your own ideas about how to improve the current system of scholarly communication. Weíll be glad to start a "Readers Respond" section.

Paula Kaufman                              
University Librarian                       


Last year, Provost Herman and I distributed "Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Publishing" to all UIUC faculty. The principles were developed in March 2000 by a group of faculty, librarians, and university administrators who are concerned about the sustainability of current systems of scholarly communication. You can find a copy of the 9 principles at

Principles are valuable only if they guide action. To that end, provosts and library directors from members of the Big 12 Plus Libraries consortium met in February 2001 to develop action plans based on the principles. These points of agreement were reached:

SHOULD YOU RETAIN COPYRIGHT TO YOUR OWN WORK? Copyright ownership is important to faculty authors who create original works as well as to publishers, who understand the financial value of this property. Faculty who transfer their ownership rights to publishers (which most of us do routinely) should consider trying to retain some of these rights, especially the right to use their own work. Two websites offer some guidance in this and related copyright issues. links you to a copyright tutorial prepared for the Libraries at North Carolina State University by Scholarly Communication Librarian attorney Peggy Hoon. links you to a useful "copyright crash course" prepared by Georgia Harper, University of Texas System staff attorney for copyright and an acknowledged national expert in this subject.

ARE COPYRIGHT LAWS CREATING UNFORESEEN BARRIERS TO RESEARCH? The US Supreme Court ruled In June in The New York Times Co., Inc. v. Tasini (, that under the Copyright Act, individual freelance authors were entitled to fair compensation when publishers reused articles without additional permission and created new collective works and sold articles on an individual basis. Although the Court strongly suggested that the publishers and authors devise an approach that is both affordable and operationally achievable, the publishers began at once to withdraw copies of these articles from various online data bases (e.g., Lexis-Nexis), leaving these data bases with incomplete coverage of major publications prior to the mid-1990s (when consideration of republishing articles in digital formats began to be included in contracts with freelance authors).

The Supreme Court is about to consider another case in which a lower court ruled, before the Tasini case was decided, that the National Geographic Society cannot include freelance photographersí work in a CD ROM version of the entire run of its magazine. ( In past decisions, the Supreme Court has held that it is permissible for the owner of a collective work to reproduce it in whole, whether in paper or microform. If the Court upholds the lower courtís decision, it will create an inconsistency between "traditional" reproduction forms and those that employ digital technologies. This case is especially important for library users; if the lower courtís decision is upheld, no CD-ROM or online digital technology that requires the addition of software to facilitate searching capability (which is what the lower court held distinguishes the digital reproduction from those in paper or microfilm) could ever qualify as a permissible reproduction. Such a decision would limit the application of technology as an aid to information retrieval, adversely affect librariesí efforts to conserve space, and likely lead to higher prices.

And then thereís the provision in the 1998 Digital Millenium Copyright Act ( thatís been affecting researchers from Princeton to Russia. The DMCA makes it illegal to break a providerís encryption code even if the protected material is in the public domain or if its use otherwise would be legal under "fair use." This provision appears not to be of minor consequence. Princeton Professor Edward Feltonís attempts to present a paper that details how to break music file encryption codes were thwarted until recently by the threat of legal action from the Recording Industry Association of America. This incident was followed by the case of Dmitri Skylarov, a Russian graduate student, who was detained last month in Las Vegas for bypassing security mechanisms in Adobe software. Lawyers for the Justice Department charged Mr. Sklyarov with violating the copyright law's anti-circumvention provision. He faces a potential prison term of five years and a

$500,000 fine.

Weíll focus on other copyright-related matters in future issues.

Finally, from the California Digital Library ( comes this useful reflection:

"Perhaps the only prediction that can be made with confidence is that scholarly publishing is in the early part of a turbulent era unlike anything it has experienced since the invention of movable type. The turbulence is not likely to abate soon, for technological innovation will suggest alternative ways of doing things. Which innovations will be adopted or adapted probably depends on how well they fit established academic ways, and on such factors as cost, ease of use, retrievability of information, and durability. On such matters, there is simply not yet enough experience."