The uncomfortable problem of orphans – MLibrary’s approach

Orphan works are works that are in-copyright but do not have a contactable copyright holder. They’re tricky and annoying as far as reuse goes because while technically they’re not re-usable without permission, how do you get permission? People have discussed this problem at length, but The University of Michigan’s Copyright office — the people who are working on the copyright review management system — are trying to do something about it. They launched a project to try to track down and identify the rights holders of orphan works created between 1923-1963 in the HathiTrust Digital Library. In doing so, they hope to get a general idea of the scope of the problem and at the same time develop best practices for identifying orphan works. They might also help HT make more of their content available as its copyright status is determined.

a day in the life of ME

Oh hey, people are doing this all week, so I can participate! I’ve had a busy day, some of it library-related, all of it me-related. This is all in pretty approximate order.

– got up at 9:30-ish and made coffee
– checked email and the MetaFilter moderation queue to see if anything was “on fire” [it wasn’t]. Caught up on the site. Someone posted something questionable (self-linky) and talked with co-workers (over IM) to decide what to do (we deleted it).
– added an update to an anonymous post for a question-asker on Ask MetaFilter
– sent in receipts for reimbursement for recent trips using Freshbooks, filed too-many icons on my desktop which now just has a few folders on it
– answered some MetaFilter mail (a lot of my work is customer service type stuff) and did some administrative stuff
– added some things to the MetaFilter sidebar
– emailed with boyfriend who is in Puerto Rico
– got ass kicked at online Scrabble
– went to lunch at the local hospital cafeteria, across the street from me, with friends & then back to their place for coffee
– chatted with neighbor across the street about a possible job at the high school next year, a little more in-depth than my current tech instruction gig
– post office, asked the guy at the post office some questions that MeFites had about the post office, walked home
– chatted with my co-worker about my past weekend and my upcoming weekend
– updated the Tunbridge Library as to the status of the automation project — 220 books have been item+record linked and my friend Stan wrote a little web-based app. to facilitate further scanning which we were doing on Sunday
– chatted with Stan about the app and moved it to the library server so anyone can scan [if we show them how] talked about the UI for the app
– read facebook email and got some disturbing rumor about some Koha/LibLime drama that I’m still trying to parse (new features not being built back into the code) and don’t know enough about to talk more about
– accepted a few facebook friend requests
– got facebook email from a friend whose dad’s book is coming out in paperback asking me about social software ways to promote it. I gave her some ideas and then asked a friend of mine who is in publishing who not only had more ideas but knew the people releasing the book. Yay small world. The book is good, you should read it.
– That same friend had also just edited a book that she sent a copy of to my Dad who seemed to love it. My Dad can be a tough nut to crack, so this was good news. She and I chatted about work and other things.
– Made a plan via phone to hang out with my Dad next week
– Read the ALA’s new Library Bill of Rights interpretations which are interesting. Wrote a blog post. Tried to see if I could figure out more about what’s changed in the edited interpretations.
– Read more about the Google Book Search Settement via the new website (twittered about yesterday) dedicated to it called The Public Index. Not only can you read the settlement, you can DISCUSS it. Very exciting.
– read twitter, did not post to twitter
– deleted blog spam, bought some postage stamps on ebay
– talked to president of VLA about options for using WordPress to build a “librarian substitute pool” on the VLA website. We’ll probably do it using BuddyPress.
– emailed a recruiter explaining how to post jobs to the VLA website.
– played some facebook Scrabble
– watched the Daily Show’s bit about Sarah Palin, searched The Pirate Bay for some TV I like to watch (The IT Crowd)
– deleted some AskMe comments, deleted a MeFi comment where someone called someone else a “fucking idiot”
– checked out the blogs of someone who will be staying at my place while I am away
– read some email back-and-forths on the MeFi admin list
– checked out the Fenway Park website because my sister’s boyfriend is playing there with his fantasy baseball team on Friday. I am going but I guess I can’t bring my laptop
– cleaned up the paperwork on my kitchen table that’s been there since I got back from New Orleans
– printed maps to wedding I am going to on Saturday
– paid bills (online!)
– read envelope-o-stuff from Sandy Berman
– read Scream at the Librarian briefly in the bathroom
– read the information on the RFID chip that is going to be in my new enhanced driver’s license
– cleaned the bathroom
– prepared a welcome-basket for my friend who just bought a house in my neighborhood
– thinking about dinner, it’s now about 8 pm.

So that’s what I can remember. I’m sure there was more misc noodling. My web cache would tell a better story, but I don’t know how much math you need about this. The upshot was: a lot of email, some in-person time, very little phone time and doing small parts of maybe four different jobs today (library, MetaFilter, VLA webmaster, high school stuff). I did most of it from home, listened to a lot of music (oops, just accepted a ton of pending friend requests from and watched the birds on my feeder (blue jays, nuthatch and a cardinal). Now I’ll go have some dinner and maybe see what everyone else has been doing today.

Working towards more public books, fewer orphan works

Public domain determination becomes clearer cut, more books entering the public domain thanks to … Google? Jacob Kramer-Duffield explains how Google and Project Gutenberg and the Distributed Proofreaders put their book-scanning and OCR-ing smarts into trying to solve the thorny orphan works problem to determine which out of print books have had their copyrights renewed and which haven’t. Neat. [via joho]