Google Books, FIRST, Open Textbooks, Harv Bus Rev

Some days are too full of news. Possibly this is why some people tweet rather than blog.

There are four developments I want to mention — you can choose which to follow up:
Google Books Decision A Huge Victory for Fair Use and for Research Libraries
“In a powerful affirmation of the value of research libraries, Judge Denny Chin today ruled that Google’s digitization of millions of books from university library collections was a fair use. Chin cites the Library Copyright Alliance amicus brief throughout his opinion to support a fundamental proposition: that the Google digitization project and the resulting uses are “invaluable” to society at large, and harmless to authors.”

See SPARC’s analysis of “[T]he Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act of 2013 (FIRST) currently being circulated would impose significant barriers to the public’s ability to access to taxpayer funded research by restricting federal science agencies’ ability to provide timely, equitable, online access to articles and data reporting on the results of research that they support.”

In the Chronicle of Higher Education: 2 Senators Offer Bill Promoting Open-Access Textbooks
A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate on Thursday would encourage the creation of free online textbooks by offering grants for pilot projects that produce high-quality open-access textbooks, especially for courses with large enrollments. Grant money would also be available to help faculty members find and review such textbooks, as well as to conduct research on how well open-access textbooks meet students’ and faculty members’ needs.

Last but not least: — I was happy to read Kevin Smith’s post about the Harvard Business Review policy which won’t allow professors even to recommend that students in their classes read an article in a subscribed database without paying extra. An egregious policy that — if others follow suit — will severely undercut the utility of the databases we pay so much for.

A line in the sand:

Harvard Business Publishing is treating this as an issue between themselves and the institutions that subscribe to HBR via EBSCO.  They accuse faculty of using articles as course readings without paying the “required” extra fee, and are disabling the EBSCO versions to force that additional fee.  But this is a skewed perspective.  From the point of view of the subscribing institutions, what is happening is that they are getting less functionality from EBSCO and are now being asked to pay HBP to regain that function.

Properly viewed, I suggest, this is not a dispute between libraries, or faculties, and Harvard.  It is a dispute between Harvard Business Publications and EBSCO over how to divide up the pie.  And libraries should refuse to make the pie bigger just to settle that dispute. …

But the truth is, these technological changes are intended to prevent faculty from even giving students a reference to an article and asking the students to read that article on their own.  HBP wants to recover a separate fee even for that.