ACAT Copyrighted contents note

Posting to Autocat

On 24/11/2014 22.20, Bilodeau, Robert wrote:

Has anyone ever heard about a contents note being copyrighted? That is, you couldn’t add a contents note in your bib record because in some ways it would infringe some copyright? If that situation exists, then the bib record containing this copyrighted contents note shouldn’t be available through Z39.50 because this protocol aims information retrieval, that is sharing of records.

I have read much more often of where the summary itself is a violation of copyright. From this page at Columbia,, we read that someone paraphrased parts of unpublished materials from J.D. Salinger, and it was determined that the paraphrases were illegal. More recently, the German justice system found that Google was in violation of copyright with the Google News service, which displays the “snippets” (or summaries) of the actual news sites. They ordered Google to pay. It was interesting how it turned out however. Google decided not to pay, but rather to deindex German news sites from Google News. The hit rate plummeted for the German news sites, and they relented.

Concerning the 520 summary note, perhaps a case could be made that it is “copyrighted” although it is by definition, a summary of some larger resource. So based on the above idea, the first question is: is the summary itself fair use, or does it break copyright? I think summary notes in a library catalog would be the very epitome of fair use–but when lawyers get involved, you never know.

The question whether a summary note itself can be copyrighted, most I have seen are actually copied verbatim from the blurbs written by the publishers. ( A blurb is a type of advertising that publishers actually want the public to read, e.g., the publishing blurb found in the record So, I would be surprised if somebody found fault with copying those. If the summary note is written originally by the cataloger, it would seem to me that it would have to be labelled as such somehow to distinguish it from all the others. (e.g. does the absence of the words “Provided by publisher” or something similar mean that it was originally written by a cataloger? I don’t think so)

Copyright is crazy, and gets crazier by the day. Everybody wants a piece of the action. I personally like Google’s way of doing it: add the snippets until somebody complains and if someone complains, just delete those.