Strange Copyright Questions – Who/What Can Hold Copyright?

Untitled

Copyright law may not come across as the most exhilarating topic (although searching for old copyright registrations is more exciting than you’d think), but many copyright cases make pretty bizarre headlines. Read about the infringement claim that J.K. Rowling stole the word “muggle” or the copyright dispute over the Mike Tyson-style tattoo in The Hangover Part II, and you’ll begin to unearth some outlandish questions raised by copyright cases.

One of the copyright issues I find most interesting is the basic question of who/what can hold copyright for works they’ve created.  Of course an adult human can hold copyright, but can children hold copyright?  How does copyright law apply to works created by animals, or even art created by artificial intelligence?

Can children hold copyright?

Short answer, according to Copyright.gov: Yes in the US.

Minors may claim copyright, and the Copyright Office issues registrations to minors, but state laws may regulate the business dealings involving copyrights owned by minors. For information on relevant state laws, consult an attorney.

Kristin Keller at Noodle.com describes potential copyright issues that may arise at schools “when schools have the potential to profit from student-produced work, when schools prohibit students from profiting from their own work, or when the rights of other students may be infringed upon when student work is reproduced.”

Can animals hold copyright?

Now we start to get into weirder territory about whether non-humans can hold copyright.  The most well-known case about animal copyright ownership is probably the monkey selfie case filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) back in 2015, where “Judge William H. Orrick dismissed the claim on the grounds that the Copyright Act does not authorize vesting copyright ownership in nonhumans.”  PETA appealed the ruling but later dropped the appeal after a settlement with the human photographer who had originally posted the monkey selfie.

The Copyright Office clarified in September 2017 that it will “not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants. Likewise, the Office cannot register a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings, although the Office
may register a work where the application or the deposit copy(ies) state that the work was inspired by a divine spirit.”

So in short, it seems like animals can’t hold copyrights in the US.  (Neither can ghosts.)

Can artificial intelligence hold copyright?

WIPO Magazine recently published a fascinating article by Andres Guadamuz, examining how copyright law may apply to artistic works created by artificial intelligence.  Guadamuz explains:

There are two ways in which copyright law can deal with works where human interaction is minimal or non-existent. It can either deny copyright protection for works that have been generated by a computer or it can attribute authorship of such works to the creator of the program.

It seems, at least for now (until the robot uprising occurs) that artificial intelligence can’t hold copyright.

So to sum it up:

What can currently hold copyright: Human adults and children

What can’t hold copyright: animals, plants, ghosts, robots

Advertisements

How Libraries are Using GIS Mapping

I first learned about geographic information system (GIS) mapping on the Community Health Maps blog from the National Library of Medicine, which offers training materials to teach community organizations how to create low-cost maps related to public health. GIS mapping is used in many creative ways for public health purposes (such as identifying health disparities or visualizing the locations of dangerous environmental hazards). GIS seems like an incredibly useful method for displaying and exploring data on local, national, and international levels, so I wanted look into how academic and public libraries are involved with teaching and using GIS.

Libraries Teaching GIS

Many academic libraries offer GIS mapping services, such as GIS software access, in-person training for students and faculty, and LibGuides that explain the basics about GIS.  For example:

  • At Duke University, the Brandaleone lab for Data and Visualization Services offers access to mapping software (like ArcGIS, QGIS, Google Earth Pro, and more).  Their GIS in the Library webpage offers tips about library workshops and academic courses on GIS and where students can find additional help related to data visualization and GIS.
  • John Hopkins University offers a LibGuide on GIS and Maps, access to ArcGIS software for students/staff, and their GIS and Data Services staff also offer training and consultation on GIS.

The only public library online resource I was able to find related to GIS was the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Online Resources page from New York Public Library.  This online guide provides links to data sources, free software, lectures on GIS, and even NYC online maps.

Public Libraries using GIS for Assessment

While academic libraries seem to focus more on teaching GIS mapping to students and faculty, public libraries often use GIS mapping for assessment of services, facility use, and collection development.  The article Using GIS to Assess Public Libraries by Dilnavaz Mirza Sharma at Public Libraries Online discusses how public libraries “have embraced GIS as a tool for evaluating usage, collection development, and community impact by capturing GIS data to provide evidence of the library’s function in the community serviced.”  The article describes a case study “of how GIS maps were used to identify public library locations in Chicago that would be ideal for providing consumer health information materials to underserved populations.”

Interactive Maps as Exhibits

Some academic and public libraries also use GIS mapping to create interactive maps shared on their websites as digital exhibits or tools to explore useful data sets, such as:

  • The University of South Carolina library website offers a searchable map of locations from the 1956 Negro Travelers’ Green Book.
  • The College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland has created an interactive mapping tool that allows users to search for and view all libraries within a selected neighborhood, along with related local data on demographics, economics, education, health, and responses from local libraries from the 2013 and 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey.
Capture
Interactive mapping tool to explore Digital Inclusion Survey data, created by the University of Maryland College of Information Studies.
  • Brooklyn Public Library offers a literary map on its website, exploring local landmarks and locations related to children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction.

There are so many potential applications for GIS mapping in both academic and public libraries, from workshops to teach students how to use GIS to interactive digital exhibits that allow users to explore data sets at a local level.  I hope in the coming year to learn more about use of GIS software, maybe using the Community Health Maps training materials.

MAC-MLA 2017 – Themes, Resources, and Opportunities

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Medical Library Association (MAC-MLA) 2017 Annual Meeting was held in Staunton, VA from October 21-24, and the meeting was a whirlwind of powerful, innovative ideas shared through presentations, posters, and even live-Tweeting.  Here’s a quick rundown of my key takeaways from the meeting, including important themes highlighted during the keynote presentations, interesting resources, and professional development opportunities from MLA and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM).

Themes

The overarching theme of this year’s meeting was “facing your fears” (yes, it’s close to Halloween), and each of the four keynote speakers discussed different topics related to librarian, patron, and researcher fears:

  • Impostor Syndrome – Do you ever feel like you’re an impostor in your profession?  Dr. Michael Southam-Gerow of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) discussed how anyone (but especially women and students/professionals from minority populations) can suffer from “impostor syndrome/impostor phenomenon”, where they worry about the validity of their achievements in their chosen field. Dr. Southam-Gerow also discussed techniques to overcome these “impostor” feelings.  The slides from the presentation are available here.
  • Open Science – Dr. Maryrose Franko of the Health Research Alliance (HRA) presented on addressing funders’ fears about open science.  Dr. Franko outlined common fears about open science (cost, administrative burden, and burden/uncertainty for researchers) and described how HRA, the Center for Open Science, and other partners are working to promote and strengthen open science initiatives like open access publications, data sharing, and preregistration.  Her presentation slides can be found here.
  • Health Justice and Health Literacy – Dr. Beth St. Jean of the University of Maryland, College Park gave an introduction to health justice and its relationship to health literacy, health outcomes, and information avoidance. She also discussed strategies to help information professionals improve health literacy among patrons and decrease information avoidance.  Her presentation slides can be viewed here.
  • Critical Librarianship – Derrick Jefferson of American University provided an overview of critical librarianship, which “seeks to be transformative, empowering, and a direct challenge to power and privilege.” Jefferson provided examples of critical librarianship in action and resources to learn more about the movement through Critlib.org and the #critlib on Twitter.  Jefferson’s presentation slides can be accessed here.

Resources

These are a few of the interesting new resources I learned about at the meeting:

  • NNLM RD3 – This is a fantastic website created by NNLM to help health science librarians learn the fundamentals about data science and data management.  (I also wrote about this resource in my MLA 2017 takeaways post.)
  • PubMed Labs – Use this test site from the National Library of Medicine to explore new features and tools that may be added to PubMed, and provide direct feedback to the NCBI team.
  • Open Science Framework (OSF) – OSF is a “free, open source service of the Center for Open Science“.  Researchers can collaborate and manage projects through OSF, including storage of data and files, access control, and the ability to link third party services to the platform. Users can also search through collections of pre-prints, project registrations, and posters/presentations from conferences.
  • NEJM Resident 360 – This online resource from the Massachusetts Medical Society (publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine) can be used by residents and medical students to participate in discussions, find career and study tips, and find interesting learning resources from NEJM.  The  Learning Lab, Resident Lounge, Career, and Discussions sections are free to explore, while the Rotation Prep section is only accessible through NEJM institutional or individual subscriptions.
  • Systematic Review Tools – I learned about several interesting free systematic review resources from the poster “From screaming to screening: An evaluation of free systematic review software” by Elizabeth Moreton,  Jamie Conklin, Leila Ledbetter, Rebecca Carlson McCall, and Jennifer S. Walker. Users can search for systematic review software through the Systematic Review Toolbox, and free systematic review tools that may be useful to try include Colandr and Rayyan.
  • Burnout Libguide – During the paper presentation “Burnout, Professional”[MeSH]: A Study on the Subject of Medical Librarian Burnout” by Megan N. Kellner, Associate Fellow, National Library of Medicine & Elizabeth O. Moreton, Nursing Liaison Librarian, UNC Chapel Hill, I learned about this very useful Libguide for medical librarians to test if they’re experiencing burnout and resources to prevent burnout.

Opportunities

Updates from MLA and NNLM included training opportunities for health science library professionals:

Cats and Libraries: A Symbiotic Relationship

I fall well within the stereotype of the cat-crazy librarian…I have two cats (Vlad and Chloe) who deign to live with me.

19511246_10102509975331364_5181528837550688455_n
Chloe (the dumb one) and Vlad (the aloof one).

Cats seem to be the unofficial mascots for libraries, and some cats have even managed to get steady jobs as kitty librarians (more on this later).  Cats also regularly appear in library-related memes and online image collections curated by libraries. Here are just a few examples of how cats live (both literally and figuratively) within the library collection:

I’m obviously pretty biased towards cats, but dogs also hold an important place as service and emotional support animals that are often allowed in libraries. Libraries are mainly built for humans, but that doesn’t mean our animal friends can’t occasionally visit and bring joy to patrons.

 

Evolution of Library Technology Told Through Patents: Card Catalogs and Microfiche

Sometimes with all of the new technologies to learn about in the library field (Big Data, AI, LibGuides, etc.) we can take for granted or relegate to dusty closets the equipment and older technologies that were used in libraries for decades. Patents can offer fascinating insights into common technologies, with drawings and descriptions illustrating how an object is assembled and citations to earlier patents showing the development of the technology.  Here are a few patents for traditional library equipment like card catalogs and microfiche, found through Google Patents, just to give a quick look at what goes into the creation of the tools librarians used once on a daily basis.

Card Catalog

pat1
US 3495731 A, Card catalog drawer.

Maybe we don’t use card catalogs on a daily basis anymore, but 30 years ago many libraries still used card catalogs for indexing and exploring their collections. Here are two patents that improve upon the design for card catalog drawers:

  • US 3495731 A, published February 17, 1970, describes “improved construction for a card catalog drawer particularly adapted for use in libraries where these drawers are subject to continuous manipulation, and are often removed from the cabinet to provide access to the catalog cards contained therein.”
  • US 5257859 A, published November 2, 1993, describes a drawer with “a smart mechanism to facilitate removing or discarding the catalogue cards by easily removing the metal rod passing through the hole located at the bottom of catalogue cards.”

If you want to learn more about the evolution of library card catalogs, read this post from The Library History Buff describing the history of card catalogs back to 1789.

Microfiche

pat2
US D211414 S, Microfiche viewer

Microfiche has been largely replaced by online digitization, but many academic libraries still have a microfiche viewer hidden somewhere in a dark corner to view old periodical  collections. Check out these three patents to learn how microfiche is produced and viewed:

  •  US 3690762 A, published September 12, 1972, describes a method for producing microfiche that “includes the steps of exposing a series of image areas on a film strip, leaving blank areas at predetermined locations on the film strip, processing the film strip to produce image transparencies thereon, arranging the film strip in the form of a helix with portions of each of the blank areas aligned, securing the blank areas to one another, cutting through the film strip in the blank areas to form the image areas into a matrix having the form of a parallelogram, and positioning the matrix to project selectively the images thereon for viewing purposes.” (Yes, patents can have very, very long sentences.)
  • US 3409361 A, published November 5, 1968, describes a microfiche positioning apparatus with a holder that can be “manually positioned within the projection apparatus to selectively scan one or several images and to reset the holder so that additional images may be reproduced without repositioning the microfiche.”
  • The design patent US D211414 S, published June 11, 1968, describes the ornamental design for a spiffy microfiche viewer.

You can find an entertaining and in-depth history of microfiche in the article Honey, I Shrunk the Page by Ernie Smith.

A New Toolkit to Promote Health Resources at Libraries

I’ve written before about how public libraries are a vitally important resource for teaching health literacy skills, providing health-related programs and services, and offering access to reliable health information for the general public.  The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) offers public libraries a number of resources to help them fulfill this role, such as free online classes for library staff on consumer health topics and a fantastic guide to health information resources and programming ideas (created with California State Library), Finding Health and Wellness @ the Library: A Consumer Health Toolkit for Library Staff (2nd ed).  Back in September, I learned about a new toolkit created by NNLM and the American Library Association (ALA) for promoting health literacy at libraries that I wanted to take a closer look at.

This Health Literacy Toolkit is part of the broader Libraries Transform campaign from ALA, which is “designed to increase public awareness of the value, impact and services provided by libraries and library professionals.”  The toolkit offers simple, catchy “Because Statements” highlighting how libraries benefit individual and community health (like “Because quality information helps you make better decisions”).

because
Because Statements from the toolkit.

Each Because Statement can be printed as a poster, postcard, bookmark, or table tent or shared on social media (graphics sized for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook).  The toolkit also offers key messages, activity suggestions, and resource links related to each Because Statement.  Access to the toolkit materials is free, but users must register to access the materials.  The toolkit isn’t made specifically for public libraries and can also be used in school, academic, and special libraries to promote health resources.

Overall, I’m really impressed with the elegantly simple and unifying promotional messages offered by the Health Literacy Toolkit.  I spend a lot of time on social media in my current job, and I understand the importance of bold, simple statements that will hook the audience and stick in their mind.  Libraries are such amazingly valuable resources for offering equal access to high quality information and services, but unfortunately some people may view libraries as obsolete due to changing technology and user needs.  The Because Statements in this toolkit act as sharp, quick explanations about why libraries are still relevant and important for community health.  I also appreciate that the Because Statements can be downloaded in a wide variety of formats, so libraries can use them for both print and social media promotion.

The toolkit has a few areas where it could potentially be improved to increase promotional value and also direct library staff to additional useful health resources.  The text of the Because Statements is very catchy, but some sort of imagery added below the Because Statements could make the graphics much more eye-catching and appealing to a wider range of library patrons. Translation of the Because Statements into other languages (especially Spanish) could also help to reach a broader population of patrons.  Finally, I’d love to see some sort of integration between this new toolkit and the Finding Health and Wellness @ the Library toolkit.

The Finding Health and Wellness @ the Library toolkit offers a much broader list of health resources and programming ideas, while the Health Literacy Toolkit offers the graphics and promotional messages needed to promote these health resources and programs.  The Finding Health and Wellness @ the Library toolkit does seem to be in need of an update (with the second edition published in 2013).  Hopefully if the Health and Wellness toolkit is updated in the near future, it will be more closely linked to the new Health Literacy Toolkit.  Both toolkits offer important and complementary tools for creating and promoting health resources and programs within libraries.

 

What Won’t be Killing Libraries: Millennials and Robots

libraries

Occasionally I find an article discussing what may cause the ultimate demise of libraries: the internet, search engines, e-books, etc.  These article drive me crazy…though many articles do come to the ultimate optimistic conclusion that new technologies won’t destroy libraries, just lead to changing goals, programs, and services.  The newest industry-killing culprits of the past year seem to be millennials and automation/ artificial intelligence (AI).  I personally think libraries and librarianship will be able to adapt and even benefit from these mounting threats of tech-addled youngsters and robots.

Millennials

I see differing statistics about how millennials are impacting libraries. Will Millennials Kill off Libraries? by Stephanie Cohen at Acculturated cites research from a few years ago: “A 2014 report by the Pew Research Center found that college-aged adults (ages 18-24), were less likely to use public libraries than many other age groups, less likely to see libraries as vital for themselves or their community, less likely to have visited a library recently, and are more likely to purchase most of the books they read than borrow them from a library.”

Meanwhile, One Thing Millennials Aren’t “Killing”: Libraries by Macy Griffin at Bookstr discusses how “a new study conducted by Pew Research Center has given this age group bragging rights, saying that people born between 1978 and 2004 make most use of libraries.”

Griffin’s article goes on to speculate that the cause for higher millennial usage of libraries may be free public Wi-Fi or a variety of free events and classes targeting teens and young adults like “knitting and crocheting clubs, adult coloring, and even sessions for teams to play video games and board games.”  Yes, the services traditionally offered by libraries may evolve based on the changing user needs of different generations, but that’s pretty par for the course for libraries.

I may honestly be a bit biased about the danger of millennials, since I am one myself.  But I can say at least from my own experience: we come in peace.  All we want from libraries is “somewhere to eat our avocado toast while we contemplate the houses we can’t afford to buy” (via Annoyed Librarian).

Artificial Intelligence

The risk of complete automation of all tasks done by librarians seems to be very small. There’s a great Tableau visualization from the McKinsey Global Institute that illustrates where machines could replace humans, and under the “Educational Services” section, the job family of “Education, training and library” lists automation potential for the following tasks which the job family seems to spend the most time doing:

  • Applying expertise (15% of time spent) – automation potential 14%
  • Managing others (10% of time spent) – Automation potential 9%
  • Data collection (5% of time spent) – Automation potential 40%

It seems like automation may actually help librarians, since it will free up our time from repetitive tasks like data collection to focus on more complex tasks like management.  Kristin Whitehair from Public Libraries Online writes how “libraries can capitalize on the value of AI to expedite some processes, freeing up finite resources to focus on enriching the public library experience for patrons.”

The Feral Librarian blog writes a thoughtful post asking “where can AI and machine learning be leveraged in the service of better science? And how do libraries leverage our resources and skills to ensure it really works – and is infused with and informed by values we care about (inclusion, privacy, democracy, social justice, authority, etc.)?”

Librarians can embrace AI as a valuable new research tool and work to shape that tool to meet patron needs.  That may require learning new skills and working more closely with computer and data scientists, but I have no doubt librarians will adapt, learn, and innovate.

images via Pixabay: tomb and robot