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Archive for the 'Licensing' Category

LibLime Cause Upset in the Open Source Community

LibLime_logo Roy Tennant, in a blog post with a title you have to read twice, draws our attention to moves from Open Source Library Systems company LibLime which is causing much angst from supporters of Open Source.

He reproduces comments from Joan Ransom on Library Matters:

Horowhenua Library Trust developed Koha, the world’s first open source library management system back in 2000. We gave it to the world in the spirit of community. We are very happy, delighted in fact, for any organisation or individual to take it, improve it and then give their improvements back.

Recipricocity is the keystone which gives strength to the Koha Community.

We do not begrudge vendors taking our gift and building a commercial enterprise out of it, as Liblime, Biblibre and any number of others have done, but the deal is that you give back. This has worked well for a decade and Liblime has been a strong, valued and much appreciated member of the Koha international community over that time.

So it is incredibly sad and disappointing that Liblime has decided to breach the spirit of the Koha project and offer a ‘Liblime clients only’ version of Koha. Let’s call it what it is: vendor lockin and a fork.

Others including Marshall Breeding have also commented.

From the trails of comments around these posts, I get the impression that most of the upset folks are taking offence about the perceived intentions of a previously lauded open source champion who is now grappling with the commercial and operational realities of running a business that provides key services to key customers.

Even if LibLime were to turn their back on the community aspect of Koha today [their press release indicates that they are not doing that], they should still be praised for moving forward that community far further than it would ever have reached without the involvement of such a commercial organisation. 

I would suggest though that, having been immersed in the Open Source world for so long, they should have expected such a backlash of an almost religious nature and handled this much better. 

The world [not just in libraries] is rapidly moving towards Cloud Computing, Software-as-a-service, hosted solutions  There is bound to be a tension between a community mostly made up of people who develop, and often look after there own local copy of, a software instance, and an organisation that aspires to run a service of the same/similar functionality for many customers on a hosted commercial basis.

Local experience here at Talis tells me that the velocity and pattern of development is very different for SaaS applications and services.  One that does not fit in very well with the traditional process of delivering software both open and closed source. 

Open Source is a valuable contribution that must be fostered, encouraged and promoted because the innovation that it generates is a valuable asset for all of us.  Experience with projects such as Juice and Jangle reinforce this. Nevertheless there are commercial and contractual realities that companies such as LinbLime have to take in to account, which may lead to others questioning their motives as we have seen over the last few days.


Google Book Settlement will help stimulate eBook availability in libraries

books_logo So says former Google Book Search product manager Frances Haugen in her contribution to the debate on the September Library 2.0 Gang.

This month’s Gang was kicked off by Orion Pozo from NCSU, where they have rolled out dozens of Kindles and a couple of Sony Readers.  The comparative success of their Kindles ahead of the Sony Reader appears to be because of the simpler process of distributing purchased books across sets of readers and a broader selection of titles at a lower cost.  Currently users request books for the Kindle via an online selection form, then they are purchased and downloaded on to the devices which are then loaned out.  There were no restrictions on titles purchased and they have an approximate 50% split between fiction and non-fiction.

L2Gbanner144-plainThe Gang discussed the drivers that will eventually lead to the wide adoption of eBooks.  This included things like the emergence of open eBook standards, and the evolution of devices, other than dedicated readers, that can provide an acceptable reading experience.   Carl Grant shared his experience of starting a read on his Kindle and then picking it up from where he left off on his iPhone (as he joined his wife whilst shopping).

An obvious issue influencing the availability of eBooks is licensing and author and publisher rights.  This is where the Google Book Settlement comes in to play.  If it works out as she hopes, Frances predicts that over time this will facilitate broader availability of currently unavailable titles.  I paraphrase:

[From approx 26:50] Institutional subscriptions will become available on the 10M books that Google has scanned so far.  Imagine in the future a user with a reader that accepts open formats will be able to get access to the books this institutional license would provide.  Imagine school children having access to 10M books that their library subscribe to, instead of having to formally request one-off books to be added to their device.

[From approx 44:50] There are a huge number of books that are no longer commercially available in the US, for several reasons.  If the rights holders of those books do not opt-out, they will become available for people to purchase access to.  One of the interesting things about the way the settlement is set-up is that you will be able to purchase access either directly or through an institutional subscription.  What is neat is that cycle will put a check on prices as prices for individual books are based upon the demand for the books. So less poplar books will cost less…  So if the price of the institutional subscription ever gets too high libraries can decide to buy one-offs of these books.   I think that whole economic mechanism will substantially increase access to books.

The Gang were in agreement that eBooks will soon overtake paper ones as the de facto delivery format.  It is just a question of how soon.  Some believe that this will be much more rapid than many librarians expect.  A challenge for librarians to take their services in to this eReading world. 

JISC Grasp the Marc Record Re-use Legality Nettle

The JISC Information Environment Team have just announced a study to explore the legal and ownership implications of making catalogue records available to others when this involves copying, transferring them into different formats.

The JISC has just commissioned a study to explore some of these issues as they apply to UK university libraries and to provide practical guidance to library managers who may be interested in making their catalogue records available in new ways. Outcomes are expected by the end of 2009.

The specific objectives of the study are to:
•    Establish the provenance of records in the catalogues of a small but representative sample of UK university libraries and in the national Copac and SUNCAT catalogues;
•     Identify any rights or licences applying to the records and assess how these apply to re-use in the Web environment. This work should include clarifying the legal status of MARC records and copies of MARC records, and the legal implications of translating records between different formats such as MARC and MODS XML;
•     Provide practical guidance to UK university libraries about the legal issues to be considered in making catalogue records available for re-use in Web applications such as social networking sites – drawing on the findings from the sample;
•     Make recommendations to the JISC and the UK higher education community about any initiatives which could usefully be undertaken to facilitate the re-use of catalogue records in Web applications in a way which respects legal rights and business interests.

The core nugget of this being clarifying the legal status of MARC records and copies of MARC records.  Without establishing that anything else would be building castles on sand.

One of the many things that was never fully clarified in the OCLC record re-use saga earlier in the year was the legal status of a Marc record – can it, or parts of it, be considered as a creative work and therefore be applicable for copyright and a concept of ownership.

I wish whoever is undertaking the JISC study (the announcement does not indicate any study group members) well as they set foot in to this minefield of assumption, traditional practice, legal interpretation, and commercial interest and bias.  Let’s hope they do a thorough job and carry enough weight from legal, library, and publishing backgrounds to deliver advice and opinion that will clarify these particularly murky waters well beyond the UK University sector.

Code4lib final day in Providence – looking forward to Asheville

As always, a slightly shorter day for the last day of the conference but no less stimulating.  Talis CTO Ian Davis provided the keynote for the day, entitled if you love something…    …set it free.

He provided a broad view of how the linking capability of the web has changed the way things are connected and with participation have caused network effects to result.  But that is still at the level of linking documents together.  The Semantic Web fundamentally changes how information, machines, and people are connected.  Information semantics have been around for a while, but it is this coupling with the web that is the difference.  He conjectured that data outlasts code, meaning that Open Data is more important than Open Source; there is more structured data than unstructured, therefore people that understand structure are important; and most of the value in data is unexpected or unintended, so we should engineer for serendipity. 

He gave a couple warnings about being very clear about how you licence your data so that people know what they can & can’t do with it, and about how you control the use of some of the personal parts of data.  He made it clear that we have barely begun on the road but the goal was not to build a web of data, but to enrich lives through access to information.  Making the world a better place.

Edward M. Corrado of Binghamton University gave us an overview of the Ex Libris Open Platform strategy.  This was the topic of a previous Talking with Talis podcast with Ex Libris CSO  Oren Beit-Arie.  Edward set the scene as to why APIs were important to get data out of a library system He then explained the internal (formalised design, documentation, implementation and publishing of APIs) and external (publish documentation, host community code, provide tools, and opportunities for face to face meetings with customers) initiatives from Ex Libris.  The fact that you needed to log in to an open area raised, as it has before, some comments on the background IRC channel.

The final two full presentations of the day demonstrated two very different results of applying linking data to services. Adam Soroka, of the University of Virginia, showed how Geospatial data could be linked to bibliographic data with fascinating results. Whereas Chris Beer and Courtney Michael, from WGBH Media Library and Archives showed some innovative simple techniques for representing relationships between people and data.

The day was drawn to a close with a set of 5 minute lightening talks, a feature of all three days.  These lightening talks are one of the gems of the Code4lib conference a rapid dip in to what people are doing or thinking about.  They are unstructured and folks put their name on a list to talk about whatever they want.  The vast majority of these are are fascinating to watch.

During the conference the voting for Code4lib 2010 was completed so we now know that it will all take place again next year in Asheville, NC.  From the above picture, I can’t wait.

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‡ – Free Cataloguing. Josh Ferraro Talks with Talis

Josh Ferraro ‡  – Is a free service for librarians to create, edit, and share bibliographic records backed by an equally free and open store of over 30 million library records available for all to access, search and download.

Cataloging LibLime CEO Josh Ferraro joins me in conversation as he launches ‡ at ALA Midwinter in Denver. 

We explore how this is a really free and open service that has been made possible, not only by technology and open source software, but also by the availability of open data licensing in the form of Open Data Commons.  Josh also explains how the core software behind ‡ is itself open source.


Sharing Usage Data – Dave Pattern & Patrick Murray-John Talk with Talis

My guests for this Talking with Talis podcast demonstrate a great example of how openly sharing data will stimulate innovation.

Last month, Huddersfield University’s Dave Pattern announced that he was sharing usage data derived from circulation transactions held in their Library Management System

I’m very proud to announce that Library Services at the University of Huddersfield has just done something that would have perhaps been unthinkable a few years ago: we’ve just released a major portion of our book circulation and recommendation data under an Open Data Commons/CC0 licence. In total, there’s data for over 80,000 titles derived from a pool of just under 3 million circulation transactions spanning a 13 year period.

Within a matter of days Patrick Murray-John from Mary Washington University had taken a copy of that data, transformed the data to RDF and published it in a Semantic Web form.

In this conversation we explore the motivations behind Dave’s work and the benefits to the sharing process of the Open Data Commons license he chose to release the data under.   Patrick then takes us through how he worked with the data and demonstrated how simple it was to produce and RDF version.

We then explore how the principles demonstrated by their work could be expanded upon to add wide value to the library scene from recommender systems to a sales aid for Universities trying to attract students.

OCLC is listening.

The introduction of the new Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records has been delayed, with an intention to review, amend and aim to release in Q3 2009. This is a massive opportunity for the library world to help OCLC develop a policy that really helps libraries innovate.

There has been sustained negative reaction to OCLC’s planned introduction of the new Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records across the library world from the first moment it was published. Reactions have varied in their strength and their has been support for the stated aim – to open WorldCat data for more uses – but a strong reaction against the ways in which the policy tries to do that.

OCLC has clearly listened to that reaction, and the many conversations that I’m told have happened behind closed doors and in private calls and emails. The result is the announcement a day ago that a review board will be convened in order to gather input from the membership and wider library community.

Karen Calhoun, who managed the production of the controversial new policy will act as liaison between the review board and OCLC. I presume that role will include providing clear statements to the review board on such things as the Copyright status of the various aspects of WorldCat – something that has not been forthcoming so far.

Dave Pattern challenges libraries to open their goldmine of data

The simple title of Dave’s recent blog post ‘Free book usage data from the University of Huddersfield’ hides the significance of what he is announcing.

I’m very proud to announce that Library Services at the University of Huddersfield has just done something that would have perhaps been unthinkable a few years ago: we’ve just released a major portion of our book circulation and recommendation data under an Open Data Commons/CC0 licence. In total, there’s data for over 80,000 titles derived from a pool of just under 3 million circulation transactions spanning a 13 year period.

13 years worth of library circulation data opened up for anyone to use – he is right about it being unthinkable a few years ago.  I suggest that for many it is probably still unthinkable now, to whom I would ask the question why not?

In isolation the University of Huddersfield’s data may only be of limited use but if others did the same, the potential for trend analysis, and the ability to offer recommendations and who-borrowed-this-borrowed-that  services, could be significant.

If you have 14 minutes to spend I would recommend viewing Dave’s slidecast from the recent TILE project meeting, where he announced this, so you can see how he uses this data to add value to the Huddersfield University search experience..

Patrick Murry-John picked up on Dave’s announcement and within a couple of days has produced an RDF based view of this data – I recommend you download the Tabulator Firefox plug-in to help you navigate his data.

Patrick was alerted to Dave’s announcement by Tony Hirst who amplified Dave’s challenge “DON’T YOU DARE NOT DO THIS…”

As Dave puts it, your library is sitting on a goldmine of useful data that should be mined (and refined by sharing with that of other libraries).  A hat tip to Dave for doing this, and another one for using a sensible open licence to do it with.

Picture published by ToOliver2 on Flickr

A SLIC FE Day in Edinburgh

sliclogo Edinburgh’s Scottish Storytelling Centre was a great venue for the 3rd SLIC FE Conference on Friday, well organised by Catherine Kearney and chaired by Charles Sweeney. 

With such topics as LMS, Web 2.0 and IPR in digital repositories on the agenda, you might think the day might have been disjointed.  Far from it.  The day hung together very well, with yours truly setting the context of the wider waves of technology and innovation that have been and will continue wash across the wider web, influencing the world of academia and libraries.  Although this is being seen in the Library systems world with the emergence of so called Next Generation OPACs, is this only just doing the same old thing but better – we need to extend the user interface and the underlying systems and data to integrate with the systems and organisations around us. [Presentation available on SlideShare]

The theme continued with Phil Bradley taking us through Web 2.0 usage and techniques applicable to everyone in general and libraries in particular.  Next on the bill was Charles Duncan, Intrallect CEO, taking us through the way repositories should be integrated in to institutions an the wider national and international landscape – Web Services are the key.

An afternoon of presentations: NewsFilm Online – a fascinating resource introduced by Vivienne Carr from EDINA; Intellectual Property Rights issues as applied to the output of, and material used by, e-learning; drawn to a close by the inimitable Dave Pattern, sharing his experience at Huddersfield University applying Web 2.0 principles to their OPAC.

The whole day was drawn to a close with a JISC sponsored round table discussion which I was invited to join, which served to reinforce my impression that libraries and educationalists over the last few years have found themselves in the unusual position of striving to catch up with the rest of the world. 

Traditionally they have been in the role of helping to introduce new technologies & techniques to their students and the wider world.  For a whole generation the OPAC was their first interaction with publicly accessible computing.   With the web and now so called Web 2.0 the boot is on the other foot.  We are in danger of making too big a deal out of it – many of our users are already more in tune with the things we are worrying about how to introduce.

Google – Good for Copyright?

David Lammy MP Google books_sm The Google Book Search agreement with group of authors and publishers along with the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers (AAP) around copyright issues, which I posted about recently, has attracted the attention of David Lammy MP (Minister of State (Higher Education & Intellectual Property), Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills), writing in the TimesOnline, who thinks that overall this could be good for copyright law.

The agreement is one of a mounting number of recent examples where business and rights holders have taken the initiative and struck deals that have the potential to streamline the administration of copyright in the digital age.

While right holders who do not register will still be entitled to compensation for any use of their works, the mass registry should simplify the processes of rights clearance and payment and make the service viable on a scale not seen before.

He sees this as a step forward in making copyrighted works easy to get to those that want to read them.

Nobody can argue with the fact that books are meant to be read. This is what the consumers want and also what authors want.

Even in this digital age, there are many thousands of works, out of print and often out of copyright, that are locked away in library collections; unsearchable and inaccessible. The fact that this pressing need has not been addressed through changes to the legal framework is evidence of the difficulties of legislating in this area.

Nevertheless he does sound a note of caution.

There are, of course, notes of caution. It is important that rights holders are free to enter into collective agreements or to pass them by, without unduly suffering as a result of exercising that choice. There are also those international and domestic legal obligations that in many cases act as essential safeguards for rights holders and consumers

Yet it cannot be overlooked that such agreements are a practical and innovative attempt to move things forward and make copyright work.

Still early days, and it must be remembered that this is an agreement that only currently addresses the USA, but I agree with him that this could be the start of a significant change.

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