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-collections-management-wake-digitization.
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.