Macmillan opens full ebook catalog for library lending

Today Macmillan announces that its frontlist ebooks will be available through its public library e-lending program. ALA President Courtney Young released a statement welcoming this important development for improving the ability of libraries to connect authors and readers in our communities.

Posted in e-books Tagged with: ,

Take the (library broadband speed) test by August 8!


The American Library Association (ALA) and the Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC) at the University of Maryland College Park are extending the deadline for public libraries to gauge the quality of public access to the internet until August 8. The speed test study is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and is supported by the Association of Rural and Small Libraries, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, the Public Library Association, and the Urban Libraries Council.

The new study will complement findings from the 2013-2014 Digital Inclusion Survey released last week, providing a snapshot of the broadband speed a library patron experiences at the device level (pdf or png). Taken together, the data will help inform the Federal Communications Commission’s current E-rate proceeding, including questions about future funding needs.

This new data collection effort will seek responses from a sample of about 1,000 libraries, while allowing any library to capture the broadband speed data for their advocacy use. No software needs to be downloaded, and libraries will be asked to run the speed test at least twice during open hours.

Libraries can log on at before August 8 to capture data. Results from the speed test study will be published in September 2014.

Posted in E-Rate, Public Libraries, School Libraries, Telecommunications Tagged with: ,

Rep Holt praises library’s efforts

holt_sheketoffRepresentative Rush Holt (D, NJ) joined New Jersey State Librarian, Mary Chute and me at the East Brunswick Public Library.  We were celebrating the new law which opens up federal funding for libraries’ work to assist the unemployed.  We talked about all the things libraries are doing to assist their patrons in looking for a job and getting 21st century employment skills to get a better job.  I explained how the newly signed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will give libraries the resources to do more for the public.  Library Director Mary Ellen Firestone talked about all the additional classes they could offer in their computer lab with just a little additional funding to hire a trainer full-time.

Representative Holt had been to the East Brunswick library a few years ago to see their job training activities and used the examples of what he saw at East Brunswick in the Education and Workforce Committee meetings when he fought to have libraries included in the bill, which President Obama signed into law July 22.

Posted in Legislation Tagged with:

Update on cell phone unlocking


Who says that Republicans and Democrats can’t work together? Last week, bipartisan legislation was passed by the Senate! The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act (S. 517) allows cell phone users—once their contract term with a service provider expires—the right to circumvent technology in order to use their existing phone with a new service provider. But wait, there’s more. The House passed bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1123) on the same topic on February 29th.Now we await the House to pass the Senate bill and on the way to the President for signature. Who said nothing gets done in Washington?

That’s the glass half-full story, now for the half-empty accompaniment. This legislation was only necessary because the Librarian of Congress, under the advisement of the U.S. Copyright Office, did not renew the exemption that allowed such circumvention in 2010. Instead the exemption was limited to “legacy” phones—those purchased before the rulemaking, making unlocking of newly purchased phones a violation of the anti-circumvention provision. The Register of Copyrights considered changes in providers’ policies that often allow unlocking as evidence that the unlocking provision was no longer necessary.

Now you might be saying, “Why the hell are we even talking about this?” Bear with me because there is a library connection.

Due to a provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA), people who can demonstrate that technological protection measures—used by rights holders to limit piracy—prevent lawful uses of digital content or technology can get a three-year exemption to circumvent. Hack away, my friend! Recently, the libraries have successfully proved that there is an adverse effect due to a technological protection measure—specifically the “content scrambling system” (CSS)—used by rights holders to lock DVDs, preventing faculty from extracting clips for use in the face-to-face classroom.

Again, you might be saying, “Why the hell are we even talking about this?”

Why do we spend so much time, energy, and money arguing for these tiny exemptions that are so detailed, prescriptive, and only last 3 years? Well, ALA and many others are saying much the same thing. I can’t imagine that anyone—even rights holders—involved in this process can think it is worthwhile. Consider the fact that piracy has not been deterred by the technological protection provision. Contemplate the absurdity of arguing for an exemption that you haven’t even exercised because, if you did so, you would be violating the law. Imagine going through this process every three years even to retain exemptions that were previously accepted. And after this long drawn out process—including a week-long public roundtable deliberation and a reply comment period, you have to wait another year for the Librarian of Congress to make his recommendation. It’s insane!

But, back to the glass half-full: The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Court, Intellectual Property, and the Internet is conducting a wide scale review of the copyright law. One can anticipate that this loony triennial review process will be discussed and surely, improvements will be made. One can hope. I know I do.

Posted in Copyright, Legislation, Public Libraries, School Libraries Tagged with:

Libraries call for fix to remedies

Today, the House Judiciary Subcommittee for the Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held another copyright review hearing—this one on copyright remedies. The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), of which the American Library Association (ALA) is a member, submitted comments that focused on §504(c)(2), a provision in the copyright law exempts libraries from statutory damages under certain conditions. For non-profit educational institutions, libraries, and archives, 504(c)(2) excuses some remedies for copyright infringement under certain conditions:

If an employee working in a non-profit, educational institution, libraries and archives believes and “has reasonable grounds for believing that his or her use of a copyrighted work is a fair use,” rights holders cannot turn to statutory damages ($750 to $30,000 per use) as a remedy. Hot dog!

But this “safe harbor” only applies to the reproduction right, and not to the other exclusive rights of copyright—public performance and display, the creation of derivative works, and distribution to the public. In the digital environment, these other rights, especially public performance and display, are more likely to occur.

In addition, the LCA said that this safe harbor “should be expanded to include museums. For these entities to perform their critical public service missions in the 21st century, the safe harbor must be amended to apply to innocent infringement by these entities of all exclusive rights with respect to all kinds of works.”

Posted in Copyright, Legislation, OITP Tagged with: ,


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