copyright issues


info graphic on change of Congressional position by ProPublica.org

As a follow-up to the earlier entry,  SOPA and PIPA were pulled from congressional vote in their current form. The sponsors of the bills acknowledged that a more nuanced discussion is required prior to putting more legislation forward.   To get an idea of what the critics of the old legislation would like to see addressed in new talks and legislation, a  CNN-Panel discussion addressed the lack of understanding that proponents of the old bill had, and questioned the feasibility and efficacy of the proposed solutions in the old legislation.

“Activists talked about the potential consequences if the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) are approved by Congress. Both pieces of legislation are similar and target Web sites that commit or facilitate online piracy.”

Although the panel convened before the vote was pulled, their discussion points offer an overview of what major concerns would need to be addressed in any future legislation.

Speakers:
Markham Erickson, Partner, Holch & Erickson LLP, and Executive Director, NetCoalition
Michael Petricone, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Consumer Electronics
Association
Mike Masnick, Founder and President, TechDirt
Casey Rae-Hunter, Deputy Director, Future of Music Coalition
Christian Dawson, Chief Operating Officer, ServInt

If you are wondering why some sites are blacked-out today, or why some sites have blocked out their logos/name, it is in protest regarding bills in congress which are aimed at stamping out piracy / protecting intellectual property (a good goal) but proposing to do it by way of censorship and/or surveillance (a questionable means). There are a number of petitions going around, but for a little more info on why there is such an outcry, here are a couple of quick, reliable resources:

The google graphic shows the variety of people and organizations who oppose the bills and why; and offers the opportunity to add your name to their petition. The American Library Association has put together a quick reference guide to explain the PIPA, SOPA and OPEN Acts (pdf).   It indicates who initiated the bill and where the bill would impact free speech and/or free enterprise.

…the ALA deplores any legislation that would incentivize and likely increase surveillance of online activity promoted by these bills.  These bills, if passed, would likely blanket Internet activity with an immediate chilling effect – on first amendment free speech rights, intellectual freedom and privacy rights, among others.

 

The plagiarism stories that get the most coverage in the news revolve around authors [e.g.: Markham, Viswanathan],  journalists [e.g.: Blair,  Marr] , politicians [e.g.: Senator BidenMinister Guttenberg ],  or academics [students to Harvard Professors]  — these cases seem especially newsworthy as they are folks who “should know better.”   Thus, it is more than a little disconcerting when the Chronicle features an article that essentially says we should give up on being “obsessed” with citation in academia.

While we may be familiar with publishing companies pulling novels after discovering plagiarized plot-lines and passages, or universities pulling degrees from plagiarized theses,  it is worth noting that it is often not the editors nor professors, but the reading public, who are “discovering” the plagiarism.  Of course plagiarism is not limited to the written word, but also to paintings, photos, music-sampling, methodologies, etc.  Web Search engines and software like Turnitin make it easy enough to discover these cases,  and the social web allows for quick dissemination of these accusations — whether list-servs, discussion boards, blogs, Facebook or twitter.  It seems that although we shouldn’t be obsessed with citation mechanics, the functions of proper citation are appreciated by the public at large…so let’s not give up on our StJ students quite yet.

The Libraries and the LEAD program have worked together on a plagiarism workshop in the “Academic track” of the LEAD program. Many student-leaders might struggle with their own academic writing, but they also co-ordinate their organization’s correspondence, write newsletters, update news on Facebook/twitter pages etc.  LEAD and the libraries try to help these students avoid the pitfalls of poor research, poor citation, and copyright infringement in a social-web world and to  “understand the impact that technology could have on organizational [and academic] communications, not only in terms of both the commission and the discovery of plagiarism, but in the quick dissemination of ill-researched information or mis-information. We also thought they also needed to be aware that the “re-mix/mashup” mentality among students could have ethical and legal ramifications for organizational leaders who have official publication venues” (Maio & Shaughnessy, 2012).

The LEAD plagiarism workshops are scheduled twice each semester, but if you would like to request a workshop for your department or club, we stand ready to help out anytime, with this topic, or to help you tailor a workshop session for your class/group.

For more information on the LEAD certificate program, visit their site.

For more information on the Libraries’ resources about plagiarism and citation consult our LibGuides on Plagiarism, Proper citation (why we cite) , RefWorks (how to cite), Turnitin (how unitinentional plagairism can be identified) the relationship between copyright and plagiarism, creative commons, and why plagiarism still makes news!

(Forthcoming 2011).   Maio, N and K.G. Shaughnessy. “Promoting Collaborative Leaders In The St. John’s University Community”  Libraries and student affairs in collaboration.  Hinchliffe, Lisa Janicke and Melissa Wong, eds.  Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries.

We noted in a prior blog entry that COPE Open Access Scholarship in the Humanities and Social sciences are gaining ground and are explicitly recognizing that access to scholarship shouldn’t be limited to those Universities which can pay increasingly prohibitive costs for access through publishers and vendors. We also have noted Good Cop/ Bad Cop issues with Harvard whose Business publisher is are “trying to charge Universities even more to deep-link to articles for which most University Libraries have already paid both high prices to the publisher and the vendor for access” And of course, we have been following the Google-Books courts cases with an eager eye.

If you are interested seeing how it all comes together, you might check out this week’s Publishers Weekly article:

While the high-profile Google settlement has captured the attention of the publishing industry at large, a contentious copyright infringement lawsuit filed in Atlanta in 2008 by academic publishers against four individuals at Georgia State University has quietly progressed. And while a New York court now considers whether to approve the sweeping Google deal, a court in Atlanta could yet deliver something that publishers expressly chose to avoid in their settlement with Google: a fair use ruling.

  • “A Failure to Communicate” Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly (June 14, 2010) by features editor: http://bit.ly/95SpB4

You might also find the following articles of interest for more background on the Georgia case from an academic library perspective.

  • “Implication of the Georgia State e-reserves case.” Barbara Fister, Library Journal, (April 1, 2010) http://bit.ly/cfxoLL

For more on how university libraries (including our own) have been dealing with the escalating costs of current scholarly publishing-and-distribution platforms — which basically require an academic library to pay for access to the same articles anywhere from two-to four separate times — check out our LIbLog “open movement” entries which work towards convincing Academic Communities that Open Access publishing is a wiser way to go.

The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Consumer Federation of America, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the U.S. PIRG have joined together by filing an Amicus Curiae brief  in support of Thomas S. Vernor in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case Vernor v. Autotech.

At issue here is the “first sale” doctrine in relation to the Copyright Act — a principle that is much relied upon in libraries — and whether it pertains to software products which have contractual license agreements. A ruling in favor of Autotech might result in similar actions by other copyright owners of media.

For more, read Kara Malenfant’s February 16, 2010 post “ACRL, ALA, ARL Support Online Software Reseller Against Infringement Allegations” in ACRL insider

One of the most frequent misunderstandings I encounter when I talk to students about plagiarism is that they think “plagiarism is the same as copyright infringement.”  Same as in “it is a legal issue” rather than an “ethical issue” or a “scholarly communication issue. ”  Same as in  “if it doesn’t have a copyright logo on it, like NBC or Elsiver — or if it isn’t on TV or in print,” it isn’t really “published.” So, they think, freely borrowing the material isn’t a problem…whatever comes from the web or from a friend’s paper isn’t citation-worthy.   Although we do talk about citation-trails in scholarly communication and talk a little about how/when something is copyrighted  (i.e. once a paper/poem/ assignment is in material or computer-readable format, it is automatically copyrighted) , trying to get across the overlaps and distinctions between plagiarism and copyright infringement can be a little tricky.  I am a fan of Venn diagrams, so I use the diagram below, and ask students to come up with examples for each part, and then ask them where a few “case studies” would fall.  For example: One can plagiarize a friend’s idea or a methodological approach without commiting copyright infringement.   One can give the full citation for a copyrighted piece of music, but, lacking permissions, can still be guilty of infringement.

* While there maybe some cases where using the copyrighted materials of others doesn’t infringe —  say, in  a comedy sketch or for  a classroom demo — sometimes publishing a class project on a blog or slideshare can blur the line.  (**Note to hybrid and distance learning faculty:  A student  and the “responsible faculty member” can be guilty of “contributory infringement” by allowing a course page to host a re/posting of  a YouTube clip that one has reason to believe was not uploaded by the original artist)

Best bets in class:  for images:   use “creative commons” materials in ;  for music be sure to get permissions or use “podsafe music” and abide by artists requests. Sources of podsafe music include:  http://podsafemusicnetwork.com/ and http://www.podsafeaudio.com/,  For Videos: look at the “more” section in a video platform to learn about the poster and gain an idea whether the poster has original rights ,  and above all — cite sources ethically.

At the “D is for Digitize” Conference at New York Law School on October 9, Pamela Samuelson of the University of California Law School debated Paul Courant, Dean of the University of Michigan Libraries, regarding the settlement of a class action lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers against Google. The settlement creates a registry through which copyright owners of out-of-print books can submit claims to Google, and allows Google to sell digital versions of the books, giving 63% of revenues to copyright owners.

Samuelson and Courant agreed that large-scale digitization of books is a positive development. However, Samuelson argued that price gouging is a concern, given that Google is the only company providing such a product and service. She noted that most librarians she had spoken to would have preferred libraries had undertaken such a project themselves, and remarked that there is nothing to prevent Google from selling the corpus of digitized books to another company, which might not honor Google’s spirit of providing relatively open access.

Courant responded that laws were in place to protect the pubic against “egregious behavior” by Google, and that the settlement gave users free access to about 20% of each digitized book’s contents. Courant also pointed out that libraries like the University of Michigan would still maintain print copies of digitized material, and that Google Books would complement, not replace, print collections.

Update: On October 10, Google announced that more than 1,860 issues of LIFE magazine from 1936 to 1972 are available in full-text through Google Books.

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