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WLA 2009: Canoe the Open Content Rapids

Posted by on Thursday, October 22, 2009 in WLA Blog Archive

Canoe the Open Content Rapids
Dorothea Salo, UW System Digital Content Group


  • Digital storytelling - copyright issues over pulling from files found on Google Images - sets a bad example
  • Scholarship reasons to provide copyright education, provide proper information sources
  • Different from country to country
  • Instructors tend to violate copyright, as well as avoid activities that are probably fine


  • Limited monopoly over original works that are fixed in a tangible medium (includes stuff on Internet)
  • It's in the Constitution - not about making money, about promoting "progress of science and the useful arts"
  • Life of author + 70 years; 95 years corporate entities
  • OK to copy for scholarship, parody/satire, library preservation, classroom use; limited copying for other reasons = "fair use"
  • You can: a) sell in whole/part, b) give it away for free, c) license it for free/payment
  • Faculty generally fall into (b) without realizing it - they think because they wrote an article, they own it
  • Fair use - only way you know for certain is if you're sued and win
  • General guidelines do exist
  • Legislation has become more and more restrictive; results - culturejamming

Public domain

  • Prefer to think of things as "rising" into the public domain, not "falling"
  • Google Books - includes items clearly in the public domain (pre-1923), others clearly under copyright, others are "orphan works" because we don't know who owns copyright (or if they're alive etc.)
  • Hathi Trust will decide whether items Google is vacillating about are actually in the public domain
  • Musopen - building collection of online recordings - raise money for your group to record a piece (long-dead composers, score acquired legally) and upload
  • Flickr Commons - photographs in public domain; allows libraries and other digitizers to share and receive comments
  • Project Gutenberg - one of the first; scanned, transcribed public domain texts
  • Gov docs - work produced by fed employees in course of jobs is in public domain (except classified works); includes images
  • State gov docs = depends on the state

Open access

  • Includes peer-reviewed works, digital collections, working papers, technical reports, conference presentations, crowd-sourced solutions to mathematical problems
  • "Green" open access - "self-archiving" (not really), repositories (Dorothea doesn't like the term)
  • "Gold" open access - originally published open access, no subscription fees, no cost to access
  • "Mandates" - FACULTY granting to their institutions the right to post their research results online (some places aren't considering publications towards tenure unless they're deposited in repository; controversy over whether open access publications are getting a citation edge); FUNDERS especially federal agencies want taxpayer-funded research results to be available freely to the public; LIBRARIES at research institutions]
  • Biggest tool to find OA materials = OAIster (soon to become part of WorldCat); also DOAJ, Google, Google Scholar
  • Open Courses - controversial -
  • Learning materials - OER Commons, MERLOT (long-standing) - points to materials stored elsewhere, ODEPO directory
  • Creative Commons - generate license granting specific rights for your works (attribution, no derivatives, non-commercial use, requirement to release the new work under the same license)
  • Flickr has a Creative Commons search, or Flickr Storm has advanced CC license search
  • Music (ccMixter, Incompetech, Jamendo)

To Do

  • When you accept a work for digitization, educate the creator and ask for their desired status for the items
  • Read all publication agreements, and ask for what you want - Dorothea hasn't heard of any publishers taking back their decision to publish based on copyright addenda
  • Instead of libraries and librarians being the "copyright cop" - promote Creative Commons
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