Wednesday, August 18, 2010

RE: comprehensive bibliographic database of "open" resources?

Posting to open-bibliography

Additionally, with the WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative (2 June 2010) at,
they begin by stating:
"The purpose of the policy is to define the rights and responsibilities associated with the stewardship of the WorldCat bibliographic and holdings database by and for the OCLC cooperative, *including the use and exchange of OCLC member-contributed data comprising that database*." (my emphasis-JW)

Later in the "Glossary" section, we find something even more interesting:
"WorldCat Data. For purposes of this policy, WorldCat data is metadata for an information object, generally in the form of a record [my emphasis-JW] or records encoded in MARC format, whose source is or at one point in time was the WorldCat bibliographic database.

You have received WorldCat data when (1) you have extracted it directly from the WorldCat database using one of OCLC's services for members (e.g., Connexion, WorldCat Cataloging Partners, CatExpress, the OCLC Z39.50 Cataloging Service, Batchload services) or under the terms of a non-member agreement with OCLC; or (2) you have extracted it from an online catalog or another source to which extracted WorldCat data has been transferred or made available.

Identifying WorldCat as the source of data that has been transferred or made available downstream of the initial extraction from WorldCat can sometimes be complex. A combination of the following data elements in a bibliographic record can help determine if the record was initially extracted from WorldCat:

* An OCLC Control Number along with
- the 001 field that includes value characters "ocm" or "ocn" and/or
- the 035 field that includes the value "(OCoLC)" and/or
- the 994 field"

I think all this must be read together. Even though your library is not, and has never been, an OCLC library, you may still be in possession of what is defined here as "WorldCat Data" and therefore subject to this policy. This also clearly includes single records. Although I am not a lawyer, from what I read here, it seems that once something has touched OCLC in any way at all, and no matter what you have done with it, OCLC claims ownership (i.e. that it is WorldCat Data) and that it falls under this policy.

How this deals with, e.g. a record created by the Library of Congress, perhaps even as CIP (i.e. public domain), then being downloaded and updated by another library, finally, I would take this record directly from e.g. Yale, through Z39.50 and update it myself, according to this, this record would still fall under OCLC's policy.

Would this hold up in court? Who knows? Although I am a fan of many of OCLC's projects and services, this seems to be overreaching to me. And as Karen points out, it could be that metadata, even including subject analysis and standardized headings, are considered to be facts and are not subject to copyright.

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