Issue No. 32

December 3, 2002


Paula Kaufman, University Librarian





The Maryland Bar Association is shrink-wrapping a contract with many of its publications, including its $57 directory of lawyers and judges.  The contract is meant to be binding on anyone who breaks the plastic seal.  Among its terms: no reselling, loaning, or giving away the book.  The association, along with other trade groups that are doing the same thing, say the contracts are needed to keep their directories from being turned into mailing lists.  The groups are using the technique software makers have used for years, and one that is at the heart of proposed UCITA (Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act) legislation that may be considered in as many as 20 states this year (and which has been enacted in Maryland and Virginia).  But, is it legal today?  Shrink-wrapped contracts seem to conflict with the federal first sale doctrine that allows the buyer of a book to resell it, give it away, or lend it and that is the basis for library lending.  Business Week 12/9/02



The University of Maryland and the nonprofit Internet Archive are creating the International Children's Digital Library—a web site that eventually will hold about 10,000 children's books from 100 different cultures and make them available free for downloading. The site's goal is to stimulate children's reading and learning skills while exposing them to a variety of other cultures. It features kid-friendly graphics that enable a user to click on an icon and view thumbnail-sized pages of a book that unwind or unfold like the panels of a comic book. The site,, which officially debuted in late November, offers 200 titles from more than 27 cultures in 15 different languages. Many of the titles, such as "Alice in Wonderland," are no longer under copyright restriction, but some publishers, including Random House, Scholastic and HarperCollins, have contributed a few newer works as well. Currently, users must have a broadband Internet connection to access the site, but the site will be available for dialup modem users by next summer. ShelfLife, No. 82 (27 November 2002




At a November meeting in Bonn, rectors of German universities noted that the costs of the scientific literature supply have increased drastically in the past decade. Purchase of fewer monographs, cancellation of serials, and poor access to electronic literature is the result. The plenum discharged one of a working group from rectors, library leaders and chancellors that prepared recommendations regarding the reorientation of the information and publication system of the German universities.  The university representatives were united in that the problem requires long-term effective structural changes. The universities would have to again position themselves in the creation of the value chain of the scientific publication. Dissemination of scientific discoveries must serve the science and not primarily the commercial interests of large publishing houses. The plenum recommended promoting alternative publication ways in the form of university providing repository servers individually or several universities together. This is facilitated by the fact that the information is present electronically. The plenum demanded therefore, new investigations of structures and proceeds to promote open access. In order to secure the conversion to digital media as well as a program for the setting up from university servers too, the plenum has asked the Federal Government to support 3-5 year program at a cost of 130 million euros.



The Special Libraries Association's (SLA) ad hoc Branding Task Force, about two years into its mission to come up with a new brand identity for the primary association for special librarians, has recommended to the SLA Board that it present two contrasting "new" names to the full association membership for a vote.  These are "SLA" (simple acronym) and "Information Professionals International (IPI)."   The Task Force appears to have sided with the non-traditionalist crowd by clearly targeting the groups most important to the future of the association (younger or newer librarians, corporate librarians, and librarians in non-traditional jobs or settings) who favor a marked change.  Since many information professionals barely know what to name their role inside their organizations, it's no wonder that they're having a hard time knowing what to call the professional organization that supports them.  But Outsell wonders if either option represents the strong brand the Association is looking for to draw new members.

Outsell e-Briefs 11/8/02



The U.S. Copyright Office has begun to accept comments on possible additional exemptions within the DMCA.  The notice announcing the round of comments asks for responses “on whether non-infringing uses of certain classes of works are, or are likely to be, adversely affected” by the law’s prohibition on breaking encryption technologies.  The Copyright Office is seeking specific examples of where the law has caused “actual instances of verifiable problems occurring in the marketplace.”  It specifically notes that inconvenience or theoretical critiques are insufficient.   Comment period is open until December 18th.



Pages of the Past, a new digital archive launched by the Toronto Star, may be the first of its kind.  Pages of the Past can be searched by keyword or browsed by date, and includes every page of every edition since 1892. Cold North Wind, a turnkey archiving and e-publishing company, built the archive. Cold North Wind also publishes its own archive site, Paper of Record, which includes more than 5 million digitized newspaper pages dating back to the 1700s.

Related: Paper of Record  NEWS-ON-NEWS/The Ifra Trend Report: No. 172 (20 November 2002)



A group of high-profile technology companies, including Microsoft Corp. and Apple Computer Inc., recently lobbied U.S. regulators to ensure that consumers can roam freely on the Internet without barriers by high-speed service providers. The group wrote the Federal Communications Commission to air concerns that providers of so-called broadband, like cable giants Comcast Corp. and phone companies like Verizon Communications, could limit where subscribers can go. "The commission should assure that consumers and other Internet users continue to enjoy the unfettered ability to reach lawful content and services, and to communicate and interact with each other and reach desired Internet impediments imposed by transmission network providers," the letter said. The FCC does not directly regulate the Internet but since it uses the cable and telephone pipelines, some have argued that such transmission gives the agency jurisdiction. The agency has a proceeding on those issues to determine what, if any, purview it has over broadband. Cable and telephone companies have argued the government's role should be limited to encourage fast deployment. Consumer groups and content providers have countered that the FCC should ensure choice of providers and content regardless of pipeline. An FCC spokeswoman declined to comment. The agency earlier this year declared high-speed Internet service via cable as an information service, which means operators do not have to share their systems or provide open access for competing Internet services; a decision has been challenged in federal court.

While the agency left open the door to require carriers to provide a choice of Internet service providers over that pipeline, the FCC did not impose such a requirement on its approval last week, of the AT&T Broadband and Comcast cable merger, as was done by antitrust authorities in the AOL Time Warner merger. The FCC is also considering what rules, if any, apply to high-speed Internet service offered by telephone companies, known as digital subscriber line (DSL) service. One official at a large U.S. telephone company said the letter, which was also signed by the National Association of Manufacturers and the consumer advocate law firm Media Access Project, was an unfounded fear.



According to a National Academy of Sciences report, the Internet performed well under the strain of the Sept. 11 attacks, considering many Internet users, private data networks and ISPs are based in New York City.  The report also found that more planning is needed to ensure another disaster does not cause greater disruption.  Report at

Coverage at



Opposition to the USA Patriot Act is growing among libraries and booksellers, according to Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Association Foundation for Free Expression. Vermont librarians and booksellers have written an open letter to their Congressional delegation, asking it to repeal Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which authorizes the FBI to conduct secret seizures of library and bookstore records. Quoting the open letter: "These provisions of the USA Patriot Act do not protect us from terrorism. Rather, they cast a wide net of suspicion and surveillance over the community of readers, researchers, and information-seekers. They are dangerous steps toward the erosion of our most fundamental civil liberties."



A new study by Britain's Higher Education Digitization Service explores assumptions about moving from analog photographic services into digital capture and delivery. In particular, it looks at how marketable, cost-efficient and income-stable the new digital services and resources are, compared with previous methods. Through interviews and comparative modeling of costs and fees charged, the report shows how pricing structures are determined for delivering digital versions of rare or unique items in libraries, museums, archives and similar public institutions. The survey, which includes input from 51 institutions and 15 service providers, also explores the thresholds that determine the point at which an organization charges for content and other rights to their digital holdings and the reasons given for such charges. The Conclusions and Implications sections identify a clear relationship among the gatekeeper function, the pricing policy and the assignment of revenue raised in the institutions' accounting of whether a service is profitable or not. Future trends and further steps are also suggested. The report is available online at the Web site below or via PDF at (Higher Education Digitization Service Jun 2002)  ShelfLife 11/21/02



OverDrive Inc., a leading distributor of electronic books, has unveiled a new service that will enable libraries to offer more than 35,000 titles from 400 publishers for downloading to portable e-book readers. Combined with a similar move last month by rival Fictionwise Inc., the service helps overcome some of the main hurdles for libraries eager to get into the e-book lending business: they can't do so without specialized technology and permission from publishers. To address those problems, Fictionwise and OverDrive have adopted new technologies that make it possible to duplicate digital files a limited number of times. Each copy, in turn, will have a limited lifespan before it automatically expires. Thus, a library might purchase three copies of a title and lend it to three patrons for two weeks at a time. Alternatively, libraries could enable each title to be read 100 times before it expired electronically. Analysts hope that this latest move will whet the public's appetite for e-books, giving a much-needed boost to the nascent industry. If successful, the new way of managing digital content could pioneer the way for libraries to loan other media via the Internet, including music and movies, although there are still some details to be worked out. "Each medium has a different business model and a different culture," so it's going to be a tough battle for libraries to obtain the rights to lend digital movies and music through the Web, says Frederick Weingarten, head of technology policy at the American Library Association. (Los Angeles Times 20 Nov 2002),0,9079.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dtechnology ShelfLife 11/21/02



While academic libraries continue to grow their research capabilities, users increasingly rely on Internet search engines such as Google to conduct their scholarly research. Although these non-academic search engines may not offer the range of resources their academic counterparts do, they are easy to use and usually provide "good enough" results. In Australia, the AARLIN (Australian Academic and Research Library Network) project is under development with the ambitious goal of bringing researchers back to the library. AARLIN is designed to be an academic resource discovery tool that emulates the ease of use of Internet search engines. The system's developers hope to create a national virtual research library system that will provide unmediated, personalized and seamless end-user access to the collections and resources of Australian libraries and document delivery services. Essentially, AARLIN is a portal. When the system is fully rolled out next year, users will log on once to the local authentication system of their participating institution. They can customize the portal to meet their needs, use a single search interface and syntax, and search a multitude of sources simultaneously.  ShelfLife 11/21/02



The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) plans to unveil a new software system early next year that will make it easier for researchers to find specific records in archival databases. The Access to Archived Databases software is part of a larger program at NARA to preserve and provide access to almost all types of federal electronic records, while at the same time providing scalability, technical upgrade flexibility, and privacy protection. Kenneth Thibodeau, director of NARA's electronic records archives program, says that by the end of 2003, researchers will have increased access to about 50 databases as well as State Department diplomatic records. Meanwhile, NARA officials plan to involve users in developing the solution for storing electronic records. The challenge is to come up with a format that can be maintained once the original technology is obsolete. NARA officials believe part of the solution will be storing information in basic templates, which provide a standardized way of describing the context and preservation of a record, says Dan Jansen, a project director for NARA's electronic records archives program. Agency officials plan to solicit suggestions from different user communities on refining the template for particular kinds of records. The solicitation process will not take place until fiscal 2004, with a final solution expected FY 2007.  

ShelfLife 11/21/02



It may be increasingly difficult for smaller publishers to compete for authors with large houses, but that doesn't mean the large houses don't have their issues. According to a recent study of about 80 authors conducted by the National Writers Union and unveiled recently at the National Press Club in Washington, authors at Penguin Putnam, Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Houghton assessed the performance of their publishers. While some of the comments were complimentary, many were skeptical or critical. Authors complained about editors leaving before publication or not giving writers enough feedback, and that contractual and catalog marketing pledges raised expectations that were never met. Publishers and others in the industry, however, warned that the results had to be taken in context. As an activist organization, the NWU is hardly objective, they said, and the people who respond to these surveys tend to come disproportionately from the ranks of the critical. Of particular note in the study was the unusual conclusion that authors felt publishers should be releasing fewer books, a position that the NWU said it may start endorsing soon.

Library Journal Academic News Wire: November 21, 2002



Speaking at a lecture organized by the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner warned of an "enormous expansion" of intellectual-property law. Posner criticized a 1998 law extending the duration of U.S. copyrights and attacked the Patent and Trademark Office for granting what he called

"very questionable" business method patents. Posner is known for applying economic analysis to the law and for mediating settlement talks in the Microsoft antitrust case. CNET, 20 November 2002 EduPage 11/22/02 



Late last week officials at the U.S. Naval Academy seized approximately 100 student computers suspected of improperly having copyrighted material on them. Several weeks ago, several groups representing media, including the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, sent a letter to colleges and universities asking that the institutions take measures to restrict copyright infringement, said to be rampant on college campuses. At the Naval Academy, all students are issued computers when they enter the institution. If found guilty of copyright violations, students could face a range of punishments, including court martial.  Edupage 11/25/02



In a recent article in the Boston Globe, Jonathan Zittrain argues that in the battle of property vs. free speech, no one wins.  Now that the Internet has blended the previously separate zones of ideas as property and ideas as free, he says it’s time to engage in the much-overdue labor of integrating the legalistic rules with the practical if inconsistent exceptions to intellectual property.  He thinks the goal should be something that fits both profit models and common sense, recognizing knowledge as something both of valid commercial value and something that people in a free society should be able to share in many instances without getting permission or owing money.  He calls on the public to pay attention and make it clear that it’s a bad idea to tighten control over ideas and their expressions.  “Freedom of trade must not trump freedom of mind.”


The first big courtroom test of a U.S. law that makes it criminal to offer software for cracking digital copyright protections should finally begin this week, after visa delays for two of the case's main players.  Dmitry Sklyarov, a programmer at Moscow-based software company ElcomSoft, and Alex Katalov, the company's CEO, have been granted special permission to come to the United States for the court proceedings.  At last week’s hearing, the lawyers spent much of the time wrangling over how the DMCA should be interpreted for a jury. The criminal provisions of the act may be especially perplexing because they outlaw cracking copyright protections—or offering tools that will do so—even if the person cracking the protections plans to use the material in a way that traditionally has been legal, such as making a backup copy.  There isn't any law in this area," Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Frewing told the judge. The ElcomSoft attorney argued that in order to convict the company of wrongdoing, the jury should have to find that company representatives were acting with an "evil-meaning mind" or for a "bad purpose," not just helping people crack copyright protections. He also argued that the jury should be instructed on what constitutes "fair use," a legal theory under copyright law that allows some copying of material for education, criticism and other purposes.  Frewing disagreed. "Fair use is irrelevant and improper," to bring into the instructions, he said. The judge said he would decide those issues as the case proceeds.

ONLINE ERRORS made an egregious error recently, but made an unusually prominent correction. Many online news sites bury corrections or simply update stories, giving people who have read a story no way of knowing that it was inaccurate and changes have been made. After mistakenly quoted Disney Chairman Michael Eisner as saying he didn't see the company's network, ABC, being around "in four to five years," the site updated the story and changed the headline to, "Clarification: Eisner Discusses The ABC Brand And Other Disney Brands." The site then not only corrected the story, but put asterisks next to the updated sentences, and at the bottom of the story included explanations like, "The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Eisner did not see the third- ranked network being around in four to five years."


Pathe News has launched a free Web site where visitors can view more than 3,500 hours of news films originally screened in cinemas between 1902 and 1970. From the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and the first shocking footage out of Belsen concentration camp in 1945, to the first moon walk, the archive covers some 100,000 news stories. The $78.5 million digitization project was part of the British national lottery's New Opportunities Fund program. Currently free, site access will move to a paid format within a few years, but "will not be prohibitively expensive," said a Pathe spokesperson. The site had logged about 15,000 visitors by lunchtime of its opening day, with 3,500 of them downloading film clips. NEWS-ON-NEWS/The Ifra Trend Report: No. 173 (27 November 2002),7496,843759,00.html

Related: British Pathe  



What's happening with digital art these days? See Carly Berwick, Net Gains, ARTnews Online, December 2002. Jon Ippolito, an associate curator at the Guggenheim, thinks all art should be free. To that end, he founded a program this September at the University of Maine in Orono called 'Still Water,' the first project of which is the Open Art Network. This would establish and promote standards for 'open architecture,' as he puts it, among media artists who want others to be able to access their art or even copy it at no cost. 'The fundamental premise of the Open Art Network is that it’s based in community,' he notes. 'It comes from artists, and it works with artists.'"



Engineers at Microsoft's Media Presence Lab are working on a venture dubbed the MyLifeBits project that will result in multimedia databases that chronicle people's life events and make them searchable. Gordon Bell, one of the developers, and his colleagues say the search capability will solve what they call "the giant shoebox problem." Of course, loading every letter, document, photo and videotape pertaining to one's life takes a lot of storage space, but Bell says by next month he will have logged everything he possibly can onto the MyLifeBits database. All of his e-mail is automatically saved on the system, as is anything he reads or buys online. Phone conversations and meetings are taped and stored as audio files. In addition, each media file saved can be tagged with a written or spoken commentary and linked to other files. When Bell wants to find something, he just types in dates or keywords, and a series of chronological files are generated. Bell and others believe that MyLifeBits eventually will become a surrogate memory, with people relying more and more on digital storage and retrieval systems to recall past experiences. Doug de Groot, who works on computer-generated avatars and other types of digital "life" at Leiden University in the Netherlands, says Bell's system could eventually form the basis of a "meet the ancestor" type of educational tool, where youngsters could quiz their forebears about what happened during their lifetimes. ShelfLife, No. 82 (27 November 2002


The scholarly communications are also available on line at