Sunday, September 13, 2009

Media Week 36: Lexis, Google, Copyright, Peer Review, Blackboard

Also on the Twitter highlight reel: Link

Information World Review on how legal publishers are incorporating work flow solutions into their products and documents the path Lexis has take from a collection of public records to a suite of content and services. Their conclusion (IWR):

Meanwhile, Brewer fears that in the medium term the difference in currency and quality between free and paid-for will inevitably narrow. “The paid-for sector will increasingly need to focus on ensuring the benefits of paying for information are not only in the quality of the information, but also in the additional value that can be created by providing it in a form that best suits how the subscriber works, and what they want to do with the information when they receive it. The consumer of legal information can’t really lose: free information is another source to turn to on occasion and its availability will ensure that information providers continue to raise their game.

“We have to deliver our content across different media in order to best serve the needs of professionals, be it in print, online, CD-ROM, RSS feeds, email, etc. This means we need a best-of-breed publishing system. Having an XML-based publishing repository means that most content is now held in a media-neutral format for delivery across multiple media, making it as versatile as possible to suit the digital needs of lawyers and accounting professionals.”

Marybeth Peters, The Register of Copyrights in prepared testimony before the Committee on the Judiciary makes some strong statements regarding the Google Book Settlement. The statement, coupled with her comments at Columbia University last year where she noted Congress had shown only limited interest in Orphan works legislation, seemed to me to be an admonishment to her bosses that they should pay more attention. By some accounts there was a general shug of the shoulders from the Committee.

Here is a sample:
In the view of the Copyright Office, the settlement proposed by the parties would encroach on responsibility for copyright policy that traditionally has been the domain of Congress. The settlement is not merely a compromise of existing claims, or an agreement to compensate past copying and snippet display. Rather, it could affect the exclusive rights of millions of copyright owners, in the United States and abroad, with respect to their abilities to control new products and new markets, for years and years to come. We are greatly concerned by the parties’ end run around legislative process and prerogatives, and we submit that this Committee should be equally concerned.
She summarizes:
It is our view that the proposed settlement inappropriately creates something similar to a compulsory license for works, unfairly alters the property interests of millions of rights holders of out-of-print works without any Congressional oversight, and has the capacity to create diplomatic stress for the United States. As always, we stand ready to assist you as the Committee considers the issues that are the subject of this hearing.
Copyright legal expert William Paltry has a new book (Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars) and is interviewed by Publishers Weekly. (PW):

PW: J.D. Salinger's lawyers are attempting to stop a novel they claim is “an unauthorized sequel” to “The Catcher in the Rye, “ and I can't help thinking that for most of his life Salinger never dreamed he'd be fighting this copyright fight in 2009, because the book was supposed to enter the public domain by now. Can you give us your perspective on copyright term extensions?

WP: That's a wonderful example of copyright gone awry. If you look historically at the terms of copyright, they used to be relatively short. From 1909 to December 31, 1977, you had a 28-year original term and a 28-year renewal term, with renewal being conditioned upon filling out an application. The book industry had a shockingly low rate of renewal, around 10%. Book publishers had staffs that were quite capable of filing renewals. It wasn't a burden for them to do, and it was cheap. Yet publishers didn't renew the vast majority of their copyrights. Why not? Because, economically, it didn't mean anything to them. Most books make their money in a very short period of time. It differs by industry, but for most books, 28 years is enough. With the last extension in 1998, copyright became totally unmoored to its purpose of providing incentive to create new works. The public got nothing from that, and no author in history has ever said, “Life plus 50 is just not enough. I will not create that work unless the copyright exists for my life and 70 years.” That's absurd.

Steve Jobs suggests that the Kindle will only be short-lived unless it offers more functionality than just reading content (NYTimes):

But in the interview, Mr. Jobs said general-purpose devices are more appealing than specialized devices like Amazon.com’s Kindle e-book reader.

“I think people just probably aren’t willing to pay for a dedicated device,” he said. “You notice Amazon never says how much they sell; usually if they sell a lot of something, you want to tell everybody.”
Someone forgot to mention the iPod is a standalone device.

The Times notes the results of a widely distributed research study on Peer Review (TimesOnline):
The first conclusion worth mentioning is that while few people think peer-review is perfect, the scientific community seems broadly content with it. Only 32 per cent of respondents thought that it was as good as it could be, but 69 per cent said they were satisifed. I don't think anybody should find this particularly surprising. Among the scientists I speak to, the general consensus on the process seems usually to be the Churchillian one. More eye-catching was the finding that 81 per cent think that peer-review should be capable of indentifying plagiarism, and 79 per cent think it should catch fraud. I find this interesting because, with the best will in the world, it's hard to see peer-review as it stands reliably accomplishing either goal.

Blackboard is periodically noted as an acquisition target and here Inside Higher Ed gives us five reasons Microsoft will buy the company (IHEd):
Is Blackboard too small a company to take advantage of the opportunities they have created by rolling up the for-profit CMS space? Is Blackboard an outlier in a world of consolidation within the technology industry? Is Microsoft the right company to purchase Blackboard? Would this be a good or bad thing for higher education? What do you think the odds are that I'm correct that we will see a Microsoft purchase of Blackboard by the end of 2010?
I think you could come up with five good reasons why Google will by Blackboard.

Remember when Steve McQueen, Jimmy Garner and Dickie Attenborough where digging holes under the barbed wire? Not so the Welsh imprisoned at Stalag IVb, near Mühlberg in Germany, between July 1943 and December 1944. They went in for publishing (BBC):
But some Welsh prisoners of war overcame adversity with a remarkable series of morale-boosting magazines about their homeland called Cymro (Welshman). They stole medicine to make ink, while their meagre rations were used to stick illustrations onto pages from school exercise books. It featured snippets of news from home taken from letters sent by loved ones, and was handwritten in English and Welsh from inside Stalag IVb, near Mühlberg in Germany, between July 1943 and December 1944. Now, as the 70th anniversary of the start of the war is commemorated, the National Library of Wales in Aberysytwyth has published its collection of the magazines online.

In sport, England: an outstanding display to record an eighth successive win of a flawless qualifying campaign. What a relief. (Link) Then there's Wayne Rooney.

1 comment:

Michael W. said...

Quote: "Someone forgot to mention the iPod is a standalone device."

The term that Jobs used was "dedicated device," meaning one with a specific, manufacturer-created purpose that can do almost nothing else. It's the difference between a digital calculator, which can only do math, and a computer, which can do all sorts of things including some not envisioned by its maker.

This seems to have been in Jobs' mind from the beginning. It's why Apple new gadget was called an "iPod" rather than "iMusic" or even "iListen." Even early models could listen to spoken podcasts and audio books.

Apple keeps enlarging what iPods can do. All but the least expensive can now show videos and play games and the iPod touch is almost as functional as a pocket computer as the iPhone. Some even think it's as good for reading books as the Kindle.

Most people don't want to carry about several gadgets. The more things one does, the more they like it. That's why, just last week, iPod fans were furious at Apple for not adding camera features to the iPod touch.