On March 16, 2023, the Internet Archive hosted the “Democracy’s Library Workshop: Community Collaboration.” This event marked the first public presentation and discussion of the Democracy’s Library Project since its inauguration at the 2022 Annual Event, following several months of research, supported by the Filecoin Foundation, from November 2022 to February 2023. The presentation, a collaboration between Internet Archive staff and a visiting government official, aims to preserve government information and make it much more meaningfully accessible to the public. The event was live-streamed and can be viewed at the provided video link.
Brewster Kahhale, founder of The Internet Archive, providing an introduction and discussing why we need to “Build Our Collections Together.”
Andrea Mills, Executive Director of Internet Archive Canada, discussing the incredible progress made in Canada working with their foundational partner, the University of Toronto, in digitizing government information.
Jamie Joyce, leading the Democracy’s Library initiative at Internet Archive in the U.S., reporting on the U.S. landscape analysis and stakeholder interviews.
To librarians and archivists: please know we are still collecting feedback from government information professionals. So if you are a librarian or archivist, we would love to hear from your experience. If you’re interested in sharing, please fill out this survey.
Join Kyle K. Courtney & Juliya Ziskina of Library Futures for a review of how publisher interests have attempted to hinder the library mission.
FROM THE ABSTRACT: Libraries have continuously evolved their ability to provide access to collections in innovative ways. Many of these advancements in access, however, were not achieved without overcoming serious resistance and obstruction from the rightsholder and publishing industry. The struggle to maintain the library’s access-based mission and serve the public interest began as early as the late 1800s and continues through today. We call these tactics the “publishers’ playbook.” Libraries and their readers have routinely engaged in lengthy battles to defend the ability for libraries to fulfill their mission and serve the public good. The following is a brief review of the times and methods that publishers and rightsholder interests have attempted to hinder the library mission. This pattern of conduct, as reflected in ongoing controlled digital lending litigation, is not unexpected and belies a historical playbook on the part of publishers and rightsholders to maximize their own profits and control over the public’s informational needs. Thankfully, as outlined in this paper, Congress and the courts have historically upheld libraries’ attempts to expand access to information for the public’s benefit.
Read the full article, “The Publisher Playbook: A Brief History of the Publishing Industry’s Obstruction of the Library Mission.”
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
KYLE K. COURTNEY is a lawyer and librarian dedicated to issues surrounding copyright, access, and preservation. He serves as Copyright Advisor and Program Manager at the Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication. His “Copyright First Responders” initiative is in its seventh year, spreading from Harvard to libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and soon, internationally. He is the co-author of the White Paper on Controlled Digital Lending of Library Books (with David Hansen). He serves as an Advisor to ALI, helping to draft the first Restatement of Copyright. He co-founded Fair Use Week, now an international celebration sponsored annually by over 100+ universities, libraries, and other institutions, and won a Knight Foundation Grant to test technology for crowdsourcing copyright and fair use decisions. He also currently maintains a dual appointment at Northeastern University: teaching “Cyberlaw: Privacy, Ethics, and Digital Rights” for the interdisciplinary Information Assurance and Cybersecurity program at the Khoury College of Computer Science and teaching both “Legal Research and Writing for LLM’s” and the “Advanced Legal Writing Workshop” at the Northeastern University School of Law. He holds a J.D. with distinction in Intellectual Property Law and an MSLIS. He is a published author and nationally recognized speaker on the topic of copyright, technology, libraries, and the law. His blog is at http://kylecourtney.com and he can be found on Twitter @KyleKCourtney.
JULIYA ZISKINA is an attorney, artist, photographer, and open access advocate based out of Brooklyn, New York. A forever curious jack-of-all-trades, she believes strongly in a vibrant, collaborative global commons. She completed her JD at the University of Washington in Seattle and served as a graduate student representative on the Faculty Council on University Libraries. As a law student, Juliya co-founded an initiative for an institutional open access policy at the University of Washington, which was successful as of June 2018. Previously, she advocated for the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) in Washington, DC with the Student Advocates for Graduate Education, representing over 150,000 graduate students. In 2015, she attended OpenCon in Brussels, Belgium, where she co-led a workshop on grassroots mobilization. Later that year, she presented on a panel at the American Libraries Association Annual Conference on advancing open access through library partnerships with students and early career researchers. A lifelong grassroots rabble-rouser, she started her career by co-founding an underground student newspaper at her high school that was acclaimed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Student Press Law Center. Juliya’s work has strengthened her belief in the importance of the free flow of information and the human side of the law.
To celebrate National Library Week 2023, we are introducing readers to four staff members who work behind the scenes at the Internet Archive, helping connect patrons with our collections, services and programs.
If there’s an event at the Internet Archive, there’s a good chance Caitlin Olson had her hand in it. And with about 80 events last year, including 40 in-person, that keeps her plenty busy.
“I’m a helper by nature and my role involves wearing a lot of hats,” said Olson, senior executive assistant for seven years.
While not a librarian by training, Olson said she enjoys supporting librarians and their work. Olson provides support for webinars online and parties at the Internet Archive’s headquarters in San Francisco. She also assists Internet Archive’s founder Brewster Kahle in his work, helps staff with IT issues (including migrating to remote work during the pandemic), and pinch hits when needed.
“I’m the go-to person for most questions because if I don’t know the answer, I likely know who will,” Olson said, who prefers working behind-the-scenes and is known as a fixer who keeps a calm head. “Brewster says I help soothe the organization. I often can jump in and solve a problem.”
After graduating from high school in a small town in northern California, Olson said she gravitated to the Bay Area for college, so has both the “country mouse” and “city mouse” experience. After a stint in journalism, she was drawn to the Internet Archive. “I wanted to work for a place where people felt passionate about what they were doing—and I found that here,” Olson said.
What’s an aspect of your job that you especially like? I work with our ceramicist who creates all of our statues for the Archive. Fun Fact: after you work here for three years, you get a statue made in your likeness (if you want).
What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on at the Internet Archive? Our annual Public Domain Day events and the book talks we host in collaboration with The Booksmith.
What are you reading? Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach, which is about what happens when animals commit crimes, and From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty, which is a book that explores death-care in different cultures and it’s written by a badass mortician.
“The Apple II Age is a joy to read and an extraordinary achievement in computer history. A rigorous thinker and a bright and witty writer, Nooney offers a compelling account of the initial attempts to make computers inviting to the public. The Apple II Age, like the old microcomputer itself, is bound to intrigue both experts and newcomers to the subject.” ―JOANNE MCNEIL, author of ‘Lurking: How a Person Became a User’
Join us for an engrossing origin story for the personal computer—showing how the Apple II’s software helped a machine transcend from hobbyists’ plaything to essential home appliance.
6:00 PM — Reception 6:30 PM — Book Talk: The Apple II Age 7:30 PM — Book Signing
Please note that this event will be held in person at the Internet Archive.
If you want to understand how Apple Inc. became an industry behemoth, look no further than the 1977 Apple II. It was a versatile piece of hardware, but its most compelling story isn’t found in the feat of its engineering, the personalities of Apple’s founders, or the way it set the stage for the company’s multibillion-dollar future. Instead, historian Laine Nooney shows, what made the Apple II iconic was its software. The story of personal computing in the United States is not about the evolution of hackers—it’s about the rise of everyday users.
Recounting a constellation of software creation stories, Nooney offers a new understanding of how the hobbyists’ microcomputers of the 1970s became the personal computer we know today. From iconic software products like VisiCalc and The Print Shop to historic games like Mystery House and Snooper Troops to long-forgotten disk-cracking utilities, The Apple II Age offers an unprecedented look at the people, the industry, and the money that built the microcomputing milieu—and why so much of it converged around the pioneering Apple II.
Laine Nooney is assistant professor of media and information industries at New York University. Their research has been featured by outlets such as The Atlantic, Motherboard, and NPR. They live in New York City, where their hobbies include motorcycles, tugboats, and Texas hold ’em.
Book Talk: The Apple II Age May 11 @ 6pm IN-PERSON @ 300 Funston Ave., San Francisco Register now for the free, in-person event
Join journalist MARIA BUSTILLOS for a virtual book talk with author & professor of law JESSICA SILBEY for her latest book, AGAINST PROGRESS.
When first written into the Constitution, intellectual property aimed to facilitate “progress of science and the useful arts” by granting rights to authors and inventors. Today, when rapid technological evolution accompanies growing wealth inequality and political and social divisiveness, the constitutional goal of “progress” may pertain to more basic, human values, redirecting IP’s emphasis to the commonweal instead of private interests.
Against Progress considers contemporary debates about intellectual property law as concerning the relationship between the constitutional mandate of progress and fundamental values, such as equality, privacy, and distributive justice, that are increasingly challenged in today’s internet age. Following a legal analysis of various intellectual property court cases, Jessica Silbey examines the experiences of everyday creators and innovators navigating ownership, sharing, and sustainability within the internet eco-system and current IP laws. Crucially, the book encourages refiguring the substance of “progress” and the function of intellectual property in terms that demonstrate the urgency of art and science to social justice today.
JESSICA SILBEY is Professor of Law at the Boston University School of Law. She is the author of Against Progress: Intellectual Property and Fundamental Values in the Internet Age (Stanford, 2022), The Eureka Myth: Creators, Innovators, and Everyday Intellectual Property (Stanford, 2015), and was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2018.
After spending years researching the history of U.S. copyright law, Jessica Litman says she wants to make it easy for others to find her work.
The law professor’s book, Digital Copyright, first published in 2001 by Prometheus Books, is available free online (read now). After it went out of print in 2015, University of Michigan Press agreed to publish an open access edition of the book. Litman updated all the footnotes (some of which were broken links to web pages only available through preservation on Internet Archive) and made the updated book available under a CC-BY-ND license in 2017.
“I wanted the book to continue to be useful,” Litman said. “Free copies on the web make it easy to read.”
Geared for a general audience, the book chronicles how copyright laws were drafted, written, lobbied and enacted in Congress over time. Litman researched the legislative history of copyright law, including development of the 1976 Copyright Act, and spent two years in Washington, D.C., observing Congress leading up to the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998.
“Copyright is very complicated. It can take years to agree on the text,” Litman said. “The laws that result from that process are predictable in disadvantaging the public interest because readers, listeners and viewers don’t sit at the bargaining table — or the people who create new technology because they don’t exist yet.”
Indeed, it’s in the interest of people crafting laws to erect entry barriers to anything new, Litman adds.
Initial response to her book was positive, said Litman, the John F. Nickoll Professor of Law at the University of Michigan. In 2006, she added an afterward with the release of a paperback edition of the book. As sales dwindled, the book went out of print. Still, Litman said there was demand and she wanted to make it broadly available to the public.
Taking advantage of the book contract’s termination clause, she wrote to the publisher to recapture rights to the book. Litman said she persuaded the University of Michigan Press to publish a revised online and print-on-demand edition with a new postscript under a Creative Commons CC-BY-ND license.
Many authors are not aware of this option and the nonprofit Authors Alliance, of which Litman was a founding member, helps provide resources to assist authors in the process of regaining their copyright.
Typically, publishers require authors to sign contracts giving up their copyright so the company can publish, distribute and make a return on the investment of the book. One of the challenges over time, explains Dave Hansen, Executive Director of the Alliance, is that a publisher may stop printing a book when sales drop below a certain threshold. Yet, there may be potential readers that the author still wants to reach, if he or she could reclaim the copyright.
Once the author has the rights back, there are low- or no-cost options to make it freely available. A copy can be donated to a collection at a library, such as the Internet Archive, for scanning and posting. Additionally, academic libraries are increasingly offering open access publishing services to reformat and post works online.
The Promise of Open
Today, Digital Copyright is being downloaded hundreds of times every month. Free copies of the book had been available on the web from the mid-2000, in a variety of open access archives including Michigan’s Deep Blue Repository. The book is also available for hard copy purchase from online booksellers as a print-on-demand book through University of Michigan Press’s Maize Books series.
Litman is among a growing number of academics who advocate for more open sharing of their research. On the University of Michigan Senate task force, Litman helped revise the university’s copyright policy to give the institution the right to archive all faculty scholarly work as a condition of transferring the copyright in the work to the faculty member who creates it. She also worked with the law school library to help its law journals rewrite their standard form contracts to allow open access publication.
Her advice to fellow authors: “Behave as if the law were more sensible than it is. Live in the world as you would like it to be, in hopes that the world will come around.”
Litman is an adviser for the American Law Institute’s Restatement of Copyright, a past trustee of the Copyright Society of the USA, a past chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Intellectual Property, and past member of the Future of Music Coalition’s advisory council.
She will discuss her open access publishing experience and her take on copyright law with Brewster Kahle at a free online book talk April 20. Register here.
How can public interest values shape the future of AI?
With the rise of generative artificial intelligence (AI), there has been increasing interest in how AI can be used in the description, preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage. While AI promises immense benefits, it also raises important ethical considerations.
WATCH SESSION RECORDING:
In this session, leaders from Internet Archive, Creative Commons and Wikimedia Foundation will discuss how public interest values can shape the development and deployment of AI in cultural heritage, including how to ensure that AI reflects diverse perspectives, promotes cultural understanding, and respects ethical principles such as privacy and consent.
Join us for a thought-provoking discussion on the future of AI in cultural heritage, and learn how we can work together to create a more equitable and responsible future.
The nonprofit Internet Archive is appealing a judgment that threatens the future of all libraries. Big publishers are suing to cut off libraries’ ownership and control of digital books, opening new paths for censorship and surveillance. If this ruling is allowed to stand, it will result in:
— Increased censorship or even deletion of books, decided only by big publishing shareholders — Big Tech growing its overreach into library patron’s data, making people unsafe by monitizing intimate personal information on what they read or research — Even more predatory licensing fees from Big Media monopolies, who are gobbling up public and school library budgets — Reduced access to books for people from every community — Losing libraries as preservers of vast swaths of history and culture, because they will never be allowed to own and preserve digital books
More information is available at BattleForLibraries.com. The organizers of that website are holding a rally at the Internet Archive on Funston St in San Francisco on Saturday, April 8, 2023 at 11 am.
All are welcome. Bring signs (we’ll also have some to share!) and join us to stand up for the rights of libraries to own and preserve books—whether they’re digital or print.
Can’t make it to the rally?
You can still participate & show your support for the digital rights of libraries in the following ways:
We should all recognize — and celebrate—the importance of commercial publishing, for authors and creators everywhere. Commercial publishing creates the income that authors depend upon to have the freedom to create great new works. Without commercial publishing, much of the greatest that will be won’t be written.
But we must also recognize that culture needs more than commercial publishing. If the business model of commercial publishing controlled our access to our past, then much of who we were, and much of how we learned to be better, would simply disappear.
Think about the extraordinary platform that is Netflix. For a small price each month, subscribers have access to thousands of movies and television shows, far more than at any point in human history. The revenue subscribers provide in turn lets Netflix invest in new creative work. No one who knew television from the 1970s could believe that the quality of television has not improved dramatically over the last 50 years.
Yet Netflix’ archive is not endless. And each year, the site culls titles from its collection and removes them from its library. Netflix does this for many reasons — for example, the content could be licensed from third parties, and the term of that license has expired, or the site may see that demand for the title is meager, so bearing the costs of carrying it no longer makes sense. Regardless of the reason, the decision is an economic one for Netflix — Netflix makes available only those titles that it continues to make economic sense to make available. Such is the business model of a commercial publisher.
But culture needs a different business model. We need access to our past, not just the part of our past that continues to be commercially viable. We need libraries that assure we can see everything our parents or grandparents saw, so we can understand why they were as they were, and how they got better. Great libraries preserve access to as much as they physically can — not based on which titles continue to earn revenue. The past is just one more competitor for a commercial publisher; but for a library, the past is a gift that is to be nurtured and protected, regardless of its commercial value.
We are at a critical moment in the history of culture. The lawsuit that the Internet Archive faces will determine whether the business model of culture is the commercial model alone, or whether there will continue to be a place for libraries, and therefore, continue to be a practice of assuring as much access to our past as is possible. The particular fight in this lawsuit is important; the general fight is critical: Is the past that we have access to just the past that continues to pay? Or is the past we can have reliable access to the past that libraries strive to make available — not for profit, but for the love of culture and for the truth that that access to all of culture continues to assure.
Heather Joseph is the executive director of SPARC. She spoke at the press conference hosted by Internet Archive ahead of oral argument in Hachette v. Internet Archive.
Access to knowledge is a fundamental human right.
We depend on being able to freely share knowledge each and every day. It’s foundational to how we navigate the world – from how we learn to how we work, to how we share our culture and understand our collective history. It’s also the lifeblood of how we advance discovery, and attack the biggest challenges that we face as a society. From cancer breakthroughs to climate justice, we rely on being able to access, build on and benefit from the knowledge generated by those around us.
We take for granted that knowledge is just – there, and that ANYONE can get it when and if they need it. But the reality is that too often, this simply isn’t the case. Especially in the world of scientific research, knowledge is treated as a commodity, and often carries a price tag that makes it unaffordable to all but the wealthiest individuals and institutions.
This is never more evident than in times of crises. From the avian flu to the global COVID 19 pandemic, we’ve seen the same pattern play out over and over again. When a health crisis looms, one of the very first thing that happens is that scientists, the public and policymakers have to plead with publishers to lower their paywalls and make sure that those who desperately need access to knowledge can get it. Whether it’s access to develop treatments and cures, or to make sure students can continue to learn, knowledge shouldn’t be kept locked behind glass that can only be broken in the event of an emergency. It should be readily available to all.
Libraries play a critical role in making this happen. They are designed to empower everyone – regardless of who you are, where you live, or your economic or political status – to access and use knowledge. Whether you walk into a physical library like the New York Public Library, or log into a digital one like the Internet Archive, you don’t need a PhD or a billion-dollar bank account to access the knowledge they hold.
We depend on libraries to do the crucial things they have done for centuries. Libraries collect. They preserve. And libraries lend. They collect materials to ensure access to the broadest range of ideas and facts. They preserve these materials for the long haul, because access to knowledge should not be ephemeral. Stable, consistent, long-term access is how we promote continuity and ultimately understand truth. Lending – one copy of a physical or digital object to one person at time is the bedrock process that libraries use to ensure free, fair and equitable knowledge sharing.
Libraries like the Internet Archive exist to ensure the universal sharing of knowledge. Sharing knowledge is a fundamental human right. Nothing could be more important to protect than that.