SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION ISSUES

A NEWSLETTER FOR THE UIUC COMMUNITY

Issue No. 42

April 22, 2003

Paula Kaufman, University Librarian

Editor

 

 

IRAQI CULTURAL HERITAGE DISASTER
In an attack on the cultural history of Iraq, looters and arsonists ransacked and gutted the National Library this week, transforming the nation's intellectual legacy into a wasteland of smoldering remains of books and artifacts dating back thousands of years. In much of the library, not a single recognizable book or manuscript could be seen
among the ash. Also destroyed was Iraq's principal Islamic library, home to some of the world's most priceless early Qurans and other scholarly material pertaining to the Islamic faith.  Except for wooden card catalog drawers and a carved-wood service counter, which somehow escaped the flames, nothing was left in the National Library's main wing except its charred walls and ceilings. Built in 1977, the three-story National Library building housed all books published in Iraq, including copies of all doctoral theses. It preserved rare old books on Baghdad and the region, historically
important books on Arabic linguistics, and antique handwritten manuscripts in Arabic that were gradually being transformed into printed versions. The Library was known to also house manuscripts from the Ottoman and Abbasid periods of Middle Eastern history.  "Books that survived a fire set by ransackers are seen on the floor of the Iraqi National Library in
Baghdad Wednesday, April 16, 2003 (Click on link below). Looters and arsonists ransacked and gutted Iraq National Library and the country's principal Islamic library, dealing another terrible cultural blow to a society that prides itself on its universities, literature and educated elite.”  ALAWON: American Library Association Washington Office Newsline Volume 12, Number 33 April 17, 2003
 http://cctr.umkc.edu/user/fdeblauwe/iraq.html

 

USING REQUIREMENTS FOR INSTITUTIONAL PORTALS

The PORTAL project report 'Stakeholder Requirements for Institutional Portals' is now available. The report is the result of consultation with over 600 individuals and combines the results of the PORTAL online survey with interview and focus groups data gathered at 5 UK tertiary education sites. Work package 3 of the PORTAL project "Defining User Requirements for Institutional Portals" aims to provide consultation with stakeholders regarding their needs and a literature review of the outputs of portal projects in the UK and overseas. Three deliverables have been developed. 1) Literature Review. As part of the literature review a table of portal functionality has been developed. The table provides a view of the functionality included in institutional portals at a selection of sites both in the UK and overseas. The table will be updated throughout the course of the project. The table can be accessed - as an Excel spreadsheet - at www.fair-portal.hull.ac.uk/downloads/PortalFunction.xls. A full literature review will be added shortly.  2) Online Survey. As part of the research conducted for the report "Stakeholder Requirements for Institutional Portals" an online survey was developed. The portal survey can be accessed via the link on the menu bar or by following the link to www.learndev.hull.ac.uk/portal_survey/.   3) Report. The report "Stakeholder Requirements for Institutional Portals" involved consultation with over 600 stakeholders. The full report can be accessed at www.fair-portal.hull.ac.uk/downloads/stakereq.pdf

The executive summary can be accessed as a pdf document at

www.fair-portal.hull.ac.uk/downloads/ExecSummary.pdf   The report's conclusions can be accessed as a pdf document at

www.fair-portal.hull.ac.uk/downloads/Conclusions.pdf  or at

http://www.fair-portal.hull.ac.uk/WP3.html

 

EBOOK PUBLISHER AND RANDOM HOUSE REACH DEAL
RosettaBooks and Random House have reached a deal to issue electronic versions of books by authors such as Margaret Atwood and John Updike.  The two companies were embroiled in a lengthy dispute over some previously released electronic books that settled last December.  BNA's Internet Law News (ILN) -
4/10/03
http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/news/editorial/5595494.htm

 

ROUNDUP OF E-BOOK INITIATIVES

In “Where Did All the Books Go?” Syllabus Magazine, April, 2003, Steve Epstein presents an overview of e-book projects, especially open-access initiatives like Project Gutenberg and the Online Book Page. The article also covers more scholarly and more flexible initiatives such as the DLF architectures for digital libraries, OAIster, and DSpace.  FOS News 4/6/03 http://www.syllabus.com/article.asp?id=7474

 

BUY THE MUSIC AND COPYING RIGHTS TOGETHER

The St. James Music Press publishes sheet music in priced, printed books. But it has a nice policy: when you buy one of its books (or at least one of its books in a certain series), you buy permission to copy the contents and share the copies with others. Some publishers remove the price barriers without removing permission barriers, e.g. making a work free to read but not to print, or free to copy once but not multiple times, or free for personal web sites but not for public archives. St. James Music Press is removing permission barriers without removing the price barrier. It's not open access, but it's half of open access and very creative. FOS News 4/4/03 http://www.sjmp.com/default.htm

 

AAP USING CONTENT DIRECTIONS TO REGISTER DOIs

Content Directions, Inc. (CDI) and the Association of American Publishers, Inc. (AAP) announced recently that they have signed a comprehensive DOI Registration Agreement. As a result, AAP will begin registering Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for its published materials (including research studies, industry reports, white papers, etc.).

For a live example of the technology as applied to an AAP report, click on the following DOI for "What Consumers Want in Digital Rights Management (DRM): Making Content as Widely Available as Possible in Ways that Satisfy Consumer Preferences" – DOI and for information specifically about AAP's "Digital Policy/Ebook Project," including the white paper "Numbering Standards for eBooks" which selected the DOI as an integral part of its eBook numbering standard and specified guidelines for its use, click on the following DOI: http://www.publishers.org/press/releases.cfm?PressReleaseArticleID=145

 

UNEARTHING THE OBSCURE IN DIGITAL COLLECTIONS
One of the major goals of the Digital Library Federation (of which UIUC is a member) is to make available the rare book and artifactual material that can only be accessed under restricted-use conditions.  But with scanning, digitizing and improved indexing, this material can now be widely distributed. Of course, there's still the issue of locating material in various collections. It's relatively simple for search engines to find digitized material on static HTML pages. It's much more difficult when the content is housed in different databases and formed into so-called dynamic pages only when retrieved. Digital resources are often invisible because the search engine doesn't delve into the CGI (Common Gateway Interface) that ports resource information to the Web. Consequently, these resources are generally accessible only to those who know to look in digital library repositories, generally at universities which are developing the collections in these repositories. DLF's goals include developing a set of metadata that works across multiple databases and facilities.  (Syllabus
1 Apr 2003) ShelfLife, No. 101 (April 10 2003)  http://www.syllabus.com/article.asp?id=7474

 

WIKI WATCH
A wiki—just one of the emerging and disparate communication technologies that sail under the banner of "social software"—is an expandable hypertext system of interlinked Web pages that allows any user to edit any page. Easy to learn and use, wikis are good for collaborations, discussions, storing information or just exchanging e-mails. While their popularity is currently overshadowed by blogs, David Mattison, access services archivist at the British Columbia Archives, predicts you'll be hearing a lot more about wikis in the future. There are plenty of applications in the library field, he says, "both behind the scenes where they are being used, and in public customer service areas where you could create a librarian-administered, self-serving knowledge bank." Among his suggestions: a readers' advisory or book-rating wiki, a suggestion box wiki, an FAQ wiki, a collaborative story created by children, or a guide to using the library wiki by friends and neighbors. The National Science Digital Library offers several, including http://annotations.comm.nsdlib.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl, and http://sourceforge.comm.nsdlib.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiResources. Wikis can also be used to create a more flexible type of Web log, as in such "wiki-like" Web content management systems SnipSnap [http://snipsnap.org/space/start]. ShelfLife, No. 101 (April 10 2003) http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/apr03/mattison.shtml

 

NATIONAL ARCHIVES HISTORICAL DOCUMENT BONANZA
The National Archives has just made life easier for Internet users looking for information from its historical records database. While they represent only a small fraction of the archives electronic holdings, more than 50 million historical records have been made accessible to researchers, genealogists and other interested parties.  Before the system became available, people had to either visit the Archives and spend hours combing through documents or request the files by phone and pay to have them mailed. The database draws from the records of 20 federal agencies, and records were selected because of their analytical and statistical nature. Most deal with information that can be easily looked up based on specific names, dates, organizations, cities or states. The database URL is http://www.archives.gov/aad/. (Yahoo! News
4 Apr 2003) ShelfLife, No. 101 (April 10 2003)
 

THE FUTURE IS NOW: MIT PRESS LAUNCHES PRINT-ON-DEMAND PROGRAM
Saying that the time has arrived to end "a perennial problem for book publishers," the MIT Press this week announced that it has officially launched an ambitious print-on-demand (POD) publishing program to keep available titles on the press's backlist regardless of demand. In partnership with Edwards Brothers printing, the MIT Press
Classics Series now offers more than 250 titles, with the list scheduled to include 1750 titles by the year's end. Orders are routed directly to Edwards in Ann Arbor, MI for production and fulfillment, with
U.S. customers promised delivery of their books within seven business days. The model could be especially good news for university presses,
whose specialized lists and short-run titles suffer acutely from the costs of warehousing, printing, and fulfillment. The value of POD has been touted by university presses for several years, with the results not quite living up to the hype. But MIT officials say this program is different.  For more information, see http://mitpress.mit.edu/Classics  Library Journal Academic News Wire: April 10, 2003

 

CROSSREF HITS MILESTONE, SURPASSES 200 MEMBERS
CrossRef, the collaborative effort of publishers to offer navigation of online content via DOI-based citation links, announced that it has surpassed the 200-member mark,
doubling the number of members from last year. In addition, CrossRef officials say that "several hundred thousand non-journal DOIs, including books and conference proceedings," have also been added to its extensive linking network. CrossRef now covers more than 7,600 journals and books, and 7.5 million individual content items. Unlike URLs, which become obsolete when an online entity changes location, the DOI provides a permanent name associated with an object's location in a readily updateable directory. Most libraries today are implementing local link servers and recognize that DOIs enhance their linking capabilities. CrossRef (www.crossref.org) was established by scholarly publishers as an independent, non-profit entity in 2000.  Library Journal Academic News Wire:
April 10, 2003

 

TAYLOR AND FRANCIS POSTS MAJOR GAINS
Soft economic conditions apparently didn't have much effect on UK-based scholarly publisher Taylor & Francis, as the company reported that FY2002 pre-tax profits rose a stellar 23 percent to 32.9 million ($52 million). Revenues were up 7.3 percent, to 147.4 million ($230 million). The company's journal division had the largest growth in 2002
with sales up 11.4 percent, to 71 million. Sales in the book group rose 3.8 percent. Growth was driven almost entirely by internal initiatives, as T&F's lone acquisition
in 2002 was the 2.9 million purchase of Fitzroy Dearborn. Last year, T&F cut its U.S. work force, and this year the company executives said T&F plans to stop publishing
in "peripheral areas" while expanding its presence in core subjects such as medicine, nursing, and psychology. The company released a total of 2,193 new titles in 2002, up
from 1,788 in 2001. Growth in journal revenue was helped by the publication of 24 new journals; T&F plans to publish 27 new titles this year. Online subscriptions in 2002 were 70 percent of institutional subscribers, up from 50 percent in the previous year.  Library Journal Academic News Wire: April 10, 2003

 

INTERNET VIA THE POWER GRID
Technology enabling Internet access via the electric power grid is maturing, and could become a powerful new rival to cable, telephone and wireless companies in the business of providing high-speed Internet access to homes, says the  New York Times. Seven companies have been licensed by the FCC to conduct field tests in about a dozen communities. But, the piece posits, even if the technology works, the open question remains: is there a business model that can turn a profit?
http://www.corante.com/internet/redir/20593.html

 

CONNECTIVITY COSTS ADDING UP
The cost of connectivity is starting to add up. The extra fees for cable, cell phones and high-speed Internet have created a series of continuing monthly charges that users can't escape. Research at Columbia University in the late 1990's suggests that an increasing percentage of household income is going to connectivity, but research at
Rutgers suggests that American families only spend half as much as they would be willing to pay
for the technologies. Sari Boren, a designer of museum exhibits from Cambridge, Mass. says it's addictive. "They get you hooked, and then you can't let go. A big part of what bothers me about the monthly payment thing is that no matter which of these services you subscribe to, you know they're going to keep raising the rates."
http://www.corante.com/communications


ACLU LOSES DIGITAL COPYRIGHT BATTLE
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has lost in its attempt to defang the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). U.S. District Judge Richard Sterns shot down the ACLU's challenge to the DMCA, saying there was "no plausibly protected constitutional interest that...outweighs N2H2's right to protect its copyrighted property from an invasive and destructive trespass." The ACLU was also asking that researcher Ben
Edelman be immunized from potential DMCA suits for trying to reverse-engineer N2H2's code. Sterns said that the suit was premature since Edelman had not yet been sued. The ACLU has not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling.
http://www.corante.com/policy/redir/20599.html

 

APPLE COMPUTER SINGS
Apple Computer is in talks with Vivendi Universal to buy Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company, in a multi-billion dollar deal that would reshape the record business. The deal "would instantly make technology guru Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder and chief executive, the most powerful player in the record industry," says the Los Angeles Times. The story says discussions have been under way in secret for several
months, though Apple hasn't yet made a formal bid, and that Apple is interested in owning Universal because it's on the verge of release of a new Internet service that "some music business insiders believe could pave the way for widespread online distribution of songs."  http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/5611142.htm

 

FORMATS OF THE FUTURE

OCLC has published a report, Five Year Information Format Trends, which "presents data and forecasts about information format trends that will likely shape the information landscape of the future." Four areas are examined: traditional materials, scholarly materials, digitization projects, and web resources. There is a section on eprint archives.

FOS News 4/10/03

http://www4.oclc.org/search.pl?q=cache:http://oclcpica.org/content/53/pdf/5yearinformationformattrends.pdf+information+forecasts+2003&client=OCLC_Web&oe=utf-8&output=xml_no_dtd&site=OCLC_Web&


THOMSON TO BUY ELITE INFORMATION GROUP
In another deal at the intersection of IT and IC (Information Technology and Information Content), Thomson Corp. has agreed to acquire Elite Information Group.  Elite was purchased for $14 a share, a total of $122 million, making the acquisition multiples 1.63 x 2001 revenue ($68.8 million) and 20x EBIT ($6.1 million), moderate
multiples for a profitable business in the current market.  The Los Angeles-based company produces law practice management solutions that will fill a gap in West's market coverage: large practice management tools.  West's ProLaw is widely used in small- and mid-sized firms, while Elite is in more than one-half the top 100
U.S. law firms, and one-third of the top 1,000 law firms.  Providing "Taskware" for the buyers of its content creates additional points of contact between West and its customers, going beyond the legal associate researcher to encompass back office functions, CRM and office-wide work flow. Integrating tasks with content is one of the key unmet needs
identified by our recent content integration tour and Briefing, so this deal is clearly in tune with the market forces we are seeing. Outsell's e-briefs, April 11, 2003


IBM DEVELOPS WEBFOUNTAIN
Outsell’s recent work on content integration revealed that integration of diverse bodies of content, and extracting meaningful information from it all, remains an unrealized dream of most organizations.  Outsell looks for a new technology from IBM called WebFountain to take a good run at the problem.  WebFountain is designed to extract actionable information from large stores of unstructured and semi-structured text, both inside and outside the firewall.  In Outsell's opinion, WebFountain has a number of things going for it: a) Initial solutions in beta are concrete, tangible applications such
as corporate reputation management, tracking buzz and trends on the Web, and market analysis. b) WebFountain is an open platform that can be enhanced with third-party technologies and contributions by business partners, including content providers. c) Finally, this is an exciting new Content Software Technology that is not cobbled together on venture capital money - it will have the sales and marketing muscle of Big Blue behind it.   Outsell thinks that both IC and IT companies should be watching WebFountain as a potential partner and/or competitor.  A core strategy is to develop
WebFountain as a platform on which others can build their applications, so there will be plenty of room for participation by both content and technology players.  Outsell's e-briefs, April 11, 2003

 

NEW GERMAN COPYRIGHT LAW MEETS NEEDS OF SCHOLARS, BUT NOT PUBLISHERS

A hotly contested copyright law adopted recently by Germany's Parliament gives universities and research institutions considerable leeway to digitally distribute copyrighted materials among students and scholars without paying extra charges. The law has been welcomed by academics. But academic publishers, who fought tooth and nail against the bill, say it will force them out of business.  The bill was designed to bring German law in line with a two-year-old European Union directive covering a wide range of digital-copyright issues. But the directive is silent on the issue of copyright exemptions for education and research. Publishers say they will challenge the new legislation with European authorities in Brussels. The law in effect grants exemption from copyright restrictions, for specified nonprofit purposes, to "privileged institutions," meaning schools, higher-education institutions, and public research organizations. Two key changes inserted at the last moment stipulate that only "small parts" of copyrighted material can be distributed this way, and that access to such material shall be for "a defined, limited, and small" number of people—for example, the students in a particular course. Access must be controlled by the use of passwords or a similar mechanism. Moreover, to remain valid, this section of the law must be reviewed by Parliament and re-approved at the end of 2006. Until now Germany has had very restrictive legislation that, for example, made it illegal in most cases for scholars to put copyrighted material on even an internal computer network. Academics say the new law basically gives them the same rights over copyrighted material in digital form as they already have over such material printed on paper. Just as they may photocopy pages from a book and distribute them to students registered for a class, they will now be allowed to post such material on a Web page with access limited to those same students.  But the changes did not satisfy everyone. Georg Siebeck is head of a loose group of 35 academic book publishers, who include the majority of German publishers producing books for academe and have combined annual revenues of $2-billion. He says allowing only "small parts" of copyrighted material to be distributed is no guarantee for publishers' commercial interests. Mr. Siebeck, who is the owner of a small publishing house, says that digital copies of works should in fact benefit from greater copyright protection than paper copies since, unlike paper copies, digital copies are as good as the original. The new law, he says, "doesn't provide publishers with an incentive to publish in digital form." Tomas Hoeren, a professor of law and director of the Institute for Telecommunications and Media Law at Westfälische Wilhelms University, in Münster, says the new legislation will make Germany, along with the Scandinavian countries and the United States, among the nations with a relatively tolerant approach to the use of copyrighted materials for specified educational purposes. France and Spain are among those with a more restrictive approach. http://chronicle.com/free/2003/04/2003041407n.htm

 

INCENTIVES TO PRESERVE DIGITAL MATERIALS

OCLC has issues a white paper, written by Brian Lavoie, The Incentives to Preserve Digital Materials: Roles, Scenarios, and Economic Decision-Making.  In it Lavoie argues that economic issues are a principal component of the research agenda for digital preservation. Economics is fundamentally about incentives, so a study of the economics of digital preservation should begin with an examination of the incentives to preserve. Securing the long-term viability and accessibility of digital materials requires an appropriate allocation of incentives among key decision-makers in the digital preservation process. But the circumstances under which digital preservation takes place often lead to a misalignment of preservation objectives and incentives. Identifying circumstances where insufficient incentives to preserve are likely to prevail, and how this can be remedied, are necessary first steps in developing economically sustainable digital preservation activities."  FOS News 4/13/03 http://www.oclc.org/research/projects/digipres/incentives-dp.pdf

 

SCHOLARLY ASSOCIATIONS AND OPEN ACCESS PUBLISHING

John Willinsky’s article, “Scholarly Associations and the Economic Viability of Open Access Publishing,” Journal of Digital Information, 4, 2 (April 9, 2003), considers a number of economic issues that scholarly associations are confronting in moving their journals online, with a focus on the possible viability of an open access or free-to-read format. It explores the current content overlap between subscription-based and open access sources, and considers how these redundancies favor open access publishing and indexing. Willinsky utilizes the tax returns for 20 US non-profit scholarly associations to analyze current publishing revenues against costs, arguing that the associations could make up the loss of revenue posed by the open access publishing model through cost savings and other revenue sources, while serving their membership better through the increased readership in an era of declining subscriptions. Although the decision to publish journals in an open access format is by no means simply an economic one, the viability of open access publishing warrants serious consideration by scholarly associations that are currently determining what this new medium may mean for the circulation of knowledge." FOS News 4/12/03 http://jodi.ecs.soton.ac.uk/Articles/v04/i02/Willinsky/

 

FIVE BIGGEST TECHNOLOGY TRENDS

Despite our economic and geopolitical woes, the future is bright asserts David Kirkpatrick in Fortune. Technology is increasingly the solution to the world's problems, and it's getting cheaper and better. Fortune points to five trends that will help remake the world. 1) Standardization: ''An ever-widening array of technology tools are available in inexpensive, standardized form.'' 2) Open source software. 3) Wireless. 4) ''Data Comes Alive,'' a catch-phrase referring to new technologies that may dramatically enrich software capabilities. 5) Selling software as a service. ''Take these trends together and it is clear that a dramatic new set of inexpensive but powerful capabilities is emerging.''

http://www.fortune.com/fortune/fastforward/0,15704,442551,00.html

 

PEW STUDY OF INTERNET EVADERS
A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project has found that 42 % of American adults are not connected to the Internet, even though two out of three of those people have relatives or close friends who are. In addition, the study's authors label as "Net Evaders" 20% of the nonusers who live in Internet-connected homes where other relatives go online. And then there's a category of "Net Dropouts" to characterize the 17% of nonusers who tried the Net and didn't like it. The director of the Pew project says of the Net Dropouts: "Some grew disillusioned with the online world. They decided it was just a time swamp, or they never found what they wanted." (New York Times
17 Apr 2003)  Newscan 4/17/03
http://partners.nytimes.com/2003/04/17/technology/circuits/17shun.html

 

DESPITE DOUBTS, INTERNET REIGNS AS TOP INFORMATION SOURCE
More than 70% of Americans now use the Internet, and nearly two-thirds of those consider online technology to be their most important source of information—despite some doubts about that information's credibility. According to findings in Year Three of the UCLA Internet Report, even the newest users of online technology consider it a vital information source. For the first time, though, the credibility of information found online has declined. In 2002, 52.8% of users said that most or all of the information online is reliable and accurate—a decline from 58% in 2001 and 55% in 2000. "A troubling split in perceptions about the Internet is becoming increasingly clear," says Jeffrey Cole, director of the UCLA Center for Communication Policy. "The Internet is viewed as a vitally important source of information by new users and experienced users alike, yet disturbingly large numbers of users do not trust what they find online. If the Internet's importance for information is growing, but it continues to be perceived as a source of unreliable information, then a 'credibility clash' is looming. How long will the Internet be valued as an important source of information, if the material users find online continues to be considered unreliable and inaccurate?" (UCLA Internet Report 11 Feb 2003)  ShelfLife, No. 102 (April 17 2003) http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/admin_dept/media_rel/releases/2003/03internet.html

 

CREATIVE COMMONS SUPPORTS DISTANCE LEARNING & ONLINE EDUCATION
The nonprofit organization Creative Commons was formed on the idea that some authors "prefer to share their works on more generous terms than standard copyright provides." To expand access to high-quality content online (while at the same time "reducing the legal friction and doubt" surrounding copyright issues), Creative Commons has been helping such authors retain their copyrights while allowing certain uses under certain specified conditions. Glenn Otis Brown, the organization's executive director, says that "as the licenses grow in popularity (licensors now number in the tens of thousands), they will grow in value. Like any kind of standard, the licenses' benefits will build as the community of users grows, as our language of rights and permissions gains currency, and as our metadata becomes a technical lingua franca. This standardization is particularly appealing in light of the growing number of distance learning and online education projects blooming every day. Creative Commons licenses and metadata, once widely adopted, will allow these otherwise separate communities to harmonize their copyright policies and thus encourage the sharing of information across specific contexts or cohorts.  " ShelfLife, No. 102 (April 17 2003)
http://www.syllabus.com/article.asp?id=7475

 

ACADEMIC JOURNAL POLICY DATABASE

The University of Cincinnati has launched the Academic Journal Policy Database (AJPD), which currently covers over 1700 journals. For each, it links to the journal's home page and to its page of policies e.g. on transferring copyright or accepting previously disseminated work. Registered users of the database (registration is free of charge) can update entries, add new entries, annotate journal records, and participate in a discussion forum. No registration is needed to search or browse the collection. At the moment, AJPD draws special attention to a journal's policy on accepting ETD submissions (electronic theses and dissertations), and in the future will draw attention to other specific policies. The AJPD overlaps somewhat with Project Romeo, which tracks journal policies on copyright and eprint archiving. The two projects are in conversation to see how to minimize duplicated labor.  FOS News 4/15/03 http://www.etd.uc.edu/journal/

 

BOOK TITLE REVEALED IN PRIVACY CASE

On behalf of his client, the lawyer representing the customer at the center of a landmark case involving Denver's Tattered Cover Book Store and its fight to protect the privacy of customer records recently authorized Tattered Cover's legal counsel to reveal the name of the book that had been sought by law enforcement officials for more than two years. The title, Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters by Kenneth G. Henshall, had nothing to do with the case involving a methamphetamine lab. Bookstore owner Joyce Meskis, who knew the name of the book, chose to fight in court to protect the privacy of her customers' records. http://news.bookweb.org/1355.html

 

EPIC STARTS PRIVACY INDEX
The Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is establishing a new Privacy Threat Index to track the growing threat to privacy resulting from the expansion of government surveillance. EPIC said it would follow the color-coded scheme established for the Homeland Security Advisory System by the Department of Homeland Security for the EPIC Privacy Threat Index. The rankings from green, blue, and yellow to orange and red signal Low Condition, Guarded, Elevated, High and Severe. Based on developments during the past year, EPIC assessed the current level as Yellow. Among the factors cited included: Expanded use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which permits the government to conduct surveillance without the general
safeguards required by the Fourth Amendment; The decision of the FBI to relax the legally mandated accuracy requirement for the National Crime Information Center, the nation's largest criminal justice database; Increased funding for surveillance systems, including immigration control and video surveillance; Possible consideration of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, dubbed by some as "Patriot II", that would further expand government surveillance authority; Required use of biometric identifiers for routine identification documents without associated privacy protection to assure personal information will not be misused; Ongoing efforts by the FBI to extend the application of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which requires the development of wiretap friendly communications services, to Internet telephony. 
At the same time, EPIC noted that there were some hopeful signs: The United States has so far rejected the development of a mandatory national ID card; the proposal for the establishment of Total Information Awareness research program has been suspended by Congress pending an investigation; the passenger profiling system, CAPPS II, is under increased scrutiny. http://www.epic.org/privacy/threat/pr.html

 

The scholarly communications are also available on line at http://www.library.uiuc.edu/administration/news.htm