Ask A Shelver Service

Our new Ask A Shelver Service provides additional assistance for locating materials in the stacks now that the majority of the general collection has been moved to the 3rd floor of Willis Library. The shelvers are also able to assist with answering any questions you may have.

Our shelvers are easily identified by their green vests and Ask Me buttons.

For more information, please read Shifting Materials or visit the Willis Library Services Desk.

Portal to Texas History Named First Service Hub in the Southwest

The Portal to Texas History, administered by UNT Libraries to provide access to more than 385,000 digitized books, photographs, maps, newspapers, letters and other historic materials, has been named a Service Hub by the Digital Public Library of America.

The DPLA Service Hubs are state or regional digital libraries that aggregate information about digital objects from libraries, archives, museums and other cultural heritage institutions within their given state or region. Each Service Hub offers its state or regional partners a full menu of standardized digital services, including digitization, metadata, data aggregation and storage services, as well as locally hosted community outreach programs, bringing users in contact with digital content of local relevance.

The UNT Libraries received an award of $99,767 from DPLA to support the portal, with the award expiring March 31, 2015.

To learn more, please see the full article in UNT's InHouse: Portal to Texas History named first service hub in the southwest.

Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google, Inc., 954 F. Supp. 282 (S.D.N.Y 2013) and Fair Use Revisited

In revisiting this case, we remember that Google entered into agreements with numerous libraries such as Harvard University, the New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress to digitize millions of print books maintained in the collections of these libraries. Although most of the books Google scanned were out of print, the majority were still protected by copyright. However, each of the books protected by copyright and scanned by Google were only displayed via three snippet views as a result of a Google books search. Each snippet view also referred researchers to potential sellers of the books, such as Amazon.com. Google additionally created several limitations for each snippet view. Some of these limitations included only displaying one snippet view per page, no more than three snippet views were accessible regardless of how many times a user searched for a book, and at least one out of every ten pages of a book was redacted.

The Authors Guild objected to the scanning of the books in these various collections and sued Google alleging that Google committed copyright infringement by scanning the books, giving digital copies to the participating libraries (each partner library received a digital copy of each of their own books that was scanned), and by displaying portions of books via search engine results. The district court held that such scanning was not copyright infringement, served a social utility, and was instead fair use. This case is now on appeal.

In retrospect, some interesting insights manifested from this case. One of these interesting insights discussed at the Ball State Copyright Conference I attended last week was that the district court ruled in favor of fair use because Google used the copyrighted materials for a transformative purpose (for a purpose separate from the original creators’ purpose). The authors and publishers created these works to distribute information and to make money, whereas, Google used the works to create a searchable index and a location tool, which offered a new social value. Further, this transformative use created a transformative market, so it did not directly compete with the market served by the original creation. The court further noted that Google was really not directly benefiting monetarily from this transformative use. More importantly, this case and other recent cases indicated that when a court deemed a use of a copyrighted work as being transformative, the other three factors seemed to fall by the wayside. Why? The transformative purpose meets the first factor of fair use (purpose of use). Additionally, the transformative purpose creates a transformative market, thus the use complies with the fourth factor of fair use (the effect on the original market) and the transformative use does not directly compete with the original market; and the transformative use usually assuages any negative manifested issues in regard to how much of a work is used (the third factor), because the transformative nature of the use nullifies any lengthy use of the original item.

In sum, when a copyrighted item is used in a genuinely transformative manner, the judicial branch is consistently changing the way it analyzes fair use. The more transformative a use, the more the concerns with commercial effect and how much of an item is used becomes less important. Therefore, this is a reminder, that for now, fair use and transformative use is a fruitful tool for libraries to utilize when using copyrighted items. Although Congress is currently reviewing the modern Copyright Act, and it may issue a proposed new Act in one of the next sessions, the Judicial Branch’s current interpretation of fair use is greatly benefiting libraries in America. Therefore, it might not be a bad result for libraries if Congress leaves the current Copyright Act as-is. 

Assistant Dean for Public Services Suzanne Sears Receives Two TLA Awards

Suzanne Sears, Assistant Dean for Public Services received two distinguished awards at this year’s Texas Library Association Conference in San Antonio.

The TLA GODORT/MARCIVE "Knowledge is Power" Award recognizes an individual who is an outstanding Government Documents Librarian and active supporter and advocate for the use of government information in education, research, and/or commerce. Active support of government information access can take the form of presentations, scholarly papers, Web resources, or any other appropriate creative activity. The award recognizes past as well as present government information involvement. MARCIVE, Inc., of San Antonio, very generously sponsors the award with $400 to express appreciation to the recipient.

Suzanne was nominated by Julie Leuzinger for the "Knowledge is Power" Award. Coby Condrey was chair of the committee and presented Suzanne with the TLA GODORT/MARCIVE "Knowledge is Power" Award.

Since 1960, the Texas Library Association has honored and recognized excellence in librarianship and outstanding contributions to Texas Libraries through awards presented annually at the TLA spring conference. The TLA Distinguished Service Award is given in recognition of demonstrated leadership and continuing service in one or more areas of the library profession.

Mary Ann Venner nominated Suzanne for the TLA Distinguished Service Award.

  

Featured image: Coby Condrey, Collection Development Librarian and Suzanne Sears, Assistant Dean for Public Services

Photographs by Joshua Sylve

A Hearing Regarding Fair Use and Baby Steps Toward Open Access

Subcommittee Hearing Regarding Fair Use

Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet of the Judiciary Committee heard testimony regarding fair use. This testimony was in response to the actions of some members of Congress currently considering whether to propose a bill to statutorily expand or minimize fair use. The individuals who testified at the hearing yesterday included Professor Peter Jaszi, the faculty director of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic at the American University Washington College of Law; Professor June Besek, the Executive Director of the Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts at the Columbia Law School; Ms. Naomi Novik an author and co-founder of the Organization for Transformative Works; Mr. David Lowery, a singer, songwriter, and lecturer at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia; and Mr. Kurt Wimmer, the General Counsel at the Newspaper Association of America. Each of these individuals offered written and oral testimony that covered the full gamut of how numerous individuals believe how fair use should be applied to new digital technologies.

Before examining some of the testimony given by these individuals, let us quickly reexamine the doctrine of fair use. According to the doctrine of fair use, one may use another creator’s copyrighted work, or portion of their work when the subsequent user meets the standards laid out in the fair use test. Also remember, although originally created by case law, fair use is a statute that has been passed by Congress. In general, if one meets three or more of the four prongs in the statutory fair use test, he or she should feel confident in using a copyrighted work. If one meets only two prongs of the test, there is some risk involved. If one meets only one or less of the prongs of the fair use test, then one should look to similar items that meet the fair use test, that are licensed for use with a Creative Commons license, that are designated as open access, or one should return to the tabula rasa and commence a new path.

In reviewing the above-mentioned statute, some members of Congress recently stated they would like to either expand or contract the doctrine of fair use, hence the subcommittee hearing yesterday. As predicted, the testimony at this hearing varied as some quipped pro-expansion comments and others advocated for contraction in the utilization of fair use. For example, Kurt Wimmer’s testimony seemed to suggest he believed fair use was working well with the transition of print newspapers to a digital format. Naomi Novik, who co-founded the Organization for Transformative Works advocated that fair use should be expanded and strengthened to meet the needs of new digital technologies. Whereas, Professor June Besek at the Columbia Law School advocated for a contraction of fair use warning that interpreting the fair use doctrine with few boundaries to what a subsequent user may do with a copyrighted work is worrisome.

Despite the attention to the hearing yesterday, it is unlikely Congress will amend the fair use doctrine any time soon. For one thing, this current Congress does not have a stellar record of passing a lot of legislation. If an amendment did pass, it likely would be tacked on to a larger piece of legislation. However, not tweaking fair use, for now anyway, is probably positive for libraries. Remember when legislation is passed it is up to our courts to interpret the legislation, and that interpretation is usually to what citizens, libraries, and other entities are supposed to adhere. Today, despite various appeals and possible negative oral argument at the appellate level, it still appears that the progress of such cases as Cambridge University Press v. Becker and the Authors Guild v HathiTrust reveal positive headway for libraries and the academy’s use of materials for educational purposes via fair use. Further, for those who do not like the manner in which fair use is currently being implemented, have you ever heard the saying “the devil you know is better than the devil you do not know?” In other words, if Congress tweaks or issues a massive overhaul of the fair use doctrine the courts would ultimately be given a fresh stab at interpreting such newly revised legislation. Since the judicial progress of cases interpreting our current version of the fair use statute is mostly pro-use, if you will, it might behoove libraries if Congress leaves fair use as is, for now, and instead consider offering a more liberal approach to section 108 of title 17 of the United States Code. Such liberalization of this statute could offer more explicit latitude for libraries to digitize content and make it publicly available. Also, it would be helpful if Congress would give more consideration to passing legislation that strengthens open access without extended embargoes.

Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Speaking of open access, Congress recently passed an Omnibus Appropriations Bill that is a step in the right direction in improving access to taxpayer-funded research. This legislation directs federal agencies (with research budgets more than $100 million per year) within Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education to provide online access to articles funded by that research, however, these articles may be subjected to a 12 month embargo. This legislation is more legally robust than the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Directive on Public Access issued by President Obama a few months ago, however, it is hopeful Congress will soon consider putting forth legislation that promotes open access and does not permit such extended embargoes. For example SPARC is currently calling for this law to be strengthened by decreasing the embargo period to 6 months, making access to these materials available via a centralized repository, and providing universal access to these materials.