UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

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Posts Tagged ‘cilipsag14’

Subverting Copyright (and Other Flawed Legislation)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 Nov 2014

Be Informed: Recent Changes to Copyright Law

JISCLegal slide on copyrightLast week Jason Miles-Campbell, manager of the JISCLegal service, gave a talk entitled “Be Informed: Recent Changes to Copyright Law” at the CILIPS Autumn Gathering.

Jason summarised changes to copyright legislation which were approved by Parliament in July 2014 and came into force on 1 October 2014.

The slide (illustrated) Jason used which caught my eye described how:

the fact that our system of communication, teaching and entertainment does not grind to a standstill is in large part due to the fact that in most cases infringement of copyright has, historically, been ignored.

This quotation comes from a post published in 2008. Since the blog asked for its content not to be attributed I will not provide a link (but note that I used Google to find the source of this quotation!)

The quotation came from Sir Hugh Laddie, a British High Court judge, lawyer, professor, and a specialist in intellectual property law who died in 2008. The blog post suggested that:

In the field of copyright, two of Sir Hugh’s articles should be laminated and placed on your desk so they may be re-read often. The first is his 1995 Stephen Stewart lecture, “Copyright: Over-strength, Over-regulated, Over-rated”, published in 18 European Intellectual Property Review 253 (1996).

and went on to describe how Sir Hugh:

criticized the insane criminalization of the economic tort of copyright infringement: “We have … reached the stage where taxpayers’ money is being used to enforce private rights which many might think are more than adequately protected by civil remedies. I should also mention that it appears that in most cases it is not the poor and weak who are using these criminal provisions but the rich and well organised.”

In light of the recent changes to copyright legislation Sir Hugh Laddie’s comment, made that many years ago, that “the fact that our system of communication, teaching and entertainment does not grind to a standstill is in large part due to the fact that in most cases infringement of copyright has, historically, been ignored” could be regarded as demonstrating that flawed legislation will eventually be repealed. However I think this ignores the value of the actions taken not only by those who have pro-actively sought to change the legislation but also the actions taken by those who have ignored legislation which is clearly flawed, in which no or minimal harm is done to others by such action.

A Risk Management Approach to Copyright  Legislation

web2rights risk calculatorSeveral years ago Professor Charles Oppenheim gave a seminar about copyright and institutional repositories at the University of Bath – and terrified the audience when we realised that most of our  work in developing an institutional repository would like infringe copyright.

However in response to a question I posed as to whether copyright concerns would inhibit the development of the repository, Charles said this needn’t be the case: rather there is a need to understand the legal issues but to make an informed decision on actions based on an assessment of the risks and a decision as to whether the organisation was prepared to take the risks.

Charles and I subsequently co-authored a paper on “Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web” in which we documented a framework for making an informed decision in addressing copyright and other issues.

Charles and Naomi Korn subsequently developed a Risk Management Calculator as part of the Web2Rights OER Support Project. As illustrated if you wish to make use of a textual document which wasn’t published with a commercial intent, doesn’t contain clinical content or images of identifiable individuals or children but the provenance and licence of the resource is unknown, there will be risks in reusing the resource, but the risks will be low. In this situation the toolkit concludes “[The] Indicative Risk Value indicates that there is some risk associated with the content that you wish to use. If your organisation is risk adverse and seeking permission or using alternative material then you will need to consider seeking permission or using alternative material.

What Else Have We Subverted?

Beyond copyright there are other examples of supposed legal requirements which can be seen to be flawed, so that ignoring them can be done for those who are willing to take a small amount of risk.

Cookie legislation is one example; since the requirement that users must ‘opt-in’ to use of cookie has been shown to be technically flawed, a pattern of use in which web site owners simply inform visitors that they make use of cookies and document the cookies used and their purpose is now widely accepted as an acceptable practice.

Another example is email disclaimers. A few days ago I received an email message which contained a request for information which could be easily addressed by forwarding the message. However the message contained a legal disclaimer:

Legal disclaimer
The information transmitted is the property of the University of xxxx  and is intended only for the person or entity  to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged material. Statements and opinions expressed in this e-mail may not represent those of the company. Any review, retransmission, dissemination and other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you received this in error, please contact the sender immediately and delete the material from any computer.

Although I am entitled to forward the message it would appear that subsequent forwarding to other who may have to process the request for information is prohibited. But does anyone care about such legal niceties?

Beyond the infringements which many computer users may be guilty of in the early days of the Web creators of HTML pages will have created pages containing links to other Web sites almost certainly without getting permission to create such links. But even back in 2008 there were still discussions as to whether you need permission to link to someone’s content.


Just over  year ago I asked “Do We Want Radical Law-Breaking Librarians?” The background to the post was a BBC News article which described how “UK’s top prosecutor defends journalists who break law in public interest“. The story was about the role of journalists in making information publicly available. Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions insisted that it “would be very unhealthy if you had a situation where a journalist felt that they needed to go to their lawyer before they pursued any lead or asked any question“.

The article went on to suggest that library rules which seek to ban use of mobile phones which can be used to make copies of copyrighted resources or take photos of people without their permissions may be counter-productive. I would argue that the welcome changes in copyright legislation have come about not just from the advocacy of organisations such as Jisc and CILIP but also by the risks-takers. Blessed are the risk-takers for they set the path for others to follow!

Note: A few hours after this post was published Andrew Cormack alerted me to an article published less than a week ago which described how the CJEU rules on whether ‘framing’ amounts to copyright infringement:

On 21 October 2014 the CJEU had to decide in the case of Bestwater whether embedding content in a website via “framing” constitutes “communication to the public” within the meaning of Article 3 of the InfoSoc Directive [1] and therefore infringes the copyright of the creator of the content.

The article goes on to explain:

The CJEU has now made it clear that linking does not constitute a “making available to the public” (or any other form of communication to the public), irrespective of which linking technique is used as long as the link leads to a website that is available to the public as a whole.

This decision drew on a previous ruling:

where it had already decided that hyperlinks do not constitute a “making available to the public” provided the link is to content that is freely and lawfully available online.

Or, in brief, you can link to Web resources and embed Web content in frames provided that the content itself is freely and lawfully available online. You can now, it would seem, create links from your Web pages to such resources without having to worry too much about the legal ramifications. Of course, you may have been doing this already, before the legal ruling was made!

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“Proud to be a Librarian” – Reflections on #CILIPSAG14

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 Nov 2014

CILIP Scotland Autumn Gathering

Proud to be a librarianThe CILIP Scotland Autumn Gathering event took place in Edinburgh on Thursday 30 October 2014. Although the CILIP Scotland Web site provides information about the event, a more comprehensive set of resources can be found on the Lanyrd entry for the event, including links to speakers’ slides (where available), additional speaker information, links to archives of event tweets, etc.

“Proud to be a Librarian”

The highlight of the day’s event for me and other participants was the opening plenary talk on “Full Disclosure: Hillsborough and the human side of information work” given by Jan Perry, the CILIP Vice President (and President in the new year).

In the presentation Jan  described her work with the Hillsborough Independent Panel. This was a very moving presentation, especially for someone, like me, from Liverpool -and although I’m from the blue half of Liverpool hearing about Jan’s involvement with the independent panel for the Hillsborough disaster brought back particular strong memories as my dad died around that time.

As I commented during the talk:

Listening to talk about Hillsborough, The Sun, etc at is making me feel angry. Memories of 80s: miners strike, Thatcherism.

Others also shared their thoughts on the presentation, including @AminaTShah who began by commenting that:

Jan Parry describing her role in the Hillsborough enquiry and proving information really is power.

and went on to report how:

Liverpool libraries helped families who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough disaster search for information online

and @bainofmylife who tweeted:

the small decisions, personal and political, documented and less so behind Hillsborough – sobering

But the comment which summarised the positive aspects of Jan’s talk was made by @libraries4us who concluded on a positive note:

Proud to be a Librarian today after hearing about their contribution to the Hillsborough Independent Panel

Unfortunately there was no time for questions but over the coffee break I was able to thank Jan for her talk; she told me that I was not alone in my emotional response to the talk.

“[The] current attack on libraries is part of a wider movement against people without money”

Tweets about Alan Bissett at CILIPS Autumn Gathering

The final plenary talk at the event was also full of passion.  Alan Bissett, author and playwright, provided the final keynote talk and was passionate about his belief in the importance of public libraries. Alan’s talk was more overtly political than Jan Perry’s but resonated with many in the audience, with @Miss_Horan7 commenting:

Thought provoking and powerful stuff at today’s How do we distill @alanbissett to share him round Scottish librarians?

and @JLMacfadyen concluding:

Final thought from Alan Bissett: current attack on libraries is part of a wider movement against people without money …

The Role of Library Professionals  in Light of Such Political Considerations

As I have described the CILIPS Autumn Gathering began and concluded with plenary talks which had political connotations for information professionals. The third plenary talk, on “Be Informed: Recent changes to Copyright Law“, also had interesting implications for information professionals with Jason Miles-Campbell, manager of the JISC Legal service, pointing out that “the fact that our system of communication, teaching and entertainment does not grind to a standstill is in large part due to the fact that in most cases infringement of copyright has, historically, been ignored.

The reminder of the CILIPS Autumn Gathering consisted of parallel sessions. As I mentioned previously I had been invited to facilitate a session on “Why and How Librarians Should Engage With Wikipedia”.

The day before the event began a tweet from @CILIPScotland explained:

We’d like to see our organisation documented on . Can @briankelly inspire you to help?

During the session I gave reasons why librarians should engage actively with Wikipedia, not only understanding some of the hidden secrets behind the service but also  why they should be willing to update Wikipedia articles and even create new articles.

The suggestion that there should be a Wikipedia article provided an opportunity to address issues of neutrality and the Wikipedia principal regarding a Neutral Point of View (NPOV).  As described on the Wikipedia Web site:

Editing from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic. All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view. NPOV is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia and of other Wikimedia projects. This policy is nonnegotiable and all editors and articles must follow it.

Prior to discussing the creation of an article, I updated the Wikipedia article for CILIP to include details of the membership numbers since CILIP was founded in 2002.  As can be seen from the figures shown below there has been a drop in the membership numbers every year since CILIP was founded (note where possible the figures have been taken from CILIP annual reports but not all annual reports are available).

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
CILIP members nos. ~23,000 22,689 N.A. (20,373) N.A. 19,206 18,490 17,634 17,192 15,705 14,555 13,974 13,470

The decline in CILIP membership numbers has been a bone of contention over recent years. It would probably therefore be inappropriate for a Wikipedia user who is employed by CILIP to comment on the membership trends, as this would conflict with the neutral point of view principle. I would, however, suggest that if a CILIP employee has access to membership numbers for 2002 and 2004-2006 these could be added to the table,  ideally with a comment on the talk page declared a vested interest.

CILIPS Wikipedia articleI used this example when I address the suggestions that there should be a Wikipedia article for CILIPS.

Initially I asked whether CILIPS, the CILIP in Scotland organisation should be regarded as sufficiently notable to have its own Wikipedia article. As described in Wikipedia:

On Wikipedia, notability is a test used by editors to decide whether a given topic warrants its own article. Information on Wikipedia must be verifiable; if no reliable third-party sources can be found on a topic, then it should not have a separate article. Wikipedia’s concept of notability applies this basic standard to avoid indiscriminate inclusion of topics. Article and list topics must be notable, or “worthy of notice”. Determining notability does not necessarily depend on things such as fame, importance, or popularity—although those may enhance the acceptability of a subject that meets the guidelines explained below.

However in discussions I discovered that CILIPS has its own governance, its own web site and as involved in consultations with the Scottish Parliament for the development of the National Library of Scotland Bill 2011. This would seem to make it appropriate for there to be a Wikipedia article for CILIPS.

We then discussed the need for content to be provided by contributors who have a neutral point of view. I suggested that the talk page for the CILIP article could provide a forum for discussions about the creation and evolution of a CILIPS article.

However as I concluded the session I was informed that a CILIPS article already exists! The Wikipedia article, entitled Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland, is shown. Looking at the history for the page we can see that it was created on 5 November 2013. However on 9 August 2014 it was proposed that the article should be deleted. In response one user “added a reference to a Scottish Parliament document. I believe this organization is sufficiently notable to remain given that they were consulted in writing a national library bill.” It would appear that this information provide sufficient evidence of the notability of the organisation.

Conclusions: The Importance of Librarians’ Trustworthiness

I began this post by describing two plenary talks which described organisations (the police force and the Labour party in Scotland) whose reputations have been undermined through a loss of trust. We are not in that position with libraries. And yet librarians and information professional should not rest on their laurels. In my talk (the slides are available on Slideshare and embedded below) I spoke about the close parallels between librarians and Wikipedia, both of which aim to provide neutral and unbiased access to information. Wikipedia had documented its core principles which aim to ensure that Wikipedia provides a neutral source of information.

A while ago I came across an article entitled “So who’s editing the SNHU Wikipedia page?” which described how analysis of editing patterns and deviations from the norm may be indicative of inappropriate Wikipedia editing strategies, such as pay-for updates to institutional Wikipedia articles.

The article  pointed out how the PR sector has responded to criticisms that PR companies have been failing to abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s terms of use: Top PR Firms Promise They Won’t Edit Clients’ Wikipedia Entries on the Sly. The article describes the Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms which is hosted on Wikipedia. The following statement was issued in 10 June 2014:

On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource. We also acknowledge that the prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship with the community of Wikipedia editors.

Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfil its mission of developing an accurate and objective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices.

We therefore publicly state and commit, on behalf of our respective firms, to the best of our ability, to abide by the following principles:

  • To seek to better understand the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
  • To act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, particularly those related to “conflict of interest.”
  • To abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Terms of Use.
  • To the extent we become aware of potential violations of Wikipedia policies by our respective firms, to investigate the matter and seek corrective action, as appropriate and consistent with our policies.
  • Beyond our own firms, to take steps to publicize our views and counsel our clients and peers to conduct themselves accordingly.

We also seek opportunities for a productive and transparent dialogue with Wikipedia editors, inasmuch as we can provide accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable information that helps Wikipedia better achieve its goals.

A significant improvement in relations between our two communities may not occur quickly or easily, but it is our intention to do what we can to create a long-term positive change and contribute toward Wikipedia’s continued success.

If we wish to maintain the level of trust which librarians currently possess and we wish to see librarians supporting use of Wikipedia, should there be a similar statement of neutrality for those who are members of CILIP and CILIPS?

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Forthcoming Talks on Wikipedia in Edinburgh

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 Oct 2014

Yesterday was the first anniversary since I started work at Cetis. During that period  I have been involved in two main areas of work: supporting the outreach and engagement aspects of the LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project and promoting use of open educational practices and in particular, use of Wikipedia.

Later today I will be travelling to Edinburgh to give talks about Wikipedia at two conferences.

Tomorrow I’ll be explaining “Why and How Librarians Should Engage With Wikipedia” at the CILIP Scotland Autumn Gathering. I will explain how Wikipedia provides a good match for the interests of librarians and how librarians can become involved in updating Wikipedia content in order to both support their role as librarians and t develop skills and expertise which can be used in supporting their user communities.

On Friday I will give a joint presentation with Filip Maljković at the Eduwiki 2014 conference. In the talk on “Working with Wikimedia Serbia” we will summarise the Eduwiki Serbia Conference and Learning Day which I attended earlier this year,

I was pleased to observe that both events are fully subscribed, which might perhaps indicate the level of interest in open practices, such as making use of Wikipedia.

The slides for “Why and How Librarians Should Engage With Wikipedia” and “Working with Wikimedia Serbia” are available on Slideshare and embedded below. Comments on the slides are welcomed. Also note that the Twitter hashtags for the events are “#cilips1g14” and “eduwiki”14 so feel free to participate in the discussions on Twitter if you can’t make it to either of the events

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