I spent the second half of last week at a conference on copyright and higher education, sponsored by the Center for Intellectual Property at the University of Maryland University College. Just as I had predicted, it was a great combination of librarians, lawyers, and educators grappling with a difficult and fascinating set of issues.
Some of the many things I found interesting:
- Siva Vaidhyanathan delivered a further refined version of his developing thinking on Google’s controversial library project. Siva ultimately has criticism for everyone involved — Google, the publishers, and the participating libraries. He is not happy that Google and the libraries seem, in his view, to be rushing and to be inviting a lawsuit that he thinks they will lose. At the same time, he thinks the publishers are being short-sighted too.
- Peggy Hoon of NC State discussed their online “toolkit” for compliance with the TEACH Act and their open-source tool to comply with the Act’s rather demanding requirements for downstream content control.
- The American Library Association’s Copyright Advisory Network offers many good resources for librarians on the front lines of copyright law decisions.
- Marc Brodsky of the American Institute of Physics stated that 75% of the downloads for their journals are for articles more than a year old — throwing some cold water on proposals to require open access after six months or a year, which depend on the assumption that potential profitability wanes thereafter.
- MIT is trying to get its faculty to use an MIT Authors’ Addendum requiring certain levels of open access, very similar to the new initiative at Science Commons I wrote about just last week. I’d like to look over the various addenda and make some judgments about their relative merits, but the overall energy pointing in that direction is great.
- Some intriguing preliminary data from the American Research Libraries, indicating that 75% of large publishers and 50% of small ones permit some posting of authors’ work in institutional repositories.
- Interesting commentary from Karen Coyle — much of it new to me — about how a Xerox patent on using Rights Expression Languages in DRM systems has led to stagnation in technological development as everyone tries to design around it by forgoing RELs. Worse, the resulting REL-free DRM mechanisms are hardware-based, less interoperable, and less flexible.
- Several people mentioned this new article about the DMCA by Fred von Lohmann and Wendy Seltzer, quite a dynamic duo of authors.
Obviously, it was a great conference!