Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Article: The Smithsonian Puts 4.5 Million High-Res Images Online and Into the Public Domain, Making Them Free to Use

Ernest C. Peixotto's drawing of Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia
This Open Culture article is from April, but sharing good news about public domain images is something that shouldn't be bound by time. (In other words, better late than never!)  Smithsonian Open Access provides now provides new platforms and tools, which give "easier access to more than 4.5 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections—with many more to come. This includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s 21 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo." (Smithsonian) Note that you can search and retrieve only images that have CC0 licenses (free of copyright restrictions).

This is a collection that is worth bookmarking and using! Consider how you can connect images from the past to events that are happening today, which could help you broaden the media that you are using.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Controlled Digital Lending and Libraries: A follow-up to Hachette v Internet Archive

Right now libraries are under pressure from several different forces including those who want to limit access to specific topics (e.g., critical race theory, LGBTQ, parts of U.S. history, etc.) and publishers who are focused on what a library is, digitization, and digital books. You might feel like hiding your head in the sand, but not is not the time for that. Knowing what has happened and what is happening is important.  

It is with that in mind that I'm sharing these posts/articles that provide links to articles/commentary on the on Hachette v Internet Archive decision. Read them, skim them, save them for later...just don't ignore this, because we can't have publishers using this decision as a further step in limiting what libraries can do.



Monday, April 24, 2023

Article: Born to be authors: the copyright of the child

This article - Born to be authors: the copyright of the child - describes a prospective research project by Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference.  

I think that we rarely talk about children as creators who may hold copyright in their words, so I'm thrilled to see that Dr. Frabboni is focused on this.  My belief is that we need to teach children to value and respect each other's work as a step towards then teaching them about copyright. Would I teach a five year old about copyright law? No, but I would teach that child about the value of their creativity and the creativity of others. As that child gets older, they will be able to learn more about their rights in their work and the rights of others. If taught well, then we would have adults who are much more knowledgeable about the law. (Wouldn't that be awesome!)

I look forward to hearing more about Dr. Frabboni's research. I hope it is widely circulated!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

New Book: Complete Copyright for K–12 Librarians and Educators, Second Edition

Can you have too many copyright books? Perhaps not!

Written by Carrie Russell, who worked with copyright law for over 20 years, this new edition of Complete Copyright for K–12 Librarians and Educators, Second Edition is scheduled to be release this spring (so any day?). Its description is:

Reflecting the dominance of digital technologies and networks across much of the country, this timely update of Russell's handbook demonstrates how school librarians and educators can effectively advance learning while respecting intellectual property law.

Particularly in places of learning, technology is all-pervasive; because everyone is always making copies, copyright is center stage. And copyright law, when misapplied or misinterpreted, affects not only the way that you teach but even what you teach. With decades of experience interpreting the intricacies of copyright law as it pertains to librarianship, Russell is the ideal authority to address the concerns of librarians, teachers, and teaching librarians who work in the K–12 environment. Her book will encourage you to stop allowing your fear of copyright issues to limit how and what you share or teach, and instead be more involved in shaping copyright law to better serve your learning community. Through scenario-based discussions, it covers key topics such as

  • the reasons librarians and teachers have so many misconceptions about copyright, and why understanding copyright is a process, not a one-time event;
  • recent legislative and policy developments that impact schools and libraries; 
  • situations often encountered by educators, such as using copyrighted material in class assignments, digital lesson plans, bulletin board displays, social media, school plays, and band performances and talent shows;
  • the use of licensed content in a variety of settings;
  • what constitutes "fair use," so that you can be empowered by knowing exactly what's possible within the law; and
  • guidance on making long-term strategic decisions and developing copyright policies.

The book is priced at $54.99 (ALA members, $49.49). Pre-ordering is available through the ALA website.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Webinar Resources: Developing Cultural Humility

Today I'm giving a webinar for the Finger Lakes Library System on cultural humility. This blog post is for them, so they have easy access to the resources I'm sharing. 

Webinar Description

New to your community is a large group of people from various cultures. When they come to the library, what happens? Are you excited? Anxious? Curious? Ready to learn? 

When we interact with library patrons, community members, and other staff, we are often moving among different cultures. Sometimes we move among various cultures without thinking about it. Other times, we recognize the cultural difference and are unsure how to bridge the divide. These interactions demonstrate the need to develop a life-long process of self-exploration and self-critique, along with a willingness to learn from others. This process, called “cultural humility,” helps us see beyond our own culture as we work to become culturally competent.   

No matter your community or library, you are working across cultures, including some that may not be apparent to you. In this webinar, we will explore what culture is and the process for developing cultural humility, while also creating a plan for expanding our knowledge of the apparent and hidden cultures in our communities.


 Presentation Resources

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Publisher Playbook: A Brief History of the Publishing Industry’s Obstruction of the Library Mission

 The pre-print of this new book is available.


Courtney, Kyle K. and Juliya Ziskina. 2023. "The Publisher Playbook: A Brief History of the Publishing Industry’s Obstruction of the Library Mission." Pre-print.


Libraries have continuously evolved their ability to provide access to collections in innovative ways. Many of these advancements in access, however, were not achieved without overcoming serious resistance and obstruction from the rightsholder and publishing industry. The struggle to maintain the library’s access-based mission and serve the public interest began as early as the late 1800s and continues through today. We call these tactics the "publishers' playbook." Libraries and their readers have routinely engaged in lengthy battles to defend the ability for libraries to fulfill their mission and serve the public good. The following is a brief review of the times and methods that publishers and rightsholder interests have attempted to hinder the library mission. This pattern of conduct, as reflected in ongoing controlled digital lending litigation, is not unexpected and belies a historical playbook on the part of publishers and rightsholders to maximize their own profits and control over the public’s informational needs. Thankfully, as outlined in this paper, Congress and the courts have historically upheld libraries’ attempts to expand access to information for the public’s benefit.


April 20: Digital Copyright book talk with Brewster Kahle and Jessica Litman

 From the Internet Archive. Register here.

April 20—Digital Copyright

Join Internet Archive’s founder BREWSTER KAHLE for a virtual book talk with author & professor of law JESSICA LITMAN.

In Digital Copyright, law professor Jessica Litman questions whether copyright laws crafted by lawyers and their lobbyists really make sense for the vast majority of us. Should every interaction between ordinary consumers and copyright-protected works be restricted by law? Is it practical to enforce such laws, or expect consumers to obey them? What are the effects of such laws on the exchange of information in a free society?
This discussion is co-sponsored by Authors Alliance.
April 20 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET

Friday, March 03, 2023

Sumposium: Exploring the Future of Digital Library Loans: Controlled Digital Lending, March 10 (in-person & virtual)

Details are below and at Note that registration will close on March 7.

Exploring the Future of Digital Library Loans: Controlled Digital Lending

 March 10 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm (EST)

Register here for the virtual only version of the symposium

Register here for the in-person version of the symposium. Lunch will be provided only to in-person attendees.

Join us in person or online for a one day symposium on controlled digital lending. You will learn what controlled digital lending is, where the concept came from, the technical aspects of how it works in the library, and the legal frameworks of controlled digital lending.

This symposium is being offered in a hybrid format. There are two registration pages - one for in-person, one for online. Please ensure you are on the correct page for the format you desire before registering.

The in-person version of the conference will be hosted at the Western New York Library Resources Council (Airport Commerce Park East, 4950 Genesee Street, Suite 170, Cheektowaga, NY 14225). Lunch will be provided.

Online registrants will receive the Zoom information one day prior to the event taking place. Live transcription and closed captioning will be provided via and Zoom.

Tom Bruno (University of Pennsylvania Libraries)
Charlie Barlow (Boston Library Consortium)
Reed Jones (State University of New York at Buffalo)
Sui Mei Grierson (State University of New York at Buffalo)


Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Stepping into the role of Executive Director of Widerstand Consulting

Tobin Miller Shearer

Tobin Miller Shearer entitled his post "Stepping down" and so it seems fitting that I use the words "Stepping into" as part of the title of my post, as I step into the role that Tobin has held as founder and executive director of Widerstand Consulting. Tobin is leaving the E.D. position due to his increased academic role at the University of Montana. So in May, I will step into shoes that have "walked the walk" or, in other words, talked about being antiracist while working to be antiracist and help others to do the same. Tobin is leaving large "shoes" for me to fill!

I have yet to find a written bio of Tobin that tells all he has been involved in. When looking at his CV as well as the books he's written, you can see the depth of his thinking and work. However, his CV doesn't show his non-academic work, work with non-profits, or all of anti-racism efforts. He's being doing this work for a long time, including working with the Damascus Road Antiracism Process, Roots of Justice, and then founding Widerstand.

What is Widerstand Consulting?

Widerstand (pronounced wider-stand) was born out of a long history of antiracism work done by Tobin and others, and in response to requests for antiracism consulting and training in the wake of the racial justice events of 2020. Widerstand is a 501(c)(3) with a majority BIPOC1 board of directors and a consulting team of folks with a breadth of identities, experience, and industry expertise. In Widerstand, interracial teams are the norm and not the exception.

Widerstand Consulting logo

While Widerstand, as an organization, is relatively new, the folks within Widerstand are not new to this work. In fact, I am impressed by the decades of antiracism work some folks have done with non-profits, libraries, and religious groups.  Some are involved in several groups that are focused on this work, because they understand the importance of this effort.

Widerstand is hired by organizations that want to understand how they can be more antiracist. For them, Widerstand conducts antiracism audits. In addition, Widerstand provides online and in-person training, and consulting services.  

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Widerstand re-invests at least 50% of its net income in BIPOC-led racial justice groups.That is an amazing commitment!

By the way, besides its website, Widerstand has a presence on Facebook and Twitter. When you sign-up for the free resources on the Widerstand website, you will also be registered to receive its monthly newsletter.

What will I be doing?

Jill Hurst-Wahl
I've already been meeting with members of the Widerstand team and getting to know everyone, asking what their vision for Widerstand is, and getting a sense for our capacity. We know that the need for the work we do is great and we know Widerstand can do more.

On a day-to-day basis, I will talk with prospective clients, check-in on current projects, ensure that the Widerstand teams have the resources they need, and work with our staff and board members, including our treasurer. The Widerstand team is geographically dispersed. Thankfully negotiating different time zones is not a problem for me!

I have been on an antiracism audit team which specifically conducts antiracism audits for libraries, and I'll continue that work. (Widerstand also does antiracism audits for other types of organizations.) Those audits help an organization understand where it is on its journey of becoming  an antiracist organization and how it can continue to move forward.

What about the rest of my work (and this blog)?

Widerstand now becomes part of what I do and I will continue to do other work, including consulting projects, webinars, serving on committees, etc. Yes, I'll continue to think, write, and teach about copyright. I am and will be a busy person.  It seems that being busy is what I enjoy! What this has done, though, is made me think about "how busy" I want to be. And in that regard, I know that I need to be mindful of balancing work, friends, and family. 

As for this blog, it will continue. From 2018-2022, I've averaged 72 blog posts per year, and I hope to continue that trend. And, yes, I will keep most of those posts focused on copyright, digital assets, and libraries.

If you have read this far, thank you! Unknowingly, you have been on a journey with me and I hope you will continue walking with me through this blog.

1 This acronym stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. This is person-first language, which shifts away from terms like “marginalized” and “minority.” The phrase “People of Color” is a broad term, which includes those who are Black or African American, East Asian, Hispanic, Latinx, South Asian, and Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

eCourse: U.S. Copyright Law in the Library: A Beginner's Guide, April 17-May 28

I'm pleased to again be offering a six-week online course in copyright law for library staff. The course is being given through ALA and will run from April 17 to May 28. Registration for this spring 2023 course is open at Information about the course is below and at the link above.

Whenever I teach copyright, I always update the material. Besides those updates, I'm looking forward to encouraging participants to form their own communities that are focused on understanding and applying copyright law.  As with everything else in life, being part of a community is always helpful!

The library is a hub of content, all of it subject to copyright law. The legal reality of copyright is dynamic—changes in technology have created a landscape that is constantly adapting and can be difficult to predict. If you don't have any formal training in copyright law, it can be intimidating to know how to answer your patrons' copyright questions and to know what you can and cannot do with your library’s content and resources. It can be tough to understand the line between providing information and answering a legal question.

In this eCourse, consultant, speaker, writer, and educator Jill Hurst-Wahl guides you through the basics of copyright law and provides you with the foundation to become your library's copyright expert.

Each week, you'll learn how copyright law informs what libraries, library staff, and patrons can do with their materials and how you can stay up-to-date as this area evolves. You'll be able to check and affirm your knowledge through focused self-assessments.

After participating in this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the basics of copyright law
  • Evaluate whether or not a work is copyrightable
  • Determine if a work is still under copyright protection
  • Appraise whether a work can be used under Fair Use
  • Understand how to locate additional information on U.S. Copyright Law
  • Assist a member of the community or library staff in understanding the real meaning of Fair Use

If you have questions or requests regarding accessibility, contact us at or at 312-280-5100.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Article: Librarians Are Finding Thousands Of Books No Longer Protected By Copyright Law

 This is a fascinating article, so read it all and the details matter. As a teaser:

According to Greg Cram, associate general counsel and director of information policy at [New York Public Library], an initial overview of books published in that period shows that around 65 to 75 percent of rights holders opted not to renew their copyrights. 

If this project can get a firm handle on what from 1923 and 1964 is in the public domain, that will benefit all of us. A flood of new works would enter the public domain. Imagine the history and literature that would instantly be available. The result would be fantastic!

Vermont State University to move to a digital-only library

Academic libraries are becoming places that contain many different things to support the academic life of the campus, and that means books need to be moved. Many academic libraries are moving physical books out of their open stacks, placing those books in closed stacks, and then often delivering materials digitally to students and faculty upon request.  So the move to digital is happening. That means the news from Vermont State University should not be a surprise.

Vermont State University seems to moving to digital as a way of cutting costs (i.e., financial sustainability).  As this article states, this move:

...involves eliminating all physical resources in the university’s libraries and transitioning to a digital-only library. Books, collections and other materials are set to be redistributed, in part to community members, according to an FAQ published by the university

The FAQ states:

This was a data-driven decision. The libraries of Vermont State University have seen year-over-year declines in circulation of physical materials. We also met with and surveyed students. What we heard was that students need and want access to library resources where they are, whether on or off campus. Students also want to see physical libraries repurposed to better suit their needs.

Sadly, I suspect that all of the works the academic programs need will not be available in digital format. I wonder how VSU will handle that?

Question: As you digitize materials and license more digital assets, is a digital-only library in your future? If that is a possibility, are you preparing your leadership, staff, and patrons for the transition?  Have you spent time envisioning what a digital-only library might be like, perhaps as a way of thinking about the "distant" future? If yes, how is that informing what you're doing today?

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Feb. 7 webinar: Copyright and Fair Use in Academic Libraries

Jill Hurst-Wahl
On Feb. 7, I'm giving a copyright webinar for Lyrasis. Details are below and registration is still open.

Ahead of the webinar, Lyrasis has written an instructor spotlight about me, which I hope helps folks understand ta bit about me and why I love talking about copyright.

Feb. 7, 2023, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. ET: Copyright and Fair Use in Academic Libraries. Webinar for LYRASIS. 

While U.S. copyright law changes slowly, what does change is how we think about the application of that law to situations in our libraries. This webinar will use common scenarios to discuss the application of fair use in academic libraries, including digital lending in a controlled environment (a.k.a. CDL), the use of digital resources, interacting with students and faculty on fair use in photocopying, and much more. Basic copyright information will be provided, so that everyone enters the scenarios with similar knowledge. There will be time for participant questions throughout.

This webinar will use interactive components to allow participants to apply what they are learning to their own situations.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

New York State Legislation Makes Available Tools and Parts to Enable Consumer to Fix Their Own Electronic Devices

 On Dec. 28, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul "signed the Digital Fair Repair Act (S4104-A/A7006-B) into law making New York the first state in the nation to guarantee the right to repair, protecting consumers from anticompetitive efforts to limit repair." Full-text of the bill is available on the State Senate's website. The act takes effect one year after it became law. According to Consumer Reports, this act only applies "to digital devices that are sold or used in New York state after July 1, 2023."  So this does not, for example, apply to farm equipment, which was the subject of my last post. Yes, this legislation is a step forward, but it is only a step. We need broader right to repair guarantees.

Article: Deere gives farmers long-sought ability to repair their own tractors

Good news - John Deere has bowed to pressure and will let farmers repair John Deere equipment themselves.

US farmers will have the right to repair tractors and other agricultural equipment from John Deere without having to use the manufacturer’s own parts and facilities, under an agreement the company signed Sunday with farm industry representatives. 

Yes, this is good news for farmers because they need to be able to repair their equipment quickly, especially during the growing season or their crops will be lost.

Bad news?

First, this is for farmers and not for other folks who might own John Deere equipment. (I owned a John Deere garden tractor many years ago and this would not have covered me.)

Second, this MOU is not permanent and can be retracted.

Third, in it the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) "agrees to encourage state Farm Bureau organizations to recognize the commitments made in this MOU and refrain from introducing, promoting, or supporting federal or state "Right to Repair" legislation that imposes obligations beyond the commitments in this MOU. In the event any state or federal legislation or regulation relating to issues covered by this MOU and/or "Right to Repair" is enacted, each of AFBF and Manufacturer reserve the right, upon fifteen (15) days written notice, to withdraw from this MOU." So this agreement turns Farm Bureau organizations into advocates against the right to repair.

It will be interesting to see how this agreement impacts non-farmers and the right to repair movement. Let's hope that the right to repair movement ignores any pressure this MOU might create on it.


Thursday, January 05, 2023

New from Canada: Canada extends copyright protection for 20 more years under new trade obligation

In keeping with a trade deal made with the U.S., Canada has extended copyright protection for "any author, composer or screenwriter whose works would have been added to the public domain between now and 2043, meaning for 20 years nothing new will be added to the public domain in Canada."(Global News) Tech Dirt argues that instead of extending copyright protections, government should be decreasing the length of time a work is protected. Clearly, that isn't something that creatives - like those who make millions on their works - want.


Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Internet Archive celebrates Public Domain Day in 2023 (Jan. 19 & 20)

Below is an invitation from the Internet Archive (IA) to celebration Public Domain Day with them. The events are open to all and are free to attend. I've been to a few online IA events and they definitely know how to celebrate!

People dancing with the text "the best things in life are free"

The moon belongs to everyone, so says the 1927 hit musical composition, “The Best Things In Life Are Free.” We agree! In January of 2023, a treasure trove of new cultural works will become as free as the moon and the stars, and we at Internet Archive, Creative Commons and many other leaders from the open world plan to throw a party to celebrate!

Next year, works published in 1927 will join the myriad creative building blocks of our shared culture heritage. The public domain will grow richer with books from authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Marcel Proust, and Virginia Woolf, silent film classics like the controversial The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson and Fritz Lang’s dystopian Metropolis, and snappy musical compositions like You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream.

You can welcome new public domain works and party with us two ways:

Join us for a virtual party on January 19, 2023 at 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern time where we will celebrate our theme, The Best Things In Life Are Free, with a host of entertainers, historians, librarians, academics, activists and other leaders from the open world, including additional sponsoring organizations Library Futures, SPARC, Authors Alliance, Public Knowledge, and the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain. REGISTER FOR THE VIRTUAL EVENT HERE!

The Internet Archive will also host an in-person Film Remix Contest Screening Party on January 20, 2023 at 6pm at 300 Funston Ave in San Francisco. We will celebrate 1927 as founding year of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, while watching this year’s Public Domain Day Remix Contest winning entries, eating popcorn and ice cream. Come dressed in your best golden age of Hollywood inspired costume and walk the red carpet with the Internet Archive as we celebrate the entry of “talkies” into the public domain. REGISTER FOR THE IN-PERSON PARTY IN SAN FRANCISCO HERE!