Friday, September 12, 2014

Blog post: For God’s Sake, Stop Digitizing Paper

In his blog post, Joshua Ranger argues that we should stop digitizing materials that are already in a stable format and turn out attention to those materials that are in an unstable format, like audio and video.  Ranger makes several interesting arguments, which are finding an audience that believe these arguments are worth making.  I suggest that you read his entire piece, then discuss this with your colleagues. Do you find merit in his arguments?  Are his priorities the ones that you are following?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

State of Delaware: Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act

Likely you have already heard about this, but in case you haven't. Here is the synopsis as written into the Delaware State House Bill No. 345, which amends that State's Title 12:
Recognizing that an increasing percentage of people's lives are being conducted online and that this has posed challenges after a person dies or becomes incapacitated, this Act specifically authorizes fiduciaries to access and control the digital assets and digital accounts of an incapacitated person, principal under a personal power of attorney, decedents or settlors, and beneficiaries of trusts. The Act should be construed liberally to allow such access and control, especially when expressly provided for in a written instrument. Section 1 creates a new Chapter 50 in Title 12 to contain the Act itself while Sections 2 through 4 amend existing statutes pertaining to personal powers of attorney, guardianships, and trustee powers to include the authority permitted under Section 1.
 As Nate Hoffelder wrote:
Delaware is the first state to follow the latest suggestion from the Uniform Law Commission, a non-profit group that crafts model legislation and lobbies to enact it across all jurisdictions in the United States. Last month the ULC adopted a new legal standard, the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA), which laid out what rights heirs should have over digital content belonging to the deceased.
Hoffelder notes that other states do have laws related to how the digital assets of the decreased should be handled, but that Delaware's law is more comprehensive.

While these state laws only govern people living in those states, they do create a path that other states - and our federal government - can follow.  This also should provide impetus for people to consider their digital assets when create a power of attorney and/or will.  If people do that and take advantage of these laws, then pushing other governments down this path becomes much easier.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Two-day event: Avoiding the Memory Hole: Saving Born-Digital News Content, Nov. 10-11, 2014

The University of Missouri - Columbia is hosting a forum on November 10-11, 2014, entitled "Avoiding the Memory Hole: Saving Born-Digital News Content".  Clifford Lynch (Director of CNI) notes that:
Our lack of good preservation strategies for digital news is a serious crisis that has been developing for some time, and another look at the issues and the agenda and strategies going forward seems very timely.

Complete information on this event can be found at  There is NO registration fee for this event.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Monkeys, robots and copyright

Macaca nigra self-portraitYesterday I recorded the first lecture in my copyright class (IST 735: Copyright for Information Professionals).  During the lecture, I mentioned that an animal - in this case, a monkey - cannot hold copyright.  This fact has come to light because of a photograph taken by a crested black macaque with equipment owned by photographer David Slate.  As the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices notes, the work must be the creation of a human. Section 306 states:
The Office will not register works produced by nature,animals or plants.
Sadly, for Slate, he cannot claim copyright in the work, which means it is in the public domain (and that is good for us).

In addition:
Similarly, the Office will not register works produced by a machine or mere mechanical process that operates randomly or automatically without any creative input or intervention from a human author.
A July 2014 podcast from RN Future Tense tackled "Automation, employment and a legal theory for 'autonomous artificial agents'."  As robots evolve and are able to seemingly think on their own, if they create a new work, the Compendium states that they could not own copyright. Of course, that could change if intelligent machines and their attorneys fight the system.

Ah...the law...!

Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition

As announced on the U.S. Copyright web site on Aug. 19:
Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante has released a public draft of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition (the “Third Edition”). The first major revision in more than two decades, the draft presents more than 1200 pages of administrative practices and sets the stage for a number of long-term improvements in registration and recordation policy. It will remain in draft form for 120 days pending final review and implementation, taking effect on or around December 15, 2014.
I can see that some of this will wind up being read by my students this semester, because it will help to answer questions that students don't even know that they should have!