Friday, August 23, 2013

Australian Open 1976 & John Newcombe

Newk has just finished a quarter final match against Ross Case which he won 6-4, 6-4, 6-1.  Somehow, I was sitting in a box seat at court side and a family friend lent me his 35mm camera which was the first time I had used one.  From then on I was hooked.  In those years, the Australian Open was held at Kooyong Tennis Club on grass and it was a little like the old US open set up at Forrest Hills.  Just like Forrest Hills the club is still there.  In the years I lived in Melbourne I went to Kooyong many times to watch the Open since the tournament also coincided with the long summer school break. 

Newcombe made it to the final where he was beaten by fellow Aussie Mark Edmondson which must have been a disappointment because it was Edmondson's only major win.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Death of the Copyright Agency

The combined impacts of technology, legislation and judicial decisions on copyright licensing are beginning to show how rights licensing agencies are likely to face a difficult time extending their current business models in the future. In Canada, Access Copyright (AC) has struggled to impose a new pricing model on universities which accords a high per student fee for unlimited access for publisher content covered by an Access Copyright agreement. Since AC imposed their new model about two years ago, the agency has lost out in court over the concept of ‘fair dealing’, with the practical impact being, that universities are now requesting significant revision to their AC agreements. Led by the University of Toronto which has refused to renew their current agreement, academic libraries in Canada believe that their content rights under the court’s interpretation of ‘fair dealing’ are already broad based and that the universities do not require a license anywhere as expensive (and potentially limiting) as the license imposed by CA. As a result of these interpretations it is a widely held belief that CA faces a very difficult future given their main revenue model has been significantly undercut by the courts.

For an interesting review of the legal situation in Canada here is a quote from an interview with Prof Ariel Katz, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto:
So does Access Copyright still have a role to play with universities?

It’s not clear at all. For one thing, it’s not that Access Copyright offers a very generous license. Even though it’s now well established that fair dealing could have a generous application in education, fair dealing doesn’t cover everything, it’s not a carte blanche that allows the free copying of everything. Therefore, educational institutions may still need licenses for activities that go beyond the scope of fair dealing, and they have always been willing to pay a lot of money for such licenses. The problem is that Access Copyright’s licenses do not offer a generous license at all. In fact, the licenses they offer are very restrictive – you can copy no more than 10% of a work or a chapter from a book, and this permission comes not only with payments but also with many strings attached. In fact, many believe that what AC offers for a fee would very likely be considered fair dealing anyway.

Are there any universities still subscribing now?

Yes. About half of Canadian universities (outside Quebec, which has its own collective) are still licensees of AC. U of T and Western were the first to sign new licenses outside of the Copyright Board proceeding tariff, but to their credit they signed a short term license, which expires by the end of this year. Both of them announced that they would not renew it, but invited AC to negotiate a new license on more favorable terms. It’s still unknown whether AC can or will be willing to offer something that would be worth paying for.
Technology is also enabling a shift away from permissions based commerce as more and more content is made available via publisher’s electronic platforms. As these platforms become more sophisticated and comprehensive (as well as easy to use), libraries are able to provide immediate access to content for their academic patrons as part of their base subscriptions. Content on these platforms is then integrated into course management systems and other similar distribution vehicles directly to students. Where in the past fees for this use needed to be negotiated (and the content retrieved), we are increasingly seeing ‘all you can eat models’ which include course pack use, researcher access and on/off campus access to name only a few of the options. Where publishers include these additional rights in their platform agreements, they enable a more functional site for users and will potentially begin to reduce the amount of content fees generated by collecting agencies such as copyright clearance center (CCC) and others.

In the US, CCC is a more-broad based collecting agency with less reliance on the educational segment and the blanket license approach followed by the UK, Canada and elsewhere has not been widely adopted by US academic institutions. In the US, the impact of technology as described above is likely to eat away progressively at their model as publishers place more of their content in easily accessible locations. That said, CCC is unlikely to face the issues that AC and the UK and Australian agencies are currently facing.

In Australia, as documented by fellow traveler Peter Donoughue, similar issues surround the interpretation of ‘fair dealing’ and the elimination in Australia of the so-called statutory license governing academic use of publisher content. As Peter states:
The next five or so years will see most educational publishers sign tailored subscription-based licenses with tertiary institutions and premium school customers. They will have the option of using newly developed Copyright Agency voluntary licenses for the rest if that makes sense.

Under these emerging business models publishers will have the freedom to offer comprehensive content offerings - primarily digital but inclusive of print. And the schools will demand liberal free use provisions as part of the deal, particularly involving content distribution in the classroom. Remunerable 'multiple copying' will be a thing of the past and the concept itself deemed quaint.

Such arrangements are the mainstream future. As content goes digital, primary exploitations (formerly sales of books) and subsidiary 'bits and pieces' (eg photocopying) will collapse into comprehensive content offerings via licenses.
Peter does believe the Australia copyright agency (CAL) will be able to support a business in this new environment; however, he does note that pending legislation in Australia may halve the amounts collected under the current permissions based program. With much less money to go around it will create a challenging environment for any agency like CAL.

Earlier this month I attended a user group meeting for the library permissions tool “Heron” which is one of my Publishing Technology business units. Heron helps libraries manage their permissions reporting obligations to Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) using PubTracker. Pubtracker is a simple tool which saves libraries days’ worth of time each month to compile content usage. At this meeting, there was a lot of discussion about the new CLA universal license which had recently been negotiated and agreed between CLA and academic libraries. Here the issue was less with the model and more about what was ultimately covered by this agreement. The view of most of the librarians in attendance was that CLA had misled the group with respect to the extent of content covered by the agreement. Indeed, most librarians believe the content covered was significantly less than the prior agreement with specific reductions in access to US based content. Some librarians were contemplating not signing this new agreement.

The UK Librarians were most angry about the impact the new limitations would have on their roles on campus. One librarian stated that they’ve been focused on educating lecturers about the appropriate use of content and to seek the right authorizations however; with the new CLA license they would be stuck trying to explain to a lecturer why last year authorization was available but this year it wasn’t (or was much harder to gain). They felt this would lead to more disobedience by lecturers. The crux of the issue is that US content may not be covered by the new CLA license and UK librarians will be forced to go directly to US publishers which almost by definition is a more cumbersome and frustrating process.

By far the most difficult situation is being faced by the Canadian Access Copyright office which has already downsized and faces stiff opposition from it’s’ user community. Other licensing agencies also face challenges related to technology advancement, legislation and judicial challenges, and as more and more content becomes digitally available, all these agencies will need to undergo comprehensive change in order to maintain their role and relevance. 
Whether the experience of AC is a trend setter is an open question but there is certain to be much more on this subject over the coming years.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N34): Georgia Tech MOOC'd, Renting from Amazon, City Hall Library, + More

NYTimes on Georgia Tech's approach to MOOCs
Although it is just one degree at one university, the prospect of a prestigious low-cost degree program has generated great interest. Some educators think the leap from individual noncredit courses to full degree programs could signal the next phase in the evolution of MOOCs — and bring real change to higher education.
“Perhaps Zvi Galil and Sebastian Thrun will prove to be the Wright brothers of MOOCs,” said S. James Gates Jr., a University of Maryland physicist who serves on President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. “This is the first deliberate and thoughtful attempt to apply education technology to bringing instruction to scale. It could be epoch-making. If it really works, it could begin the process of lowering the cost of education, and lowering barriers for millions of Americans.”
The plan is for Georgia Tech to provide the content and professors and to get 60 percent of the revenue, and for Udacity to offer the computer platform, provide course assistants and receive the other 40 percent. The projected budget for the test run starting in January is $3.1 million — including $2 million donated by AT&T, which will use the program to train employees and find potential hires — with $240,000 in profits. By the third year, the projection is for $14.3 million in costs and $4.7 million in profits.
The Economist reports on education standards and teaching students to think (Economist):
Though America’s grim education results come in for special drubbing in this book, the country is not alone in failing to teach its children how to think critically. This, at least, is the view of Andreas Schleicher, the “educational scientist” behind what is known as the Program for International Student Assessment, or the PISA test. If most exams quantify students’ ability to memorise material, this one aims to assess their effectiveness at problem-solving. Since 2000 it has been administered to millions of teenagers in more than 40 countries, with surprising results. Pupils in Finland, Korea, Japan and Canada consistently score much higher than their peers in Germany, Britain, America and France. The usual explanations for these achievements, such as wealth, privilege and race, do not apply.
Inside Higher Ed looks at Amazon's limitation on usage of your rented textbook
According to the Textbook Rental Terms and Conditions page on, when renting through Warehouse Deals, which is an Amazon subsidiary, “You may not move the textbook out of the state to which it was originally shipped. If you wish to move the textbook out of that state, you must first purchase the textbook.”
If Amazon does determine that a renter has moved his or her book to a different state “at any time during the rental period,” the company at its “sole discretion” can charge the consumer the buyout price of the textbook.
Some experts believe the policy is another reflection of the extreme lengths to which the company continues to go in order to avoid collecting state sales taxes. But could Amazon’s use restriction and other complicated rental conditions cause problems for students or lead potential textbook renters to take their business elsewhere?
Interesting video article on City Hall's hidden library of special collections.

From Twitter this week:

Muscle Shoals: watch an exclusive trailer for a documentary about the music born in the Alabama town

Friday, August 16, 2013

American Accessories in Kings Cross

There's still a sordid underbelly to London's Kings Cross area.  I wasn't interested in going inside and neither was she although I think she had other things in mind.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ten (+One) Newish Publishing Technology Start-ups

Sellfy is an e-commerce platform that enables anyone to sell digital products directly to their fans and followers using just a link. Whether it's an e-book, music, video, photos, software, or any other type of digital content, just upload your product, enter the price and start selling on Twitter, Facebook or your own website. Sellfy takes care of file storage, payment processing and product delivery to the end customer.

24symbols is a service to read digital books on the Internet based on a subscription model. It's like a Spotify for book.

Marquee is a flexible publishing platform that helps you craft great content for your audience. It operates as a fully hosted service, or can integrate into your existing workflow.

Livrada creates and distributes e-book cards at retail. Each Livrada gift card represents a specific title, and can be redeemed wirelessly on Kindle, NOOK and Kobo platforms (more to follow). Livrada makes the browsing, discovery, and gift giving of digital content tangible, and gives digital content a presence in stores. Livrada also works with authors to sell, promote, and give away their digital works at live events. Finally, we work with organizations to distribute e-books in bulk.

Medium is a new place on the Internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends. It’s designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world. It’s used by everyone from professional journalists to amateur cooks. It’s simple, beautiful, collaborative, and it helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say.

GENWI is a cloud-based smartphone and tablet app publishing platform continues to push forward in the mobile app development space, today launching an iPad app publishing solution and mobile content management system (CMS). As the company’s evolution has led it to a focus on providing media publishers with tools to create and manage newspaper, magazine, and catalog apps for iOS and Android, the iPad app solution is a logical extension to prior platform iterations — especially with the escalating adoption of tablets, specifically the iPad, as a content production tool and a source for some of the best (and most well designed) media apps. (Techcrunch)

Draft, a streamlined online word processor with version control, is getting deeper into the new professional publishing ecosystem.  The one-man team of Nathan Kontny has just introduced a new REST API that’ll let any news outfit or other publishing organization connect Draft to the other software it uses. If you’re BuzzFeed or The Huffington Post* or another media company with a big mix of full- and part-time writers, you could use the API to let writers and editors work through versions together in Draft then publish straight to your custom content management system. (Techcrunch)

7write wants to provide better writing software for wannabe authors, help them market their work in better ways and help them sell across multiple markets including digital and print.  (Techcrunch)

Pressly mobile publishing platform is designed to help brands, marketers and traditional publishers succeed in the growing world of tablet and smartphone reading. A flexible, turn key solution, there are a number of creative ways you can use it to drive results and engage your audience.

Open Air Publishing is a leading digital-first nonfiction publisher. Our team is redefining what a “book” can be by creating reading experiences tailored for touchscreen devices.  Examples of the platform technology are found here: BetterBooks Library

Master Your DSLR Camera: A Better Way to Learn Digital Photography from Open Air Publishing on Vimeo.

Graphicly provides authors and publishers the simplest and most cost-effective access to digital content conversion and distribution, across every marketplace imaginable, with comprehensive actionable insights on reader behavior.

Monday, August 12, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, No 33) Belle de Jour and "Boy", Thoughts on Pricing, DA Information Administration + More

Girl: I am a prostitute! Man: I never knew. Now I look stupid! Indeed. (Daily Mail)
At first Owen was unaware that he was in a relationship with the anonymous blogger, who was gathering thousands of readers with apparently true tales of prostitution.
He says: ‘I knew she was writing a blog as she was often typing away but she said it was science fiction and I believed her. I didn’t read it and I had no idea what it actually was.
‘But in spring 2004, I thought she’d been writing down things I said so I put one of my exact phrases into Google – something extremely unique – and the blog popped up. I was absolutely horrified.  'I remember sitting on a bench feeling numb and shocked with that silly [J Geils Band] song going round in my head – “My girlfriend is a centrefold”.
'But I didn’t actually realise I was in it as all my quotes were as clients, and I didn’t think she was actually a prostitute.’
Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Interesting article on pricing theories from The Economist:
WHEN bosses promise to make their companies more profitable they usually say they will do so by increasing sales or cutting costs. But a third road to profits is rarely mentioned: putting prices up. Managers often fail to ask how they might do better at plucking the goose to obtain the most feathers with the least hissing. The spiel from the management consultants who advise companies on pricing—whether specialists like Simon-Kucher or giant generalists like PWC—is that it is now more vital than ever to be smart at it. In today’s austere age many businesses cannot depend on rising sales volumes to lift their profits. As for cutting costs, most have already pared them to the bone. Prices are all that is left. And a business can do a lot with clever pricing, to boost its share of the limited spending-power that is out there.  
Makers of high-tech products such as smartphones can opt to add whizzy new features and push up prices. In the case of luxury goods, their exclusivity is a large part of their appeal, and this in turn is a function of their price, so firms usually have scope for limiting supply and charging more: Ferrari, a sports-car maker, and Mulberry, a purveyor of posh bags, have both recently signalled that they plan to do just that. But raising prices by making products better or more exclusive is a strategic decision, open to only a few types of business. For all sorts of mundane goods and services there is much that can be done tactically, the consultants say, to charge more for the same thing.
By the time this eBook case gets done it won't matter. Here's the publisher's filing opposing the penalties imposed on Apple for contesting the DOJ case against the publishers. (Apple Insider)

DA Information Services in Australia has gone into administration (SmartCompany)
An academic book publishing company with $40 million in turnover has now collapsed in administration, yet another sign the print and publishing industries are continuing to face severe transition pains.  The news comes after discount book group allbooks4less also fell into administration last week, following an aggressive expansion plan.
Publishers have commented bookstores and booksellers have struggled to prop up book prices in the face of dynamic online competition.  DA Information Services Group, which contains the businesses Information Specialists, DA Information Services Pty and Central Book Services, has been placed into administration.  The company claims to be Australia’s largest locally based full service academic library supplier, providing books, journals, eBooks and other media products for professional purposes across Australia and New Zealand.  The business was founded 60 years ago. Customers include academic libraries, research facilities, medical centres, government departments, universities and TAFEs, along with law libraries.
From the TwitterFeed this week:
Digital libraries are developing from the old model.
Bauer under renewed fire over magazines that glorify Nazi regime
Philip Hensher: There’s nothing out of date about duty (and other words).
Google results will now show 3 in-depth articles - topics include censorship and Legos  

Monday, August 05, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N32): Detective Fiction, Barnes & Noble + More

Why detective fiction works from New Statesman:
This may or may not be a good thing. These days, you can comfortably inhabit the world of eccentric amateur detectives and embittered private eyes all year round, in the company of learned fellow travellers, on television, at the cinema, in books and online. There are murder mystery weekends and endless box sets; in classrooms, at conferences and on college campuses, it is now de rigueur for undergrads to study crime fiction and its relationship to feminism, post-colonialism and critical theory, just as I once had to sweat my way through Troilus and Criseyde and the meaning of courtly love. At City University in London, you can now study for an MA in crime thriller novels. Doubtless at a certain point, even Michael Gove will capitulate and make Elmore Leonard his grammar tsar. The underground has become the mainstream.
Just to recap, for those few who haven’t been paying attention or who haven’t had the chance to study, say, module EAS3217 (“Crime and Punishment: Detective Fiction from the Rue Morgue to the Millennium”) at the University of Exeter or EN658 (“American Crime Fiction”) at the University of Kent: Edgar Allan Poe invented detective fiction in 1841 with his short story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, then Wilkie Collins wrote The Moonstone (1868), then along came Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie; America went hard-boiled; and now there’s everything else, including a lot from Scandinavia.

Boris Kachka with some needed perspective on the news about Barnes & Noble (New York):
The industry that looked on Barnes & Noble as a virus now treats Amazon like a pandemic. Just last week, in advance of Obama’s visit to an Amazon warehouse, a letter from the ABA (now down to roughly 1,500 members) called Obama’s praise of the company “woefully misguided.” Publishers, meanwhile, are a lot more open in their disdain for Bezos than they ever were for ­Riggio—especially after Amazon came out on top in a recent antitrust suit over e-book prices. Now they’re on the side of Barnes & Noble, the last bastion of bricks and mortar. When Microsoft invested in the Nook last year, publishing CEOs wrote in to congratulate Lynch.
But that cooing sound you hear from publishers isn’t love for Barnes & Noble; it’s fear of its disappearance. Last year, one executive compared a B&N-free landscape to The Road: “The postapocalyptic world of publishing, with publishers pushing shopping carts down Broadway.” For all the anti-chain agitation, publishers long ago adapted to a world in which one business controls 25 percent of the market. And while it may have hastened publishing’s own rapid consolidation—culminating in this year’s Penguin–Random House merger—Barnes & Noble never seriously jeopardized the publisher’s role as the supplier. Amazon, though, is now a growing publisher in its own right, threatening to make not just bookstores but traditional publishers obsolete.

In sports this week from Twitter feed:

James Anderson of England poses with Bob Willis ,Ian Botham and Michael Cairns, the Lancashire Chairman after after becoming the highest Test wicket taker whilst playing for Lancashire during Day one of the 3rd Investec Ashes Test match between England and Australia at Old Trafford

Friday, August 02, 2013

Hong Kong Housing 1969: Kai Tak Approach

When I first saw this photo I assumed it had been taken from a building across the street from this particular slum (and, what someone was doing in this neighborhood would have been a different story);  however, this is actually taken out of the window a a plane - probably a 707 - coming in to land at what was Hong Kong's only major airport.   KaiTak has been closed for about 10 years now and looking at the density of Hong Kong it's hard to imagine there was ever any space to land Jumbo jets once every two or three minutes.  I suspect these people in the slums got pretty fed up with the jet noise as well.

Here is the image take immediately before this one. PND

A weekly image from my archive. Click on the image to make it larger.