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Non-Profit Org Claims Rights In Library Catalog Data

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the paging-dr-gracenote dept.

Books 152

lamona writes "The main source of the bibliographic records that are carried in library databases is a non-profit organization called OCLC. Over the weekend OCLC 'leaked' its new policy that claims contractual rights in the subsequent uses of the data, uses such as downloading book information into Zotero or other bibliographic software. The policy explicitly forbids any use that would compete with OCLC. This would essentially rule out the creation of free and open databases of library content, such as the Open Library and LibraryThing. The library blogosphere is up in arms . But can our right to say: "Twain, Mark. The adventures of Tom Sawyer" be saved?"

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152 comments

DDS (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751297)

Who knew you could own a part of the Dewey Decimal System? [wikipedia.org]

Re:DDS (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25751349)

I used to steal cards out of the card file when I was young... can I claim prior art?

ObFuturama (3, Funny)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751385)

"Dewey, You Fool! Your Decimal System Has Played Right Into My Hands! Ha Ha Ha Ha!"

Although I guess OCLC is saying that instead of the giant brains.

Re:ObAl (3, Funny)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752457)

Timid Man: Can you tell me where I can find a book on astronomy?

[Conan the Librarian lifts the man up with his bare hands]

Conan the Librarian: Don't you know the Dewey Decimal System?

Re:DDS (4, Insightful)

captainjaroslav (893479) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751887)

Um, anybody who knew more than what they learned in elementary school about the DDC (it's actually called the Dewey Decimal Classification) to begin with probably knew that. Admittedly, that's not very many people, unfortunately. I understand why a lot of people question IP laws in general, but I don't understand why so many people are surprised to find out that the DDC is a piece of IP like any other.

Now, the fact that one needs to pay to get the full version of the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) confuses me a little more, since it's actually a governement-created resource. Well, actually I guess I do know. LC, and especially it's under-appreciated traditional services, like cataloging, classification and authority control are so underfunded that they actually need to charge money to libraries to keep those projects alive. Alas.

Re:DDS (0, Flamebait)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752627)

but I don't understand why so many people are surprised to find out that the DDC is a piece of IP like any other.

Maybe it's because there is no such thing as intellectual property!
Just because the people (trough the state) grant you a right to be the only one to earn cash from something for some years, this does not mean that you can actually own thoughts.

The only thoughts you can keep just for you, are the one that you keep just for you. If you talk about them or spread your ideas otherwise, they are in the public domain, and in the brains of others. By your theory, it's now their IP too (because their intellect has the information). If it's in the public domain, it stays there. Live with it.

It's a sad day, when even Slashdot is infected by the brainwashing disinformation of the media industry and similar douchebags.

Re:DDS (2, Insightful)

captainjaroslav (893479) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753023)

Way to completely miss the point! The name-calling is especially constructive, too.

I said "I understand why a lot of people question IP laws in general..."

Then, in your rush to use your ever-so-clever language like "douchebag" (the 80s called, BTW, they want their slang back) and to talk about "my ideas" and "my theory," you completely ignored this ever-so-important part of the sentence.

You see, you don't think ANYTHING is protected as IP. I asked, however, that if A is protected, why should it be so surprising that B is protected. You then started foaming at the mouth and ranting without having actually understood what you were reading.

Why am I bothering to explain this? Sigh. I must me new here.

Re:DDS (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753845)

Well. English is my third language out of four, and Jon Steward says "douchbag" or "douche" all the time. So your 80s argument is worthless.

Re:DDS (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753893)

Oh. And I may have misunderstood you. But I'm still right. Sorry to break it for you...

Re:DDS (1)

captainjaroslav (893479) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754063)

"Sorry to break it for you..."

Since I never said you were wrong, what exactly are you "breaking for me?"

You keep insisting that I am defending IP law as it currently exists, which I never did.

Re:DDS (2, Insightful)

CyberKnet (184349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754193)

If you think that you misunderstood him then the appropriate thing to do is to apologize, not to attempt to further insult him. And then you should probably think longer about whether you understand what people are saying before you post online about something.

It's great that you take initiative to learn a lot of languages, I applaud you for that. However, the effort you have expended in this endeavor does not entitle you to behave as badly as you have.

You should really consider apologizing.

Re:DDS (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754889)

You should really consider apologizing.

That would be a sign of weakness, and upon the first such exhibition the ravenous Slashdot hordes will descend upon him, leaving only his empty carcass behind.

Re:DDS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25753697)

LC, and especially it's under-appreciated traditional services, like cataloging, classification and authority control are so underfunded that they actually need to charge money to libraries to keep those projects alive. Alas.

The Library doesn't have a choice about charging for its services. The Federal government requires agencies to do "cost recovery" [whitehouse.gov]for data that they disseminate to the public. So if you want a copy of their catalog records (in bulk) they must charge the cost of making the copy available.

Fortunately, they allow you to download individual records from their database, skirting the Federal rules somewhat. And note that every record has a permanent URL, [slashdot.org] so you can download a record if you have the recordID (which is NOT visible in the OCLC WorldCat database, for this very reason). Also note that copies of LC data for books (millions of records) have been made available on the Internet Archive by the Open Library [openlibrary.org] folks.

Re:DDS: market (1)

Lotharjade (750874) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752469)

Didn't you know? That is the new financial market trading system. People will now be able to buy, sell, and invest in the Dewey Decimal System. Buy the 500 subsection now while you still can. Fortunately it will be unregulated market with no government oversight. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?!?

Re:DDS (2, Interesting)

OSPolicy (1154923) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752509)

When you say "own", people may assume that this is a copyright thing. It's not. In Feist v. Rural, the US Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that facts cannot be copyrighted (owned). This database is just a collection of facts, hence not subject to copyright. It's basically exactly like the case in Feist v. Rural in which the parties were fighting over the list of names in the white pages of a phone book. For those who like legalese, try http://www.law.cornell.edu/copyright/cases/499_US_340.htm [cornell.edu].

That's why these guys are coming at it with contract law instead of copyright. They're telling libraries that the contract they signed to get the data controls what the libraries can do with the data. The contract apparently says, or the data provider wants people to believe that it says, that libs can use the data themselves, but cannot transfer it.

Re:DDS (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 5 years ago | (#25755005)

> The contract apparently says, or the data provider wants people to believe
> that it says, that libs can use the data themselves, but cannot transfer it.

My understanding of how this works with the OCLC MARC record service is that you can use the records in your own library catalog, which means you can show the records to people who are looking up books on your catalog, but you can't allow others (e.g., other libraries) to copy them into another database (e.g., another library catalog) that's also going to be publicly available. Something like a home user's browser cache would not get you into any trouble, but mutual Z39.50 catalog-sharing agreements with other library systems (a very common practice, at least as common as using the OCLC records) is verboten if you use the OCLC MARC record service.

That's one reason a lot of libraries don't use their service. Cost is another. The widespread availability of free records from other sources (including the LOC, book vendors like Baker & Taylor, many of whom can just bundle the records in with your book orders these days, and the aforementioned mutual sharing agreements with other libraries) is a third reason.

The library blogosphere is up in arms! (5, Funny)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751345)

God help us all.

Re:The library blogosphere is up in arms! (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751561)

It's too late. You're all doomed.

Thanks,
God

Re:The library blogosphere is up in arms! (4, Funny)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752017)

God is dead.

-Niet~*&%a~~NO CARRIER

Re:The library blogosphere is up in arms! (0, Troll)

spazdor (902907) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752431)

Here's the part where AC comes in and tells us what happens when you stare into the abyss [goat.cx]

Re:The library blogosphere is up in arms! (2, Interesting)

jonadab (583620) | more than 5 years ago | (#25755081)

Actually, the way I heard it, Neitzche is dead.

(No, I don't just mean physically. I mean it the way he meant it. He has far fewer remaining followers than God.)

Re:The library blogosphere is up in arms! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25753309)

"God"? But your name isn't morgan_freeman!

Re:The library blogosphere is up in arms! (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753431)

"God"? But your name isn't morgan_freeman!

It might be.
You never asked.

Re:The library blogosphere is up in arms! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25752215)

Librarians are a dangerous bunch. If you try to mess with information, they will mess with you. You think geeks overuse the mantra "information wants to be free"? Librarians live it. Oh sure they seem mild-mannered, but just try and put limits on the information they possess and see what happens. Or better yet don't, because if you're lucky what will happen is you'll be dead. If you're not lucky, you'll live through it.

Re:The library blogosphere is up in arms! (2)

zip_000 (951794) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753597)

As a librarian, I can tell you that we are not a dangerous bunch. Greyfox has it right - we may get up in arms over something, but ultimately we do nothing. At best we have a long meeting about it.

Re:The library blogosphere is up in arms! (3, Funny)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753741)

At best we have a long meeting about it.

Lets pray it never comes to that.

Hey! (3, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752675)

They'll blog furiously about it! There might even be a flame war! Someone could... get their feelings hurt. Or something.

Re:The library blogosphere is up in arms! (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 5 years ago | (#25755035)

It could be worse. They could be all up in arms about the whole "Library 2.0" thing again, and how evil it is to restrict flagrantly inappropriate behaviors (such as skateboarding) in the library.

Non-profit huh? (1)

Cynic9 (842597) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751443)

Odd that a non-profit site would have a link to Products and Services. I guess when you get a quote on their site you can pay in peanuts.

Re:Non-profit huh? (1)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751591)

A non-profit is not the same as a not-for-profit. A non-profit can be just as greedy and evil (if not more so) than your typical company, and still retain certain tax advantages.

Re:Non-profit huh? (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751941)

Actually they are the same [wikipedia.org] for most of us.

Nonprofit mostly means that your directors don't get $1 billion a year compensation programs and you don't issue stock. The rest is in the flavor of the organization and the laws of the state you incorporated in.

Re:Non-profit huh? (1)

Cynic9 (842597) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752319)

"A non-profit organization (abbreviated "NPO", also "not-for-profit") is a legally constituted organization whose objective is to support or engage in activities of public or private interest without any commercial or monetary profit. In many countries some NPOs will be charities, but there will also be many NPOs which are not charitable organizations." That's from Wiki, sounds like these guys would make a monetary profit though.

Re:Non-profit huh? (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751827)

There's a difference between 'income', which is often paid out to providers of space, bandwidth, utilities, and manpower, and 'profit', which is what is accrued above and beyond operating costs.

Take back the data! (4, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751467)

Jeez, has everyone here gone soft? Download it, repackage it, and give it to your friends. To hell with the law! I'm not saying screw over the authors but if it's been out more than 15 years, to hell with corporate interest then. Practice an act of civil disobedience. And as Mark Twain would say, "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way." Tell these corporate bastards we're not going to pay anymore. It's their turn to give something back, rather than just take, take, take.

Re:Take back the data! (4, Interesting)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751641)

Keep in mind that civil disobedience carries with it the willingness to suffer the consequences.

"Tell these corporate bastards we're not going to pay anymore."

Completely within your rights as they stand now. Don't buy and don't receive -- simple.

"It's their turn to give something back, rather than just take, take, take."

They already do, it's called exchange. What is it you're willing to give them for their work? Oh yeah -- "To hell with the law!".

Re:Take back the data! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751927)

As well other then willing to suffer the consequences, you should also come up with a good reason why you are performing this. Performing crimes in the Name of Civil disobedience then getting locked up as just a liberal wacko as you had a lame argument for your crime will not help anything. Also need to realize Copy and IP Rights, is not a big deal for most americans. And your time spent doing Civil disobedience would be better off raising public interests and perception of your cause legally. As if you have a strong public mindshare behind you your Civil Disobedience would have greater effect.

Besides if you show your side as a bunch of criminals anyway who don't care for the rule of law it will not help your cause.

Re:Take back the data! (1)

pcfixup4ua (1263816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754165)

Another problem is that IP is the only asset we have of value as a nation. That, and a strong military which may be used to enforce IP. Wait until people die because someone needed to collect a royalty for some drug to become available. IP is about to become something much bigger than copying music or movies. The awarding of superfluous patents, and their enforcement will eventually stifle innovation, and set up the next world war between the US and the "third world".

Re:Take back the data! (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752003)

Thats only true as a result of a social contract between a citizen and their government. When the government violates that social contract the "civil" aspect of the disobedience goes out the window.

I mean rationality would indicate that if you do anything you are willing to suffer the consequences, but there is a little more to it than that. It's really more like:

if( (probablity_of_benefit)*(benefit) > (probability_of_consequences)(consequences) ){
breakTheLaw();
}

In the case of civil disobedience, on the other hand, you would ideally be doing it to make a point instead of simply for the direct benefits you derive from the act.

Re:Take back the data! (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752677)

Nice formula. Lets apply to music..

if( (probablity_of_benefit)*(benefit) > (probability_of_consequences)(consequences) ){
breakTheLaw();
}

1 (approaches 1, music files form torrents work nice) * 1 (you get the files) > 1e-8 (roughly the average of getting a 5k lawsuit) * 5e3 (settlement)

1 > 5e-5

break_the_law(True)

and I hate camelcase.

Re:Take back the data! (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752163)

Keep in mind that civil disobedience carries with it the willingness to suffer the consequences.

While etymologically "civil disobedience" meant that, the term as commonly used today does not necessarily suggest that a person would be willing to undergo punishment. Indeed, I suspect in many counter-cultural rounds, the term is no longer even limited to non-violent action. The meanings of words change, l'arbitraire du signe and all that, and we have to adapt so that we can understand each other.

Re:Take back the data! (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752261)

You just exposed the whole left wing agenda against the "evil" corporations. Don't like Comcast, don't buy cable. Don't like DirectTV either, then don't buy it. Don't then complain because you have no ESPN either.

The problem with people like that, is that they want everything on their own terms, rather than the terms being offered.

The whole GIMME GIMME GIMME thing is getting old and tired.

Re:Take back the data! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25753421)

What's ESPN?
    TV? You mean the thing I have my DVD player hooked up to?

Hmph! Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie is the whole point behind the new-fangled Liberal "Positive Rights" that the judges keep "finding" in my constitution full of negative rights.

But don't mind me, I'm just a conservative. Completely unimportant in the HOPEful CHANGEd country. (lol)

      - EbeneezerSquid (not anonymous, just lazy)

Re:Take back the data! (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753429)

> Don't then complain because you have no ESPN either.

This is the kind of crap is the first stuff that I mark as "not visible" in my channel table (mythtv).

Re:Take back the data! (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753687)

There is a huge difference between Mark Twain and ESPN. Another difference is that if you control the catalog data and you delete that data, you've basically burnt a book - it disappears.

Re:Take back the data! (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752429)

"Tell these corporate bastards we're not going to pay anymore."

Completely within your rights as they stand now. Don't buy and don't receive -- simple.


This has an inherent presupposition that you can go do for yourself if you don't want to participate in exchange. If the rules that require you to participate in exchange also forbid you from doing for yourself, that's tyranny. You don't practice tolerance with tyranny. You fight to the bitter end, not giving an inch, until you have your liberty back.

Sorry to tell you, but you were born in tyranny, you live in tyranny, and you don't even understand why it's tyranny or what freedom is supposed to feel like. When you cannot address your needs personally because the law bars you from doing so, but are forced to instead engage in arbitrary activity for some third party in order to meet your needs, you are a slave. That's you, and me as well.

Re:Take back the data! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25752615)

Sorry to tell you, but you were born in tyranny, you live in tyranny, and you don't even understand why it's tyranny or what freedom is supposed to feel like. When you cannot address your needs personally because the law bars you from doing so, but are forced to instead engage in arbitrary activity for some third party in order to meet your needs, you are a slave. That's you, and me as well.

God damn you're touchy about book databases. Is it time to arm ourselves, storm the capitol, and write down the titles of everything in the LOC?

You come across as an immature idiot who wants to play arm-chair revolutionary. Were you Robin Hood or Guy Fawkes for Halloween this year?

Re:Take back the data! (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753209)

You come across as an immature idiot who wants to play arm-chair revolutionary. Were you Robin Hood or Guy Fawkes for Halloween this year?

Che Guevara, actually.

Re:Take back the data! (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754085)

I know what civil disobedience means. As in, as Thoreau meant it, not like most people do today. And no -- I think you miss my point. They have no right to charge for it in the first place, there's no exchange... A corporation shouldn't own something that should be in the public domain. What I'm saying is "I don't agree with the law, nor your warped interpretation of it, and so I'm going to break it, say I broke it, and if you've got the gumption to come after me then let's go at it... And I will make you suffer for it in legal fees far, far more than you'll ever be able to collect from me by any means."

If enough people do this, they lose, regardless of what the law says or the judges or anyone else.

Re:Take back the data! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25752541)

"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."

Pardon me, I have to go get a cat now.

They can claim.... (5, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751509)

They can claim anything that they want, but they can't enforce property rights on something they don't own.

Re:They can claim.... (4, Interesting)

mblase (200735) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752149)

That's like saying the Encyclopedia Brittannica can't enforce copyright on its stories, because they don't own the facts.

In other words: no, OCLC doesn't own the books, or the facts about them, but they do own the database.

But that's not even the issue (although you're forgiven for having to dig around to find the real issue, since the article summary above doesn't really say it). It's the fact that OCLC wants to be the only records database out there, and is trying to use legal force to stop libraries from sharing their records with anybody else.

Re:They can claim.... (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752341)

That's also what's most confusing. Their database is, at heart, a list of books.

How can they imagine that they could prevent other people from making a similar list?

Re:They can claim.... (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752765)

I imagine they feel that assigning a number to the books is a creative act.

They use a system, that has some human judgment involved in picking that number.

For example, a list of books published can't be treated as property, but if I have a top 10 list I bet it could (speculation).

Re:They can claim.... (3, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752597)

That's like saying the Encyclopedia Brittannica can't enforce copyright on its stories, because they don't own the facts.

It owns the "articles," true, but it can't prevent the "facts" from being transfered.

In other words: no, OCLC doesn't own the books, or the facts about them, but they do own the database.

Sort of true, the copyright in this case *only* applies to when original work incorporated in to the collection of facts, making the "collection" a copyrighted entity.

although you're forgiven for having to dig around to find the real issue

The arrogance of Slashdot posters astounds me. Most are all too quick to assume that someone does not know the specifics. You always lead with some a-hole comment intended to ad-hominem rather than rely on your own merit of argument.

Leave *me* out of your debate, address facts and issues alone, thank you very much.

At issue is a court ruling that a database collection of publicly known facts can comprise an original work. However, there must be original work involved, not merely the simple aggregation of data, but original work that augments the data.

A database of books based on the standard library card catalog is not something whose collection would be protected by copyright. If, however, they incorporated original work such as reviews and ratings, then the database could be protected by copyright.

So, when I say "they can claim what they want, but they can't enforce property rights on that which they do not own," the statement is true and accurate, so much so that it is inarguable. The issue is what constitutes an original work worthy of copyright protection.

Re:They can claim.... (1)

onecheapgeek (964280) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754041)

You said:
"A database of books based on the standard library card catalog is not something whose collection would be protected by copyright."

Theoretically, you are correct except for the fact that they compiled that "standard library card catalog" (hereafter referred to as Dewey Decimal Classification or DDC) system initially, making the numbering the original work. http://www.oclc.org/dewey/ [oclc.org]

Since they originally compiled the books and created the numbering system (thereby creating a unique database which is no longer simply facts, known as the DDC), your post amounts to a whole lot of "whoosh" followed by an astounding amount of nothingness.

If anyone is to blame for this, it is the libraries who license that database instead of something a little more free, in all respects.

Re:They can claim.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25754223)

Theoretically, you are correct except for the fact that they compiled that "standard library card catalog" (hereafter referred to as Dewey Decimal Classification or DDC) system initially, making the numbering the original work. http://www.oclc.org/dewey/ [oclc.org] [oclc.org]

Again, they can claim anything. That does not mean that they are right.

Since they originally compiled the books and created the numbering system

i don't think it is accurate to say that "they" "created" the numbering system, the DDC was created in 1876. At issue would be whether or not adding the DDC constitutes an original work.

I would still say that it is mere aggregation and not a "new" creative work.

Re:They can claim.... (1)

rgviza (1303161) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753391)

no, they are trying to stop the libraries from distributing their database and other people from profiting from their database, without kicking some money back. That's fair considering the amount of work it takes for them to keep the database updated.
------------------Actual Agreement Summary-------
OCLC® encourages and supports the widespread, non-commercial use of WorldCat records for scholarship and research to advance innovation that benefits libraries, museums, archives and their users. The âoePolicy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat® Recordsâ is intended to foster such use while protecting the investment OCLC members have made in WorldCat, and ensuring that use of WorldCat records provides benefit to the membership.

YOU ARE FREE:

      1. To use, reproduce, incorporate into works and display WorldCat records.
      2. To transfer WorldCat records of your libraryâ(TM)s, archiveâ(TM)s or museumâ(TM)s own holdings.

UNDER THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:

      1. Noncommercial Use. Use of WorldCat records for commercial purposes requires a separate agreement with OCLC.
      2. Noncommercial Transfer. WorldCat records may not be sold, sublicensed, or otherwise transferred for a fee, other economic gain or commercial purposes.
      3. Attribution. OCLC encourages you to identify WorldCat and OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. as the source of WorldCat-derived records.
      4. Reasonable Use. Use must not discourage the contribution of bibliographic and holdings data to WorldCat or substantially replicate the function, purpose, and/or size of WorldCat.
      5. Modification. OCLC encourages you not to remove the OCLC number, the link to the policy, and any other means of attribution from WorldCat-derived records.
      6. Conveyance. The policy terms and conditions remain in effect following the transfer of WorldCat records.
--------------------end agreement summary--------

This is likely a reaction to funding cuts and reduced donations due to the shitty economy.

Maybe they want to stay in operation and survive?

There are almost no "free" databases that don't have some provision in their license about using it for profit or redistributing it. Even when you pay for a database you usually have to pay a redistribution license fee (often per unit) if you plan to use it to make money or incorporate it into a product.

Nothing to see here, move along...

-Viz

Don't Steal My Information! (4, Funny)

serutan (259622) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751607)

Serutan's Fun Factz #22583: Columbus is the capital of Ohio.
Serutan's Fun Factz #57661: The chemical formula for water is H20.
- - - - - - -
Policy for Use and Transfer of Serutan's Fun-Factz Records:

YOU ARE FREE:

      1. To use, reproduce, incorporate into works and display Serutan's Fun Factz records.
      2. To transfer Serutan's Fun Factz records of your libraryâ(TM)s, archiveâ(TM)s or museumâ(TM)s own holdings.

UNDER THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:

      1. Noncommercial Use. Use of Serutan's Fun Factz records for commercial purposes requires a separate agreement with OCLC.
      2. Noncommercial Transfer. Serutan's Fun Factz records may not be sold, sublicensed, or otherwise transferred for a fee, other economic gain or commercial purposes.
      3. Attribution. Serutan encourages you to identify Serutan's Fun Factz as the source of Serutan's Fun Factz-derived records.
      4. Reasonable Use. Use must not discourage the contribution of bibliographic and holdings data to Serutan's Fun Factz or substantially replicate the function, purpose, and/or size of Serutan's Fun Factz.
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Have a Fun-Factz-Filled day!

Re:Don't Steal My Information! (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753551)

Serutan's Fun Factz #57661: The chemical formula for water is H20.

How'd you manage to cram 20 hydrogen atoms into a single molecule? I'd bet there are some professional chemists who'd be quite interested in recreating such a feat...

Re:Don't Steal My Information! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25754915)

you r such a dork (not in a bad way)(funny)
how would he write it?

Re:Don't Steal My Information! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25754121)

the instructions clearly state

"Do not taunt serutan fun facts"

I've been wondering about them. (2, Interesting)

Bryan Bytehead (9631) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751749)

I've been wondering what was going to happen to OCLC in the Internet age. I have thought it was strange that up until now, they really have been under the radar. Sounds like that's going to change.

Then there is Chemical Abstracts [cas.org] that lives in the same town that I'm pretty sure has much more money than OCLC. That's another Internet fight.

Re:I've been wondering about them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25751889)

Looking at the cas website, I was rather disappointed in the "solutions" tab ...

Import Library of Congress to Evergreen or Koha (4, Interesting)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751867)

Some of the problems caused by OCLC can be avoided by using better tools. Evergreen [evergreen-ils.org], Koha [koha.org] are both feature-rich, open source integrated library systems. They're not just competitive, in many cases they are just plain better.

Another danger point is Metalib. The Z39.50 profiles are about the only advantage there, aside from the sales pitch. Those are public anyway and could easily be listed centrally by pooling resources to the tune of a few cents per month per participating organization.

However, all that is about the code and the article is about claims of ownership over database content. Well fortunately enough, data can be imported, exported and shared between systems like Koha or Evergreen without ever having anything to do with OCLC. Most libraries, even many library consortia, no longer have any catalogers. In those cases, import the metadata for the catalog from the Library of Congress, that's what it's there for...

Re:Import Library of Congress to Evergreen or Koha (1)

edmicman (830206) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752331)

Whoa, thanks for the links - those are really cool! Not that I have a use for them per se, but I used to do some tech support for one of the local libraries around here. I remember the Follet system they had (and assume they are still using it). Heck, my local library I think still uses an ooollld version of that...auto-graphics or something. It's really neat to see some solid looking open source solutions out there.

Re:Import Library of Congress to Evergreen or Koha (2, Interesting)

mls (97121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752505)

Is LOC data accessed through Z39.50 or their MARC gateway in the Public Domain?

I know they are a Federal Government body, and their work might be public domain, but I am not entirely clear. Other Federal Agencies restrict access to their data based on privacy laws, or by working through contractors (who might not be subject to the Public Domain rule, I'm not sure).

I understand they might charge a fee for distribution of media, but I'm talking about access of the data via the Internet gateways.

Re:Import Library of Congress to Evergreen or Koha (1)

metallic (469828) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754105)

Well, the problem is whether or not the Library of Congress has a record for what you are cataloging. For example, my institution's library consists of a large number of rare books that do not appear in the LoC database. I'm sure there are plenty of other organizations in the same boat as us, which is how OCLC stays in business.

OCLC Didn't Create the Records (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25751877)

OCLC stores the bibliographic records in its database, but it did not create the vast majority of them. The records were created by catalogers at thousands of libraries. These libraries contribute their records to OCLC so that they can be shared with other libraries, but never do they grant OCLC ownership of the records.

Re:OCLC Didn't Create the Records (1)

berend botje (1401731) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753149)

Therefore, to make an example, the directors of OCLC need to be thrown in jail for any of the following: extortion, fraud, RICO. Or just rounded up and shot, fine with me.

Okay, let me see if I got this right.... (3, Interesting)

mblase (200735) | more than 5 years ago | (#25751919)

...OCLC is a business (sorry, non-profit) that has orchestrated a ginormous database of bibliographic data and summaries, which it then sells to libraries both on- and off-line.

Libraries that use and display these records are expected to indicate that they were provided by OCLC and cannot be re-copied en masse.

So far, I can't blame 'em. That's a huge database to just let slip away for free. However, I imagine that this part of the policy would make a few libraries upset:

Reasonable Use. Use must not discourage the contribution of bibliographic and holdings data to WorldCat or substantially replicate the function, purpose, and/or size of WorldCat.

Which, to me, translates as "If you use our database, you're not allowed to compete with us, period."

Re:Okay, let me see if I got this right.... (5, Insightful)

mblase (200735) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752029)

This guy [aaronsw.com], peeled from the Wikipedia list of comments, seems to summarize the real problem here better than I'd guessed:

At least folks could build an alternative to OCLC. So that's what I and others have been doing -- Open Library provides a free collection of over 20 million book records that anyone can browse, download, contribute to, and reuse for absolutely free. Naturally, OCLC hasn't been a fan. They've been trying to kill it from the beginning -- threatening its funders with lawsuits, insulting it in the press, and putting pressure on member libraries not to cooperate. (Again, notice the reversal: an organization libraries create to help them has now become so powerful that it is forcing libraries to help it.)

But recently, it's gone one step way too far. Not satisfied with controlling the world's largest source of book information, it wants to take over all the smaller ones as well. It's now demanding that every library that uses WorldCat give control over all its catalog records to OCLC. It literally is asking libraries to put an OCLC policy notice on every book record in their catalog. It wants to own every library.

Basically, they're feeling threatened by the Internet, they've locked Google and Yahoo out of their web-based records, and they don't want the records (which member libraries actually paid them to contribute to) being given away to anybody else.

Pooh on them. If this keeps up, it looks like they're liable to be replaced by something smaller, faster, and free-er that uses the Internet. Like the RIAA, they're being dangerously slow to embrace the new technology so widely used by their own customers. Unlike the RIAA, they stand a good chance of being completely circumvented if small libraries decide they'd rather share their records with someone like Google.

Re:Okay, let me see if I got this right.... (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753829)

Yet another business that's trying to delay their inevitable death by being greedy rather than adapting to new situations so they can survive. I mean, how popular are libraries anymore? Personally, I'm within walking distance of probably more that a dozen, and have only used them when explicitly required by a teacher. The internet has far more information than a single library, and is a lot more convenient. If you want an intro to something, there's Wikipedia, if you need current research then most journals are searchable online.

The way I see it, it's definitely in OCLC's best interest to embrace the internet and help libraries gain some popularity. While the internet is good for gaining general or ultraspecific information, it's slightly lacking in providing the stuff in between. Books, OTOH, are excellent at this. Rather than tightening it's grip on its database, OCLC should be begging Google and such to use it. I.e. if someone does a Google search then various books related to the topic could show up. Integrate this with Google Maps and individual library stocks and you could show the nearest library that has those books. Perhaps even reserve them or request an inter library loan.

Re:Okay, let me see if I got this right.... (5, Informative)

jbriceiii (709821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752515)

I am a library director and I have used OCLC in my career. Your statements have a number of errors in them. OCLC is a user generated database. It is also a Union Catalog of all the libraries who use OCLC. It is also a means of sharing materials by using the Union Catalog for Inter Library Loans. If a library needs a MARC record (a digital bibliographic record in a very specific electronic format) it goes to OCLC to see if anyone else has that record. If no one has the record then the library creates the MARC record using common cataloging standards such as LC subject headings and Dewey Decimal Classification. Once the record is saved any other library can then use it for its own catloging. OCLC stores the record, keeps track of who owns the material. Libraries pay a geat deal of money for these services. Now OCLC is saying that this information which was not developed by them is there property and cannot be used without their permission.

Re:Okay, let me see if I got this right.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25753867)

Now OCLC is saying that this information which was not developed by them is there property

You sure you're a library director ?

Re:Okay, let me see if I got this right.... (1)

ChaosDiscord (4913) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753203)

So far, I can't blame 'em. That's a huge database to just let slip away for free.

To the extent that I can't blame a coyote for killing my pet rabbit that slipped out of the house, I suppose. But to the extent that the contents of their database was almost entirely donated by their customers for free (or in some cases, they were paid to add it), and they now want to have a monopoly on that donated information, it's decidedly douchey and against the spirit of libraries.

other crooked OCLC behaviors (4, Interesting)

Moebius Loop (135536) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752063)

This comes as no surprise to me. I work for a small record label that provides a streaming audio service to about 150 colleges and institutions. Many of our clients like to have information about our content stored in their institutional catalog/OPAC.

The thing is, these catalog systems pretty much only accept MARC-formatted records. The MARC format is kind of obscure, and it's nothing we want to generate ourselves, so we provide CSV data to OCLC and they convert it to MARC format for us.

The amazing part of the racket they're running is that we have to *pay* OCLC to make these records for us, and then they turn around and require *another* payment from anyone who wants to use the records.

We aren't even entitled to our own copy of the data they've converted for us. Presumably, if we wanted it, we'd have to purchase it from the people we gave it to in the first place. It's needless to say, but we also don't see any kind of profit sharing from OCLC when 150 libraries each purchase thousands of these records.

Re:other crooked OCLC behaviors (3, Interesting)

esme (17526) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752427)

Assuming your metadata isn't too complicated (and since you're using CSV, I'm assuming it isn't), it should be very simple to convert it to MARC using MARC4J [tigris.org]. I'm not sure if there are similar libraries for Perl or other languages.

In fact, I'd be happy to help you with this, since it's pretty ridiculous to be charging for such a simple service. You can email me at escowles [at] ucsd.edu.

-Esme

Re:other crooked OCLC behaviors (1)

jbriceiii (709821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752697)

MARC record can look intimidating however, they are not all of that complicated. MARC is just a file format standard that allows the recording of bibliographic data. Anyone can learn MARC and there are a number of very good open source programs that can be used to create a MARC record. There is no reason to pay for these services if you are able to download and install the proper software. For example the Koha ILS open source program has a feature where you type in bibliographic data such author, title, subject, etc into a form hit a button and it will create a valid MARC record for you. Once the MARC record is created you can then use Koha to display the MARC records through its built in Z39.50 search feature. (Z39.50 is a search feature that allows anyone to search, access and download MARC records from any libraries ILS software.)

Re:other crooked OCLC behaviors (1)

metallic (469828) | more than 5 years ago | (#25755025)

Inputting the record into a MARC editor isn't the hard part. The problem is that the actual rules for how to catalog data are incredibly complex. For example, there are the ALA set of cataloging rules and the AACR2 cataloging rules. The books on these are absolutely huge.

Re:other crooked OCLC behaviors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25753233)

What is this "entitled" you speak of? You have the CSV records you sent to OCLC. You (like many other people) can hire a reasonably-competent programmer to turn that CSV into MARC or whatever your library computers speak, with no reference whatsoever to OCLC.

You want the stuff for yourself, you hire the programmer to do the work. Voila! It's yours.

Re:other crooked OCLC behaviors (1)

VirginMary (123020) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754001)

> The amazing part of the racket they're running is that we have to *pay* OCLC to make these records for us, and then they turn around and require *another* payment from anyone who wants to use the records.

How much do you pay to get these MARC records made? I might be able to do the same thing for the same price but you or your organization would retain all rights to the records!

Google Books (2, Informative)

DevanJedi (892762) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752207)

The simple reason this is happening is Google Books. From the OCLC FAQ:

# My library has been contacted by a commercial search engine company about contributing our catalog for use in the search engine's system. Does the Policy permit the transfer of WorldCat-derived records from our catalog to the search engine company?
Since the search engine company is a commercial organization, there must be an agreement in place between OCLC and the search engine company prior to the transfer of WorldCat-derived records. OCLC can let you know if it has an agreement with the search engine company in question. Please submit a WorldCat Record Use Form to OCLC or ask the search engine company to submit a WorldCat Record Use Form to OCLC and we will reply within five business days.

old story, OCLC at it again (5, Interesting)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752327)

I am a systems librarian (librarian who is in charge of the servers and systems) who has dealt with OCLC for thirty years. They tried to do this with libraries as well, claiming ownership of information that has, for the most part, been contributed by libraries themselves. OCLC does very little original cataloguing. It's mostly value-added stuff by little podunk, and a few large, libraries all over the world. They're going to have a hard time asserting their so-called rights here and the quite substantial 'library community' is not going to be on their side.

One note here: Several have already asserted that open source integrated library systems (ILS) projects are 'superior' to OCLC. You are comparing apples and oranges. KOHA is an ILS. It is NOT a bibliographic utility. KOHA (along with Dynix, Sirsi, Gaylord, VTLS, and a few others) provides a suite of programs to manage library collections and inventory, allow the check out and in of books and materials, provide an online public catalog, send overdue notices--that sort of thing. They are, by and large, local to and managed by a library system (which is exactly what I did for years), though there are many libraries which share such systems on a regional basis as well.

OCLC is a BIBLIOGRAPHIC utility, though they also dabble in other things such as acquisitions, collection analyses, and interlibrary loans. They are responsible for keeping records of books and materials in standard formats such as MARC (Machine Readable Cataloguing, a format originally designed to transport bibliographic records via 9-track tape, i.e.: it is a 'serially organized' database making use of tags and sub-tags to parse the data.) which are then made available to other libraries. This provides the kind of centralization that means 16,000 libraries don't have to all individually catalog the same book. Once is sufficient. Every ILS has an interface to OCLC that allows them to grab records and download them to the local system--as well as upload original cataloging to OCLC (a crucial point, I think.) Every library that owns a particular title attached their own identifier to the main record, which is what makes OCLC a good source for interlibrary loan information. In a sense, OCLC is the world's online catalog, but it DOES NOT displace the local OPAC. (Online Public Access catalog).

Now, places like librarything.com get their records from a variety of places, including Amazon, well known for crap-quality bibliographic records, and any number of universities and large library systems around the world. OCLC would be hard-pressed to 'prove' records in place at librarything originated with OCLC, much less that they are 'owned' by OCLC. In other words, OCLC can be easily circumvented.

With the demise of the smaller bibliographic utilities such as WLN (The Washington, then Western Library Network) OCLC has achieved world domination in some sense, but it is also a membership organization with library representation on its board and governing committees. Having seen OCLC try this crap before, my take on it is that it won't fly. I wouldn't worry about it.

Re:old story, OCLC at it again (3, Insightful)

terrapin44 (736939) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752995)

"Having seen OCLC try this crap before, my take on it is that it won't fly. I wouldn't worry about it." You have much more faith in OCLC's incompetence then me. They have pretty much bought or other wise put all of their competitors out of business. I am very worried about it. - Another Systems Librarian

ASIN (4, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752525)

If Amazon were smart and evil, it would take this opportunity to perpetually open source its ASIN database, trumping Dewey Decimal, LOC, and ISBN all in one fell swoop.

With everything going online, there is no longer a need for a linear sequencing of all human knowledge. It's all hypertext and keyword-based. So when I say "ASIN" database, I mean not just title and author, but also keywords, summaries, and maybe even recommended similar books and customer reviews. Amazon would still retain its well-oiled shipping system, but it would be in a position to define all of human knowledge in a finer way than Google currently does.

Re:ASIN (1)

lamona (743288) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753885)

It isn't hard to get the Amazon data out of their database. What is needed, and what Amazon has in its ASIN, is an identifier for books that can be used link up copies of the same book in different libraries or locations. The ISBN only came into existence in 1968, so there is no ID for older books. That's why Amazon needed the ASIN.

Because it has such a large database, the OCLC record number has become a de facto identifier for books and other resources. The OCLC number is in every one of those (now restricted) records in thousands of library systems across the globe. But if we want to get free of OCLC, we obviously can't use their identifier.

The difficulty is getting an identifier into the millions and millions (or 1 sagan) of records in library databases. The options seem to be

1) develop a good, solid, computable identifier from the bibliographic data itself (nearly impossible)
2) create a switching system that will take bibliographic information as input and switch to a common identifier (like ASIN) (maybe more plausible?)

Librarians, indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25752957)

Obligatory Molly Ivins quote:

"I say unto you, you do not know what courage is until you have sat in the basement of a Holiday Inn in Fritters, Alabama, with seven brave souls, led by a librarian, fixing to start a chapter of the ACLU."

OLPC (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753271)

The main source of the bibliographic records that are carried in library databases is a non-profit organization called OCLC

It was just a matter of time before one laptop per child wasn't enough... now they want all our bibliographic records!

The obvious result of this (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753321)

will be that building any creative work in digital form better be a charitable act. Once it is in digital form, you can't control it either through contracts or law. It is fair game for being "shared" out the wazoo.

I'd say that OCLC doesn't really stand much of a chance in this. We have grown up with the idea that if it isn't nailed down, it is going to be shared. Why do you think they might object to assisting in creating a competitor to themselves?

It is like being asked to train your replacement, only your replacement only has to work half days. Cheaper for the company - part time employee - and free training program for someone that just walks in off the street. Sounds like a real plan and even better than outsourcing.

Flagrantly false claim. (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754779)

> The main source of the bibliographic records that are carried in
> library databases is a non-profit organization called OCLC.

That's absolutely not true. Many (possibly most) libraries don't use OCLC MARC records at *all*, and even most of the libraries that do only use them when they can't find a MARC record somewhere else (e.g., from the LOC) for free. I don't have any formal statistics to cite for this, but I've been on several library-related mailing lists for several years, as part of my job, and followed numerous conversation threads about OCLC records, so I'm not just guessing out of ignorance, either.

They *are* a fairly major and widely used service, but they're nothing like the majority/monopoly provider that the article summary implies.

> Over the weekend OCLC 'leaked' its new policy that claims contractual
> rights in the subsequent uses of the data, uses such as downloading
> book information into Zotero or other bibliographic software. The
> policy explicitly forbids any use that would compete with OCLC.

This is not a very big change, really, in the scheme of things. They've always considered the MARC records they provide to be copyrighted and all rights reserved except those specifically granted. For instance, any library that uses their records cannot then make the resulting catalog generally available via Z39.50/NCIP for other libraries to freely borrow from, because that would violate the OCLC copyright. Since mutual-catalog-sharing agreements are a *major* (perhaps *the* major) source of bib records for a many libraries, especially libraries that use a modern ILS, this is a fairly onerous restriction.

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of libraries don't use OCLC records, partly because of these issues, and partly because of the cost.

CDDB again (2, Informative)

ffflala (793437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754873)

OCLC can try, but really now: it's best not to fuck with librarians.

We come from an unbroken lineage that doesn't simply date back to recorded history: we're the ones that RECORDED recorded history in the first place.

Cross us, OCLC, and you'll soon be as significant as the dust surrounding the jars that housed the Dead Sea scrolls. Bitches.

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