The Unseen University Librarian


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LIKE 33 - Copyright, Hargreaves & Digital Economy Act

Last Thursday I attended my first LIKE, or Library Information and Knowledge Exchange, meeting which was themed on Copyright. As any UCL LIS students will know, we had just had to write an essay on copyright and I was feeling a little copyrighted out.

Anyway, I got to the pub about 7pm, got my name label, grabbed a drink, and started chatting with who turned out to be Professor Charles Oppenheim, the guest speaker for the session. He used to be a professor at Loughborough, and now works as a consultant on copyright issues.

He was very engaging and humorous, and this was exactly how his speech was; which was surprising considering the content.

First, Charles spoke on the problem that orphan works pose for mass digitisation projects. Orphan works are works that are still under copyright but the copyright owner cannot be found. It is often too expensive or too difficult to track the copyright owners, and as a result many precious items may not be digitised and may be lost as a result.LIKE 33 The Hargreaves review suggests to possibly pay a fee to a central body to digitise an orphan work, and then if the copyright owner makes themselves known they they can be paid a fee from the central body. Hargreaves also recommends that this applies to all mediums and not just text. However there are issues with this solution, what if the copyright owners wants the copy to stop? The copy will presumably already be available on the internet, and it would be impossible to eradicate all of the copies made.

Charles also compared UK and US copyright law, and how restrictive the fair dealing exceptions allowed by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 is compared to the more liberal fair use equivalent in the US.

The idea of the Hargreaves Report is to make copyright law more up to date, to Cliff Richardbroaden exceptions (which is allowable by current EU Law) and to encourage entrepreneurial opportunities. Current copyright law was created by lobbying from the film and music industries to crack down on piracy, rather than being based on evidence. A humorous example Charles gave was that of Cliff Richard, who lobbied to get sound recording rights extended from 50 to 70 years, in line with the rights of lyric and music writers.

Hargreaves suggests extending possible exceptions to copyright law to include:

  • Text and data mining – where vast volumes of data are extracted to create new and interesting information
  • Parody – taking a well known music or image, etc. and parodying it
  • Copying purchased CDs and ripping the music on to a computer or MP3 player (I did not realise that this was currently illegal!)
  • Extending library prescribed copying for patrons which currently only applies to text, to apply to the copying of all media forms

Other recommendations Hargreaves makes includes:

  • That Contractual term should never overcome the exceptions stated to copyright law, as it currently does
  • That the IPO should be able to give informal legal advice
  • Copyright of unpublished works should be reduced. Currently the copyright of all works, regardless of age, has been extended to 2039. Hargreaves recommends that this should change to 70 years from the estimated date of publication of the work
  • UK copyright collection societies should be regulated with codes of conduct as they have quasi-legal status and rights

The government initially accepted all of Hargreaves’ recommendations, although Charles predicted that they will backtrack on many of them due to lobbying from the film and music industries - which again will entail that copyright law will still not be evidence-based.

The Digital Economy Act 2010 was also discussed, especially the 3 strikes and you are out provision. Once you have been found to be downloading illegally 3 times, your broadband will be cut off by your internet service provider. This legislation had been passed but not implemented yet. Charles argued that the wording of the legislation is extremely loose, and that the 3 strikes provision could apply to any place with public wifi; for example libraries, hotels, airports, even Starbucks. However, this is only a possible interpretation of the law and is in no way definitive, and will surely not be enforced for public organisations with wifi.

Charles’ closing comments include asking whether access to the internet is a human right, and whether any blocks to accessing the internet need to be justified to a fair extent in order to be reasonable. Also, is this legislation a little too late? So much information is already available online, and piracy websites can simply move to countries where copyright legislation is not so restrictive.

Despite myself being ‘copyrighted out’ before this meeting, I really enjoyed it. Not only because of the great food and meeting new people, but Charles was very engaging and he made the talk very relevant to the present day, and to the future of copyright and its revelancy to all media forms.






Filed under copyright libraries hargeaves review digital economy act

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Senate House Library Placement - Digitisation

What was especially great about writing the blog entries for Rare Books Revealed and Rare Books Revealed 2 for Senate House Library was being able to see digitisation in action on the books I had selected to blog about. I was shown the different scanners and cameras used to obtain varying quality pictures and also to deal with different sized and shaped items (Special Collections has many oddly shaped, and sometimes very large items!). Digitisation is still a relatively new service provided at Senate House Library, and is an area that is rapidly increasing and becoming very prominent in modern day libraries.

Of course, when you hear ‘digitisation’ and ‘libraries’ in the same sentence, you instinctively think of e-books, and how wonderful for user access it is that libraries are digitising their collections so that they are availble online. And of course, this is a great and wonderful thing, and will certainly play a large part in the nature of libraries in the future.

On hearing ‘digitisation’ and ‘libraries’, you may also think ‘expensive’, and true, this is certainly the case.

However, digitisation of collections made available on library websites not only increase access for users, as you first think, but can also be used to advertise collections and actually attract more visitiors to come and visit the physical collection in person, particularly if the library possesses special collections or rare books. As such, digitisation can be used to generate revenue by increasing the number of visitors to the library. Digitisation equipment may be initially expensive to purchase for aLewis Carroll's original Alice In Wonderland library, but can prove to be very proftable in the long-term. More and more libraries are using digitisation to generate profit; one of the more famous examples being the British Library’s eBook Treasures, where the British Library has digitised some of its most precious items such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures Under Ground andLeonardo da Vinci’s Codex Arundel, and are selling them as eBooks for prices as high as £14.99. The British Library have also created a 19th century Historical Collection app available from iTunes here, which provides cloud-based access to over 45,000 historical works and has recently won the Publishing Innovation Award.

Other ways of generating income through digitisation is to display the collection online using low quality images (which accomplishes displaying the collection while ensuring a low webpage loading time for users), but offer the service of providing  high quality images of scans from books. Libraries with special collections or rare The Virgin of the Rocksbooks would particularly benefit by implementing such a service; not only by generating income from sales of digital scans, by increasing access for users and by promoting and advertising the collection to attract new visitors to the library. An example of a memory institution who has applied this service very successively is the National Gallery. The National Gallery offers the purchasing of high quality images not only online, but also in the Gallery itself, where you can crop and edit the picture before purchasing a print or digital copy.

In conclusion, digitisation can be very expensive both to purchase and to maintain, and it must be taken into consideration how long it will be before the equipment becomes technologically out of date and will be unable to provide the high standard of files that users may be expecting in ten years time. However, although digitisation is initally expensive, the financial benefits achievable through the promotion of the library collection to a world-wide audience in addition to the potential sales of high quality images or e-books, is certainly worth considering for libraries with special collections.

Filed under Digitisation Senate House Library British Library National Gallery Libraries

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The Library and Me

For me, the library has always been a special place. I remember as a child being excited at the thought of my mum taking my brother and me to the local public library and getting my next wonderful book out (and video if I was lucky!). When I reached secondary school, I used to love going to the library and getting advice from the librarian on the next book I should read. At university the library became my safe haven, a place where I could research and complete coursework without distraction. And this was a great comfort to me when I was in a frenzied state of study-induced panic.

Libraries have always been warm, welcoming and friendly places for me. Beautiful LibraryAnd this is what we come to expect from libraries; a space where anyone is welcome to come and enjoy a book. But not only that, libraries have always been an exciting place for me, and this does not seem to be a common and popular perspective held of libraries. I am not even talking about the secret passageways or the books that trigger a secret door to be opened in the mysteriously wonderful libraries featured in novels. My love of libraries meant that I actually could not wait to go to the library to find the next fantastic book to read, a book so exciting that I could not put it down. Yet as public libraries are closing across the country, and less and less visitors are accessing libraries as a result, this passion and excitement for books may be diminished, or worse, never discovered.

In a time of what the future world might call the Digital Age, where there are more and more distractions such as hundreds of TV channels to watch, and  potentially addictive internet browsing (facebook, twitter and cake baking websites for me!), it is vitally important for librarians to remind and possibly re-introduce the joy of books to the public. E-books have gone some way to do this; not only by making books modern, but by simply reminding people of the exitence of books, which they may have forgotten in their busy and largely digital lifestyles.

However, I have gone off on a tangent!

It has always been an ambition of mine that one day I would have my own personal library. Not necessarily a very big or grand one (although ideally), but simply a room in my house that only contains novels, and can be used solely for reading, with no other distractions. Beauty and the Beast LibraryThis is a dream of mine that I have had as long as I can remember, well, for as long as I could read! As an ambition that began as a child, the shape of my perfect library always took the form of the one featured in my favourite Disney film… of course it could only be… Beauty and the Beast! The Beast’s library has huge windows to let lots of light in, more books than can possibly be read in a lifetime, and a cosy fireplace for a lovely space to read.

But if I had only just been born in this current Digital Age, how would this dream be altered? Would I be dreaming of a library as I still think of it - a warm and welcoming room full of wooden bookcases of beautiful books, with an aroma of that papery Virtual Librarysmell… or would I be dreaming of a virtual library of e-books on my iPad? Although it is the same dream in the terms of possessing a large enough number of books to justifiably call it a ‘library’, the modern manifestation of it as a virtual, untouchable space is just not the same, and nowhere as special as the dream of the physical library.

This is because the library is not just a collection of books. It is the space which houses the books; a space where you can sit and read without fear of being disturbed; a space where you can fully relax and submerge yourself into the world of the book, and a space where you can take shelter from the real world, and take a holiday from real life.

Sadly I currently live in a small flat, and the nearest I can get to fulfilling my dream at the moment is purchasing this really cool reading chair (which I am very, very tempted to do!). But one day, despite the Digital Age we live in, I still hope to have the perfect, physical library space of my own!

Bookcase Chair

Filed under Libraries