Scholarly Communications

15
Nov13

Google Wins Fair Use Argument in Book Search Lawsuit

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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On Thursday, November 14, 2013, eight years after the Authors Guild sued that Google Book Search violated the rights of authors, Judge Denny Chin finally handed down his decision (PDF) on the lawsuit. The Internet giant’s project to scan millions of books held by academic libraries was found to “[advance] the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders.”

Advocates of fair use are applauding Judge Chin’s decision. Brandon Butler, formerly Director of Public Policy Initiatives at the Association of Research Libraries (and a co-facilitator in the development of the ARL’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries), calls the decision “a powerful affirmation of the value of research libraries.” The Library Copyright Alliance, which last year issued an amicus brief in the case, quoted leaders of library organizations in a press release issued yesterday:

“ALA applauds the decision to dismiss the long running Google Books case. This ruling furthers the purpose of copyright by recognizing that Google’s Book search is a transformative fair use that advances research and learning.” – Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association
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“This decision, along with the decision by Judge Baer in Authors Guild v. HathiTrust, makes clear that fair use permits mass digitization of books for purposes that advance the arts and sciences, such as search, preservation, and access for the print-disabled.” – Carol Pitts Diedrichs, president of the Association of Research Libraries
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“I echo the comments of my colleagues that this ruling, that strongly supports fair use principles, enables the discovery of a wealth of resources by researchers and scholars. Google Book search also makes searchable literally millions of books by students and others with visual disabilities. This is a tremendous opportunity for all our communities.” – Trevor A. Dawes, president of the Association of College & Research Libraries

Inevitably, the Authors Guild has already announced its plan to appeal the decision. And some critics, while perhaps not siding with the Authors Guild, have questioned Google’s motives in embarking on the project – readers’ privacy is uncertain, for example. Google has also been criticized for providing low-quality or sometimes just incorrect metadata for the books it has scanned. But having access to such an enormous textual corpus, despite its flaws, is a boon for researchers working in the field of natural language processing — Brandon Butler lauds the decision as “a victory…for transformative, non-consumptive search” — as well as for the visually disabled.

Posted in: Information and Society, Research Online, Scholarly Communications

23
Oct13

IRis, Northeastern’s Digital Archive, Reaches Milestone: 1 Million Downloads!

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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When the Northeastern University Libraries launched IRis in 2006, the idea of an “institutional repository” was still fairly new. Universities were starting repositories to share their intellectual and administrative output – faculty-authored articles, dissertations and theses, student-run publications, university-created reports, and other documents. Seven years later, many more colleges and universities around the world have digital repositories of open access materials created by their faculty, students, and staff. These repositories often also host open-access journals and other publications – at Northeastern, IRis has hosted the Annals of Environmental Science since 2007, and also provides access to faculty-authored and -edited books.

IRis began with only a few collections in 2006, but has grown exponentially since then. Today, IRis contains over 6,000 items, and as of Tuesday, October 15, 2013, these items have been downloaded one million times!

Although it’s not possible to determine which one item received the lucky one-millionth download, we know that on that day, 649 items were downloaded 1147 times. Here’s a breakdown of the types of materials downloaded that day:

Here are top downloads in each category, for October 15, 2013:

As you can see, slightly more than half of the items downloaded were dissertations or master’s theses. An important contributor to the growth of IRis has been the university’s transition to an Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) program in the 2007-2008 academic year – instead of depositing print copies of dissertations and master’s theses in the library’s archives, graduate students now submit their ETDs to ProQuest and an open-access copy is made available through IRis. Both undergraduate and graduate research output is very popular in IRis – in fact, almost every month our most highly accessed collection is the Honors Junior/Senior Projects!

In the coming months, we will be expanding on the success of IRis with DRS – Northeastern University’s Digital Repository Service. The DRS will offer even more functionality for users and depositors, such as more flexible sharing options, the ability to manage permissions, and options for curated and noncurated collections.

Posted in: Library News and Events, Research Online, Scholarly Communications, Serendipity

18
Oct13

Northeastern Celebrates Open Access Week: October 21-27, 2013

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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The seventh annual International Open Access Week is upon us!

What is Open Access?

“Open Access to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.

Open Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship. Research funding agencies, academic institutions, researchers and scientists, teachers, students, and members of the general public are supporting a move towards Open Access in increasing numbers every year.”

SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition

Snell Library has several events planned to celebrate:

Monday, October 21
3:00-4:30
DMC Circle 2 (blue)

SPARC/World Bank Webcast

Panelists representing a diverse set of stakeholders – scientific researchers, publishers, technologists and policy makers – will examine the potential positive impacts that can result when research results are shared freely in the digital environment. The panel, moderated by SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph, will feature:

  • Stefano Bertuzzi, Executive Director of the American Society for Cell Biology
  • Brett Bobley, Chief Information Ocer for the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Scholarly Communication of the Modern Language Association
  • Michael Stebbins, Assistant Director for Biotechnology in the Science Division of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy
  • Cameron Neylon, Advocacy Director for Public Library of Science

Tuesday, October 22
3:00-4:00
421 SL

Panel Discussion: Open Access in the Digital Humanities

Faculty members Ryan Cordell, Ben Schmidt, and Julia Flanders will lead a discussion on the impact of open access on humanities research and publishing, leading off with some examples from their own work in digital humanities:

Ryan Cordell will talk about “Building With/Building On” and his use of open-access data from the Newberry Library’s Atlas of Historical County Boundaries, William G. Thomas’s “Railroads and the Making of Modern America,” and David Rumsey’s celebrated map collection.

Ben Schmidt will talk about the process of working in public through open-access research methods and publications like the Journal of Digital Humanities, and will also offer perspectives on open-source and open-access approaches to code and software development that might provide models for the humanities.

Julia Flanders will talk about the tools and methods that underlie Digital Humanities Quarterly, an open-access digital journal now housed at Northeastern University.


Wednesday, October 23
12:00-5:00
90 SL

Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon

Join us to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of under-represented groups in local Boston history. This hack-a-thon style drop-in session will focus on editing and updating Wikipedia pages in a group setting. Bring a laptop and a power supply, and go on a tour of Northeastern’s archives and special collections. More information available here.


And on Friday, October 25, Snell Library will be playing host to several of the DPLAfest’s open workshops – see the full schedule here.

All Open Access Week events are open to the public (photo ID required to enter Snell Library) and refreshments will be served.

Posted in: Library News and Events, Scholarly Communications

25
Feb13

White House Announces Wide-Reaching Open Access Policy

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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On Friday afternoon, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memorandum containing some pretty big news (PDF): all federal agencies with annual research or development expenditures over $100 million must develop policies that will ensure public access to the results of the research activity that they fund.

The White House has twice previously invited comments on the topic of open access to federally funded research, and in May 2012 an online “We the People” petition gathered in only two weeks the 25,000 signatures required to get a response from the Obama administration (the petition currently has over 65,000 signatures). John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor and director of the OSTP, issued that response on Friday, linking to the memorandum prepared by his office and saying, “The Obama Administration agrees that citizens deserve easy access to the results of research their tax dollars have paid for… [and] is committed to ensuring that the results of federally-funded scientific research are made available to and useful for the public, industry, and the scientific community.”

You may have heard about the recently proposed Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act, aka “FASTR.” It’s the successor to the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) legislation that was first proposed in 2006 but has never been voted on by Congress. FASTR, if it passes Congress, would legislate open access to federally funded research, but given the length of time FRPAA languished, that’s certainly not guaranteed to happen quickly. However, the OSTP memorandum directs these federal agencies to start preparing their access policies immediately, with a deadline of six months for implementation.

What does this mean for researchers?

If you receive research funding from one of the federal agencies covered by this directive*, your published articles and, in some cases, research data will need to be submitted to an open access repository within 12 months of publication. While it’s too early yet to know the specifics of how each agency will choose to comply with the directive and at what moment their policies will go into effect, it’s not a stretch to assume that the new policies will probably look a lot like the NIH’s Public Access Policy, implemented in 2008, which requires funding recipients to deposit their articles in PubMedCentral. (In many cases publishers assist with the deposit process. You can read more about the NIH policy on our website.) As a result, your research results will reach a vastly wider audience, including all American taxpayers.

*An incomplete list of these agencies from John Wilbanks includes: the Environmental Protection Agency; NASA; the National Science Foundation; the Smithsonian Institution; and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the Interior, State, and Transportation. It isn’t yet clear whether the National Endowment for the Humanities is included. I’ll update this post when more information is available.

Further reading:

 

Posted in: Scholarly Communications

26
Sep12

Open Access Week 2012 is coming!

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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In just a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating the sixth annual international Open Access Week, held this year October 22-26, 2012. As in previous years, we’re planning events and displays that will highlight the importance of sharing information freely, without restrictions like subscription costs.

Keynote Event: Breakfast with David Weinberger

Noted author and speaker David Weinberger will join us to celebrate Open Access Week on Thursday, October 25. David is a senior researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, where he writes about networking knowledge and the effect of technology on ideas, business and society. He is the author of Too Big to Know, Small Pieces Loosely Joined, Everything Is Miscellaneous, and a coauthor of The Cluetrain Manifesto. This event is open to all – please click here for further details.

Photo by Allan Shedlock

Stay tuned for announcements of other Open Access Week events, including an opportunity to meet with representatives of open access journal publishers!

What is Open Access?

“Open Access to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.

Open Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship. Research funding agencies, academic institutions, researchers and scientists, teachers, students, and members of the general public are supporting a move towards Open Access in increasing numbers every year.”

SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition

 Check out my other blog posts about Open Access!

Posted in: Library News and Events, Scholarly Communications