Archive for the 'Copyright' Category

Lawrence Lessig Replies to Rep. John Conyers about the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Legislation and Government Regulation, Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Journals, Self-Archiving on March 10th, 2009

Lawrence Lessig has replied to Rep. John Conyers' "A Reply to Larry Lessig," which was written in response to "Is John Conyers Shilling for Special Interests?" by Lawrence Lessig and Michael Eisen.

Here's an excerpt:

Supporting citizens' funding of the nation's elections—as Mr. Conyers has—is an important first step. That one change, I believe, would do more than any other to restore trustworthiness in Congress.

But that's not all you could do, Mr. Conyers. You have it within your power to remove any doubt about the reasons you have for sponsoring the legislation you sponsor: Stop accepting contributions from the interests your committee regulates. This was the principle of at least some committee chairmen in the past. It is practically unheard of today. But you could set an important example for others, and for America, about how an uncorrupted system of government might work. And you could do so without any risk to your own position—because the product of your forty years of extraordinary work for the citizens of Michigan means that they'll return you to office whether or not you spend one dime on a reelection. Indeed, if you did this, I'd promise to come to Michigan and hand out leaflets for your campaign.

Until you do this, Mr. Conyers, don't lecture me about "crossing a line." For I intend to cross this line as often as I can, the outrage and scorn of Members of Congress notwithstanding. This is no time to play nice. And yours is just the first in a series of many such stories to follow—targeting Republicans as well as Democrats, people who we agree with on substance as well as those we don't, always focusing on bad bills that make sense only if you follow the money.

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    New York Action Alert: Rep. Carolyn Maloney Sponsors Fair Copyright in Research Works Act

    Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Legislation and Government Regulation, Open Access, Publishing on March 9th, 2009

    Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) has become the first sponsor of the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act who is not a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

    If you are in her district and oppose the bill, you can contact her to express your opposition in the following ways:

    • DC Office: Phone: (202) 225-7944; Fax: (202) 225-4709
    • New York Office: Phone: (212) 860-0606, Fax: (212) 860-0704
    • Web Form: The Hill form; Maloney's form

    The ALA call to action and the Alliance for Taxpayer Access call to action have example text and talking points that you can use. (Note that the ALA call Web form cannot be used to contact Maloney.)

    Peter Suber offers this advice:

    As usual, you will be more persuasive if you can explain why the NIH policy matters to you, your work, or your organization. Be specific and be personal. Speak for yourself, but if you can, get your institution to send a letter as well. Save your message; you may need to adapt and reuse it later. And please spread the word to your NY colleagues.

    For further information about the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, see Suber's article "Re-introduction of the Bill to Kill the NIH Policy" and his post "Aiming Criticism at the Right Target."

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      The Google Library Project: Is Digitization for Purposes of Online Indexing Fair Use Under Copyright Law?

      Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, E-Books, Google and Other Search Engines, Mass Digitizaton, Publishing on March 9th, 2009

      The Congressional Research Service has released The Google Library Project: Is Digitization for Purposes of Online Indexing Fair Use Under Copyright Law?. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

      Here's an excerpt:

      The Google Book Search Library Project, announced in December 2004, raised important questions about infringing reproduction and fair use under copyright law. Google planned to digitize, index, and display "snippets" of print books in the collections of five major libraries without the permission of the books' copyright holders, if any. Authors and publishers owning copyrights to these books sued Google in September and October 2005, seeking to enjoin and recover damages for Google's alleged infringement of their exclusive rights to reproduce and publicly display their works. Google and proponents of its Library Project disputed these allegations. They essentially contended that Google's proposed uses were not infringing because Google allowed rights holders to "opt out" of having their books digitized or indexed. They also argued that, even if Google's proposed uses were infringing, they constituted fair uses under copyright law.

      The arguments of the parties and their supporters highlighted several questions of first impression. First, does an entity conducting an unauthorized digitization and indexing project avoid committing copyright infringement by offering rights holders the opportunity to "opt out," or request removal or exclusion of their content? Is requiring rights holders to take steps to stop allegedly infringing digitization and indexing like requiring rights holders to use meta-tags to keep search engines from indexing online content? Or do rights holders employ sufficient measures to keep their books from being digitized and indexed online by publishing in print? Second, can unauthorized digitization, indexing, and display of "snippets" of print works constitute a fair use? Assuming unauthorized indexing and display of "snippets" are fair uses, can digitization claim to be a fair use on the grounds that apparently prima facie infringing activities that facilitate legitimate uses are fair uses?

      On October 28, 2008, Google, authors, and publishers announced a proposed settlement, which, if approved by the court, could leave these and related questions unanswered. However, although a court granted preliminary approval to the settlement on November 17, 2008, final approval is still pending. Until final approval is granted, any rights holder belonging to the proposed settlement class—which includes "all persons having copyright interests in books" in the United States—could object to the agreement. The court could also reject the agreement as unfair, unreasonable, or inadequate. Moreover, even assuming final court approval, future cases may raise similar questions about infringing reproduction and fair use.

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        Michael Eisen Replies to Rep. John Conyers about the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act

        Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Journals, Self-Archiving on March 8th, 2009

        Michael Eisen has replied to Rep. John Conyers' "A Reply to Larry Lessig," which was written in response to "Is John Conyers Shilling for Special Interests?" by Lawrence Lessig and Michael Eisen. (Thanks to Open Access News.)

        Here's an excerpt:

        Unfortunately, Representative Conyers actions do not reflect his words. This bill was introduced in the last Congress. The Judiciary Committee then held hearings on the bill, in which even the publishers' own witnesses pointed out flaws in its logic and approach. In particular, a previous Registrar of Copyrights, clearly sympathetic to the publishers' cause, acknowledged that the NIH Policy was in perfect accord with US copyright law and practice. If Conyers were so interested in dealing with a complex issue in a fair and reasonable way, why then did he completely ignore the results of this hearing and reintroduce the exact same bill—one that clearly reflects the opinions of only one side in this debate?

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          Peter Suber Replies to Rep. John Conyers about the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act

          Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Journals, Self-Archiving on March 7th, 2009

          Peter Suber has replied to Rep. John Conyers' "A Reply to Larry Lessig," which was written in response to "Is John Conyers Shilling for Special Interests?" by Lawrence Lessig and Michael Eisen.

          Here's an excerpt:

          I thank Rep. Conyers for making a public defense of his bill in a forum which offers the public a chance to respond.  I also respect his record on other issues, including civil rights and bankruptcy, and his current efforts to compel the testimony of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers. On research publications, however, he's backing the wrong horse, and his arguments for siding with publishers against scientists and taxpayers are not strong.

          (1) Rep. Conyers insists that the House Judiciary Committee should have been consulted on the original proposal for an open-access policy at the NIH. However, William Patry, former copyright counsel to the House Judiciary Committee (and now chief copyright counsel at Google), believes that "the claim that the NIH policy raises copyright issues is absurd," and that the Judiciary Committee did not need to be in the loop.  I understand that the House Rules Committee came to a similar decision when formally asked. . . .

          Clearly Rep. Conyers disagrees with these views. But they should suffice to show that bypassing the Judiciary Committee was not itself a corrupt maneuver.

          If it's important to revisit the question, I hope Rep. Conyers can do it without backing a bill from a special interest lobby that would reduce taxpayer access to taxpayer-funded research. A turf war is not a good excuse for bad policy. On the merits, see points 2 and 3 below.

          For more independent views that the NIH policy does not raise copyright issues, see the open letter to the Judiciary Committee from 46 lawyers and law professors specializing in copyright.

          (2) Rep. Conyers accepts the publisher argument that the NIH policy will defund peer review by causing journal cancellations. The short answer to that objection is that (a) much higher levels of open-access archiving, of the kind the NIH now requires, have not caused journal cancellations in physics, the one field in which we already have evidence; (b) subscription-based journals are not the only peer-reviewed journals; and (c) if the NIH policy does eventually cause journal cancellations, then libraries would experience huge savings which they could redirect to peer-reviewed OA journals, whose business models do not bet against the internet, public access, or the NIH policy.

          For a detailed analysis of the objection that government-mandated open access archiving will undermine peer review, and a point-by-point rebuttal, see my article in the SPARC Open Access Newsletter from September 2007.

          (3) Rep. Conyers writes that the NIH policy "reverses a long-standing and highly successful copyright policy for federally-funded work and sets a precedent that will have significant negative consequences for scientific research." It's true that the policy reverses a long-standing copyright policy.  But the previous policy was unsuccessful and perverse, and had the effect of steering publicly-funded research into journals accessible only to subscribers, and whose subscription prices have been rising faster than inflation for three decades. Both houses of Congress and the President agreed to reverse that policy in order to allow the NIH to provide free online access to the authors' peer-reviewed manuscripts (not the published editions) 12 months after publication (not immediately). This was good for researchers, good for physicians and other medical practitioners, good for patients and their families, and good for taxpayers. It was necessary to make NIH research accessible to everyone who could use it and necessary to increase the return on our large national investment in research. It was necessary from simple fairness, to give taxpayers—professional researchers and lay readers alike—access to the research they funded.

          On the "significant negative consequences for scientific research":  should we believe publishers who want to sell access to publicly-funded research, or the research community itself, as represented by 33 US Nobel laureates in science, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Research Libraries, and a host of patient advocacy groups?

          For further information about the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, see Suber's article "Re-introduction of the Bill to Kill the NIH policy" and his post "Aiming Criticism at the Right Target."

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            Rep. John Conyers Replies to Lessig and Eisen about Fair Copyright in Research Works Act

            Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Legislation and Government Regulation, Open Access, Self-Archiving on March 6th, 2009

            Rep. John Conyers has replied to Lawrence Lessig and Michael Eisen's "Is John Conyers Shilling for Special Interests?" article about the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act.

            Here's an excerpt:

            The policy Professor Lessig supports, they [opponents] argue, would limit publishers' ability to charge for subscriptions since the same articles will soon be publicly available for free. If journals begin closing their doors or curtailing peer review, or foist peer review costs on academic authors (who are already pay from their limited budgets printing costs in some cases), the ultimate harm will be to open inquiry and scientific progress may be severe. And the journals most likely to be affected may be non-profit, scientific society based journals. Once again, a policy change slipped through the appropriations process in the dark of night may enhance open access to information, but it may have unintended consequences that are severe. This only emphasizes the need for proper consideration of these issues in open session.

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              Digital Videos from Texas A&M's the Changing Landscape of Scholarly Communication in the Digital Age Symposium

              Posted in Copyright, Open Access, Scholarly Communication, Texas Academic Libraries, University Presses on March 5th, 2009

              Texas A&M University has made digital videos of presentations from its recent the Changing Landscape of Scholarly Communication in the Digital Age Symposium available.

              Speakers included:

              • Georgia K. Harper, Scholarly Communications Advisor, University of Texas at Austin
              • Michael J. Jensen, Director of Publishing Technologies, National Academies Press
              • Michael A. Keller, Stanford University Librarian, Director of Academic Information Resources, Publisher of HighWire Press, and Publisher of Stanford University Press
              • Clifford A. Lynch, Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information
              • David E. Shulenburger, Vice President for Academic Affairs, National Association for State Universities and Land Grant Colleges
              • Stuart M. Shieber, James O. Welch, Jr. and Virginia B. Welch Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Office of Scholarly Communication, Harvard University
              • Donald J. Waters, Program Officer for Scholarly Communications, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
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                DCC Overview of the Science Commons

                Posted in Copyright, Creative Commons/Open Licenses, Open Access on March 4th, 2009

                The Digital Curation Centre has released an overview of the Science Commons as part of its Legal Watch Papers series.

                Here's an excerpt:

                Science Commons is a branch of Creative Commons that aims to make the Web work for science the way that it currently works for culture. It is a non-profit organisation aimed at accelerating the research cycle which they define as "the continuous production and reuse of knowledge that is at the heart of the scientific method." Science Commons describes itself as having three interlocking initiatives: making scientific research 'reuseful'; enabling 'one-click' access to research materials; and integrating fragmented information sources

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