hi – 04feb

Hi. I’ve upgraded to WordPress 2.0 which you probably didn’t even notice unless you spend a lot of time messing about with my tags which are ever so slightly broken. The upgrade was incredibly easy and WordPress 2.0 has a lot of nifty features in it like a theme viewer, some AJAX-y bits, and better user administration. I’ve also decided to really go to town and edit the stylesheet in the admin section so that I could avoid some of the logos, cruft, bad colors and dashboard “features.” Here are a few screenshots in Flickr:

wordpress theme picker page    wordpress dashboard    wordpress write post page

If you’re really WordPress curious, I have a bloggish page that outlines the modifications I’ve made to WordPress to make it work the way I want it to work.

fair but wrong, some thoughts about DRM from the British Library among others

British Library says that DRM makes it tough to do its job.

Libraries are allowed to give access to, copy and distribute items through “fair dealing” and “library privilege” clauses in copyright law.

But as publishers attempt to stop the public illegally sharing books and articles, the DRM they employ may not cater for libraries’ legal uses.

“We have genuinely tried to maintain that balance between the public interest and respecting rights holders,” Dr Clive Field, the British Library’s director of scholarships and collections told the BBC News website.

“We are genuinely concerned that technology inadvertently may be disturbing that balance, and that would be unhelpful ultimately to the national interest.”

Don’t stop with the BBC story, go read the entire Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance’s submission to the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group. A list of other responders is here (what a URL, huh?). Please make sure to notice who is covering the cost of providing the transcripts for these sessions…. and worry.

This wiki has more information on the people who submitted evidence to the hearing. I was going to email David Weinberger, whose name I noticed on the previous list, to see what he wrote about DRM but the wiki has links to his two articles “Copy Protection Is a Crime …against humanity. Society is based on bending the rules.” and, from that same wiki “Fair but Wrong

Of course artists should be paid for their work, but behind the “It’s only fair” plea is an assumption the fairness consists of an equal exchange of value. If you pay for leather shoes and the store gives you leather shoes, then the exchange was fair. If, you pay leather prices for plastic shoes, the exchange was unfair. So the advocates of fairness propose making just a few changes to the Internet – which actually amount to redoing its basic architecture – that will ensure that artists are paid for the value their work creates.

But, it’s important to remember that that’s not how it works in the real world. If you buy a book, you can read it twice without paying the author again. You can lend it to a friend. She can sell it to a used bookstore. You and others just keep getting more and more value from the book, but the original bookstore, the author and the publisher don’t see a penny of that. All of those uses fail the “It’s not fair!” argument.

find in a library?

How come only some books in the Google Book Search have “find in a library” links next to them? Diglet asks, and gets an answer, sort of a lame one if you ask me. update: Kevin mentioned in the comments that it would be great to see this for all books in Google Books. I went to bed thinking “Oh yeah, I should look into that….” and while I was sleeping, Superpatron, aka Ed Vielmetti solved the crime, er problem, and created a Greasemonkey script (a plug-in that you can run with Firefox) that does this for Ann Arbor and can be modified for any library.

Copyright, licensing, the government and you

Walt Crawford has a long piece in the latest Cites & Insights about the Creative Commons Non-Commercial license, responding to some online arguments against them by the Free Content community (Walt’s capitalization creates a useful distinction) including Wikipedia. My approach to the NC designation which I also use on this site, is philosophically much the same as Walt’s. If you’re using my content as a primary method of making money for yourself, please cut me in on it. If you’re not, then go ahead and use what you’d like. Letting me know is always appreciated.

This specific designation on this blog has come into play three times that I can recall.

  1. The New York Times magazine reprinted a text version of my Five Technically Legal Signs for Your Library, only they changed five to three and changed some of the wording and credited the material incorrectly. I wrote them a pointed email outlining this and highlighting the site license, and they allowed me a heavily edited response in the letters section of the next issue.
  2. When a Wikipedia editor wrote an article about me, I was asked if I would offer my “The FBI Has Not Been Here” sign as an illustration. This seemed to be preferable to some dorky picture of me, so I agreed. They needed me to remove the license from that image in order to have it be available on Wikipedia which is a Free Content site — meaning that you can use any image in Wikipedia for any puspose at all. Remember the people who own the content and dictate the terms of the license can negotiate other deals for their own content, the license is just a shortcut for people who want to know “what can I do with this content without even asking?”
  3. When TechSoup asked to reprint an article of mine on safety and security issues for public access PCs that had originally appeared on WebJunction, they asked if I wouldn’t mind putting a CC license on the content so that it could be reprinted by other nonprofits which seemed fine to me. We had a little back and forth about how much editing the reprinted article would go through. The fact that I had licensed the content made it a little easier to have the content presented the way I wanted it to be presented and I’m happy with the result.

This luxury assumes of course that you own the content to begin with, and that you know you own it. As we move into the shiny world of user-created content in the form of blogs, podcasts, collaborative online projects and ephemeral notations (do you own the comments you put on someone else’s blog?) this will get more complicated before it gets simpler. For another copright consideration to sink your teeth into, K. Matthew Danes has put together a long easy-to-read piece on what copying means in a library context including a deep look at Section 108 which governs copying by libraries. Read and learn.