Intellectual Property Issues
Publishers and Library Groups Spar in Appeal to Ruling on Electronic Course Reserves
Fair use and electronic course reserves are back in court. A keenly watched copyright case that pitted three academic publishers against Georgia State University has entered the appeals phase, with a flurry of filings and motions this week and more expected soon. The case in question is Cambridge U. Press et al. v. Mark P. Becker et al. In 2008, Cambridge, Oxford University Press, and SAGE Publishers sued Georgia State, asserting it had committed widespread copyright violations when it allowed some of their content to be used, unlicensed, in e-reserves. The Association of American Publishers and the Copyright Clearance Center, which specializes in licensing content to universities, bankrolled the legal action.
EPO and USPTO launch Cooperative Patent Classification
The European Patent Office (EPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today launched the Cooperative Patent Classification scheme (CPC), a global classification system for patent documents. The system is the result of partnership between the EPO and the USPTO in their joint effort to develop a common, internationally compatible classification system for technical documents, in particular patent publications, which will be used by both offices in the patent granting process. The CPC is an ambitious harmonisation product that incorporates the best classification practices of both offices.
Update on the Twitter Archive At the Library of Congress
In April, 2010, the Library of Congress and Twitter signed an agreement providing the Library the public tweets from the company’s inception through the date of the agreement, an archive of tweets from 2006 through April, 2010. Additionally, the Library and Twitter agreed that Twitter would provide all public tweets on an ongoing basis under the same terms. The Library’s first objectives were to acquire and preserve the 2006-10 archive; to establish a secure, sustainable process for receiving and preserving a daily, ongoing stream of tweets through the present day; and to create a structure for organizing the entire archive by date. This month, all those objectives will be completed. To date, the Library has an archive of approximately 170 billion tweets. Press release (PDF).
World wide web creator sees open access future for academic publishing
Activists pushing for free, open access to academic papers will eventually defeat publishers who seek to lock scholarly findings behind paywalls, the founder of the world wide web said today. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who revolutionised the way we access information on the internet through the creation of the world wide web over 20 years ago, has been a vocal proponent for making data freely available while also protecting people’s privacy.
Agency Attempts to Block Scientific Assessments of Toxic Chemicals
In a report released today, the Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) documents attempts by the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration to thwart important agency assessments of chemical toxicity at the behest of lobbyists for large chemical companies. No actual small businesses requested these interventions, according to the materials the Center for Effective Government obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.
Specifically, the report, titled Small Businesses, Public Health, and Scientific Integrity: Whose Interests Does the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration Serve?, reviewed the Office of Advocacy’s activities regarding toxicity assessments by the Department of Health and Human Service’s National Toxicology Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Risk Information System of the cancer-causing potential of three substances: formaldehyde, styrene, and hexavalent chromium. "In each case," said Randy Rabinowitz, Director of Regulatory Policy at the Center for Effective Government and one of the authors of the report, "the Office of Advocacy claimed that small businesses took issue with labeling these substances as known or suspected cancer-causing agents. We found no evidence that this was the case."
EPA Releases New Report on Children’s Health and the Environment in America
EPA today [Jan. 25, 2013] released "America’s Children and the Environment, Third Edition," a comprehensive compilation of information from a variety of sources on children’s health and the environment. The report shows trends for contaminants in air, water, food, and soil that may affect children; concentrations of contaminants in the bodies of children and women of child-bearing age; and childhood illnesses and health conditions.
"This latest report provides important information for protecting America’s most vulnerable – our children. It shows good progress on some issues, such as reducing children’s blood lead levels and exposure to tobacco smoke in the home, and points to the need for continued focus on other issues", said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
Freedom of Information
Activists Flood Government Agencies With FOIA Requests in Tribute to Aaron Swartz
In honor of the transparency fights that coder and internet activist Aaron Swartz led while alive, an online records processing service has submitted more than 100 public records requests on behalf of members of the public.
Muckrock, a site that processes public records requests for a fee on behalf of journalists, lawyers, activists and others, decided to waive its fee (generally $20 for five requests) last week and offer to submit federal Freedom of Information Act requests for free to honor Swartz, who committed suicide earlier this month.
Congress Will Battle Over Internet Privacy in 2013
Last year, we saw more battles in Congress over Internet freedom than we have in many years as user protests stopped two dangerous bills, the censorship-oriented SOPA, and the privacy-invasive Cybersecurity Act of 2012. But Congress ended the year by ramming through a domestic spying bill and weakening the Video Privacy Protection Act.
In 2013, Congress will tackle several bills – both good and bad – that could shape Internet privacy for the next decade. Some were introduced last year, and some will be completely new. They include:
- Update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)
- Restricting Government and Corporate Use of your Cell Phone GPS Info
- Cybersecurity Legislation
Facebook Graph Search: Privacy Control You Still Don’t Have
Facebook’s Graph Search has certainly caused quite a stir since it was first announced two weeks ago. We wrote earlier about how Graph Search, still in beta, presents new privacy problems by making shared information discoverable when previously it was hard—if not impossible – to find at a large scale. We also put out a call to action – and even created a handy how-to guide – urging people to reassess their privacy settings. One notable blog that has been making rounds on the Internet is Tom Scott’s Actual Facebook Graph Searches. Scott has compiled a number of unnerving—and in some cases, humorous—examples of Graph Searches, such as "Family members of people who live in China and like Falun Gong."
Drone Programs Spark Budgetary, Privacy, Legal Concerns
The development of unmanned aerial systems (or drones) for military and civilian applications appears to be accelerating faster than the normal policy process can adapt to it. Aside from festering doubts about the legality, propriety and wisdom of their routine use in targeted killing operations, drone programs are beset by budgetary confusion, and a host of privacy and other legal problems are poised to emerge with the expanded use of drones in domestic airspace.
"With the ability to house high-powered cameras, infrared sensors, facial recognition technology, and license plate readers, some argue that drones present a substantial privacy risk. Undoubtedly, the government’s use of drones for domestic surveillance operations implicates the Fourth Amendment and other applicable laws," said a new report from the Congressional Research Service.
From Timbuktu, Reports That Most Manuscripts Were Saved
Reports from Timbuktu, Mali, on Wednesday indicate that most of the ancient manuscripts at a famed library may have been saved by residents before Islamist radicals had the chance to burn them. "I can say that the vast majority of the collections appear from our reports not to have been destroyed, damaged or harmed in any way," Shamil Jeppie, an expert on the documents who teaches at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, told Reuters.
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The Intersect Alert is a newsletter of the Government Relations Committee, San Francisco Bay Region Chapter, Special Libraries Association.