Re: HathiTrust & five universities sued

Posting to Autocat

On 16/09/2011 13:47, Aaron Kuperman wrote:

But in that situation, it is very clear that the journal is aggressively asserting its rights – so by any standard, no one would have the right to digitize and distribute the article (other than with a license purchased from the publisher). Remember the issue is over “orphan” publications, not publications where the copyright owner is active and aggressively enforcing copyright.

The solution to that problem would be to publish in a journal or online forum that doesn’t make such demands, and for universities to make clear that such publication qualifies under “publish or perish” rules. It is the universities that should be under attack for not accepting non-commerical publications, rather than attacking the publishers who want to make a profit (or complaining about Google trying to make a profit, which is there job as a for-profit corporation).

You are right Aaron, I was discussing copyright more generally. Still, there seems to be a huge difference between materials on the web and materials not on the web and the reasons are not clear to me.

Nobody seems to mind that Google … [et al.] “scarfs up” all the web documents so that others can find them. The responsibility to not be included is placed on the webmasters/creators, since they are supposed to add a “robots.txt” exclusion if they do not want their materials included in Google or other search engines–this exclusion in effect, means that no one will ever know of the existence of the website, except someone’s close friends and family. This makes no sense for someone who wants to make money from their creations.

With printed materials however, the responsibility is turned around and appears to lie with Google … [et al.], since it is up to them to try to hunt down the copyright owners before they can do anything at all. This situation could never have worked with web materials of course, since the logistics of getting permissions would make everything practically impossible. But with printed materials, which would seem to be even more difficult, it is taken for granted that the responsibility is on Google … [et al.] to get permissions before doing anything. To me, such a situation makes no sense at all and is only a recipe for dysfunction and eventual breakdown.

At least Google was more than willing to share their profits. Too bad the agreement was not approved, but what is done is done. Once again, I say that copyright no longer serves the original purpose of “promot[ing] the Progress of Science and useful Arts” and will have to change. There is nothing wrong with this, and should be welcomed by all.

It is a great example of Jefferson’s saying, written in his memorial:

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

Discarding that old “coat” has relevance not only to society, but also to libraries and even its catalogs!