"NYPL Shows Academic Libraries What ‘Public Domain’ Means"

Rick Anderson has published "NYPL Shows Academic Libraries What ‘Public Domain’ Means" in The Scholarly Kitchen.

Here's an excerpt:

In far too many libraries, public-domain documents and images are treated as if they were under copyright—and, even worse, in many cases the policies in question are written as if the holding libraries were themselves the copyright holders. Sometimes this is because the librarians who control access to those images genuinely don't understand copyright law: they believe that simply digitizing an image results in a copyrightable document (it doesn't), or that owning the physical item gives one legal say over how its intellectual content can be used (also untrue). The result is that in many academic libraries, intellectual content that the public has a right to access, copy, adapt, and generally reuse in any way we wish is being locked down and restricted by—ironically enough—librarians.

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"5 Million Public Domain Ebooks in HathiTrust: What Does This Mean?"

Rick Anderson has published "5 Million Public Domain Ebooks in HathiTrust: What Does This Mean?" in The Scholarly Kitchen.

Here's an excerpt:

A week or so ago, a monumental thing happened: the number of public-domain books in the HathiTrust digital repository topped 5 million. And since no one (including HathiTrust, so far) seems to be making a very big deal about this, it seems like a good moment both to recap the achievements of HathiTrust and to consider a few of its implications for the future of reading and scholarship.

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"The Valuation of Unprotected Works: A Case Study of Public Domain Photographs on Wikipedia"

Paul J. Heald et al. have self-archived "The Valuation of Unprotected Works: A Case Study of Public Domain Photographs on Wikipedia."

Here's an excerpt:

We study the biographical Wikipedia pages of a large data set of authors, composers, and lyricists to determine whether the public domain status of available images leads to a higher rate of inclusion of illustrated supplementary material and whether such inclusion increases visitorship to individual pages. We attempt to objectively place a value on the body of public domain photographs and illustrations which are used in this global resource. . . . We find that the large majority of photos and illustrations used on subject pages were obtained from the public domain, and we estimate their value in terms of costs saved to Wikipedia page builders and in terms of increased traffic corresponding to the inclusion of an image. Then, extrapolating from the characteristics of a random sample of a further 300 Wikipedia pages, we estimate a total value of public domain photographs on Wikipedia of between $246 to $270 million dollars per year.

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Public Domain: "Negotiators Burn Their Last Opportunity to Salvage the TPP by Caving on Copyright Term Extension "

Maira Sutton has published "Negotiators Burn Their Last Opportunity to Salvage the TPP by Caving on Copyright Term Extension" in DeepLinks.

Here's an excerpt:

New reports indicate that Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators have agreed to language that would bind its 12 signatory nations to extend copyright terms to match the United States' already excessive length of copyright. This provision expands the reach of the controversial US Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (or the "Mickey Mouse Act" as it was called due to Disney's heavy lobbying) to countries of the Pacific region. Nations including Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Canada would all be required to extend their terms and grant Big Content companies lengthy exclusive rights to works for no empirical reason. This means that all of the TPP's extreme enforcement provisions would apply to creative works for upwards of 100 years.

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"Let’s Make It Easier to Expand the Public Domain"

John Bergmayer has published "Let's Make It Easier to Expand the Public Domain" in Copyright Reform.

Here's an excerpt:

The fact that a license is "perpetual" doesn't require the copyright holder to keep offering the license; it just means the license, once granted, can't be revoked.

Except it can be. Copyright termination means that any license, including a perpetual public license, can be revoked. This means, for example, that contributors to projects like Wikipedia (where an original contributor continues to own the copyright to her work, but licenses that copyright under a liberal license) can revoke that license. It also means that people who transfer actual ownership of their copyrights to stewards like the Free Software Foundation can claw back that ownership.

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NARA Open Government Plan

The National Archives and Records Administration has released its Open Government Plan.

Here's an excerpt:

NARA has been engaging the Wikipedia community since 2011, when we welcomed a Wikipedian in Residence and began holding events to build awareness of the records of the National Archives. In 2013, we welcomed a full-time employee devoted to engaging the Wikipedia community along with NARA staff members to promote greater access, reuse, and context for our records on Wikipedia.

Our work strengthening digitization and description fuels our ability to make records available on external platforms like Wikipedia. In 2012, we shared 100,000 digital images from our holdings to Wikimedia Commons. This work enabled digital copies of our records to be incorporated into Wikimedia projects and Wikipedia articles. The 4,000 Wikipedia articles featuring our records received more than one billion page views in Fiscal Year 2013. Over the next two years we will work to increase the number of National Archives records available on Wikimedia Commons, which furthers our strategic goal to "Make Access Happen" and expands re-use of our records by the public.

We are continuing our work to engage local communities of volunteer Wikipedians with on-site events, including skills-building workshops and "edit-a-thons" for improving Wikipedia content related to our holdings. In addition, we are establishing a model for "scan-a-thons" to enable citizen archivist stakeholder groups to digitize our records for access.

Digital Scholarship | "A Quarter-Century as an Open Access Publisher"

"Can Formalities Save the Public Domain? Reconsidering Formalities for the 2010s"

Niva Elkin-Koren has published "Can Formalities Save the Public Domain? Reconsidering Formalities for the 2010s" in The Berkeley Technology Law Journal.

Here's an excerpt:

In essence, formalities advocates argue that current copyright law protects too many works, and shifting back to an opt-in regime would help restore the balance in copyright law between incentives and access. Restoring formalities would arguably expand the public domain by increasing the number of works in which copyright is not affirmatively claimed. It has been further suggested that works of unknown authorship are underused. 8 This is due to uncertainty about whether they are protected by copyright or not, which creates a chilling effect. A notice requirement would signal to potential users which works are protected by copyright. A notice would also generate the information necessary for licensing, thereby facilitating the clearance of rights and reducing the problem of orphan works.

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"Impact of Public Domain Resources On Public Libraries in the United States"

Anne Arendt and Dustin Fife have published "Impact of Public Domain Resources On Public Libraries in the United States" in the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science.

Here's an excerpt:

Ownership and rights issues relating to electronic resources can be a source of angst, confusion and litigation. This is due in part to the automatic copyright many individuals receive, including in the United States, upon creation of an original work. However, there are options available for relaxing these rights. One of these options is Creative Commons Zero. . . . Based on the above, this document researches the awareness, complexity and effects of Creative Commons Zero and related licenses on libraries as perceived by library directors and managers across the United States. In order to accomplish this, a quantitative survey was administered in an anonymous web-based format.

Digital Scholarship | Digital Scholarship Publications Overview | Sitemap

"First Amendment Constraints on Copyright after Golan v. Holder"

Neil Weinstock Netanel has self-archived "First Amendment Constraints on Copyright after Golan v. Holder" in SSRN.

Here's an excerpt:

Commentators have depicted the Supreme Court's January 2012 ruling in Golan v. Holder as a far-reaching repudiation of First Amendment limits on Congress's power to expand copyright and diminish the public domain. However, Golan imposes potentially significant First Amendment constraints on copyright protection even while granting fairly broad First Amendment immunity to Copyright Act amendments. It does so by effectively adopting Melville Nimmer's "definitional balancing" approach to resolving the tension between copyright and the First Amendment. . . As Golan applies that approach, neither Congress nor courts may "disturb" copyright law's idea/expression dichotomy or fair use privilege without running afoul of the First Amendment. Accordingly, following Golan, Copyright Act provisions and proposed legislation that would diminish one or both of those free speech safeguards remain vulnerable to First Amendment challenge.

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"What Copyright Owes the Future"

R. Anthony Reese has self-archived "What Copyright Owes the Future" in SSRN.

Here's an excerpt:

This Lecture explores the subject of preserving copyrighted works for the future in four steps. First, I look at why preserving creative works is important and valuable. Next, I examine the ways in which copyright law has traditionally encouraged—or not encouraged—the preservation of copyrighted works. Third, I explore how digital technology and computer networks, such as the Internet, pose new challenges for preserving creative works. And finally, I consider briefly how we might rethink and revise copyright law to respond to the challenges of preserving works of authorship for future audiences.

Digital Scholarship | Digital Scholarship Publications Overview | Sitemap

"A Case for the Public Domain"

Clark D. Asay has self-archived "A Case for the Public Domain" in SSRN.

Here's an excerpt:

Over the past several decades open license movements have proven highly successful in the software and content worlds. . . . This Article argues that this IP-based approach, while perhaps helpful in the beginning, is no longer necessary and in fact prevents the movements from reaching their full potential. The IP-based approach has this effect by causing significant transaction costs without offsetting benefits, resulting in a tragedy of the anti-commons. The IP-based approach also creates the risk of IP trolls in the future, especially in the copyright sphere. . . . The Article then examines the benefits of a public domain approach and argues that such an approach would reduce the wasteful transaction costs, limit the possibility of IP trolls, still satisfy the purposes of those that contribute materials under open licenses, and better align with the normative tenets of such movements. To conclude, the Article assesses the merits of a "Public Domain Act" that would help address obstacles that currently exist in dedicating materials to the public domain and posits some theoretical implications relating to innovation based on the experiences of the open license movements and the arguments of this Article.

| Digital Scholarship's Digital/Print Books | Digital Scholarship |

"Access and the Public Domain"

Randal C. Picker has self-archived "Access and the Public Domain" in SSRN.

Here's an excerpt:

Section I of the paper sketches out the emerging public domain. Section II considers three conceptual questions for structuring use of the public domain focusing on the extent to which the public domain should be viral; on whether we should insist that the public domain be accessed only through the original artifacts embodying it; and on whether private appropriability incentives for distribution of public domain scans match overall social interests. Section III turns to the tools for restricting use of the public domain, to copyright, contract, the DMCA and the CFAA. Each of these matters for access to the public domain and for competition over it. Section IV considers one narrow question regarding the relationship between copyright's deposit requirement and a truly public domain, while the last section briefly concludes the paper.

| Digital Scholarship Overview | Digital Scholarship |

"Contribution to the Definition of a Positive Agenda for the Public Domain: A Policy Paper by COMMUNIA International Association on the Public Domain"

COMMUNIA has released "Contribution to the Definition of a Positive Agenda for the Public Domain: A Policy Paper by COMMUNIA International Association on the Public Domain."

Here's an excerpt:

This policy paper proposes to contribute to defining a positive agenda for the Public Domain. It is grounded on a WIPO study by Professor Sèverine Dusollier, Communia policy recommendations and Communia previous WIPO statements. This work-in-progress document presents policy recommendations and strategies aimed at the trans-national level , namely WIPO CDIP and SCCR. Legal language will be drafted at a later stage.

Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals Cover

| Digital Scholarship |

"Do Bad Things Happen When Works Enter the Public Domain?: Empirical Tests of Copyright Term Extension"

Christopher J. Buccafusco and Paul J. Heald have self-archived "Do Bad Things Happen When Works Enter the Public Domain?: Empirical Tests of Copyright Term Extension" in SSRN.

Here's an excerpt:

The international debate over copyright term extension for existing works turns on the validity of three empirical assertions about what happens to works when they fall into the public domain. Our study of the market for audio books and a related human subjects experiment suggest that all three assertions are suspect. We demonstrate that audio books made from public domain bestsellers (1913-22) are significantly more available than those made from copyrighted bestsellers (1923-32). We also demonstrate that recordings of public domain and copyrighted books are of equal quality.

| Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography 2010 | Digital Scholarship |

The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture

Open Book Publishers has released The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture.

Here's an excerpt:

The public domain is the sovereign space of all citizens of the world. Like the air we breathe, it is free for all people to use, without restriction, no rights reserved. Our public ownership of this domain of knowledge should be understood as a fundamental human right to access our shared knowledge, the use of which is not the result of a grant by any specific government.

In this book, the members of Communia not only articulates this positive conception of our public domain, but also seek to make the European public domain actionable. The book defines the public domain of the European nations and studies the environment in which it operates. Most importantly, it recommends a set of actions to build and make use of that domain as an environment of shared intellectual property and multifaceted cultural heritage.

| Transforming Scholarly Publishing through Open Access: A Bibliography| Digital Scholarship |

Public Domain: Communia Final Report

The Communia has released the Communia Final Report.

Here's an excerpt:

This Public[3] Report is the outcome of the work of the COMMUNIA Network on the Digital Public Domain (hereinafter "COMMUNIA"). This Report was undertaken to (i) review the activities of COMMUNIA; (ii) investigate the state of the digital public domain in Europe; and (iii) recommend policy strategies for enhancing a healthy public domain and making digital content in Europe more accessible and usable.

| Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog | Digital Scholarship |

Harvard Library Releases over 12 Million Bibliographic Records under CC0 1.0 Public Domain Dedication

The Harvard Library has released over 12 million bibliographic records under the CC0 1.0 Public Domain Dedication license.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

The Harvard Library announced it is making more than 12 million catalog records from Harvard’s 73 libraries publicly available.

The records contain bibliographic information about books, videos, audio recordings, images, manuscripts, maps, and more. The Harvard Library is making these records available in accordance with its Open Metadata Policy and under a Creative Commons 0 (CC0) public domain license. In addition, the Harvard Library announced its open distribution of metadata from its Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH) scholarly article repository under a similar CC0 license.

"The Harvard Library is committed to collaboration and open access. We hope this contribution is one of many steps toward sharing the vital cultural knowledge held by libraries with all," said Mary Lee Kennedy, Senior Associate Provost for the Harvard Library.

| Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals: Those wishing to learn more about the open access movement would be well served by turning to Bailey's Open Access Bibliography. . . .This title is a major contribution to the study of the open access movement in general, as well as its emergence in the early twenty-first century. — Mary Aycock, Library Resources and Technical Services 52, no. 3 (2008): 212-213. | Digital Scholarship |

Nature Publishing Group Launches Linked Data Platform and Puts Data in Public Domain

The Nature Publishing Group has launched a linked data platform.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) today is pleased to join the linked data community by opening up access to its publication data via a linked data platform. NPG's Linked Data Platform is available at http://data.nature.com.

The platform includes more than 20 million Resource Description Framework (RDF) statements, including primary metadata for more than 450,000 articles published by NPG since 1869. In this first release, the datasets include basic citation information (title, author, publication date, etc) as well as NPG specific ontologies. These datasets are being released under an open metadata license, Creative Commons Zero (CC0), which permits maximal use/re-use of this data.

| Digital Scholarship's Digital/Print Books | Digital Scholarship |

Harvard Library to Deposit about 200,000 Public Domain Volumes in HathiTrust

The Harvard Library will deposit about 200,000 public domain volumes in HathiTrust.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

The Harvard Library will deposit approximately 200,000 public domain volumes in HathiTrust, a shared digital repository for published materials. This follows Harvard's first deposit of approximately 53,000 volumes in HathiTrust in 2011.

"The Harvard Library is committed to collaboration and easing access to its materials. Partnerships like this create significant opportunities for research libraries to lead during a period of rapid changes in higher education and scholarship in the digital age, and for researchers to benefit from their initiative" said Mary Lee Kennedy, Harvard's senior associate provost for the Library.

| Digital Curation and Preservation Bibliography 2010 | Digital Scholarship |

Public Domain Defeat: US Supreme Court Golan v. Holder Ruling

In a major defeat for public domain advocacy, the US Supreme Court has ruled against Lawrence Golan and others in Golan v. Holder.

Here is an excerpt from a synopsis of the case from the Legal Information Institute:

Congress enacted Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act in order to comply with the international copyright standards of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Section 514 restores copyright protection to foreign works currently found in the public domain. Lawrence Golan and other performers, educators, and motion picture distributors brought this suit challenging Section 514, arguing that Congress's removal of works from the public domain exceeded its Copyright Clause powers. Golan also argues that Section 514 violates the First Amendment because the law does not serve any important government interests. Attorney General Holder counters that the Copyright Clause does not restrict Congress's authority to remove works from the public domain. He further argues that Section 514 does not violate the First Amendment because the government has a substantial interest in complying with the Berne Convention and protecting American works abroad.

Here's an excerpt from the ruling:

Congress determined that U. S. interests were best served by our full participation in the dominant system of international copyright protection. Those interests include ensuring exemplary compliance with our international obligations, securing greater protection for U. S. authors abroad, and remedying unequal treatment of foreign authors. The judgment §514 expresses lies well within the ken of the political branches. It is our obligation, of course, to determine whether the action Congress took, wise or not, encounters any constitutional shoal. For the reasons stated, we are satisfied it does not. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is therefore Affirmed.

In a lengthy dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer said:

The fact that, by withdrawing material from the public domain, the statute inhibits an important preexisting flow of information is sufficient, when combined with the other features of the statute that I have discussed, to convince me that the Copyright Clause, interpreted in the light of the First Amendment, does not authorize Congress to enact this statute.

Justice Samuel Alito also dissented.

| Digital Scholarship |

Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain

The World Intellectual Property Organization has released Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

The scoping study includes an illustrative comparison of national legislations that directly, or indirectly, define the public domain; and a survey of initiatives and tools, which may affect access, use, identification and location of public domain material.

| Digital Scholarship |

"The Digital Public Domain: Relevance and Regulation"

"The Digital Public Domain: Relevance and Regulation," which Leonhard Dobusch presented at 1st Berlin Symposium on Internet and Society, is now available.

Here's an excerpt:

After clarifying the notion and different areas of the (digital) "public domain" the paper engages in discussing literature on its relevance for society in general and economic innovation in particular. The effectiveness of the utilization of these abstract potentials however depends on the respective public domain regulation. In this context, the paper distinguishes different regulatory modes and arenas in both copyright and patent law, thereby focusing private regulatory initiatives such as Creative Commons or Biological Open Source (BiOS). In the last section, the paper presents open research questions and makes some preliminary suggestions for potential research strategies.

| Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography 2010 | Digital Scholarship |

Important Public Domain Case: Supreme Court Hears Golan v. Holder

The Supreme Court is now considering the Golan v. Holder case, which has significant implications for public domain works.

Here's an excerpt from the Supreme Court's Granted and Noted List entry that describes the case:

Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1994 (Section 514) did something unique in the history of American intellectual property law: It "restored" copyright protection in thousands of works that the Copyright Act had placed in the Public Domain, where they remained for years as the common property of all Americans. The Petitioners in this case are orchestra conductors, educators, performers, film archivists and motion picture distributors, who relied for years on the free availability of these works in the Public Domain, which they performed, adapted, restored and distributed without restriction. The enactment of Section 514 therefore had a dramatic effect on Petitioners' free speech and expression rights, as well as their economic interests. Section 514 eliminated Petitioners' right to perform, share and build upon works they had once been able to use freely. The questions presented are:

  1. Does the Progress Clause of the United States Constitution prohibit Congress from taking works out of the Public Domain?
  2. Does Section 514 violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution?

Transcripts of the oral arguments are available. The first one has been made public.

Read more about it at "Supreme Court Weighs Legality of Putting Public Domain Works Back under Copyright."

| New: Institutional Repository and ETD Bibliography 2011 | Digital Scholarship |

Carl Malamud Issues Complaint about Smithsonian Institution’s Terms of Use and Licensing Policy

Carl Malamud has put up a website, What Would Luther Burbank Do?, that contains a complaint about the Smithsonian Institution's Terms of Use and Licensing Policy. The complaint concerns a take down notice that Mindy Sommers received from the Smithsonian Institution regarding her Vintage Seed Catalog Digital Collage Sheet Five.

Here's an excerpt:

1.1 The Smithsonian Institution's Terms of Use and Licensing Policy are in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 105 (the "works of government" clause of the Copyright Act) and 20 U.S.C. § 41 (the "increase and diffusion of knowledge among men" clause of the Smithsonian Charter). . . . .

6.1 Injunction. That the Smithsonian Institution be instructed to cease and desist all further "take down" notices until this matter has been thoroughly investigated.

6.2 Investigation. That the Board of Regents investigate and analyze the intellectual property policies of the Smithsonian Institution to determine if such policies are in violation of the Copyright Act or the Smithsonian Charter.

6.3 Restitution. That the Smithsonian Institution work with the community to create high-resolution scans of the Seed Displays source material that is not under copyright by external, non-governmental entities and that such high-resolution scans be released on the Internet with no restrictions on use.

| Digital Scholarship |

"Talking about the Public Domain"

Walt Crawford has published "Talking about the Public Domain" in the latest issue of Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large.

Here's an excerpt:

Ah, the public domain: Where creative work is supposed to wind up after a limited period during which the creator has exclusive control over distribution and copying. An ever-growing pool of literature, music, photography, video and art that we can use not only as inspiration but also as the direct basis for new works, annotating, deriving or just plain redistributing.

What a wonderful thing.

Too bad it's basically been frozen for quite a few years now, with almost nothing new entering the pool (except government publications—which start in the public domain) and things tagged with the Creative Commons CC0 license. Oh, and probably a few cases where a creator's been dead more than 70 years and has works produced since 1923.

Not only has it been frozen in the U.S., there are laws and treaties that would appear to shrink the public domain pool—which should, by any rational reading of the Constitution, be flatly unconstitutional.

| Digital Curation and Preservation Bibliography 2010 | Institutional Repository Bibliography | Transforming Scholarly Publishing through Open Access: A Bibliography | Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography 2010 |