Publishers Category

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Reforming Copyright

Pamela Samulelson writes about Google books, orphan works, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and the possibility of reforming copyright law in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“ Copyright should be shorter in duration, more balanced, more comprehensible, and normatively closer to what members of the public think that it means or should mean.

Although we are not likely to get comprehensive reform anytime soon, perhaps we can persuade Congress to make some more modest reforms.

We know it is now possible for the cultural and scientific heritage of humankind to be made available through a universal digital library such as the DPLA. It would be a grievous mistake not to bring that future into being when it is so clearly within our grasp.”

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Predatory Publishers, or “Scaring the Children”

In a recent blog post Kevin Smith of Duke takes up the issue of open access publishers who have been labeled “predatory” for various reasons. Quoting from the post:

In an online age, criteria that are well-established in libraries for avoiding these predatory toll-access journals now must be shared more widely because researchers may unwittingly spend research funds on equally low-quality OA journals. But to call this an open access problem is to blind ourselves to its full scope and is, I fear, often motivated more by the desire to bring OA itself into disrepute, to “scare the children,” as I like to call it, than it is by a desire to protect the entire system of scholarly communications. …The problem we should be addressing is predatory publications, OA and subscription-based, and publishing ethics across the board….

…So I repeat, we should make our decisions about quality on the basis of neutral criteria that can be applied to any business model and not allow the legitimate concern over predatory practices to become a weapon used against only a single publishing option.

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Ethical Practices of Journal Editors

A voluntary Code of Conduct for journal editors now exists. Editors can affirm their support for the five points, which include refraining from coercive citation practices, keeping marketing strategies separate from the peer review process, encouraging data transparency, and communicating relevant ethical standards to the editorial board. One of the two editors that started the code, Steven Rogelberg of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (editor of Journal of Business and Psychology), said a letter in Science in February about coercive citation practices convinced him of the need for a code. Inside High Ed defines coercive citations as:

those that editors seek to add to authors’ pieces not because they are needed, but to make various journals appear more influential. Many people use various measures of journal influence that are based on counting how many times journals’ articles are cited — so extra citations yield a more influential journal.

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Injunction Proposed in Georgia State Ruling

Inside Higher Ed reports that the drama over a copyright lawsuit filed by the Association of American Publishers against Georgia State University continues.

Following a ruling largely negative to the AAP, the plaintiffs have proposed an injunction which  “…would prohibit Georgia State professors from making unauthorized copies that are not “narrowly tailored to accomplish the instructor’s educational objectives” and do not “constitute the ‘heart of the work’ ” from which they are excerpted, among other criteria.”

Read the fully story by Steve Kolowich at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/06/04/publishers-seek-injunction-e-reserve-case

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Authors certified as class in lawsuit against Google bookscanning project.

The  Chronicle of Higher Education reports that “Judge Denny Chin on Thursday denied the company’s requests to dismiss professional associations as plaintiffs, and granted a motion to accord members of the Authors Guild status as a class in the lawsuit brought by three of its members.”

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University Press group criticizes GSU ruling

The Association of American University Presses has issued a statement critical of the ruling in the Georgia State case and some of its interpretations, especially by librarians.

“We believe it is premature and unwise for anyone to declare victory or defeat. The ruling is 347 pages long and not easy to understand, its interpretation of the law is controversial and unprecedented in several important respects, and it appears to make a number of assertions of fact that are not supported by the trial record.”

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More on Georgia State ruling: ARL Issue Brief by Brandon Butler

Brandon Butler, Director of Public Policy Initiatives at the Association of Research Libraries has written an eight page Issue Brief discussing the recent ruling in the Georgia State case in some detail. The Executive Summary appears below:

Executive Summary

The case concerns the use at Georgia State University (GSU) of electronic course reserves and electronic course sites to make excerpts from academic books available online to students enrolled in particular courses. The named plaintiffs in the case are three academic publishers (Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Sage), but an early filing in the case confirmed that the lawsuit was in fact being funded 50% by the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) and 50% by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). The plaintiffs argued that the unlicensed posting of digital excerpts for student access almost always exceeded fair use and should require a license.

Although the decision is certainly not perfect (the use of bright line rules for appropriate amount under factor 3 is particularly troubling), Judge Evans has written a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the issues, and her opinion represents an overwhelming victory for Georgia State individually, a major defeat for the plaintiff publishers and for the AAP and CCC, and overall a positive development for libraries generally. The substance of the opinion is not ideal, but it is far more generous than the publishers have sought, it establishes a very comfortable safe harbor for fair use of books on e-reserve, and libraries remain free to take more progressive steps.

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Elsevier allows experimental text mining of its journals at UBC

In an agreement with the University of British Columbia (UBC) Elsevier recently agreed to allow researchers there to text-mine Elsevier content for a number of purposes. The agreement came about through the efforts of Heather A. Pinowar, a post-doc at UBC whose “work depends on text mining, using computers to automatically pull certain kinds of information from large amounts of text, including databases of journal articles.”  See details in Jennifer Howard’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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More coverage of Georgia State ruling.

See Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Steve Kolowich inInside Higher Ed. You can read the entire decision here.

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Ruling on Georgia State case favors University over publishers.

The long-awaited ruling in the suit against Georgia State brought by the academic publishers came down Friday and seems to largely favor the University. Jennifer Howard writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education :

A federal judge in Atlanta has handed down a long-awaited ruling in a lawsuit brought by three scholarly publishers against Georgia State University over its use of copyrighted material in electronic reserves. The ruling, delivered on Friday, looks mostly like a victory for the university, finding that only five of 99 alleged copyright infringements did in fact violate the plaintiffs’ copyrights.

See additional coverage in Inside Higher Ed:

At the same time, however, the judge imposed a strict limit of 10 percent on the volume of a book that may be covered by fair use (a proportion that would cover much, but by no means all, of what was in e-reserves at Georgia State, and probably at many other colleges). And the judge ruled that publishers may have more claims against college and university e-reserves if the publishers offer convenient, reasonably priced systems for getting permission (at a price) to use book excerpts online. The lack of such systems today favored Georgia State, but librarians who were anxiously going through the decision were speculating that some publishers might be prompted now to create such systems, and to charge as much as the courts would permit.

For further analysis of the decision see http://laboratorium.net/archive/2012/05/13/inside_the_georgia_state_opinion by James Grimmelmann and http://blogs.library.duke.edu/scholcomm/2012/05/12/the-gsu-decision-not-an-easy-road-for-anyone/ by Kevin Smith.