Saturday, October 25, 2014

Research Is Just the Beginning: A Free People Must Have Open Access to the Law; Electronic Frontier Foundation, 10/23/14

Corynne McSherry, Electronic Frontier Foundation; Research Is Just the Beginning: A Free People Must Have Open Access to the Law:
"The bad news: the specter of copyright has raised its ugly head. A group of standards-development organizations (SDOs) have banded together to sue Public.Resource.Org, accusing the site of infringing copyright by reproducing and publishing a host of safety codes that those organizations drafted and then lobbied heavily to have incorporated into law. These include crucial national standards like the national electrical codes and fire safety codes. Public access to such codes—meaning not just the ability to read them, but to publish and re-use them—can be crucial when there is an industrial accident; when there is a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina; or when a home-buyer wants to know whether her house is code-compliant. Publishing the codes online, in a readily accessible format, makes it possible for reporters and other interested citizens to not only view them easily, but also to search, excerpt, and generate new insights.
The SDOs argue that they hold a copyright on those laws because the standards began their existence in the private sector and were only later "incorporated by reference" into the law. That claim conflicts with the public interest, common sense, and the rule of law.
With help from EFF and others, Public.Resource.Org is fighting back, and the outcome of this battle will have a major impact on the public interest. If any single entity owns a copyright in the law, it can sell or ration the law, as well as make all sort of rules about when, where, and how we share it."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How Sacred Are Our Patrons’ Privacy Rights? Answer Carefully; Library Journal, 10/23/14

Rick Anderson, Library Journal; How Sacred Are Our Patrons’ Privacy Rights? Answer Carefully:
"This month I want to address the issue of patron privacy in the context of the recent revelations about privacy incursions in the latest version of Adobe Digital Editions (ADE)—specifically, the fact that version 4 of the e-reader software gathers highly specific data about individual users’ reading behavior and transmits it, unencrypted and with all identifying information included as well as other data culled from the user’s machine, back to Adobe. (A very useful running summary of the issue and details about how the situation is quickly evolving can be found at the Digital Reader blog.)
Understandably and rightly, the fact that this is happening has ignited something of a firestorm in the library world and elsewhere."

Widespread Nature of Chapel Hill's Academic Fraud Is Laid Bare; Chronicle of Higher Education, 10/23/14

Jack Stripling, Chronicle of Higher Education; Widespread Nature of Chapel Hill's Academic Fraud Is Laid Bare:
"An academic-fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took root under a departmental secretary and die-hard Tar Heel fan, who was egged on by athletics advisers to create no-show classes that would keep under­prepared and unmotivated players eligible. Over nearly two decades, professors, coaches, and administrators either participated in the scheme or overlooked it, undercutting the core values of one of the nation’s premier public universities.
Such are the sobering findings of an eight-month investigation led by Kenneth L. Wainstein, a longtime official of the U.S. Justice Department who was hired by the university to get to the bottom of a scandal that came to light four years ago."

Monday, October 6, 2014

Readers Debate Online Piracy and the Future of Digital Entertainment; New York Times, 9/29/14

Jenna Wortham, New York Times; Readers Debate Online Piracy and the Future of Digital Entertainment:
"On Sunday, The New York Times published the story of a popular — and illegal — website that let people stream and download movies and television shows at their leisure. The site was taken offline in 2010 by the federal government, and the administrators behind the site were charged with conspiracy and copyright infringement. Nearly all served time in prison. The article touched a nerve among Times readers, eliciting hundreds of reactions about copyright infringement and intellectual property, and how the digital world complicates both.
Here is a sampling of their comments..."

What Kind of Town Bans Books?; New Yorker, 10/1/14

Annie Julia Wyman, New Yorker; What Kind of Town Bans Books? :
"The Highland Park Independent School District, and all the other American institutions that still censor books, grapple with a set of very old and perhaps unanswerable questions: What is art, anyway? Must it be good for us? Do we accept a character’s moral flaws if we read about them? Must we experience everything an author puts into a book, or can we skip the things that disturb us or with which we disagree? On one side of the cultural divide, the pro-books side, our answers align against moralistic messages, against utility, against excisions of any kind. We feel that, while art is so powerful it can change lives, it is also so fragile and precious that it badly needs our protection. But there are other answers to these old questions—new perspectives that literary culture allows us to access. The dog from Garth Stein’s novel thinks, “I learn about other cultures and other ways of life, and then I start thinking about my own place in the world and what makes sense and what doesn’t.”* That’s exactly the kind of openness that I want to teach, and exactly what I learned in the place where I grew up."

The Censor in Each of Us; New Yorker, 5/6/14

Colm Toibin, New Yorker; The Censor in Each of Us:
"...we understood two things.
First, that the urge to riot in a theatre to stop actors being heard, the urge to ban books, the urge to threaten to cut subsidy are almost built into our nature, they lurk always in the shadows, especially in societies where there are divisions and pressures and fears or sudden and uneasy change, but maybe they lurk everywhere.
Second, the need to resist these urges, urges that can be both shadowy and substantial, both threatening and pressing, which weaken and poison the richness and potential of our lives, requires single-mindedness, vigilance, cunning, knowledge that the enemy is within as well as without, an absolute belief in the idea of the glittering mind and the power of the shifting and uncertain image, and a belief in the challenge of the word and the often awkward presence of the new. The doctrine that these things are fundamental to us, to our way of living in the world, to our humanity, means then that we must work, using examples from the past, toward the right for others, as well as ourselves, to be let alone to imagine, to write, to read, to share, and to be heard."