As you may know, works of the U.S. Government are not protected by copyright in the U.S. (17 USC §105), but we often discover copyrighted government publications that one would reasonably think would be in the public domain and, more recently, we see works that were treated as public domain in print suddenly being treated as copyrighted when they are converted to digital. No matter how clear the law is, this can lead to confusing situations. Take the case of a movie produced by the United States Information Agency. USIA was was prohibited by law from distributing films in the United States, but a Congressional Resolution did authorize USIA to sell six master copies of the film to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Then Carl Malamud obtained a copy of a video tape of the movie from NTIS, digitized it, and posted it at the Internet Archive. Now the Kennedy Center is claiming that the film is copyrighted and that the Center has exclusive rights for distribution and NTIS has requested that Malamud take down the digital copy he created.
The Resolution (Congressional Record, August 26, 1965, p.21256) says:
Accordingly, the United States Information Agency is authorized to make appropriate arrangements to transfer to the trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts six master copies of such film and the exclusive rights to distribute copies thereof, through educational and commercial media, for viewing within the United States. The net proceeds resulting from any such distribution shall be covered into the Treasury for the benefit of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The film begins with a notice (at 00:00:25) that says the film "is presented in the United States by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington DC, in accordance with a resolution of the Congress." It ends (at 1:26:08) with what looks like a copyright notice (it is hard to read in the digital version) that (I think) says "Copyright 1964 by the National Center for the Performing Arts, All rights reserved." I assume that these were added by the Center to the original film.
What will Malamud do? He asks you to advise him:
One agency of the federal government has issued a takedown notice to another agency of the federal government, which in turn demanded that we remove a film from the Internet. Not knowing what to do, I have appealed for your help.
I hereby bring this plea before the Court of Appeals for Wonderful Things, appealing to a jury of my peers, all happy mutants, for their verdict.
Read the complete story here:
- US government sends itself a takedown notice over JFK documentary: you decide what to do!, posted by Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing (Apr 26, 2013).
And watch the movie while you can:
- John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning/Day of Drums (1964), United States Information Service, AVA11312VNB1, 1964. (Run time: 1h 26' 18")
The program dramatizes the thousand days of John F. Kennedy's presidency, from his inauguration in 1961 to his tragic death on November 22, 1963. The videotape emphasizes Kennedy's and America's hopes for his term as president. Uploaded by Public.Resource.Org under Joint Venture NTIS-1832 with the National Technical Information Service.
Our friends Gary Price and Shirl Kennedy over at Full Text Reports have a handy reminder today:
...some of the papers and reports posted on FullTextReports.com are freely available online for just a limited time before they disappear behind a paywall (or go away entirely). If you see something you suspect might be useful to you (or a colleague) in the future, download it the day you see it because it may not be accessible later without a subscription (or it may have been moved or taken offline).
-- Note to FullTextReports followers — Grab It When You See It!, Full Text Reports (April 17, 2013).
Just another reason to remember that libraries should be collecting, not pointing. (See: When we depend on pointing instead of collecting.)
(By the way, in case you hadn't noticed: the left hand navigation pane here at FGI has a feed of the latest reports listed at Full Text Reports!)
If you provide public service for legal or government information, you have probably come across "private laws" and may have wondered what they are. These are not secret laws (which are laws that the public cannot even see!). These are private laws, which means that they usually deal with immigration issues or claims against the government. You might find this CRS report of interest:
- Procedural Analysis of Private Laws Enacted: 1986-2013, by Christopher M. Davis, Congressional Research Service, RS22450 (April 9, 2013)
Hat tip to Steven Aftergood!
Some libraries, library organizations, and library managements believe they can "manage" their collections better by first digitizing historic collections of books and other paper and ink information sources and then weeding their collections of these materials. Such projects will reduce the number of copies held in the aggregate by all libraries (Lavoie, Schonfeld, Schottlaender, Yano). One problem that these projects often overlook is the subtle (and not so subtle) differences between the legal standing of paper and digital objects with regard to access and use. Too often, creators of digital objects attempt to impose copyright restrictions on the digital objects even if the originals were in the public domain. Additionally, digital objects are often encumbered with licenses and technological restrictions that limit how they can be used and who can use them. The digital objects are often just not as accessible or as usable as the original print. How bad would it be if we threw away our print collections in favor of digital collections that are less accessible and less usable?
Randal C. Picker, who is Leffmann Professor of Commercial Law and Senior Fellow at the The Computation Institute of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory University of Chicago Law School, has written a paper and created a presentation on just this issue.
- Picker, Randal. 2013. Access and the Public Domain. Rochester, NY: University of Chicago Institute for Law & Economics. Coase-Sandor Institute For Law And Economics Working Paper No. 631.
- Picker: Access and the Public Domain (Fordham IP Talk), YouTube (Apr 6, 2013).
"This is a version of a talk that I gave at the Fordham IP Conference on April 5, 2013. It is based on my paper Access and the Public Domain, which was published in the San Diego Law Review."
In the paper, he considers how legal issues affect digitization projects such as The Internet Archive, JSTOR, Google Book Search, HathiTrust, and THOMAS.
His take-aways from the presentation are:
- Access rights and use rights are different animals and operate in different legal settings.
- Even though the public domain is coming online, the financing models for the projects will result in efforts to restrict use ina variety of ways.
- Perhaps a truly public public domain, something like the DPLA perhaps, is required to avoid the path of non-copyright control over the public domain.
Hat Tip: ARL Policy Notes.
Lavoie, Brian F., Constance Malpas, and J.D. Shipengrover. 2012. Print Management at “Mega-scale”: a Regional Perspective on Print Book Collections in North America. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research. http://www.oclc.org/research/publications/library/2012/2012-05.pdf (Accessed July 19, 2012).
Schonfeld, Roger C., and Ross Housewright. 2009. 28 What to Withdraw: Print Collections Management in the Wake of Digitization. Ithaka S+R. http://www.sr.ithaka.org/research-publications/what-withdraw-print-colle....
Schottlaender, Brian E.C. et al. 2004. 82 Collection Management Strategies In A Digital Environment, A Project Of The Collection Management Initiative Of The University Of California Libraries, Final Report to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. University of California, Office of the President, Office of Systemwide Library Planning. http://www.ucop.edu/cmi/finalreport/index.html.
Yano, Candace Arai, Z.J. Max Shen, and Stephen Chan. 2008. Optimizing the Number of Copies for Print Preservation of Research Journals. Berkeley, CA: University of California Berkeley, Industrial Engineering & Operations Research. http://www.ieor.berkeley.edu/~shen/webpapers/V.8.pdf.
The Digital Access to Legal Information Committee (DALIC) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has created a new website to host information about the status of online legal materials in every state with respect to authentication, official status, preservation, permanent public access, copyright, and universal citation.
- State Online Legal Information, American Association of Law Libraries.
AALL and chapter volunteers researched primary legal materials in their states to determine if online legal materials are trustworthy and preserved for permanent public access. This website brings together information from AALL's National Inventory of Legal Materials and updates AALL's Preliminary Analysis of AALL’s State Legal Inventories, 2007 State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources and 2009-2010 State Summary Updates. Information is provided about the online Administrative Code, Administrative Register, Statutes, Session Laws, High Court Opinions and Appellate Court Opinions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the following categories*:
Permanent Public Access
The state pages will be updated as information changes and as we learn more about developments in the states. AALL’s Digital Access to Legal Information Committee (DALIC) will monitor this site and periodically check in with AALL’s state working groups to ensure the accuracy of the information. DALIC also welcomes your additions or corrections.
- New Website for State Online Legal Information, By Elizabeth Holland, American Association of Law Libraries, Washington Blawg (April 9, 2013).
State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources (2007).
David Rosenthal gave another fascinating talk about the state of the web and whether or not we can expect to preserve it by harvesting it. This talk was at the 2013 Spring CNI Membership Meeting in San Antonio, TX. David presents an edited text of his talk with links to the sources on his blog:
- Talk at Spring 2013 CNI, David Rosenthal, DSHR's Blog (April 4, 2013).
This presents problems for those wishing to preserve information. Among these problems:
- Database driven features & functions
- Complex/variable URI formats & inconsistent/variable link implementations
- Dynamically generated, ever changing, URIs
- Rich Media
- Scripted, incremental display & page loading mechanisms
- Scripted, HTML forms
- Multi-sourced, embedded material
- Dynamic login/auth services: captchas, cross-site/social authentication, & user-sensitive embeds
- Alternate display based on user agent or other parameters
- Exclusions by convention
- Exclusions by design
- Server side scripts & remote procedure calls
- HTML5 "web sockets"
- Mobile publishing
For more about these problems, see also: IIPC Future of the Web Workshop -- Introduction & Overview, International Internet Preservation Consortium (May 17, 2012).
Read David's complete post for a rich discussion of the issues.
We love our gov-docs, don't we? Enjoy:
- Twenty Awesome Covers From The US Space Program, Space Kinja.
The upcoming 2013 April 18 Space Exploration Signature Auction by Heritage Auctions brought us these fine document covers. Manuals, guidebooks, press kits, reports, brochures - all with cool artworks and typography. Enjoy!
NASA took its Technical Report Server (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/) offline this week, saying :
The NASA technical reports server will be unavailable for public access while the agency conducts a review of the site's content to ensure that it does not contain technical information that is subject to U.S. export control laws and regulations and that the appropriate reviews were performed. The site will return to service when the review is complete. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
As Steven Aftergood reported at Secrecy News [emphasis added]:
In other words, all NASA technical documents, no matter how voluminous and valuable they are, should cease to be publicly available in order to prevent the continued disclosure of any restricted documents, no matter how limited or insignificant they may be.
"There is a HUGE amount of material on NTRS," said space policy analyst Dwayne Day. "If NASA is forced to review it all, it will never go back online."
-- "NASA Technical Reports Database Goes Dark" by Steven Aftergood (March 21st, 2013).
Michael L. Nelson of the Department of Computer Science at Old Dominion University investigated the availability of some of the NASA reports at other archives and reports his findings on his blog:
- NTRS, Web Archives, and Why We Should Build Collections, by Michael L. Nelson, Web Science and Digital Libraries (March 23, 2013).
Nelson found that some reports are available at http://naca.central.cranfield.ac.uk/ which is an archive of some NASA information that Nelson helped establish after NASA websites were taken down after September 11, 2001. He notes that the removal of information from NASA servers at that time "made it clear to me that NASA information was too important to be left on *.nasa.gov computers." He found more data at the Internet Archive's "NASA Technical Documents" collection: http://archive.org/details/nasa_techdocs and in Mark Phillips NACA collection at http://digital.library.unt.edu/explore/collections/NACA/ .
Nelson draws some conclusions from all this [emphasis added]:
...it is events like this that demonstrate the value of copying by-value and not just by-reference.
In other words, pointing to web sites is much less valuable and much more fragile than acquiring copies of digital information and building digital collections that you control. The OAIS reference model for long term preservation makes this a requirement, saying that an organization that intends to provide information to its user community for the long-term, must "Obtain sufficient control of the information provided to the level needed to ensure Long-Term Preservation." Pointing to a web page or PDF at nasa.gov is not obtaining any control.
He also makes a distinction between those things that are saved because of their popularity and things that will not be saved unless special care is taken to preserve them:
I'm not concerned about popular culture artifacts disappearing (e.g., see our TPDL 2011 paper about music redundancy in YouTube), but it is not clear that long tail content like NASA reports will enjoy that same level of uncoordinated refreshing and migration. The moral of the story: make copies of the content...
And he notes the importance of multiple copies:
...a 1994 NASA TM of mine is on at least six different hosts, none of which are *.nasa.gov.
...If NTRS was a LOCKSS participant then access would be uninterrupted...
And Aftergood concludes [emphasis added]:
The upshot is that the government is not an altogether reliable repository of official records. Members of the public who depend on access to such records should endeavor to make and preserve their own copies whenever possible.
Here at FGI, we have repeatedly argued that identifying important information that warrants explicit preservation is the age-old role of libraries in society and that it still is (or should be) the key value of libraries in the digital age. Many government agencies, including NASA and the Government Printing Office have good intentions and good programs for preservation and access, but those agencies cannot guarantee that they will always provide preservation and access. In the case of the NTRS web site, Aftergood and others speculate that the take down was a response to a demand by a single Congressman who said in a press conference on March 18 [emphasis added]:
NASA should immediately take down all publicly available technical data sources until all documents that have not been subjected to export control review have received such a review and all controlled documents are removed from the system.
The NTRS web site was taken offline on March 19.
Government agencies are subject to political activities like this and budgetary limitations. Very bad things can happen which, in cases like this can remove from access, "all NASA technical documents, no matter how voluminous and valuable they are" in a single moment.
Libraries should still be selecting, acquiring, organizing, and preserving information for their user-communities, and providing access to and services for those collections. Libraries do no one a long-term service by simply pointing to resources over which they have no control and which someone else can simply make unavailable literally at the flick of a switch.
FDLP libraries should demand digital deposit from GPO and should actively select and acquire that digital public government information that is of value to their user communities that GPO cannot deposit because it is outside the scope of Title 44.
Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks has responded to the letter by the group CASSANDRA about the recent report Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age by the National Association of Public Administration (NAPA). .
The report recommends that GPO should consider "cost recovery" for access to FDsys (See NAPA releases report on GPO).
The Response from Vance-Cooks says that GPO has "no intention of charging public users a fee to access content available through FDsys. GPO remains committed to no-fee access to FDsys for the public as part of our mission of Keeping America Informed."
This is, of course, good news, but we have to temper our enthusiasm with the realization that GPO's ability to meet its intentions will inevitably be dictated by Congress and its budget.
The complete response is attached below:
James and I are happy to announce that our new article appears in the current edition of D-Lib Magazine:
- The Digital-Surrogate Seal of Approval: a Consumer-oriented Standard. by James A. Jacobs and James R. Jacobs. D-Lib Magazine, 2013, 19(3/4). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1045/march2013-jacobs
In the last few years, there have been a series of articles, reports and proposals that rely on the promises of digitization to address issues of physical space, cost control, access, and collection management for FDLP libraries. One of the reasons we created this Seal of Approval standard is to provide a clear, consistent way to help evaluate some of these promises of digitization.