Category Archives: Books Archive

Public Domain Day Festivities Draw Global Audience of Enthusiasts

People from around the world — many wearing their best roaring ‘20s attire — came to the Internet Archive’s online party on January 19 to toast creative works recently added to the public domain.

The event was hosted in partnership with SPARC, Creative Commons, Library Futures, Authors Alliance, Public Knowledge, and Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

Watch recording

View table of contents & speakers

“We’re celebrating works published in 1927 becoming open to all in the United States where we can legally share, post, and build upon them without permission or fee,” said Jennifer Jenkins of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School. “You’re free to reimagine the characters, the events, the settings, the imagery, and use them in your own stories, musical plays, and movies.”

Librarians and archivists are eager to preserve these cultural materials, the vast majority of which are out of circulation. Now that they’re in the public domain, anyone can preserve them and digitize them — making them more discoverable.

“The public domain is important because it enables access to cultural materials that might otherwise be lost to history,” Jenkins said. 

Among some of the best-known works that entered the public domain in 2023 include books, such as To the Lighthouse by Virginia Wolfe and The Big Four by Agatha Christie; sheet music for The Best Things in Life Are Free and I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream; silent movies such as Metropolis by Fritz Lang, Putting Pants on Phillip with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

The first full-length film featuring synchronized sound was produced in 1927: The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson. 

Rob Byrne, a film restorer and president of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, explained at the event that previous films were not truly silent since every motion picture performance in the 1920s was accompanied by live musicians—from full orchestras in big cities to single piano players in small town theaters. The average American went to the movies more than three times every week, and international movies were accepted because there were no language barriers, Bryne added. 

Unfortunately, more than 80% of all the films produced prior to 1930 have been lost.

Even fewer films featuring Black casts made for Black audiences survived, said Cara Cadoo, associate professor of history, cinema and media studies at Indiana University. “Race has always been a part of the story of the American cinema,” she said. 

It was because she could easily view movies in the public domain that Cadoo said she was recently able to discover a clip from a lost Black film. Through some detective work, she identified footage from the 1917 film, “The Trooper of Troop K,” while studying another film from 2023. “This history is something that just in recent decades, people have taken seriously,” Cadoo said.

Interest in the public domain is global! The map above shows where our viewers watched the celebration.

Brigitte Vezina, director of policy and open culture at Creative Commons, explained that libraries, museums and archives still face big challenges simply to fulfill their mission in the digital world. (See report Barriers to Open Culture.) Institutions are working in an outdated framework and copyright policy reform is needed, she said. 

“We’ve been promoting open culture to build a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world,” said Vezina, citing its new call to action policy guide. “It’s based on this rich experience that our open culture program supports better sharing of cultural heritage globally.”   

Along with works celebrated from 1927, SPARC’s Nick Shockey talked about another important milestone in expanding public access to knowledge. In August, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued new guidance that requires the federal government set the default to open for all publicly funded research in the United States. 

“This will make over $80 billion each year in research produced with the support of U.S. taxpayer dollars immediately available to anyone online,” Shockey said. “The priority is part of a broader commitment to advancing equity in science and scholarship and recognizing the ways in which openness can be a powerful enabler of more equitable systems.”

The government has also set 2023 as the Year of Open Science. What is and is not publicly and openly accessible is a public policy question, said Shockey, noting the disappointing 20-year pause for the Canadian public domain.

“As we celebrate today, I hope the momentum that we generate can be channeled into ongoing advocacy to ensure that more and more of the knowledge that shapes our world is made available to everybody and to more fully realize the right of sharing knowledge,” Shockey said.

For an example of the value of free sharing of information from the federal government, Meredith Rose, senior policy counsel with Public Knowledge, highlighted NASA’s public posting of images from the Webb space telescope.

“Some things are born free,” said Internet founder Brewster Kahle. “Democracies around the world publish openly because they believe in education and they want it to be spread as widely as possible.”

Open does not always mean easily accessible, however. Kahle is working on Democracy’s Library, a project to gather government material from the U.S., Canada and around the world and preserve them in one place.

“This is the internet we’re dreaming of. Let’s go and make sure that it’s got all of the public domain materials publicly accessible – not just all those things that are from the classic era. Let’s go and celebrate the current public domain.”

Also presenting at the celebration was Rick Prelinger, an archivist, filmmaker, writer and educator. He began collecting ephemeral films (used for specific purposes such as advertising, educational and industrial films) in 1983. His collection of 60,000 films was acquired by the Library of Congress in 2002. He partnered with the Internet Archive to make a subset of the collection — now more than 8,500 films — available online for free viewing, downloading and reuse in the Prelinger Archive

Throughout the program, students from the Snowden International School (Boston) and the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of The Arts (San Francisco) read poetry newly entered into the public domain from Caroling Dusk: an anthology of verse by Negro poets by Countee Cullen.

Jennie Rose Halperin, executive director of Library Futures, and Lila Bailey, senior policy counsel at the Internet Archive co-hosted the party.

[Cross-posted blog with SPARC / Internet Archive]

Welcoming 1927 to the Public Domain

This year we are welcoming works from 1927 into the public domain in the United States, including books, periodicals, sheet music, and movies

Big events of 1927 include the first transatlantic phone call from New York to London, the formation of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the first successful long distance demonstration of television, the release of the first popular “talkie,” The Jazz Singer, and the first nonstop transatlantic solo airplane flight, from New York to Paris, by Charles Lindbergh.

Movies

Despite the popularity of The Jazz Singer, movies were still mostly silent in 1927, including the gorgeous Metropolis by Fritz Lang. Laurel and Hardy’s first film, Putting Pants on Phillip, was released that year, along with an early Gary Cooper Western, Nevada, Joan Crawford in Spring Fever, Mary Pickford in My Best Girl, Clara Bow in Get Your Man, and Cecil B. DeMille’s King of Kings.

I was particularly taken with No Man’s Land, which gives top billing to a horse (Rex the Wonder Horse, in case you were wondering – if you’d like to follow his career he also starred in The King of Wild Horses and Black Cyclone). 

Or we can time travel with Koko the Clown in Koko in 1999 where they apparently thought that at the turn of the last century everything would happen via automation and you’d get a wife from a vending machine for 25 cents.  

Music

No new recorded music enters the public domain in the US this year — the next group of recorded music becomes available in 4 years, due to how the music modernization act is written — but we do have some fun new sheet music to explore. The biggies that are most remembered today are probably The Best Things in Life Are Free and I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream. But you should also take some time to play Dream Kisses, The Desert Song, My Ohio Home, and Girl of My Dreams.

Periodicals

Thousands of issues of periodicals from 1927 are entering the public domain, some from titles that are still well known today like:

You may also want to check out copies of The American Girl (published by the Girl Scouts), check up on the financial markets leading up to the Great Depression in the The Financial Times, or research bling in The Jewelers Circular.

Books

The Sherlock Holmes books came to an end in 1927, and with it the release of The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan-Doyle (vol I and vol II). Other biggies include Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather and Mosquitoes by William Faulkner.

But as always, the most fun is to be had perusing the books from 1927 for hidden gems. Enjoy the gorgeous art deco designs in Ideas & studies in stencilling & decorating, for instance.

Some other fun titles include

Celebrate Public Domain Day

You can join us to celebrate public domain day two ways this year, virtually or in person.

We are having a virtual party on January 19, 2023 at 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern. REGISTER FOR THE VIRTUAL EVENT HERE!

And the next day we will have an in-person Film Remix Contest Screening Party on January 20, 2023 at 6pm at 300 Funston Ave in San Francisco, to watch this year’s Public Domain Day Remix Contest winning entries. REGISTER FOR THE IN-PERSON PARTY IN SAN FRANCISCO HERE!

2022 Empowering Libraries Year in Review

The Internet Archive launched the Empowering Libraries campaign in 2020 to defend equal access to library services for all. Since then, threats to libraries have only grown, so our fight continues. As 2022 draws to a close, here’s a look back through some of our library’s milestones and accomplishments over the year.

In the news

  • When the war in Ukraine started, volunteers began using the Wayback Machine and other online tools to preserve Ukrainian websites and digital collections. The effort, Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online (SUCHO), now has more than 1,500 volunteers working to preserve more than 5,000 web sites and 50TB of data. 
    • Watch a compelling story about SUCHO from CBS News featuring Quinn Dombrowski, one of the project leaders from Stanford University, and Mark Graham, director of the Wayback Machine.
    • In May, we partnered with Better World Books on a book drive supporting Ukrainian scholars. BWB customers were able to donate $1 at checkout to acquire books cited in the Ukrainian-language Wikipedia for the Internet Archive to preserve, digitize, and link to citations in Wikipedia.
  • In October, we introduced Democracy’s Library, a free, open, online compendium of government research and publications from around the world. We hosted an in-person celebration that highlighted the critical importance of free and open access to government publications, and have continued framing out what Democracy’s Library is and why it’s necessary.
  • Internet Archive Canada opened its new headquarters in Vancouver, BC, alongside the Association of Canadian Archivists 2022 Conference.
  • More than 1,000 authors have spoken out on behalf of libraries, demanding that publishers and trade associations put the digital rights of librarians, readers, and authors ahead of shareholder profits. 
  • In a tumultuous year on social media, Internet Archive has added a Mastodon server. Why? We need a game with many winners, not just a few powerful players.
  • In an OpEd for TIME, Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive, warned, “the instability occasioned by Twitter’s change in ownership has revealed an underlying instability in our digital information ecosystem.”

The internet reacts to the lawsuit against our library

  • On July 7, 2022, the Internet Archive filed a motion for summary judgment, asking a federal judge to rule in our favor and end a radical lawsuit, filed by four major publishing companies, that aims to criminalize library lending. Check out the Hachette v. Internet Archive page at EFF for all filings and resources.
  • We hosted a press conference on July 8 about the lawsuit featuring statements from Brewster Kahle (Internet Archive) and Corynne McSherry (EFF), plus powerful impact statements from medical school librarian Benjamin Saracco and author and editor Tom Scocca.
  • Interest in the lawsuit crossed over into mainstream channels following a viral tweet about the filing, which kicked off a lengthy online conversation about library rights, digital lending and digital ownership.
  • After a series of standard filings across the summer and early fall, on October 8, Internet Archive filed the final brief in support of our motion for summary judgment, asking the Court to dismiss the lawsuit because our lending program is a fair use.
  • What does the lawsuit mean for the future of libraries? Internet Archive’s policy counsel, Peter Routhier, considers how the publishers view libraries based on their filings.
  • Check out the Hachette v. Internet Archive page at EFF for all filings and resources.
  • One message really resonated online—people were surprised to learn that the Internet Archive has a physical archive that preserves all the physical books we’ve acquired and digitized. 

eBooks, #OwnBooks & digital ownership

  • 2022 might go down as the year that people started to really understand what it means when libraries & individuals can no longer own content, like when streaming-only content vanishes from media platforms.
  • Musician Max Collins wrote in Popula how “owning media is now an act of countercultural defiance,” walking readers through his first-hand example of how the streaming model doesn’t work for artists, only corporations.
  • Brewster Kahle published, “Digital Books wear out faster than Physical Books,” countering the notion put forward by publishers that ebooks don’t wear out. In fact, Brewster notes that ebooks require “constant maintenance—reprocessing, reformatting, re-invigorating or they will not be readable or read.”
  • Brewster’s post sparked the interest of LA Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik, who expanded on the issues around digital ownership in “Here’s why you can’t ‘own’ your ebooks.”
  • To celebrate why it’s important to own books, and to help bring visibility to issues around digital ownership, we launched the participatory #OwnBooks campaign, which invited people to share photos with the oldest book, or most treasured volume, from their personal collection, like this signed copy of The Phantom Tollbooth.
  • Author Glyn Moody published his latest book, Walled Culture, as a free ebook that you can download and own, or as a physical book that you can purchase in print.
  • More publishers joined the movement to sell—not license—ebooks to libraries, including independent publisher 11:11 Press.

The future of libraries

  • In February, we launched Library as Laboratory, a new series exploring the computational use of Internet Archive collections. The series included segments from digital humanities scholars, computational scientists, web archiving professionals and other researchers.
  • To help librarians and other information professionals better understand the decentralized web, Internet Archive partnered with the Metropolitan New York Library Council, DWeb, and Library Futures for a six-part series, Imagining a Better Online World: Exploring the Decentralized Web
  • During this year’s National Library Week, we invited readers to Meet the Librarians who work at the Internet Archive, highlighting the new roles our librarians lead in support of our mission, “Universal Access to All Knowledge.”
  • Internet Archive joined with Creative Commons, Wikimedia Foundation and others in the Movement for a Better Internet, a collaborative effort to ensure that the internet’s evolution is guided by public interest values.
  • Lila Bailey, Internet Archive’s senior policy fellow, and Michael Menna, policy fellow from Stanford University, released their report,”Securing Digital Rights for Libraries: Towards an Affirmative Policy Agenda for a Better Internet,” regarding libraries’ role in shaping the next iteration of the internet

Milestones

  • Dave Hansen, one of the authors of the white paper on controlled digital lending, was named the new executive director of Authors Alliance.
  • Carl Malamud received this year’s Internet Archive Hero Award for his lifelong mission to make public information freely available to the public.
  • We hosted the first in-person Library Leaders Forum in three years, preceded by a virtual Forum that brought together hundreds of digital library enthusiasts to explore issues related to digital ownership and the future of library collections.
  • We hosted a joint webinar with OCLC about our resource sharing pilots, including how to request articles from the Internet Archive via interlibrary loan.
  • The Music Library Association made its publications openly available at Internet Archive.
  • We began gathering content to support the newly announced Digital Library of Amateur Radio and Communications (DLARC), and then quickly surpassed 25,000 items in the collection.
  • DISCMASTER, a new software tool, allows users to search across the contents of the tens of thousands of archived CD-ROMs at the Internet Archive.
  • In August we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Live Music Archive with a historical tour of the effort, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of live sets available for listening at archive.org.

Donations

  • Colgate University donated more than 1.5 million microfiche cards for preservation and digitization, covering topics including Census data, documents from the Department of Education, Congressional testimony, CIA documents, and foreign news translated into English.
  • Facing an uncertain future, Hong Kong bookstore owner Albert Wan closed his pro-democracy, independent bookstore and donated the books to the Internet Archive for preservation and digitization.
  • Do you have physical collections you’d like to donate to the Internet Archive? Check out our help document.

Book talks

Book Talk: Internet for the People

Join Internet Archive’s senior policy counsel LILA BAILEY in conversation with author BEN TARNOFF about his book, INTERNET FOR THE PEOPLE: THE FIGHT FOR OUR DIGITAL FUTURE.

JANUARY 12 @ 6PM PT
THIS EVENT WILL BE HELD IN-PERSON AT THE INTERNET ARCHIVE, 300 FUNSTON AVE, SAN FRANCISCO. THE DISCUSSION WILL BE RECORDED.

REGISTER NOW

Why is the internet so broken, and what could ever possibly fix it? The internet is broken, Tarnoff argues, because it is owned by private firms and run for profit. Google annihilates your privacy and Facebook amplifies right-wing propaganda because it is profitable to do so. But the internet wasn’t always like this—it had to be remade for the purposes of profit maximization, through a years-long process of privatization that turned a small research network into a powerhouse of global capitalism. Tarnoff tells the story of the privatization that made the modern internet, and which set in motion the crises that consume it today.

SESSION RECORDING

If you can’t make it to our in-person event, the discussion will be recorded and available for viewing the next day. To receive a notification when the recording is available, select the “Watch Recording” free ticket at registration.

Book Talk: Internet for the People
IN-PERSON AT THE INTERNET ARCHIVE
January 12, 2023 @ 6pm PT
Register now for the free, in-person event

Recap: Data Cartels Book Talk

Sarah Lamdan was working as an academic law librarian at the City University of New York in 2017 when something concerning caught her eye. 

“I was really startled and confused because I didn’t understand how Lexis and Westlaw would be doing ICE surveillance,” said Lamdan, who wondered about the potential impact on the campus’ immigrant population and her role as a librarian in giving away data.

Lamdan and a colleague wrote a blog for the American Association of Law Libraries raising questions. However, within minutes, at the “advice of legal counsel,” the post was removed, Lamden said. She didn’t know why they were not allowed to raise the issue, and her quest for answers began.

“It made me really, really curious,” Lamdan said. “That started this five-year course of research to unpack what these companies really are, what they’re doing, how they can be the main legal information providers and also be building surveillance systems.”

She shares her findings in “Data Cartels: The Companies that Control and Monopolize Our Information” published in November by Stanford University Press. Lamdan talked about her book with SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph at an online webinar November 30 sponsored by the Internet Archive and the Authors Alliance. [Recording available here

Watch Session Recording

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was building an invasive data surveillance system and journalists reported that Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis were interested in participating. She quickly realized that those were the parent companies of the gold-standard legal databases, Westlaw and Lexis, that Lamdan regularly taught students to use.

The book chronicles the unregulated underworld of a few companies that operate as “data cartels,” highlighting how selling data and informational resources perpetuate social inequalities and threaten the democratic sharing of knowledge.

In her research, Lamdan, who has a law degree and master’s in library science, said she was surprised to discover the scope of the enterprises and ways they leveraged users’ personal data without consent. 

“I saw Lexis and Westlaw as these little mom-and-pop legal information expert shops that gave us tote bags and helped sponsor our annual meeting,” Lamdan said. “I didn’t realize that they are actually parts of these multi-billion-dollar giant corporations that are basically like informational warehouses.”

The library community has been increasingly concerned about companies’ commoditization of research, said Joseph, and the book spells about the trend with a sense of urgency.

“We think of these companies as content providers, but they’re more than that,” Joseph said. “They have a multiplicity of companies that have different functions under the umbrella company name and what those divisions do is critically important. For example, having one company essentially, owning the legal corpus of the United States and then controlling the data of people who access that information and distributing it is unbelievable.”

Purchase from the publisher, Stanford University Press

Too often, people view legal or academic publishers as benign distributors of useful information, Joseph said, but it is big business driven by profit. Companies are increasingly seeing opportunities to expand their services and become data analytic brokers. With so much information in the hands of so few players, these companies have a stronghold over predictive platforms affecting people’s privacy, health and finances. 

Information is a unique commodity, Lamdan said, because one information product cannot be replaced with another similar product. Libraries can’t merely unsubscribe to these services or journals because students and attorneys rely on the unique informational products they provide. This has created a classic monopoly problem where consumers have little choice about which products they use, which Lamdan said should be addressed.

“Together, these companies are pivoting from publishing, towards data analytics. They are changing the way our information systems work and the way their markets work,” Lamdan said in the online talk. “They are acting in a way that drives us from information access to these closed walled garden data analytics systems that exploit our personal data and limit access to certain types of information.”

Lamdan is clear that there is no one fix to address the concentration of power in these information companies. She does, however, suggest that federal antitrust laws be revisited and revised to better address digital and data problems. Regulators could intervene to say that companies should not be allowed to be in both the business of providing critically important information to the public, and the business of selling personal data products to the government simultaneously.

Joseph said the broader community can break its dependency on these companies by expanding open access and creating an infrastructure that does not rely on commercial enterprises for information. Approaching knowledge as a public good, rather than a private commodity, can also shift the framework for how information is disseminated.

To find out more about Lamdan’s book or to purchase a copy, click here.

Author Talk: Peter Baldwin, The Copyright Wars

Join copyright scholar PAMELA SAMUELSON for a discussion with historian PETER BALDWIN about THE COPYRIGHT WARS, covering three centuries’ worth of trans-Atlantic copyright battles. 

Watch recording:

Today’s copyright wars can seem unprecedented. Sparked by the digital revolution that has made copyright—and its violation—a part of everyday life, fights over intellectual property have pitted creators, Hollywood, and governments against consumers, pirates, Silicon Valley, and open-access advocates. But while the digital generation can be forgiven for thinking the dispute between, for example, the publishing industry and libraries is completely new, the copyright wars in fact stretch back three centuries—and their history is essential to understanding today’s battles. THE COPYRIGHT WARS—the first major trans-Atlantic history of copyright from its origins to today—tells this important story.

THE COPYRIGHT WARS is available to read or download from the Internet Archive, as designated by the author. You can also purchase the book in print from Princeton University Press, or your local bookshop.

This event is co-sponsored with Authors Alliance.

Author Talk: Peter Baldwin, The Copyright Wars
Thursday, December 15 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Watch recording of the virtual event.

Editorial note: Updated 12/16/2023 with event video link.

Tips for requesting articles from Internet Archive on OCLC’s resource sharing network

On November 9, Internet Archive participated in a webinar hosted by OCLC that showed librarians how to request articles from our library using OCLC tools.

The Recording and Slides (PDF download) from the event are now available.

How do I request articles from the Internet Archive?

  1. To learn how, watch the recording—starting at timestamp 12:25 minutes—and view slides 21- 30 (PDF).
    1. Create/update your custom holdings to include IAILL in the group you use for copy requesting.
      1. Learn more about how to set up custom holding groups and custom holding paths.
      2. Send copy requests to the Custom Holdings Path including IAILL using Automated Request Manager.
    2. If you have Tipasa, add IAILL to your group of Proven Senders.
    3. If you have ILLiad, make IAILL an Odyssey Trusted Sender.
    4. If Internet Archive indicates that they own the year/volume you need, you can simply add IAILL to your lender string.
      1. From the Holdings page, filter to the article date you need, select the custom holdings path including IAILL, and click go to populate the lender string.
  2. Have questions about how to set up your custom holdings groups and paths? Please contact OCLC Support.  

Key facts about the Internet Archive

  1. Internet Archive’s OCLC symbol: IAILL
  2. Internet Archive supplies for FREE
  3. Internet Archive is fast—and deliver in an average of 37 minutes
  4. Articles delivered electronically through Article Exchange
  5. All PDFs are provided with full OCR (Optical Character Recognition) 

Questions?

Digital Library of Amateur Radio & Communications Surpasses 25,000 Items

In the six weeks since announcing that Internet Archive has begun gathering content for the Digital Library of Amateur Radio and Communications (DLARC), the project has quickly grown to more than 25,000 items, including ham radio newsletters, podcasts, videos, books, and catalogs. The project seeks additional contributions of material for the free online library.

You are welcome to explore the content currently in the library and watch the primary collection as it grows at https://archive.org/details/dlarc.

The new material includes historical and modern newsletters from diverse amateur radio groups including the National Radio Club (of Aurora, CO); the Telford & District Amateur Radio Society, based in the United Kingdom; the Malta Amateur Radio League; and the South African Radio League. The Tri-State Amateur Radio Society contributed more than 200 items of historical correspondence, newspaper clippings, ham festival flyers, and newsletters. Other publications include Selvamar Noticias, a multilingual digital ham radio magazine; and Florida Skip, an amateur radio newspaper published from 1957 through 1994.The library also includes the complete run of 73 Magazine — more than 500 issues — which are freely and openly available.  

More than 300 radio related books are available in DLARC via controlled digital lending. These materials may be checked out by anyone with a free Internet Archive account for a period of one hour to two weeks. Radio and communications books donated to Internet Archive are scanned and added to the DLARC lending library.

Amateur radio podcasts and video channels are also among the first batch of material in the DLARC collection. These include Ham Nation, Foundations of Amateur Radio, the ICQ Amateur/Ham Radio Podcast, with many more to come. Providing a mirror and archive for “born digital” content such as video and podcasts is one of the core goals of DLARC.

Additions to DLARC also include presentations recorded at radio communications conferences, including GRCon, the GNU Radio Conference; and the QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo. A growing reference library of past radio product catalogs includes catalogs from Ham Radio Outlet and C. Crane.

DLARC is growing to be a massive online library of materials and collections related to amateur radio and early digital communications. It is funded by a significant grant from Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) to create a digital library that documents, preserves, and provides open access to the history of this community. 

Anyone with material to contribute to the DLARC library, questions about the project, or interest in similar digital library building projects for other professional communities, please contact:

Kay Savetz, K6KJN
Program Manager, Special Collections
kay@archive.org
Mastodon: dlarc@mastodon.radio

Book Talk: Data Cartels

Join SPARC’s Heather Joseph for a chat with author Sarah Lamdan about the companies that control & monopolize our information.

Watch the session recording:

Purchase Data Cartels from The Booksmith

In our digital world, data is power. Information hoarding businesses reign supreme, using intimidation, aggression, and force to maintain influence and control. Sarah Lamdan brings us into the unregulated underworld of these “data cartels”, demonstrating how the entities mining, commodifying, and selling our data and informational resources perpetuate social inequalities and threaten the democratic sharing of knowledge.

About the speakers

Sarah Lamdan is Professor of Law at the City University of New York School of Law. She also serves as a Senior Fellow for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a Fellow at NYU School of Law’s Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy.

Heather Joseph is a longtime advocate and strategist in the movement for open access to knowledge. She is the Executive Director of SPARC, an international alliance of libraries committed to creating a more open and equitable ecosystem for research and education. She leads SPARCs policy efforts, which have produced national laws and executive actions supporting the free and open sharing of research articles, data and textbooks, and has worked on international efforts to promote open access with organizations including the United Nations,, The World Bank, UNESCO, and the World Health Organization.

Book Talk: Data Cartels with Sarah Lamdan & Heather Joseph
Co-sponsored by Internet Archive & Authors Alliance
Wednesday, November 30 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Watch the virtual discussion.

Editorial note: Updated 11/30/22 to include embedded video & remove registration links.

Library Leaders Forum Recap

This year’s Library Leaders Forum kicked off on October 12 with news of promising research, digitization projects and advocacy efforts designed to best shape the library of the future.

The virtual gathering also called on participants to take action in sharing resources and promoting a variety of public interest initiatives underway in the library community.

Watch session recording:

Chris Freeland, director of Open Libraries, moderated the first event of the 2022 forum with librarians, policy experts, publishers and authors. (A complete recording of the virtual session is available here) The second session will take place Oct. 19, live in San Francisco and via Zoom starting at 7 p.m. PT. (Registration is still open).

Libraries have a vital role to play in educating citizens, combating misinformation and preserving materials that the public can use to hold officials accountable. To help meet those challenges, Internet Archive Founder Brewster Kahle gave a preview of a new project: Democracy’s Library. The vision is to establish a free, open, online compendium of government research and publications from around the world.

“We have the big opportunity to help inform users of the internet and bring as good information to them as possible to help them understand their world,” said Kahle, who will launch the initiative next week and invited others to join in the effort. “We need your input and partnership.”

The virtual forum covered the latest on Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), the library practice that is growing in popularity in the wake of pandemic closures when physical collections were unavailable to the public. Freeland announced the 90th library recently joined the Open Libraries program, which embraces CDL as the digital equivalent of traditional library lending, allowing patrons to borrow one copy at a time of a title the library owns.

As librarians look for ways of safeguarding digital books, Readium LCP was highlighted as a promising, open source technology gaining popularity. Participants were encouraged in this same space to spread the word about the advocacy work of the nonprofit Library Futures, and recognize many authors who have recently offered public support for libraries, CDL and digital ownership of books.

Lila Bailey reported on an emerging coalition of nonprofits working on a policy agenda to build a better internet centered on public interest values. A forthcoming paper will outline four digital library rights that without which it would be impossible to function in the 21st century. They include the right to collect, preserve, lend and access material. This encouraging collaboration is the result of two convenings earlier this year, including one in Washington, D.C. in July.

CDL Community of Practice

A panel at the forum discussed projects within the CDL community of practice.

Nettie Lagace of the National Information Standards Organization gave an update on an initiative, funded by the Mellon Foundation, to create a consensus framework and recommendations on CDL. Working groups are focused now on considering digital objects, circulation and reserves, interlibrary loans and asset sharing. Public comments on the draft will be welcome in the coming months, with a final document likely released next summer.

Amanda Wakaruk a copyright and scholarly communications librarian at the University of Alberta, announced a new paper exploring the legal considerations of CDL for Canadian libraries. She is one of the co-authors on the research, along with others in the Canadian Federation of Library Associations. The preprint is available now and the final paper will be published soon in the journal, Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research.

Working with Project ReShare, the Boston Library Consortium is leveraging CDL as a mechanism for interlibrary loan. “BLC really believes that CDL is an extension of existing resource sharing practices, both in the legal sense–the same protections and opportunities afforded to interlibrary loan also apply to CDL,” said Charlie Bartow, executive director, “but, also in a services sense–that existing resource sharing systems and practices can be readily adapted to include CDL.”

Also, speaking in the session was Caltech’s Mike Hucka. He described efforts on his campus to provide students with learning materials when the pandemic hit by creating a simple model they named the Digital Borrowing System (DIBS).

In Canada, a large digitization project is underway at the University of Toronto, where 40,000 titles in the library’s government collection are being scanned and made available online for easier public access.

Take action

In the final segment, Freeland announced that Carl Malamud is the recipient of the 2022 Internet Archive Hero Award for his dedication in making government information accessible to all. Malamud will receive the Hero Award onstage at next week’s evening celebration, “Building Democracy’s Library.”

Freeland concluded the event with a final call to action: To join the #OwnBooks campaign. People are encouraged to take a photo of themselves holding a book they own that has special meaning, perhaps something that has influenced their career path or has sentimental value. As the Internet Archive fights for the right for libraries to own books, this is a chance to bring attention to the issue and build public support.