Links of interest: March 4, 2011

One of the huge issues this week was the ongoing conversation (and sometimes argument) about eBooks and libraries. As you may know, OverDrive (the primary seller of eBook services to libraries) sent out a letter late last week with some concerning news: namely, that Harper Collins wanted to significantly change its ebook terms, so that once you ‘buy’ an ebook to be distributed via Overdrive, it could only circulate 26 times, and then no more. (And in addition, that it would remain checked out for the full length of the loan term, even if the reader ‘returned’ it, and could not be read by multiple readers at once – in other words, not taking advantage of the digital nature of the product.)

Lots of people have great posts on this.

All have some additional good points in the comments.

I’ve seen some people ask where the 26 number comes from. I seem to recall from my library school days that that’s the average number of circulations a hardcover book gets before it needs to be retired for practical reasons (the binding’s falling apart, pages are missing, it suffers an unfortunate mishap, etc.) However, as anyone with basic statistics knowledge can figure out, a lot of books circulate a lot less than that (and therefore do interesting things to the average), and therefore some books also circulate many more times than that, without problems. Picking it as the number for an ebook circulation is therefore even more problematic than it first appears.

Copyright notes:

Brian at Swiss Army Librarian notes that the Copyright Clearance Center has released a new video called “Copyright on Campus”. He also links to several past videos they’ve done. These are a great resource, and about as fun as anything about copyright is probably going to manage to get.  (Note: there’s stuff they don’t address, but there’s only so much you can do in 5 minute videos.)

Other interesting notes:

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (my favorite new quiz show) has a fascinating post on their blog on why they spell “Gadhafi” that way (as opposed to the 36 other variations out there – the challenge of translating from one alphabet and language into others.) The answer goes back to a letter from Minnesota school children back in 1986.

Doug Johnson has a great post about ways to make research assignments more interesting to students that are very much along my own preferences in this area for two reasons: first, boredom does not lead to great learning, and secondly, learning how to research and evaluate topics you’re interested in has much broader lifelong learning implications than learning how to do academic papers.

(It’s not that academic papers are a bad skill – I still think we ought to teach it, and ask students to do it on an ongoing basis. But that shouldn’t be the only kind of research we teach. Realistically, how often do you do that kind of academic-paper research once you graduate, unless you become an academic? Compared to how often you’re going to get interested in a subject and want to learn more for your own pleasure, or do research to improve your health, or because you’re travelling somewhere, or whatever else?)

Doug also has a post about whether we’re communicating in places where people are listening – something I want to take on here in the near future. (I’m a big believer in the idea that different kinds of technology do different things well, and we should pick the ones that work.)

Dear Author, one of the major romance genre blogs, takes on the question of “When does a reader know too much?” – in other words, how is the reading experience affected by having seen an author interact online, whether that’s a problematic way, an overly personal way, or even a very positive way?

And finally, Cassandra, writing on the DailyKos (not a place you normally expect to see this) has a lovely ode to the role of the public library in her rural Appalachian community, and why the internet access the library supplies is so critical in particular.

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18 comments to Links of interest: March 4, 2011

  • Hm. I know I’ve been hyper-sensitive to the CCC’s motives ever since I found out they were contributing substantial monies to the plaintiff’s side in the Georgia State University reserves case, but is an entity that lives off permissions income really the best source for information about copyright and fair use? To me their presentation seems pretty darn slanted to me, and aimed at making people who have pretty broad fair use rights think that fair use is almost never applicable. Also, by the terms of that very sneaky little “by downloading this program you have agreed to our terms license” at the very beginning of the video, Brian lost the right to use that video by posting it on a public website. *frowns at the CCC* There are sites out there that do a much better job of explaining what people *can* do, ennit?

  • Jen

    You know, that’s an excellent couple of points. (Of course: they’re coming from you…)

    One thing I find curious about the terms (now that I look a lot more closely) is that they say what appear to be contradictory things: permission to use (including “display, copy, download, post, and store”) in a variety of ways for personal use, or internal to a company, but not to share on a public website. Ok. But in what other context does ‘post’ and ‘display’ make sense if you’re not sharing in some sense? (I suppose one could make an argument for an entirely internal blog/wiki/etc. but still.)

    I think you’re right that there must be some better alternatives out there (or *should* be some better alternatives out there, anyway.) I’ll do some digging to figure out if there are some, as I get time this week – but if you think of anything, let me know.

    (I wish CommonCraft had one, as their terms are quite a bit more reasonable, especially for educational use, but nothing directly about copyright issues. Zombies, yes. All sorts of tools, yes. Copyright, no.)

  • There are a lot of my favorite sites mentioned in an LSW FriendFeed thread from earlier today: – I particularly like Stanford’s site for a fair-and-balanced explanation, though I don’t think they have videos. The sites I haven’t heard of on that thread are in such good company that I’ll be checking them out more closely, for sure!
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  • PS I <3 your linkpost in general, as usual – I got so het up about the CCC that I forgot to mention that part:).
    Marianne recently posted..Bound Fox Greywalker Division Twilight Lodger

  • […] Marianne had some great comments about the copyright videos I linked to last week. One of my other browser windows currently has a bunch of open tabs where I am looking for more […]

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Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Information Technology Librarian at the University of Maine at Farmington, the small liberal arts college model campus in the University of Maine system.

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