Issues concerning libraries and the law - with latitude to discuss any other interesting issues Note: Not legal advice - just a dangerous mix of thoughts and information. Brought to you by Mary Minow, J.D., A.M.L.S. [California, U.S.] and Peter Hirtle, M.A., M.L.S. Follow us on twitter @librarylaw
At the Digital Reference Legal Issues webcast last week,I was asked whether libraries can scan copyrighted lyrics from a book to answer virtual reference questions. I ducked it until I could doublecheck the definition of “musical work.”
I’ve done some digging, and this is my reply (subject to the usual caveats – i.e. check with your institution’s lawyer…) If anyone else wants to weigh in here, go ahead.
The U of Michigan has posted their confidential agreement with Google in response to my freedom of information request. See the link at the top of www.google-watch.org/appeal.html
I have some observations after reading this thing. Either the U of M decided that Google deserved a big fat Christmas present last December, or U of M's lawyers all had hangovers from a Christmas party.
Google gets to do anything it wants with the public domain material it digitizes, and U of M cannot do anything with this material other than use it on their own website, assuming that measures are taken to prevent crawling, scraping, or other types of automatic retrieval. As for copyrighted material, Google decides what is "fair use" and what isn't, and U of M is out of the picture.
The only place where I saw the word "privacy" in the agreement is here:
This was interesting:
"6.3 Confidentiality (Exceptions) Google understands that U of M, as a public institution, is subject to the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, and any disclosure of Confidential Information required by that statute will not constitute a breach of this agreement."
The whole agreement was confidential. The U of M is the only one of the five libraries that is not private, and subject to government regulation. Clearly, Google was hoping that no one would notice. They were almost right -- it was nearly five months before I decided to search for "freedom of information" and "university of michigan." Shame on me, and even more shame on everyone else. But the most shame on Google and the U of M, who should have taken one look at the situation and decided to skip all the confidentiality language from the start.
This is, after all, clearly a public policy issue. Remember, Google is on a mission from God to organize all the world's information. That's just about as public as you can get.
Sanders Passes Critical Legislation to Amend Patriot Act and Protect Americans’ Reading Records
Washington, DC—Congressman Sanders today led a tri-partisan coalition in restoring Americans’ constitutionally guaranteed right to read and access information without governmental intrusion or monitoring. With 199 Democrats, 38 Republicans and one Independent (Sanders) voting in support, the House passed Congressman Sanders legislation to amend Section 215 of the Patriot Act in order to keep the federal government from accessing Americans’ reading records without a traditional search warrant.
Can someone tell me how many are needed to stop a presidential veto?
Now that's refreshing - effective July 1, Wyoming library patron transactions will be protected by law insted of just patron circulation and registration records (subject to established exceptions).
An elegant update to reflect changing times - new wording would include virtual reference and other new patron transactions. Nice.
How about it, California librarians? Any readers from Wyoming want to comment?
I saw this thanks to the great state library laws list by Paul Neuhaus which he keeps updating.
Introduced: 2005 H.B. 0316 (January 25, 2005) Status: Signed into Law on March 3, 2005; Becomes effective July 1, 2005 Sponsors: Representatives Esquibel & Walsh and Senator Boggs
(d) The custodian shall deny the right of inspection of the following records, unless otherwise provided by law:
(ix) Library [Delete: circulation] [Add: patron transaction] and registration records except as required for administration of the library or except as requested by a custodial parent or guardian to inspect the records of his minor child;
Abstract: This article examines the legal bases of the public's right to access government information, and examines and analyzes the types of information that have recently been removed from the Internet and the rationales given for the removals. The concerted use of FOIA by public interest groups and their constituents is suggested as a possible method of returning the information to the Internet. There article concludes with a brief review of recent FOIA cases that might provide some guidance on the litigation sure to follow such concerted requests.
According to the Campaign for Reader Privacy, next week Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will try again to pass his Freedom to Read Amendment, when the House of Representatives is due to consider the House Commerce, Justice, State (CJS) Appropriations Bill, which funds the Justice Department. The Sanders amendment would cut off funds for bookstore and library searches under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. This last time the Freedom to Read Act Amendment was introduced, it was defeated in a tie vote. The Amendment to the Justice Department's funding bill was originally 219-200 in favor of the amendment, but the the House leadership changed enough votes to bring the tally to a 210-210 tie. The vote was close last time, so this is the time to send a letter or e-mail to your representative.
Privacy minded users deposit $20 to get a card - and money is deducted when they check out materials. Once the materials are returned, the money is restored.
Fascinating idea - I know I typically check out hundreds of dollars of stuff at a time ... and at first blush I thought this would be too limiting because the card would be too expensive for me.
But having the privacy card option is very appealing, since I could still check out bestsellers and expensive art books on my identifiable library card. But I could also check out that book that I don't want anyone to know I'm reading - by using my privacy card. Add self-checkout machines to the mix, and no humans connect me to the book - great!
I often use a small library and request books from other branches. Could I still do this? I suppose I could, as the privacy card could still have a barcode. If requesting from a home computer, you'd have to mask the IP address of the computer you're using with an anonymizer.
It would set up a two-tier system - those that can afford privacy have that option while others don't. Yet anyone can still go to the library and read the books there free. And get this, it seems to me that for as little as 25 cents you could get a privacy card, giving you unlimited access to request books from other libraries - delivered to your branch to then read in-house for free.* This might even help homeless patrons at the libraries that require an address to get an identifiable library card.
And for a no cost option (that is, no cost to users), see Pam Davis, “The honorsystem: a library encourages kids to take books without checking them out,” School Library Journal, (March 2004), for a successful experiment with anonymous checkout in a school.
*This assumes that the library gets books from other branches free for users with cards. Mine does.