Issue No. 35

January 13, 2003

Paula Kaufman, University Librarian






The Big Red Shearling toy bone allows dog owners to record a short message for their pet. Tinkle Toonz Musical Potty introduces a child to the "magical, musical land of potty training." Both are items on Fritz's Hit List, Princeton University computer scientist Edward W. Felten's web-based collection of electronic oddities that would be affected by legislation proposed by Democratic Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings of South Carolina. Under the bill, the most innocent chip-driven toy would be classified as a "digital media device," Felten contends, and thereby require government-sanctioned copy-protection technology.  The Hollings proposal—the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act—was intended to give entertainment companies assurance that movies, music and books would be safe for distribution over broadband Internet connections or via digital television.  But even if these oddities are exempted, the forces supporting the Hollings measure—the movie and record industries, in particular—still place unauthorized copying high on their agenda.  Watch for more action in the new Congress.



Libraries have begun to calculate the fallout from the failure of divine subsidiary RoweCom and its Faxon Library Services division (see the last issue of this Newsletter), and it's not pretty. While initial estimates of the potentially lost subscription monies ranged from $33 million to $80 million, as suggested in December by INFORMATION TODAY, librarians Library Journal said the number was likely higher. "Our exposure is at least $540,000," said James Huesmann, library dean at Western Illinois University in Macomb. "I don't think it could be as low as $80 million." That $540,000 represents about half of the library's materials budget. Some librarians are calling the situation "the Enron of the library world." It is alleged that divine siphoned money from its subsidiaries to fund its "web, infrastructure, and customer interaction" business. According to Mark Seeley, VP & General Counsel of Elsevier Science and Secretary of the ad hoc committee formed in response to the divine/RoweCom/Faxon crisis, the subscription agent has been willing to open up its books to ensure an orderly transition. Swets Blackwell has made an offer to buy the entire business, while EBSCO has signed a letter of intent to buy the European segment of the company. What about the money taken out of RoweCom/Faxon?  "We're obviously hoping divine will agree to put some back," Seeley said. If there isn't enough money to pay for the subscriptions libraries already ordered, will publishers and libraries both take a hit? "It's a little early to tell," said Seeley. "I understand, and most publishers do, that library budgets are not very flexible." If both Swets and EBSCO are really interested, they may be willing to make us all whole, and divine may be convinced it will be in everyone's interest to contribute a substantial amount.  LJ Academic News Wire 1/9/03


Several other publishers also announced they would join Elsevier, Wiley, and Blackwell in gracing 2003 subscriptions bought via RoweCom/Faxon at least through January and some for the next few issues as well. In most cases, the grace period is traditional for expiring subscriptions. Many publishers are waiting to see the results of the financial investigation and possible purchase of the subscription agent. Meanwhile, the ad hoc committee investigating the RoweCom/Faxon has moved ahead, hiring PricewaterhouseCoopers to review financial information and the law firm Jones Day to handle the legal end. The steering committee now includes representatives of five libraries (Lawrence Livermore Lab, Johns Hopkins, National Institutes of Health, Ohio University, and Library of Congress) and five publishers (Elsevier, Wiley, Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, American Institute of Physics, and Oxford University Press). The committee aims to protect creditors, especially those libraries that have already paid for 2003 subscriptions. As of this week, those processes were still in the initial stages, even as an announcement was expected from Development Specialists Inc., the firm hired by divine to deal with RoweCom/Faxon customers.   LJ Academic News Wire 1/9/03


As the Internet continues to evolve, publishers are collecting more money for their content, according to recent figures reported by the Online Publishers Association. According to the report, the market for "paid web content" for the third quarter jumped 105 percent over the same period last year. The $361.4 million in the third quarter also represented a rise of 14 percent from the second quarter of 2002. According to other data collected, U.S. consumers spent nearly $1 billion for paid online content for the first three quarters of 2002, compared to $670 million for all of 2002. The report also said that the number of consumers paying for online content in the third quarter nearly doubled, reaching 14.8 million compared to 7.9 million from the year-ago period. While university libraries are of course quite used to licensing content online for their patrons, experts say the growth of individual consumers represents the continuing maturation of online publishing.  Library Journal Academic News Wire: January 02, 2003.


European copyright protection is expiring on a collector's trove of 1950's jazz, opera and early rock 'n' roll albums, forcing major American record companies to consider deals with bootleg labels and demand new customs barriers. Already reeling from a stagnant economy and the illegal but widespread downloading of copyrighted music from the Internet, the recording companies will now face a perfectly legal influx of European recordings of popular works. Copyright protection lasts only 50 years in Europe compared to 95 years in the United States, even if the recordings were originally made and released in America. So recordings made in the early to mid-1950's—by figures from Maria Callas to Elvis Presley and Ella Fitzgerald—have begun to go out of copyright in Europe, opening the way for any European recording company to release albums that had been owned exclusively by particular labels. Although the distribution of the albums will theoretically be limited to Europe, record chains and specialty stores in the United States, routinely stock imports from Europe and elsewhere. The expected crush of material has already sent one giant company, EMI Classics, into a shotgun marriage with a bootleg label it had long tried to shut down in an effort to protect its lucrative Callas discography. It also has the American record industry talking about erecting a customs barrier. The Recording Industry Association of America is trying to persuade European Union countries to extend terms of copyright and in the meantime will try to get these products blocked, arguing that customs agents "have the authority to seize these European recordings even in the absence of an injunction brought by the copyright owners."


The multidisciplinary science journal, Best of Science, has dropped its subscription fees and become free. It's not quite "open access" since it asks authors to transfer copyright to the journal, although it will apparently not use the copyright to block any but commercial uses. The publishing subvention or dissemination fee is waived for authors from developing countries. Interestingly, Best of Science does not conduct its own peer review, but asks authors to submit articles that have already been reviewed and endorsed by at least two scientists who are members of at least two different scientific academies from the journal's list of approved academies.


The expunging of discredited journal articles by publisher Elsevier Science threatens to hobble researchers and damage the historical record, scholars and librarians say.  Although when an article becomes “problematic” in print Elsevier makes a note in a subsequent print version (in the case reported it wrote “Professor Assimakopoulos has subsequently confirmed to the editor of ISA Transactions that this version of the article should be withdrawn from publication and that his name should not have been associated with it,”) such a note does not appear online.  Rather, these articles are expunged from the publisher’s database, and a search for the piece brings up only the message “For legal reasons this article has been removed by the publisher.”



A Norwegian court has acquitted Jon Johansen on all charges. Johansen wrote the DeCSS software to bypass copy protection on DVDs in order to view his own purchased copies on a Linux machine. The court found that he infringed no copyrights and that others who use DeCSS for the same purpose are acting within the law. This is an important blow to the DMCA, which prohibits circumventing copy protection for any reason. Now circumvention for fair use is lawful in Norway. Next questions: what other countries will follow Norway, and can Hollywood invent a business model compatible with fair use and consumer rights?




Lee Greenhouse makes these predictions for 2003:



Digital home recording rights became the first technology- related legislation introduced in the 108th Congress with the filing of a bill intended to protect the fair use rights of consumers purchasing copyrighted material. Sponsored by Representatives Rick Boucher (D.-Va.) and John Doolittle (R.-CA), the bill would amend two key provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which currently prohibit the circumvention of a technical protection measure guarding access to a copyrighted work even if the purpose of the circumvention is to exercise traditional consumer fair use rights.  Entitled the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (H.R. 107), the legislation is identical to the bill introduced by Boucher last November (H.R. 5544).  In its 1983 Betamax decision, the Supreme Court established the rights of consumers to make copies of legally purchased copyrighted material for the purpose of "fair use," such as making personal backup copies or multiple copies for different media devices. The 1998 DMCA, however, which was enacted with the enthusiastic support of motion picture studios, the recording industry, and book publishers, makes it illegal to make copies of any digitally-recorded material for any purpose. The DMCA also prohibits the manufacture, distribution or sale of technology which enables circumvention of protection measures.  Boucher's bill would limit the scope of the prohibition to circumvention for the purpose of copyright infringement. Circumvention for the purpose of exercising fair use rights would be permitted under the legislation. The legislation would also permit the making and distribution of hardware and software if the technology is capable of substantial non-infringing use. Boucher said the tech community now considers fair use rights to be "one of its highest priorities" and pointed out that supporters of his legislation include Intel, Verizon, Philips Electronics North America Corp., Sun Microsystems, Gateway, the Consumer Electronics Association, Computer and Communications Industry Association, the Association for Computing Machinery, the Computer Research Association and a variety of trade associations representing technology companies. Electronics makers are backing Boucher's bill because they claim the DMCA's prohibition against devices that allow for encryption circumvention is too subjective to give manufacturers confidence to introduce new products. The bill is likely to encounter fierce opposition from the well-funded music and movie industries, which have already spent millions to shut down file swapping sites and view the DMCA as essential to avoiding another Napster- like run on copyrighted material. The bill now goes to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for hearings.



A philosophic difference of opinion between Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (CSA) and some of its clients has caused CSA to pull its databases from well-known aggregators like Dialog and EBSCO Publishing. CSA is known for its databases covering materials and environmental sciences, and its departure leaves some notable holes for searchers using the aggregator services. CSA president Matt Dunie says that his group favors broad-based linking that allows customers who are viewing an abstract or index to go directly to the full text of the article, provided they're subscribers to that publication. All of the CSA databases are available on Internet Database Service, which is CSA's own online system, but some librarians worry that CSA's defection heralds a trend toward disaggregation, which could make finding and maintaining access to information much more difficult. The crux of the problem is that what benefits libraries—aggregated databases—can be disastrous for primary publishers, many of whom may follow CSA's example. Because a primary publisher is paid minimal royalties by database aggregators, if libraries opt to get their access that way and cancel their full-price subscriptions, the publisher's bottom line suffers. "The royalties earned from the database aggregators is very small, and Sage journals cannot sustain themselves without subscription revenue," say Carol Richman and Blaise Simqu of Sage Publications, which has also pulled its content from EBSCO and ProQuest. "Content in the aggregated databases literally threatens the long-term future of every journal we publish."   



The proposed changes to government printing operations, which would direct that agencies seek lowest bids from outside printing contractors rather than coordinating through the Government Printing Office, as is currently the case, likely would have negative consequences for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), according to comments submitted to the FAR Secretariat last month by a coalition of library groups. The success of the FDLP hinges on a strong system of coordination and centralization, and the proposed fragmentation of that system "would most likely result in reduced public access." Agencies that currently bypass the GPO for printing procurement are required by law to provide one copy to the Superintendent of Documents for cataloging purposes and the necessary number of copies for federal depository libraries, but unfortunately, their record of compliance is dismal. A 1998 review of compliance at the National Institutes of Health found that 77% of the documents produced by outside contractors were not supplied to the FDLP as required. Moreover, in the case of submission in electronic format, there are no specified guidelines to ensure that documents are presented in a standardized, usable format suitable for public distribution. And while the library groups applaud the current move toward e-government, they warn that it "has not been accompanied by the development of a comprehensive policy framework focusing on the life-cycle of electronic government information… A strong and positive framework is absolutely necessary to ensure that the public will have seamless, continuous and permanent access to important electronic information." The E-Government Act of 2002 is seen, if properly implemented, as an important first step in improving the public's awareness of and access to government information.  ShelfLife, No. 88 (9 January 2003)




In a letter to  "Open Access monopoly may threaten smaller journals", posted on 7 Jan. 2003, Gunther Eysenbach wonders why the article processing fees proposed by the Public Library of Science are so high, three times more than the fees being charged by a small open-access journal that he edits, the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR). He ends his letter with the comment that JMIR "is independent from BMC and PLoS - and it should stay that way" Stevan Harnad has responded, in a letter dated 10 January 2003, also in  In his response, Harnad has referred to information posted, as part of another recent thread on Journal expenses and publication costs in the American Scientist Forum.



Science should be free, despite national security concerns. So said the participants at a recent conference on national security and scientific openness at the National Academies of Science. Quoting John Hamre, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "The political climate that we are in is leading toward imposing security regulations that, while they would provide precious little security, would seriously impair the progress and conduct of science." Quoting Ron Atlas, president of the American Society of Microbiology: "The best defense against anthrax or any other infectious disease is information.”



After failing to turn a profit after two years and multiple injections of capital, Columbia University's for-profit online learning venture, Fathom, is being dissolved.  Its learning materials will be incorporated into other digital-media initiatives at Columbia.  Fathom was preceded in its demise by other university-led e-learning ventures by New York University, Temple, and the University of Maryland. However, it would be wrong to rule out this entire space as a failure as long as other for-profits such as the University of Phoenix continue to thrive in this area.  Just as there are still some Internet companies thriving after the crash (see our upcoming Briefing on the "Internet Nine"), there will be successful e-learning ventures that get the business models right and stick to the core virtues of minding their growth, profitability, cash reserves, and market value.  Outsell's e-briefs, January 10, 2003



E-mail has become the killer application of the Internet, but also its Achilles' heel.  Abuse by spammers led to a rise in crude spam filters, which in turn meant that some legitimate publishers who distribute to opt-in subscriber lists are finding that their publications are not getting through to readers.  SourceLink recently developed a desktop application called SNAP (SourceLink News Alert Program) that receives periodic notification of new newsletters, alerts, and news updates from participating publishers.  Users manage online subscriptions with the SourceLink Web interface.  Subscribers know they'll only receive information they ask for; publishers know their information will reach their subscribers.  The use of a desktop application to receive information is eerily reminiscent of the "push" technology hyped by PointCast in years past, although SourceLink scrupulously avoids using that terminology....

More at  Outsell's e-briefs, January 10, 2003



The Center for Excellence in Writing at Portland State University in Oregon has launched a graduate degree program in book publishing and Ooligan Press, a general publishing and teaching imprint.  The Ooligan Press is named after a type of smelt, a small fish that was an economic anchor in Native American culture in the Northwest.  Students will have a hand in all press operations, from acquiring titles to design and production.  Although Ooligan Press is not a scholarly press, it will have imprints whose titles are generated by university departments.  The graduate program will offer an M.A. or M.S. in writing with a concentration in book publishing.  Publishers Weekly, January 6, 2003



A look at several indicators from the last six years offer some basis for pessimism about the book’s long-term prospects, writes Steve Zeitchik.  Although consumer spending on books rose 16% between 1996 and 2001, unit sales dropped 6%.  And the time Americans spent reading a book fell from 123 hours per year in 1996 to 109 hours in 2001.  Even other print media fared better.  More competition from other forms of entertainment, shorter attention spans and inadequate efforts to promote the pleasures of reading have spelled a dire reality – books matter less to more people every year.  The number of households buying at least one book per year has dropped steadily over the last five years, falling from 60% to 56.5%.  The news from the retail front is no different.  Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-A-Million, Crown Books, Lauriat’s, and independents operated 6,269 outlets in 1996; by 2001 the number had declined 40% to 4,474.  But book-buying is not the only measure of book reading.  A University of Illinois study commissioned by the American Library Foundation found that at 18 large libraries, circulation has increased significantly since March 2001, when the federal government declared the nation in recession.  According to a study done by GSLIS’ Library Research Center for the American Library Foundation, the Internet has not killed libraries – it has made them more essential.  And the Urbana Free Library has the data that documents this.  Publishers Weekly, January 6, 2003,


The scholarly communications are also available on line at