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April 24, 2006

Congress Readies Broad New Digital Copyright Bill

For the last few years, a coalition of technology companies, academics and computer programmers has been trying to persuade Congress to scale back the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Now Congress is preparing to do precisely the opposite. A proposed copyright law seen by CNET would expand the DMCA's restrictions on software that can bypass copy protections and grant federal police more wiretapping and enforcement powers. The draft legislation, created by the Bush administration and backed by Rep. Lamar Smith, already enjoys the support of large copyright holders such as the Recording Industry Association of America. Smith is the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee that oversees intellectual-property law. Smith's press secretary, Terry Shawn, said Friday that the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2006 is expected to "be introduced in the near future." "The bill as a whole does a lot of good things," said Keith Kupferschmid, vice president for intellectual property and enforcement at the Software and Information Industry Association in Washington, D.C. "It gives the (Justice Department) the ability to do things to combat IP crime that they now can't presently do." During a speech in November, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales endorsed the idea and said at the time that he would send Congress draft legislation. Such changes are necessary because new technology is "encouraging large-scale criminal enterprises to get involved in intellectual-property theft," Gonzales said, adding that proceeds from the illicit businesses are used, "quite frankly, to fund terrorism activities." The 24-page bill is a far-reaching medley of different proposals cobbled together. One would, for instance, create a new federal crime of just trying to commit copyright infringement. Such willful attempts at piracy, even if they fail, could be punished by up to 10 years in prison. It also represents a political setback for critics of expanding copyright law, who have been backing federal legislation that veers in the opposite direction and permits bypassing copy protection for "fair use" purposes. That bill--introduced in 2002 by Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat--has been bottled up in a subcommittee ever since. A DMCA dispute But one of the more controversial sections may be the changes to the DMCA. Under current law, Section 1201 of the law generally prohibits distributing or trafficking in any software or hardware that can be used to bypass copy-protection devices. (That section already has been used against a Princeton computer science professor, Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov and a toner cartridge remanufacturer.) Smith's measure would expand those civil and criminal restrictions. Instead of merely targeting distribution, the new language says nobody may "make, import, export, obtain control of, or possess" such anticircumvention tools if they may be redistributed to someone else. "It's one degree more likely that mere communication about the means of accomplishing a hack would be subject to penalties," said Peter Jaszi, who teaches copyright law at American University and is critical of attempts to expand it. Even the current wording of the DMCA has alarmed security researchers. Ed Felten, the Princeton professor, told the Copyright Office last month that he and a colleague were the first to uncover the so-called "rootkit" on some Sony BMG Music Entertainment CDs--but delayed publishing their findings for fear of being sued under the DMCA. A report prepared by critics of the DMCA says it quashes free speech and chokes innovation. The SIIA's Kupferschmid, though, downplayed concerns about the expansion of the DMCA. "We really see this provision as far as any changes to the DMCA go as merely a housekeeping provision, not really a substantive change whatsoever," he said. "They're really to just make the definition of trafficking consistent throughout the DMCA and other provisions within copyright law uniform." The SIIA's board of directors includes Symantec, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Intuit and Red Hat. Jessica Litman, who teaches copyright law at Wayne State University, views the DMCA expansion as more than just a minor change. "If Sony had decided to stand on its rights and either McAfee or Norton Antivirus had tried to remove the rootkit from my hard drive, we'd all be violating this expanded definition," Litman said. cnet 4/24/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 9:55 AM

April 20, 2006

European Panel Endorses Broad Open Access Policy for Research

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has issued a report that recommends open access to all publicly financed research, according to an article in The Guardian. The report calls for a “guarantee” of open access. It recommends creating that guarantee by having researchers put copies of published articles in online archives that are free to all. Such a step would be stronger than the one taken nearly a year ago by the National Institutes of Health, which merely requested that its grantees put copies of their published articles in the agency’s own online repository, PubMed Central (The Chronicle, February 4, 2005). Open-access advocates, including Peter Suber, director of the Open Access Project at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group that advocates the free flow of information, hope the report will spur national governments—or even all of Europe—to make such public archiving mandatory. (Mr. Suber has blogged about the report here. ) But scientific publishers fear that if research papers are free on the Web, readers may stop paying for subscriptions (The Chronicle, January 30, 2004). Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog 4/19/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 9:59 AM

Text Book Publishers Settle Law Suits Over Illegal Copying

Two publishing companies say they have settled six lawsuits they filed against people whom they accused of selling copies of instructors' manuals online. The manuals provided the answers to questions listed in college textbooks. A lawyer for the publishers said the lawsuits were the beginning of a crackdown on people who illegally sell copies of copyrighted materials to help college students cheat. Officials from Pearson Education and John Wiley & Sons, the two publishing companies, say they have each filed more than 20 lawsuits, in addition to the ones they just settled, against individuals selling the counterfeit books on the Internet. William Dunnegan, a lawyer representing both publishers, said the defendants in all the lawsuits got their hands on "instructor's solutions manuals," which are teaching guides published along with college textbooks. Only college instructors are supposed to have copies of the guides, he said, because they have answers to the homework questions included in the textbooks. After obtaining the manuals for more than 150 textbooks, Mr. Dunnegan said, the defendants made electronic copies of them and sold the counterfeits to students. The students could buy them online on sites called Homework Help Site and Alternative Book Store, targets of the recent lawsuits. More at Chronicle of Higher Education 4/20/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 7:42 AM

April 19, 2006

Free Blog Serialization of Science Book

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, one of the world’s most prestigious publishers, has started a blog-based serialization of Pulse: The Coming Age of Systems and Machines Inspired by Living Things. Here’s a snippet from a Publisher’s Weekly summary:

…former Audubon contributing editor Frenay tells readers that computers with emotions will arrive sooner than we may feel comfortable with. In this wide-ranging look at how biology and technology are being integrated in almost every area of human invention, Frenay writes of virtual communities and societies that are springing up online, some with economic systems that mimic those of the real world. Scientists have already created virtual life forms that have developed “sex” all by themselves and are exhibiting evolutionary traits.

Tele-Read : Bring the E-Books Home 4/18/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 1:53 PM

April 17, 2006

Library Group Wins Dispute with FBI

Following a recent change in terms of the Patriot Act, federal authorities said they will end their efforts to prevent a library organization from identifying itself as a part of an antiterrorism investigation. Last year, the FBI sent a so-called national security letter to the Library Connection, an organization of 26 libraries in Connecticut, seeking patron records and e-mail messages. As it was originally enacted, the Patriot Act authorized the letters and forbade
recipients from disclosing that they had been sent the letter. The group protested, saying the gag order violated their First Amendment rights, and last September a federal judge agreed. Ironically, it was during those proceedings that the government inadvertently identified the group in question as the Library Connection when attorneys for the
government filed court documents with the group's name not redacted. Congress has since revised the Patriot Act, which now grants the government discretion to allow some recipients of national security letters to identify themselves. Kevin O'Connor, the United States attorney in Connecticut, said that in light of the changed legislation,
the government would end its appeal of the decision to allow the Library Connection to come forward. New York Times, 13 April 2006 (registration req'd) EduPage 4/14/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 6:56 AM

April 13, 2006

Academic Live: Microsoft Launches Competitor to Google Scholar

Microsoft has launched Academic Live, which searches the full text from thousands of scholarly journals.
Academic Live (beta release version) currently has deep content in the fields of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Physics, but is expanding rapidly. A search today for articles containing Apis mellifera (the honeybee) yielding nearly 800 references; a search for Human Genome yielded over 11,500 articles. So though Microsoft is saying this beta is primarily for the computer techies, it's certainly got a lot of biological content already, too!

Content comes from a wide array of publishers including Wiley, Blackwell, Elsevier, and more. Microsoft has been working with publishers who are members of CrossRef (as well as others), so the list of publishers will be considerable! Take a look at the current list of titles and publishers searchable via Academic Live.

We expect UIUC's "Discover" links to appear in Academic Live, soon (when you're on campus); this will enable our users to easily discover articles for which we hold viewing right for.

Academic Live is still in beta, so be sure to send the folks at Microsoft your suggestions for improving this tool! And, if you've not yet tried out Google Scholar, please do so! It also searches through the full text of thousands of journals and institutional repositories for quality, scholarly information.

Microsoft's announcement.
An early review.
A Simple Search Hit Comparison for Google Scholar, OAIster, and Windows Live Academic Search

Posted by Katie Newman at 1:11 PM

Another Hasty Death Knell for the Book

The Deseret Morning News has yet another story about library renovation—in this case at the University of Utah, Utah State University, and Utah Valley State College. The renovations will feature some typical additions: computer banks, coffee shops, and robot-retrieval systems. A caption in the story celebrates the demise of paper items: "Rows and rows of shelves of books are still there at the U. library, but they are becoming a thing of the past." It seems a little hasty to announce the death of the book, particularly since students have shown that they like to handle and read lengthy texts in books, not on screen. Yet these obituaries for books keep rolling in. Chronicle Wired Campus Blog 4/12/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 8:00 AM

Who Says Scholarly Publishing Is Dead?

At a time when sales for serious books have slowed and some universities are cutting back on their publishing programs, New England College in Henniker, N.H., announced that it will launch New England College Press. "The decision to found an academic press reflects our commitment to pursuing projects that advance scholarly endeavors through current practice and progressive technology," said president Stephen E. Fritz. Former Little, Brown editor-in-chief Robert Emmett Ginna has been named founding editor. Although many publishing decisions, including distribution and fulfillment, are yet to be worked out, Ginna said that he expects to publish two books in the next year. "I'm deliberately starting quite modestly," he said. "The press is a substantial financial investment, and I don't expect it to break even immediately." Among the areas that Ginna has targeted are poetry, criminal justice, history and social issues. However, he was quick to note, "I'm a very very eclectic, catholic editor. We intend to be receptive to everything." PW Daily 4/5/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 7:55 AM

Harper Collins Hits the Digital NewsStand

HarperCollins content from all divisions will become digital with the help of NewsStand, Inc., an online electronic delivery system, which will organize the News Corp. publisher’s content in a global digital warehouse and distribute it online to a variety of partners. In an agreement announced yesterday, HarperCollins will work exclusively with NewsStand to host multiple digital formats and distribute the content to retail, search and online partners as well as to HarperCollins’ consumer website, though there are no immediate plans for monetizing that content. “Digital warehousing on this scale—with this flexibility—is a significant leap forward in the information industry,” said Kit Webster, president and CEO of NewsStand. “Our company’s experience in managing digital information, including content rights control, electronic publications, enabled websites and Internet distribution, has made this large project possible.” With a goal of digitizing more than 10,000 titles by the end of June, NewsStand will start immediately digitizing the publisher’s front and backlists. The Book Standard 4/12/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 7:45 AM

April 10, 2006

Dan Brown, Random House Win Copyright Case

High Court judge Peter Smith has rejected the claim that Dan Brown copied from nonfiction work The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail for his bestseller The Da Vinci Code. The central theme of both books includes the hypothesis that Jesus married and had a child with Mary Magdalene, but the judge said that the theme was "too general and too low a level of abstraction to merit copyight protection." The judge argued that the the nonfiction book did not have a central theme as contended by the claimants: "It was an artificial creation for the purposes of the litigation working back from the Da Vinci Code." He said that the claimants' contention that HBHG had very little apart from the central themes was not correct. There was no "architecture" or "structure" to be found in HBHG, and accordingly there was "no copyright infringement either by textual copying or non textual copying." Read more in The Book Standard 4/7/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 7:52 AM

April 7, 2006

Scientific and Medical Journals on the Web

Research and Markets (Tm) has just released a 230-page report on use of web-based STM journals, Scientific and Medical Journals on the Web. Based on a 33-question survey of more than 1,900 scientific and medical professionals, this report examines readers' expectations, preferences and needs as they relate to the use of Web-based journals. Specifically, it reveals trends in the ways online journals are found and accessed, the most acceptable ways to pay for access to online journals and why readers submit articles to specific journals. It also benchmarks readers' satisfaction with 5 leading journals in terms of types of content, information features and searching capabilities. To explore new developments, the report includes discussions of open access publishing from the author's perspective—including whether authors should be expected to pay a fee to publish their work, the effect of receiving payments on open access publishers' acceptance rates and copyright issues.
Report Highlights:

Note: the full report costs about $2500 and so will have limited availability.
Read more from Research & Markets. An executive summary is also available after you complete a free registration. Thanks to Knowledgespeak for the alert about this report.

Posted by Katie Newman at 2:22 PM

April 4, 2006

European Commission Study Addresses Europe’s Scientific Publication System

The European Commission is today publishing a study which examines the scientific publication system in Europe. The study was carried out by a consortium led by Professor Mathias Dewatripont of the “Université Libre de Bruxelles”.

All interested parties are invited to send feedback on the report’s findings to the Commission, to provide input for a conference on scientific publication to be held in autumn 2006.
Read a summary or the full report.

Posted by Katie Newman at 5:24 PM