Digital Culture

More from PomeRantz

More really interesting discussion from Jeff Pomerantz, this time re: IP and scholarly work. It is better have control of your own IP, or give it up in order to get publicity?

But if (1) a db that I care about being indexed in does not automatically hoover up this journal’s contents, & (2) it is not possible to submit my own article to be indexed, then Houston, we have a problem. Given a choice between retaining copyight & having my work disseminated, well, that’s almost a no-brainer. Databases are the source that scholars traditionally go to when doing lit reviews, so obviously I’d want to have my work in them.

When I read the line about “given a choice…” being a no-brainer, I agree, but in the opposite direction. I would gladly trade publicity for my own IP rights. Lets transfer this argument over to a much more potentially lucrative IP realm: music.

This is the traditional trade off for musicians in the US: rights vs publicity. Historically bands have offered up their IP in order to allow the music labels publicize them, make them famous, get them booked at arenas instead of bars, print t-shirts, etc. In a sense, they trade their IP for the ability of the public to “find” them, much as Jeff has argued is necessary in academia.

Now…would any sane person (not affiliated with the RIAA/MPAA) in this day and age argue that it’s better for content creators to trade their IP for publicity? Nearly every artist would be better off with their own IP rights.

Here we are, telling our students to not use Google only, use other information sources, use the databases that the library subscribes to… are we also really saying, to hell with commercial databases, if it’s on my website that’s sufficient? Have we gotten to a place where dbs are actually irrelevant in academia?

Honestly? We’re fast approaching, and as more and more universities start their own archives, or academics start archiving their own work (which I have always done, and highly recommend to anyone out there)….yes, we’re quickly moving away from the traditional databases. As more interesting and collaborative “cataloging” starts moving in to academia (tagging and folksonomies for one) I can see traditional database searches moving to the second line of search. Hell…if people (even librarians) were honest, I bet they are already a second line for a known items.

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

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