Copyright Series – Part 2 or “The ven-diagram of copyright and licensing rights: little overlap”

The ven-diagram of copyright and licensing rights: little overlap
This is part two of our multi-part series on copyright.

One of my current, favorite soapbox topics is e-books. In fact, I was tempted to title this post E-books: The great evil of our time but thought that might too easily reveal my feelings on the matter.

E-books have been the subject of quite a lot of controversy in the library community. The conversation has centered on their difficulty to access, lend and administer. Bess Reynolds of Debovise & Pilmpton LLP recently authored a white paper (published by ALTA & AALL) that lists, in perfect detail, the overly complicated systems employed by the top vendors and the administrative nightmares that result. (There was a follow up published in Spectrum in April, 2014.) Bess’s paper(s) succinctly sums up many of the technical issues regarding e-books, but it was one of the closing lines that really stuck with me.

 “[W]e should demand the right to own e-books just as we own our print titles.”

 Think about that for a moment. As fellow librarians, I’m confident that most of you agree. While frustrating and often obnoxious, the clunky technical hoops of the vendors’ e-book platforms are the least of our worries when it comes to copyright. Copyright Rules dictate the terms by which Libraries license e-books and are written to work around the First Sale Doctrine and almost all of the other regulations libraries are accustomed accommodating for print works. This core issue of “exclusive rights” affects user borrowing privileges, inter-library loans, accessibility and historic preservation; basically everything that makes libraries, libraries.

As is the norm in electronic resources, libraries rarely own e-books outright. Once the contract is over, so too is access to the content. In many cases it is the vendors who get to determine how the information is accessed, stored, viewed and/or transmitted. The main question here is how do we as librarians increase our rights to use the information as libraries are wont to do (as in the examples given above). Contract negotiations might be an alternative for extending our options of how to use it, but that assumes that we have some leverage. Because the legal publishing world is concentrated in 3-5 key players, law libraries do not always have the option of picking someone else to work with or taking a stand against overly aggressive licensing agreements. Smaller private libraries, in particular, do not always have a good alternative to use as leverage.

If this state of affairs concerns you, here are a few concrete suggestions of what you can do to help make advancements in this area.

  • Forewarned is forearmed. If you are in a position to negotiate contracts for your users (or are consulted on them) look out for language that will limit what users can do with the information you are purchasing.
  • Don’t just accept the standard contracts, read them and make sure you understand what the institution is giving up!
  • Ask for changes or propose other language if the wording is unclear.
  • Familiarize yourself and use the Model Law Firm copyright policy survey for the AALL Copyright Committee.
  • Advocate for change. Have a conversation with your rep about your concerns, it might not change thing now but if enough of us are more vocal about it the future could look very different. Remember the first version of WestlawNext? Of Congress.gov? Things can change if enough librarians bring up the same issues to the right people.

Part 3 of our Copyright Series is forthcoming!

The Future of Law Libraries: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Future_of_law_libraries_title_slide

On Tuesday, October 28, after LLAM’s fall board meeting, the Thurgood Marshall Law Library hosted a brown bag lunch and program featuring two presentations by Gail Warren, Director of the Virginia State Law Library and Treasurer of the American Association of Law Libraries. In the first, Ms. Warren looked back at the predictions made by AALL’s Special Committee on Law Libraries in the Digital Age in its 2002 report Beyond the Boundaries: Report of the Special Committee on the Future of Law Libraries in the Digital Age. This report provided impetus for the formation of Legal Information Preservation Alliance in 2003, and the Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group in 2007. Predicting the future of law libraries is more art than science, and her frank assessment will be useful for those members who are called upon to make long term planning decisions in their own shops: Beyond the Boundaries, LIPA and Chesapeake (slides).

chesapeake_digital_pres_title_slide

In the second presentation, Ms. Warren was joined by Mary Jo Lazun, Head of Collection Management at the Maryland State Law Library, and Joan Bellistri, Director of the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library, for an update on the work of the Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group. The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group is a collaborative effort of Legal Information Preservation Alliance members to address the challenges of born-digital legal information shared by the Virginia and Maryland State Law Libraries, Georgetown University Law Library, and Harvard University Law Library: The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group (slides).

Save the Date for these Upcoming LLAM Events!

LLAM’s Vice President and Chair of the Programs Committee, James Durham, has put together an exciting list of events for the next 6 months.  Please check out the list below and mark your calendar so you don’t miss out on any of the fun!
If you have any questions or would like more information, please forward your inquiries to LLAMNewsMD.

  • Monday, December 15th from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.: LLAM’s Holiday Party & Silent Auction will be held at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Registration information will be announced soon.
  • Thursday, January 22, 2015 from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.: LLAM Brownbag Lunch Lecture at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Professor Fred B. Brown will speak on business organizations and taxation.
  • February, 2015 (Date and time TBD): MLA Legislative Day A tentative lecture at Anne Arundel County Public Law Library will cover the topic of U.S. government documents.
  • March, 2015 (Date and Time TBD) LLAM Brownbag Lunch Lecture at Venable, LLC in Baltimore. Steve Anderson will speak on copyright issues in law libraries.
  • Saturday, April 25, 2015, All Day: LLAM Service Project with “Rebuilding Together Baltimore”  Contact Sara Thomas for more information on participating.
  • Saturday, May 2, 2015: LLAM Spring Fling will be held at the Homewood House Museum on the Johns Hopkins University Campus in Baltimore.  A private tour for members will held at 1:00 p.m., followed by a tea in the home’s wine cellar at 2:00 p.m. Registration information will be announced closer to the date in the Spring.

Copyright Series Part 1 or “Adventures in Copyright”

The following is the first offering of a multi part series on Copyright that will be published over the next month.

Copyright.
In library circles it’s a dirty word.
When I use the word “copyright” in my professional capacity, it is usually when I am trying to convince someone to desist from something, preferably immediately.  As a librarian, it is my least favorite conversation.  I’m sure you hate having it as well.  And copyright probably comes up far more often than you would like.  I don’t know about you, but the reason I hate the conversation is because there is so much debate about what copyright law is exactly and how it works.

Copyright law can be loosely defined as the combination of laws governing the rights of the producers or owners regarding the use, sale and availability of works. As professionals, we work with copyright material every day.  We also rely on a number of exceptions written into copyright law that apply specifically to libraries in order to serve our patron’s needs. Copyright is not just the law that protects the owners rights. It is also a framework that allows for fair use or license agreements with people who want to use what they created (Us!).

Deceptively straightforward looking, isn’t it?
Sorry to burst your bubble.  Those of you who breathed a sigh of relief upon reading the last paragraph will be distressed to learn that the copyright landscape is changing in a number of significant ways.  By “changes”, of course, I mean lawsuits.
There are two recent cases in particular which we as a profession should be looking at very closely.  The first is  Authors Guild,Inc. v. HathiTrust. The second, the  Google Books case, is currently before the Supreme Court.  Both have significant implications regarding the role of technology, accessibility and the transformational nature of fully searchable titles. There have also been rumblings of changes coming from the Legislative branch of the Government.  The times, they are a’changing (was that a copyright violation?  Read on!)

The Honorable Maria A. Pallante (who is the U.S. Register of Copyrights) gave a well-received lecture at Columbia Law last year. Her remarks set off a firestorm of discussion. Her basic position is that the law governing copyright needs an overhaul. Changes in technology have always driven changes in copyright law.  Usually, law has lagged behind somewhat.  In the past, when technology did not change quite so quickly, that lag was a drag race between a souped-up hot rod and a VW bug.  In the last few decades however, the lag is more like a bicycle trying to keep pace with a space shuttle.
Not surprisingly, Congress has been holding hearings on this subject in the last year. Sources in the know have hinted that a series of bill will be introduced in the near future. These bills will amend copyright law for the first time since 1976 (legislation passed in 1976 but effective date was January, 1978).  As a point of reference, 1976 was the year that Steve Wozniak designed a single board computer for hobbyists called the “Apple 1”.  Everyone take a moment now to glance at your i-phone and marvel at the fact that we are working off legislation that was created when the fanciest technology available looked like something from The Flintstones.

Apple_I_Computer

I am an unabashed policy nerd, so I am looking forward to the upcoming opportunities for public comment.  While this definition of excitement may call into question my quality of life, I think that, in this instance, the entire profession really ought to be excited about this opportunity. Because 2016 will be an election year (and we all know how much legislation gets passed in an election year), this next cycle may be the next window for quite some time in which THE LAW MIGHT ACTUALLY CHANGE.  Look at your i-phone again.  Think of that vintage 1976 Rube Goldberg device you just saw.  Judging by the historical record of copyright revision, this is possibly the only time in our professional careers that copyright law will be rewritten. Think of what you do daily at work.  You make decisions about purchasing information and granting access to information.  You help people find and use information.  You are the information guide and sherpa.   Your voice, the voice of the library professionals, is the most knowledgeable voice in the arena of the use of copyrighted information.  Shouldn’t it logically be the loudest voice in the debate over what the laws that govern copyright say?

Yes, it should be.  It should be (I say loudly with exclamation points)!  We, the librarians, the information lighthouses that lead the meandering ships of knowledge seekers towards safe shores, we should be the ones advocating for changes in antiquated laws!
We should advocate the heck out of it! And other, stronger, words! Think of every time you’ve been confounded by usage, every time you’ve had to warn someone (using very sharp words) to read but not copy under pain of death by copyright infringement lawsuit.  We have a duty to our library patrons, our profession, and (dare I say it) to our own sanity to advocate for laws that actually reflect the technology that we are using.
Don’t touch that dial (as they used to say in the days when our current copyright laws were written). I will be keeping all of you informed of opportunities for public comment as the process of revision goes forward in Congress.  Stay tuned to this station (or blog in the current technological parlance) for part 2 of our series on Copyright!

-Rachel Englander

Workshop Announcement: Alternative Revenue Streams: Development, Fundraising, and Grant Writing for Libraries

Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Library Development and Services will be hosting a workshop and panel discussion called “Alternative Revenue Streams: Development, Fundraising, and Grant Writing for Libraries.” The event will include a panel discussion by development and fundraising specialists from across the state, an introduction to and presentation on Finding Funders by Maryland’s Foundation Center Funding Information Network Supervisors, a lightning round discussion of fundraising events that have succeeded and failed, and a grant writing workshop focused on developing a specific idea or project into a grant proposal that can be used to win grants and entice funders.

The program will take place at Miller Library on September 9 from 9am to 4pm. The day’s agenda is attached. You can register here.

Please contact Rocco DeBonis with any questions at rdebonis@msde.state.md.us

 

 

 

Rocco DeBonis
LSTA Grant Coordinator
Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Library Development and Services
200 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore MD 21201
410.767.0437 phone | 410.333.2507 fax | rocco.debonis@maryland.gov

Head of Content Acquisitions and Management

 

Head of Content Acquisitions and Management
Georgetown University Law Library

The Head of Content Acquisitions and Management is responsible for the supervision and management of all aspects of acquisitions and serials operations, which includes ordering and receipt of library materials in all formats, implementing collection management policies, and overseeing vendor relations and purchasing/licensing agreements.  This position directly supervises seven staff in the library’s Acquisitions and Collection Care department.

The Head of Content Acquisitions and Management also plays a key role in the assessment and management of the library’s collection.  This includes coordinating the selection and de-selection of library materials; compiling and reporting statistical data for collection assessment; coordinating and pursuing intercampus and interlibrary collaborative collection development opportunities; and working cooperatively with subject selectors, staff across all departments in the library, and faculty to provide access to information.

Required
Master’s degree from an ALA-accredited school of library and/or information studies, or equivalent; strong supervisory skills; excellent written and verbal communication skills; at least two years of collection development experience; familiarity with integrated library systems.

Preferred

Law library experience or familiarity with legal publishing trade and vendors; Acquisitions experience; JD or equivalent.
Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications.
To apply for this position, please submit applications via the Georgetown University Jobs website by using Job Number 20141165. Address applications to Stacy Queen, and include a cover letter, a current resume, and the names and contact information for three references. 

Review of applications will begin on August 6, 2014 and continue until the position is filled.

Georgetown University is an EOE/AA employer.  

 

Reference Librarian – Venable LLP

 

Venable LLP, one of the top 100 law firms in the U.S., is seeking a Reference Librarian to be responsible for daily operations of the Baltimore office reference desk.  Responsibilities include working with other reference librarians at the firm conducting research, responding to research requests, and delivering in-house training and outreach to legal staff.

 

Requirements include a Master of Library Science degree and a minimum of two years library reference experience.  Law firm library experience is preferred but not required.

 

At Venable, employees enjoy a professional work environment, competitive compensation and a comprehensive benefits package.  We strive to foster a culture of teamwork, enrichment and work/life balance to allow our employees to grow professionally and thrive!

 

If this sounds like the right opportunity for you, we invite you to apply:  https://careeers.venable.com

 

Venable LLP is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or protected Veteran status.