Master's Paper Personal


To all the 2004 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science Master’s Degree recipients!

I look forward to seeing tons of you over the summer, and many more over the course of the next bunch o’ years at conferences and such.

Thanks to everyone who helped me get this far (you all know who you are).

Digital Culture Library Issues Master's Paper

Perils, take 4

This is in response to a very thoughtful comment here.

I did indeed contact Rick looking for names at the ALA, early in the writing of the paper in an attempt to gather more copyright statements. The focus of the paper changed several times in the writing, and after examining many options, the most time-expedient thing for me to do was to rely on the web statements. I was certainly not concerned about being lied to or anything of that nature. After the fact, I would guess that speaking with publishers would not have given me significantly more information about the copyright stance of the individual publications than were available on the respective webpages. I would have gotten more detailed information, perhaps, or a more nuanced understanding of the positions, but my assumption was that their position should be contained within their copyright statement. It might have been just as interesting to simply look at whether or not the journals were open…a simple deliniation of “open” or “closed” may have been enough to illustrate my position. The examination of the copyright policies was an attempt to draw further support for the paper.

To say that I had a “preordained conclusion” is partially true, of course. This paper was designed to show something. What that thing was changed several times over the writing of it, but it seems obvious that there is a disconnect between the ALA’s actions and speech. If I had started researching peer-reviewed ALA journals and found Open Access after Open Access, that would have indeed thrown a wrench in the paper. But that’s not what I found.

Do not mistake the fact that I think that the ALA has done marvelous things for information in this country. The cases mentioned in the paper are all positive, to my mind. The ALA has long been a champion of the freedom of information. That is why I was so surprised when I began looking over the actual journals.

It may be that we are of differing opinion on the burden of proof in this case. It is entirely possible that I have failed in the paper to give sufficient evidence for the claim(s) that I make, although I do believe that I am on the right track. I also believe that there is evidence that the ALA needs to examine its own journals, and that it should be “opening” its journals in the same way that it suggests that other publishers should. If this examination is the only result of this paper, then it has been a success.

As I’ve said repeatedly, I am currently working on a revision of this into an article for submission to a journal. In that article, I hope to address many of the concerns brought forward re: Perils of Strong Copyright. As a Master’s Paper, I think it was successful in what I was attempting to do: show that there is a disconnect of a type within the ALA as it pertains to Open Access of information. There are MANY disconnects within the ALA, and indeed, with any large organization. It is only when they are pointed to that they are dealt with…the hope was only that Perils be a signpost pointing towards a better future for the organization.

Digital Culture Library Issues Master's Paper Personal

Perils of Strong Copyright, take 3

In reply to Commons-blog and Rick Emrich’s thoughtful response to “Perils of Strong Copyright” I’d like to address just a couple of points.

First: I fully agree with his statement that further research would be helpful in supporting my case. Had I more time to devote fully to the paper, and had I chosen a different research strategy, I could have developed a much stronger case than currently laid out in Perils. I don’t know that I necessarily agree with “research base is insufficient to deal with the range of issues he addresses.” The range of issues is broad, but the central issue is very simple, and very clear.

The ALA seems to be saying one thing, and doing something very different.

I think that the evidence submitted shows this.

I kept asking myself during the planning portion of the paper, and then through the research and into the writeup: “How far should I go in gathering information?” I made a conscious effort to rely on publically available information that the ALA provides, and NOT to contact members of the publishing industry. The statements that the ALA has made in regards to Open Access publications were public statements. Why is giving the copyright information the same level of focus a negative? I would expect there to be some measure of agreement between the information available to authors on the websites noted in Perils and the Open Access statements that the ALA has made. I found little to none of this agreement in the publically available information. That is what interested me initially, and thus what I focused on.

I was very surprised at the speed with which Perils was distributed. I was expecting to show it to a few people, gain some feedback, and revise it into something new. However, I am very proud of the fact that the vast majority of the feedback has been and continues to be positive. I am extraordinarily pleased that people are discussing this topic, and hope to play a role in these discussions.

In a reply on Commons blog, Eli Edwards suggests “a virtual symposium/defense of the paper for people to share opinions and ideas” on the topic. I hope that this happens, and I hope that the discussion continues long after the week or so that this stays on the radar. I would be happy to take part in something of this sort, if anyone out there is interested.

Digital Culture Legal Issues Library Issues Master's Paper

Perils of Strong Copyright, continued

The last 24 hours have been quite interesting! The feedback has been roaring in…99% positive, with a few corrections and questions sent my way. One gentleman from Canada pointed out my misuse of the term “schizophrenic” on page 8, which I appreciate. I was looking for something more along the lines of “hypocritically” and may have unintentionally misused the term.

I did receive one response from someone associated with the ALA, specifically Knowledge Quest (KQWeb, to be precise). Laura Pearle, the associate editor of KQWeb said:

“I read with interest your comments about Open Access and ALA. As Associate Editor for KQWeb, I am aware of their policies and it appears to me that you have misrepresented the ALA’s position. In your appendix you have copies of the two copyright agreements ALA offers. One does assign to ALA all rights. The other, however, only assigns limited rights (that of first publication) and the rest remain with the author. It is the author’s choice, not ALA’s, which agreement is signed….

…You might want to re-read the agreements and rework your thesis on the basis of that rereading. ”

I must say that I do not believe that I have misrepresented the ALA’s position (indeed, I think I have described that they don’t currently know their position, since they say one thing, and behave differently). As far as Knowledge Quest specifically, perhaps I was confused by the following passage on the “Instructions for Authors” portion of the KQ website , where it states:


A manuscript published in the journal is subject to copyright by the American Library Association for the American Association of School Librarians. Additional information about copyright policies is available from the ALA Office of Rights and Permission.”

That seemed a reasonably clear statement. If there is the opportunity for authors to retain copyright, perhaps this statement should be altered to reflect that.

Digital Culture Legal Issues Library Issues Master's Paper Personal

The Perils of Strong Copyright

CC chart

For all the talk that the American Library Association does in regards to Open Access and freely available information, here’s the truth of the matter. A chart showing how a few ALA publications compare to Creative Commons licenses. For a full explanation, read the paper. Chapters 4 and 5 and the Conclusion have the real evidence in them. HTML version forthcoming.