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Tag: library of congress

You Only Think You Own It

Following up on my recent rant about the DMCA hearings held this past week by the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office, Public Knowledge has more information about the testimony.

From what PK’s reporter is observing, it’s pretty clear that all sorts of special groups have their representatives at the table, but no one seems to be speaking for the rest of us.

I attended the last two days of the D.C. hearings and came away not only with a renewed understanding of how the DMCA is killing consumer rights especially fair use but also how much content owners are afraid of fair use. The hearing also reaffirmed something we have said always: the DMCA is used more to lock out competition than to protect copyrighted works.

What is more, the copyright owners fear that allowing documentarians and vidders to make clips would lead to a slippery slope. One day, every one would be able to circumvent TPMs and make clips for fair uses and that was not Congresses intent in enacting the DMCA!

This line, repeated often throughout the proceedings brought home the point that major copyright holders are out to stop not only “piracy” but any uncontrolled use, including fair use.

If the big content companies had their way (they have plenty of money and lawyers to make it happen), they would distribute everything on a pay-per-view basis.

Since they can’t do that right now, they’ll have to settle for pay-per-reuse.

In other words, if you own a DVD and want to watch it on your iPod, that will be an additional charge.

If you want to make a backup of that DVD for the kids to watch in the car, the MPAA’s solution is for you buy another copy.

And if you’re a teacher who wants to exercise your fair use rights by extracting a 90 second excerpt from a 90 minute documentary for your students to watch as part of the lesson, tough luck.

However, the DMCA is just one part of the totally screwed up intellectual property system in this country.

And the producers of DVD content are only one of the groups working to drastically restrict the rights of copyright users, which was as much the point of the original concept as protecting copyright owners.

For an excellent overview of the issues involved, read Cory Doctorow’s Why I Copyfight.

Building a Library Community

Last January, the Library of Congress took a very small part of their collection of photographs and put them on flickr, kicking off The Commons section of the online image sharing site.

We were essentially conducting an experiment to see how crowdsourcing might enhance the quality of the information we are able to provide about our collections, while also finding innovative ways to get those collections out to people who might have an avid interest in them.

So, was the experiment successful?

Only nine months into the Library of Congress’ pilot project placing Library photos on the Web site Flickr, the photos have drawn more than 10 million views, 7,166 comments and more than 67,000 tags, according to a new report from the project team overseeing the lively project.

“The popularity and impact of the pilot have been remarkable,” said Michelle Springer, project manager for digital initiatives in the Office of Strategic Initiatives, who said total views reached 10 million in October. The site is averaging 500,000 views a month, she said, adding that Flickr members have marked 79 percent of the photos as “favorites.”

Encouraging visitors to add comments has resulted in some very rich histories being written about some pictures, including information the curators at the Library never had.

Administrators at the Library are so pleased with the response from this toe-in-the-water trial that they are now looking for new web 2.0 communities to share more of their materials.

How about pulling some of that video out of the vaults and creating a Library channel on YouTube?

[Thanks to John for the link]

Growing the Commons

Back in January, the Library of Congress began an outreach experiment by posting a relatively small selection of pictures from their collection to flickr. Since then they’ve been adding about fifty images a week.

This month, two museums join the library in posting their pictures to The Commons section of the photo sharing site.

The Brooklyn Museum in New York contributed more than 500 images from their collection and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia added almost that many.

As with the images provided by the Library, visitors to the museums pages are encouraged to leave comments and add tags they believe will help users better find them.

All pictures also can be easily downloaded and carry “no known copyright restrictions” making them excellent materials for both teachers and students to use for projects and presentations.

Currently the collection at the top of the BM pages includes some interesting pictures from expeditions to Egypt in the early part of the 20th century.

Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more institutions joining the Commons very soon.

So What?

In the few days after the Library of Congress posted several thousand pictures from their collection to flickr, I read or heard a surprising number of negative comments about the move.

Many were along the lines of “So, what? All of them are on the LOC site already.” or “Big deal! It’s only a very small part of their collection.”.

Well, a post on the flickr blog explains so what.

In the 24 hours after we launched, you added over 4,000 unique tags across the collection (about 19,000 tags were added in total, for example, “Rosie the Riveter” has been added to 10 different photos so far). You left just over 500 comments (most of which were remarkably informative and helpful), and the Library has made a ton of new friends (almost overwhelming the email account at the Library, thanks to all the “Someone has made you a contact” emails)!

The participation of a larger community is making these images even more accessible and informative than they’ve ever been.

Hopefully, the positive response will also encourage the Library and others to allow more of their materials to be tagged and enhanced by “ordinary” people.

And THAT’S the big deal!

Extending the Library

The people at the Library of Congress have worked hard to provide access to materials from the public collections on their web site, especially through the wonderful American Memory.

Now they are reaching out even farther by posting more than 3000 images in flickr.

Based on a quick scan through their section, the pictures seem to be pretty high quality, most in color from the 40’s and 50’s.

More importantly, the images come with fairly detailed documentation about the subjects and origins of the pictures, are extensively tagged, and have no copyright restrictions.

Hopefully, this is just the start of the Library and other public educational institutions extending access to their materials by offering them through the common gathering places on the web like flickr.

I wonder when their video collection will start showing up in YouTube.

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