SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION ISSUES
A NEWSLETTER FOR THE UIUC COMMUNITY
Issue No. 54
October 31, 2003
Paula Kaufman, University Librarian
Editor  
 

 

2004 TO BE THE YEAR OF THE UNIVERSITY PRESS

It's been tough going for university presses in recent months, but AAUP executive director Peter Givler has reason to believe next year will be better. Givler said one immediate project stemming from the AAUP/ARL alliance has paid immediate dividends—an ARL offer to make 2004 the "Year of the University Press." Givler said that the groups have begun thinking about ideas and activities for the campaign and hopes to have a release soon. Early response, however, has been encouraging. Some early ideas for the "Year of The University Press" campaign include libraries featuring university press works in exhibits, inviting university press authors and publishing professionals as speakers, and publishing articles about innovative library-press partnerships in library and campus newsletters. The idea of a joint statement grew out of a meeting between two groups from the AAUP and ARL Boards to brainstorm about ways the two organizations could work together.  Library Journal Academic News Wire: October 23, 2003

 

UCAL LIBRARIANS ISSUE STATEMENT ABOUT ELECTRONIC JOURNALS

The University Librarians of the UC campuses, along with the chair of the Academic Council, have sent this letter to all UC faculty (note: We have recently negotiated a contract with Elsevier that covers all three UI campuses and we’re trying to do the same for other packages of electronic journals.  We face the same challenges as UC and all other research institutions. See UIUC’s message at http://www.library.uiuc.edu/announce/elsevieragree.html):

 Dear UC Faculty:

 We are writing to alert you to the possibility that the University's libraries may have to make major reductions in available journals in the University of California's shared digital collection for 2004 and beyond. The root cause is rapidly escalating prices for many scholarly journals. The unsustainable nature of these increases has been brought into sharp focus by the University's unprecedented budget shortfall. This letter outlines our strategies for attempting to prevent these reductions and ways that you can help.

Systemwide licensing of electronic journals from large publishers is currently our primary strategy for sharing journal literature among UC campuses. Following extensive and coordinated journal cancellations by all campuses in the mid-1990s, UC libraries were able to pool remaining investments (i.e. their remaining existing subscriptions at the time of contract signature) to obtain electronic access from specific publishers to all DC-subscribed titles for all campuses. By agreeing to multi-year commitments, UC has also been able to secure caps on annual price increases.  Nearly all contracts also include perpetual rights to the digital content and some include an archival print copy at no additional cost. This strategy has been successful. It has added hundreds of titles for all campuses that, if purchased by each campus, would have cost an additional $27 million per year beyond the current spending level. Annual price increases caps have cumulatively avoided another $1 million compared with continued campus subscriptions at list price. That is, without this effort to control inflation, the University would have had to spend an additional $1 million for journals or would have had to further reduce titles previously available at each campus. The UC libraries devote about a third—$20 million—of their UC library materials expenditures to these publisher journal packages. Because of the current UC budget constraints and the need to support other high quality publications, the UC libraries may be unable to renew one or more of these systemwide journal contracts this year or next. Accordingly, the University Librarians—through the California Digital Library—are intensively engaged in negotiations to stabilize or reduce publisher package prices to UC that in current contracts include an idiosyncratic base derived from historical expenditures for print (rather than being aligned with the perceived value of digital access) and whose annual price increases significantly outpace the Consumer Price Index. The Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee endorsed this approach, urging renegotiation of "contracts with publishers whose pricing practices are not sustainable." Should any of these systemwide publisher contracts not be renewed, each campus library will have to negotiate its own electronic and print subscriptions, thus reverting to circumstances dependent entirely on campus collection budgets.  While this would allow more campus flexibility to meet local needs under current budgets, in many cases the result will be electronic access and, potentially, a reduction in overall journal access. It is not feasible to reduce large packages title by title on a systemwide basis-there is no per title pricing within the packages and systemwide decision-making at this level of detail is impractical.  If any systemwide publisher journal contract cannot be renewed, DC libraries will redouble their efforts to provide articles that you need through resource sharing - automated Request service, electronic delivery to the desktop, and Interlibrary Loan. We are presenting the University as a partner to these publishers - a partner that:

 - provides a high percentage of their authors and editors;

 - has sustained their costly transitions to electronic platforms through its multiyear commitments;

 - can uniquely offer long term digital and print preservation of their products;

 - now needs their consideration for the financial challenges we face.

Despite this approach to negotiation, one or more publishers may be unable or unwilling to respond positively to our concerns about sustainable journal pricing models-models that don't rely on 5-8% annual price increases. We need your support. We are currently negotiating new contracts with Elsevier (which now owns Academic Press), Wiley, and AAAS, and others. We will be talking to other publishers, including large commercial ones such as Kluwer, within the next year. Publisher reluctance to understand the extent and severity of the UC budget situation and the seriousness of our purpose in pursuing sustainable business terms may prolong the negotiations. Many of you are editors of journals from these and other publishers that may be affected. We are asking you, if the opportunity arises, to discuss these broader issues of fair and reasonable pricing for electronic access with your personal contacts at publishing companies.  With a unified voice, we are hopeful of maintaining content at affordable cost. In light of uncertainties and the need to keep you informed, the UC Libraries have created a Web site specifically about the sustainability of scholarly communication, the economics of publishing, and library and faculty strategies for action at http://libraries.universityofcalifornia.edu/scholarly/. Please also contact your University Librarian or your Library's Collection Development Officer if you have questions.

 

OPPOSED TO BUNDLING, HARVARD SAYS IT IS PURSUING ITS OWN ELSEVIER DEAL

In a move that reflects the extent of academic librarians' concerns with the inflexibility of so-called "big deal" e- journal packages, Harvard University likely will not sign a multi-year contract to renew access to Elsevier's journals. Harvard University Library Director Sidney Verba stressed that negotiations were ongoing, but conceded that there was "a good likelihood" that Harvard would not sign onto another multi-year contract with Elsevier. "We haven't finished negotiating, but in all likelihood we will not be signing the renewal offer through NERL, in the way in which they have put it forward." NERL, the Northeast Research Library consortium, includes 21 research libraries, Harvard among them. Verba said the sticking points were the inflexible "bundling" of journals in the previous contract and the inability to cancel journal titles without incurring heavy penalties. In "big deal" packages, libraries are contractually locked in to subscriptions for extended periods, regardless of usage and changing budget situations, in exchange for deep discounts and caps on inflation. "The main point is the ability of libraries to control their own collections," explained Verba, "to cancel what they want to cancel, to have the option of attrition, especially in times of real financial stress, like now. The Elsevier contract does not really allow that." Harvard's actions will be closely watched by other librarians, many of whom share similar concerns with the practice of bundling journal content. With many libraries' contracts also up for renewal at present, Harvard's success or failure in negotiating a reasonable alternative to a multi-year "big deal" package could have a major effect on how other libraries proceed, and on how such packages are crafted by publishers in the future. Library Journal Academic News Wire: October 16, 2003

 

BIG DEAL MAY NOT WORK FOR HARVARD, BUT IT MAY WORK FOR OTHERS

Harvard University may not renew its multi-year "big deal" package with Elsevier, but Harvard University Library Director Sidney Verba said that, for other libraries, such aggregated deals may still be worthwhile. "It is a perfectly reasonable tradeoff to receive price reductions if you do take that contract." Verba explained. "Other libraries may calculate this in the other direction, buying the larger-term bundle may make sense. We find it too constraining." Indeed, at Harvard, the nation's largest library system, there are a vast number of individual libraries. In this case, the digital world offers the opportunity to better manage collections and save money by canceling duplicate, low use or print copies of journals for its many libraries. For other library systems, however, such "big deal" packages may be just the ticket. Yale Associate University Librarian Ann Okerson, coordinator of NERL, said she was not surprised that Harvard is considering its own deal. "The Elsevier deal is not attractive in a situation where one needs and wants to cut lots of duplicate subscriptions." She said. For others, including many NERL members, the package has some attraction. Harvard is spurred by both philosophical and budget-related issues to consider a one-year deal with Elsevier. Once locked in to a journal budget, Verba said, "it affects your ability to collect other material", such as monographs. And if a library falls behind in its collections, it is very difficult to catch up. Verba acknowledged that a one-year contract with Elsevier would not offer Harvard the best discounts. The goal, however, is to retain the necessary control over collections, and to hold down overall expenses through cancellations. "No matter what we do we will subscribe to Elsevier journals," Verba said. "This is important stuff." Because of Elsevier's sheer size, however, Elsevier's "big deal" constraints are magnified. "The reason Elsevier pops to the top is because it is a very large list, and a high proportion of what we spend. It is our top collection expense. We spend four times as much on Elsevier as we do our second highest collection expense." Roughly six percent of Harvard's total materials budget, he notes, goes to Elsevier. Library Journal Academic News Wire: October 16, 2003

 

SOME UCAL FACULTY CALL FOR BOYCOTT OF CELL PRESS

Some University of California faculty members are calling for a boycott of Cell Press.  Here’s their letter:  We are writing to ask your help with an issue that concerns scientists at all University of California campuses. In this century, we all rely on electronic access to the literature, not only for speed and convenience, but increasingly for supplementary methods and data, videos and the like. Moreover, at some sites, such as our new UCSF campus at Mission Bay, we rely exclusively on electronic access. UC has successfully negotiated contracts for almost every on-line journal. The glaring exceptions are the Cell Press titles: Cell, Molecular Cell, Developmental Cell, Cancer Cell, Immunity, Neuron.
Since 1998, UC has tried without success to reach a deal with Cell Press for electronic access (1). Cell Press is owned by Elsevier, the largest science, technology and medicine journal publisher in the world, reporting 34% and 26% profits in 2001 and 2002, respectively, for its science and medicine enterprise (2).  In 2002, the University of California paid Elsevier $8 million for online access to its journals, 50% of the total budget for all online journals in the UC libraries. Elsevier now seeks a new contract with annual increases several times above the consumer price index, plus an additional levy for the Cell Press titles that rapidly reaches $90,000 per year, with hefty annual increases thereafter. After exhaustive negotiation, the UC libraries, with the recent support of the UC Council of Chancellors, have declined to accept these rates. By denying institutional electronic access for the last five years, Cell Press has enjoyed a bonanza of personal subscriptions. They now cite the potential loss of personal subscriptions as the basis for setting a high institutional price. It is untenable that a publisher would de facto block access of our published work even to our immediate colleagues. Cell Press is breaking an unwritten contract with the scientific community: being a publisher of our research carries the responsibility to make our contributions publicly available at reasonable rates. As an academic community, it is time that we reassert our values. We can all think of better ways to spend our time than providing free services to support a publisher that values profit above its academic mission. We urge four unified actions until the University of California and other institutions are granted electronic access to Cell Press journals:
i) decline to review manuscripts for Cell Press journals,
ii) resign from Cell Press editorial boards,
iii) cease to submit papers to Cell Press journals, and
iv) talk widely about Elsevier and Cell Press pricing tactics and business strategies.
If you agree, please let Cell Press know why you take these actions. Our goal is to effect change, but to be effective we must stand together.
Peter Walter and Keith Yamamoto


On behalf of the UCSF Mission Bay Governance Committee, Genentech Hall
1. http://www.cdlib.org/news/barriers.html
2. http://www.reed-elsevier.com/r-e/media/newsreleases/

 

ONLINE SCIENCE JOURNAL SWAMPED SINCE LAUNCH

Publishers of a new online scientific journal report their Web site has been overwhelmed with traffic since its recent launch. The journal, the Public Library of Science Biology, represents a new model for academic publishing. Rather than charging large subscription fees, the Public Library of Science (PLoS), which publishes the journal, charges authors $1,500 per article. The fee is used for peer-review, editing, and production, and all content on the journal's site is available for free. Representatives of PLoS said traffic jumped to more than 500,000 hits within a few hours of the site's launch. PLoS is initially publishing biomedical material and may later expand into other areas. CNET, 14 October; 2003  Edupage, October 15, 2003 http://news.com.com/2100-1032-5091337.html

http://www.plosbiology.org/plosonline/?request=index-html

 

LIBRARY COMMUNITY OPPOSES BILL TO RESTRICT ACCESS TO DATA

Speaking on behalf of five of the nation’s leading library organizations—the American Association of Law Libraries (whose president Janis Johnston is director of the Albert Jenner Law Library), the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association—Prue Adler, Associate Executive Director, ARL, voiced the opposition of the library community to the recently introduced “Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation

Act” (H.R. 3261). For over 200 years, facts—the building blocks of knowledge—have been in the public domain. The proposed legislation “would end this long-standing policy that has allowed the public and private sectors to flourish, advance research, and create a vibrant marketplace.” Access to the broad array of research information, Ms. Adler noted, is critical to the health and wealth of society. The approach taken in H.R. 3261 is strikingly at odds with how scientific and research discovery is conducted. The scientific, research, and library communities increasingly support “open access,” which encourages the sharing of data and information to promote the advancement of science and innovation. Many in the scientific community embrace open access because it builds upon the strengths of our scientific enterprise; because of restrictions that are placed by journal publishers on use of information in scientific journals; and because of the high cost of many journal subscriptions. Prices for journals have increased well beyond the consumer price index for several decades. The median prices for research journals rose at least 192 percent—more than three times the rate of inflation—between 1986 and 2000. Libraries are forced to cancel subscriptions or eliminate access to other resources due to the escalating costs of commercial journals. As access to journals declines, research efforts may be duplicated, unproductive lines of research may continue, and innovation will be impeded. Implementing a new legal regime such as proposed in the “Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act” would extend the monopoly that currently plagues research journals. It would further exacerbate the market environment in which libraries and the research community currently operate and lead to reduced competition and inhibit new entry into the science, Press Release: Library Community Opposes Bill to Restrict Data technology, and medicine (STM) marketplace. Simply put, such legislation would further erode the ability of libraries to provide researchers, scholars, students, and the public with needed information.  http://www.arl.org/info/frn/copy/pressrelease102003.pdf

 

FILE-SWAPPING: HOW MUCH DOES IT TAKE TO GET YOU SUED?

In the latest issue of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, attorney Lee Strickland quotes the president of network-monitoring company AssetMatrix to make the point that organizations don't know how to protect themselves from copyright violations made by their members: "Corporations are frantic about how to rein in some control over this [peer-to-peer file-swapping]. Like with software licenses, most companies want to be on the right side of the law. The challenge is how do they do that." Noting that the Recording Industry Association of America

(RIAA) settled a copyright claim against Integrated Information Systems last year for $1 million; Strickland calls attention to the RIAA's recent decision to go after DePaul University in Chicago: "This action presents the very practical issue of what quantity of offending material will trigger RIAA action. While the RIAA has previously suggested that they will target only 'substantial collections,' the DePaul action appears to involve a handful of potentially infringing files." (Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology Oct/Nov 2003) ShelfLife, No. 128 (October 16 2003) http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Oct-03/Strickland.pdf

 

RECOMBINANT ROLE ENVISIONED FOR LIBRARY INFORMATION PORTALS

In an article prepared for publication in the Journal of Library Administration Lorcan Dempsey, VP for research at the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) examines how libraries can be expected to reconfigure their digital portal architecture to support research and learning in an increasingly networked information environment. Dempsey says that at the moment the major portal issue facing libraries is developing "a web

environment which: enriches learning and research by providing timely, convenient access to relevant and appropriate resources; surfaces potentially valuable resources which otherwise might be overlooked; and enables users and the library to focus on fruitful use of collections rather than on the messy mechanics of interaction." He adds: "Such environments need to interact with other environments such as the learning

management system, institutional portal frameworks, and the other 'hubs' of network presence." In his opinion this means that the portal issue to be addressed is not the current concern with integrating library resources with each other, but bringing library services in line with the learning and research behaviors of users. Up to this point in the short history of network information systems, library portals have focused on becoming a single hub in network space, but now it is likely that they will move to an architecture that enables them to function in a recombinant role, linking users seamlessly to whatever other hubs will serve their specific information needs. (OCLC 2 Sep 2003) ShelfLife, No. 128 (October 16 2003) http://www.oclc.org/research/staff/dempsey/dempsey_recombinant_library.pdf

 

EUROPE’S ANTIPIRACY PROPOSAL DRAWS CRITICISM

The European Union (EU) is preparing an intellectual property protection law that is drawing fire from critics. The proposal goes beyond existing laws in Europe and the United States and would make copyright violations and patent infringements punishable by prison terms. According to lawyers, users who download songs could be sent to prison—along with managers of ISPs that were used to download the songs. Critics also say that the law would make it easier to stretch patent protection for drugs. Even Microsoft, usually a proponent of stronger IP protection, calls the proposed law excessive, and warns that it could crush innovation.  Corante - Tech News: October 20, 2003  http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/20/business/worldbusiness/20lobby.html

 

WITH CABLE TV AT MIT, WHO NEEDS NAPSTER?

A new system developed by two students at MIT supposedly allows the sharing of music without violating existing copyright law. "The students, Keith Winstein and Josh Mandel, drew the idea for their campus-wide network from a blend of libraries and from radio... the Libraries Access to Music Project, which is backed by M.I.T. and financed by research money from the Microsoft Corporation, will provide music from some 3,500 CD's through a novel source: the university's cable television network" reports the NY Times. The students say the system falls within the time-honored licensing and royalty system under which the music industry allows broadcasters and others to play recordings for a public audience. Some legal experts say the approach "mainly demonstrates how unwieldy copyright laws have become." Corante - Tech News: October 27, 2003  http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/27/technology/27mit.html

 

WHY LAW SCHOLARS HATE COPYRIGHT

In the October 15, 2003 issue of CIO MAGAZINE, Jonathan Zittrain answers the question: Why do law professors specializing in internet law tend to hate copyright?  "Without decrying the concept of taxation, every tax professor I've met regards the U.S. tax code with a kind of benign contempt, explaining it more often as a product of diverse interests shaped from the bottom up than as an elegant set of rules crafted by legal artisans to align with high-level principles about the most just way to redistribute resources or to maximize social welfare. Copyright is like that too, and while I hate its Platonic form no more than the typical tax maven hates tax, I find myself struggling to maintain the benign part of my contempt for its ever-expanding 21st-century American incarnation....The cost of making no change at all must also be soberly assessed, all the more so because the Internet heralds such a staggering potential for the rapid transformation and evolution of ideas. This is not about the crass ripping-off of CD tracks but about a possible Jazz Age of creation enabled by technology."  Open Access News 10/19/03  http://www.cio.com/archive/101503/fineprint.html

 

PENTAGON RESTORES OPEN ACCESS TO OFFLINE DOCUMENTS

The Pentagon has restored open-access to hundreds of documents it had taken offline after September 11. While they were offline, most were still available in print. The documents were restored to government web sites just as the Federation of American Scientists (FAA) was about to challenge their removal under the Freedom of Information Act. Stephen Aftergood, director of the FAA's Project on Government Secrecy, said, "If we want an open and accountable government, we need this type of information in the public domain."  Open Access News 10/17/03  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36312-2003Oct16.html

 

OSI PUBLISHES REPOSITORY SOFTWARE GUIDE

The Open Society Institute announces publication of its Guide to Institutional Repository Software. The guide, which will be updated over time, describes five open source systems currently available and is intended to help institutions decide which repository software is best for them.  Commons Blog 10/18/03  The guide is available at: http://www.soros.org/openaccess/software/

 

A NEW TECH BATTLE BREWS IN D.C.

A proposal in the House would make it illegal to put a "cookie" on a computer without warning users of a "security and privacy" risk. Companies that offer non-compliant software would be facing criminal penalties, including prison terms. One of the sponsors of the bill is Lamar Smith of Texas, also the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees copyright laws. Smith's aides say he is going to try to push the bill to a vote this week or next. Jonathan Potter, head of the Digital Media Association, opposes the bill: "We have communicated to Chairman Smith and representatives Conyers and Berman, in writing and in person, our companies' strong concerns that the anti-P2P provision seems to penalize a much broader class of software applications than was intended." Corante - Tech News: October 21, 2003 http://news.com.com/2010-1032_3-5093409.html

 

INFORMATION EXPERTS WARN AGAINST DATABASE LEGISLATION

Critics are warning that the recently proposed Database and Collections of Information Misappropriations Act would prevent scientists from doing research and children from writing book reports. "If you check out a book from the library, all the data in that book would be protected," says a spokesman for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has come out against the act. The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Library

Association have also voiced their dissent, saying that the measure likely would be unconstitutional. The legislation is intended to prevent the reproduction of information compiled in databases for commercial and competitive purposes, but opponents fear the language could be interpreted in a more draconian fashion. Meanwhile, advocates say critics' worries are unjustified. "What our folks are looking for is to make sure that when a company has invested time and resources into developing a quality database that there's no free riding going on, that they won't be purloined or pirated in a way that hurts their investment," says Mark Bohannan, senior VP of the Software and Information

Industry Association. (Fox News 9 Oct 2003)  ShelfLife, No. 129 (October 23 2003) http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,99496,00.html

 

NEW CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS TO FOCUS ON GLOBAL PIRACY

The newly formed Congressional Anti-Piracy Caucus will seek to strengthen intellectual property protections through trade agreements, diplomacy, and foreign aid agreements.  Lawmakers can ensure that intellectual property provisions are included in trade agreements and urge ambassadors, the State Department, the U.S. Trade Representative, and other government officials to press the issue, caucus members said.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=581&ncid=581&e=5&u=/nm/20031021/tc_nm/tech_piracy_dc

 

BERLIN DECLARATION ON OPEN ACCESS

The text of the Berlin Declaration, a historically important step for the Open Access movements worldwide, was released in Berlin on October 22. In this Declaration, all of Germany's principal scientific and scholarly institutions, including the Max-Planck Society, as well as a growing number of their counterparts from other countries (such as France's CNRS) have signed their commitment to open access to scientific and scholarly research. http://www.zim.mpg.de/openaccess-berlin/berlindeclaration.html The Berlin Declaration is just the beginning of a series of steps that the signatories will be taking to promote open access. Among these steps, the Max-Planck Society is Edoc, an open-access repository of all of the research output of the Max-Planck Institutes' many research laboratories. This is a truly remarkable concerted act of institutional self-archiving, and a superb example for the research world at large.  Stevan Harnad, BOAI Forum 10/22/03  http://edoc.mpg.de

 

FCC GETTING READY TO RAISE THE FLAG

The FCC in coming weeks will adopt strict limits on sending digital television programs over the Internet to avoid copying.  New rules will allow programmers to attach a code to digital broadcasts that will in most cases bar consumers from copying and sending copies of digitally-broadcast programs. CDT report on the broadcast flag at http://www.cdt.org/copyright/broadcastflag.pdf 

FCC coverage at http://news.com.com/2100-1025_3-5094610.html

BNA's Internet Law News (ILN) - 10/22/03

 

JOINT STATEMENT ON SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION

On October 20, the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) and Association for Research Libraries (ARL) issued a Statement on Scholarly Communication. The statement signals the cooperation of university presses and libraries in negotiating the transition from the age of print to the age of electronic communication. It says, in part, "We are in a period of transition in scholarly communication brought about by economic stresses on libraries, presses, and higher education and by opportunities for new roles among all of the participants in the system created by new technologies. What each library and press does complements the work of the other and completes the cycle of scholarly communication, for readers without access to scholarship are as crippled as scholarship without access to readers. As their roles evolve, AAUP and ARL will work together to create a strong system of communication for scholars of the future so that knowledge may continue to advance, for the good of all."  Open Access News 10/22/03  http://www.arl.org/scomm/aauparlstatement.pdf

 

GPO CONSIDERING CHARGES FOR SOME WEB PUBLICATIONS

In an effort to reverse declining sales revenue at the Government Printing Office, Public Printer Bruce James announced Tuesday that the agency will consider charging fees for many of the publications it now offers to the public at no cost. In the past decade, as the printing agency made many of its fee-based publications available at no cost on the Internet - like the Congressional Register and Federal Record - its revenue has declined by nearly $52 million, GPO Superintendent of Documents Judith Russell said. Although GPO initially charged for documents available on its Web site, http://www.gpo.gov, it discontinued the practice within a short time. One example of a possible fee structure would be akin to that of newspapers that allow users free access to recent articles, but charge a nominal fee for older items.

 

SUPERINTENDENT OF DOCUMENT CLARIFIES POSITION

Judith Russell, Superintendent of Documents, has made it clear that the Government Printing Office has no immediate plans to charge for GPO Access databases. The GPO is merely exploring options for the sales program as the agency evaluates all of our current services and looks to the future. To minimize the burden on the taxpayers, the Public Printer plans to evaluate business models. The alternative would be to seek additional appropriations from Congress, which GPO did this past year when Congress approved a request for increased funding to cover the costs of upgrading and modernizing GPO Access, our award-winning Web site (http://www.gpoaccess.gov). At this point, GPO is actively gathering information and is not yet ready to make a recommendation for changes to the sales program.

 

PATRIOT ACT STIFLES DATA COLLECTION

Provisions in Section 215 of the Patriot Act that require librarians and booksellers to turn over data on patrons' reading preferences are changing the way some companies and consumers do business. For consumers, it means fewer online purchases of politically incorrect books, but for Web-based book sellers the repercussions are more pervasive. Phillip Bevis, founder and CEO of Arundel Books, says customers' concerns about the Patriot Act have forced him to severely limit the amount of information he retains about each purchase, stymieing his marketing efforts. While bricks-and-mortar customers can easily evade any divulging of personal data by paying cash, online transactions typically involve credit card information and shipping addresses. The threat of having to turn that information over to federal officials on request "restricts our ability to serve our customers," says Bevis. "We've had to stop customer follow-on contact, we've disabled the software that tracks customer purchases—all the things that turn a transaction into a continuing customer relationship." Forrester Research analyst Christopher Kelley says such fears are warranted, and not just for booksellers. "Depending on how far the government goes, this issue will be so much broader than books and movies. Think about hardware stores and other places where terrorists might buy things. This has the potential to explode into an issue that would impact a lot of retailers and consumers." (New York Times 13 Oct 2003)  ShelfLife, No. 129 (October 23 2003) http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/13/technology/13ecom.html

 

INTERNET ARCHIVE SEEKS TO PRESERVE OLD PROGRAMS

Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, has petitioned the U.S. Copyright Office, seeking exemptions from provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that prohibit the archiving of software titles. Kahle says older software programs are in danger of being lost forever. "Though a cave painting in pigment on rock may survive millions of years without any action on the part of archivists, the same is not true of

digital works. In this way, the digital record is endangered by any passage of time without its active maintenance. Mere neglect of the proper transfer and translation of these works over time destroys them for all of history," wrote Kahle and several others in their exemption request. The Copyright Office is expected to announce its decision on Oct. 28, but experts say even if it rules favorably, under current circumstances the Internet Archive would be able to back up only software that has no built-in copy protections. In order to archive copy-protected titles without consent from rights holders, the Internet Archive would have to petition Congress for changes in the DMCA. And even if it's granted the exemption, it would be good for only three years, and then the Internet Archive would have to go through the whole process again. (Wired.com 14 Oct 2003) ShelfLife, No. 129 (October 23 2003) http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,60770,00.html

 

IMPROVING THE USABILITY OF DIGITAL LIBRARIES

Digital libraries are useful only to the extent that they are usable. Unless intended users can readily and easily access digital library content, no justification seems possible for the very large investments libraries are making in the provision of digital information resources. These are conclusions reached by a panel of interaction design experts, as elaborated in an IEEE Digital Library Technical Committee article authored by Ann Blandford and George Buchanan, who argue that: "There is a natural tension between technical developers who are creating new interaction possibilities and usability specialists who want products that work with users the way users think in the context of their current tasks." Blandford and Buchanan document the progress digital libraries have made over the past few years in meeting the technical challenges faced by users working in many situations (academia, medicine and other professions). Nevertheless, if such resources are to have maximum impact on the way people work with information, they must fit naturally with the ways people work. User needs have to be taken into account from the earliest stages and the deepest levels of design. Usability, the authors stress, cannot be "added on" at the end. (TCDL Bulletin Summer 2003)  ShelfLife, No. 129 (October 23 2003) http://www.ieee-cdl.org/Bulletin/current/blandford/blandford.html

 

LOOKING BEYOND THE GUTENBERG THRESHOLD

In the ongoing debate over scientific publication, one question continues to noodle its way to the surface: Will electronic works displace the printed word? Hardly, says Volker Titel, a researcher at the Institute for Book Science at Nuremberg's University of Erlangen. The separation between print and digital text is not nearly as radical (or antagonistic) as it's often depicted, he says. For example, such cross-reference systems and search options as tables of content and indices are taken to a more "granular" level in digitized works, but they've existed in printed books for centuries. "The qualitative and quantitative differences between printed and electronic books are distinctive: Electronically supported production, electronic storage and possible distribution of contents do not, however, constitute a new medium which can compare itself to that of the book, as is the case with radio or film," says Titel. "Irrespective of the quite sensible, possible constraints in each particular research area, broad access is fruitful, and it is important not to limit the existence of the book to print. In order to go back behind the Gutenberg threshold, it is equally important to be able to look beyond it." (D-Lib Magazine Oct 2003) ShelfLife, No. 129 (October 23 2003) http://www.dlib.org/dlib/october03/titel/10titel.html

 

AMAZON BOOK SEARCHING

Amazon has launched its service for full-text searching of books. Currently it applies to 120,000 books from more than 190 participating publishers. That comes to more than 33 million pages, and undoubtedly Amazon will add more over time. The first search will show all (participating) books containing the search term. Users may then pick a book and follow-up and search for all occurrences of the term in that book. Search returns provide a small amount of context for each hit, and registered users can preview a limited number of whole pages. While the preview pages are images, Amazon still highlights the occurrences of the search term on each page. The service is built in to every Amazon search box and supports phrase searching (but nothing more advanced). For more details, see the Amazon FAQ http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/10197041/002-5940577-2648023 or press release. 

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=97664&p=IROL-NewsText&t=Regular&id=462057&  Open Access News 10/23/03 

 

AUTHORS GUILD EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER AMAZON SEARCH TOOL

The Authors Guild has expressed concern over the new Amazon search that conducts full text searches of 120,000 books.  The group says that the book publishers did not have the right to make the contents of the books available without the authors' permission. BNA's Internet Law News (ILN) - 10/27/03  http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/27/business/media/27amazon.html

 

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