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D-Lib Magazine
September 2004

Volume 10 Number 9

ISSN 1082-9873

Recommended Reading

Each month in the "In Print" section of the Clips and Pointers column of D-Lib Magazine, new publications on a variety of subjects are listed that might be of interest to those in the broad digital library community. This month three recent publications should be of particular interest to the D-Lib audience.

The first is a US Congressional Budget Office report entitled Copyright Issues in Digital Media [1]. The report clearly and thoroughly explains how copyright is intended to balance the need for compensation to those who create works against society's need for widespread use of those works. The report also discusses how technological change, particularly the move to digital media, has created new challenges to current copyright law, upsetting the balance between copyright holders and consumers and leading to a heated debate among stakeholders about the need for additional legislation to maintain the proper balance between these groups. While the report does not offer policy recommendations, it does provide valuable insight that can guide Congress as they consider proposed legislation to amend current law. It also outlines how copyright law affects not only "core" copyright industries ("those whose revenues depend directly on production and dissemination of copyrighted works"), but also "copyright-related" industries (for example, the computer hardware and telecommunications industries). The report concludes with an analysis, including the pros and cons, of three choices for dealing with copyright issues in the digital age:

  1. Forbearance (waiting for market factors to sort out the problem in the hope that additional legislation is not needed);
  2. Extending compulsory licensing to digital content; and
  3. Revising copyright law.

The second noteworthy publication is entitled Scientific publications: free for all? [2]. It is a report from the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee that includes a number of recommendations regarding improving access to scientific information as well as preserving it. This report has garnered a great deal of attention, and much has been written about it, but not all of the analyses considered the report in its entirety, and it would be advisable for those interested in the report to read the original version to avoid misunderstanding the Committee's intent.

The most recent of the three publications was issued 7 September 2004. It is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) publication Notice: Enhanced Public Access to NIH Research Information [3]. As does the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, NIH seeks to make possible more rapid and open access to scientific information—in this case, specifically papers resulting from NIH-funded research. The NIH notice also has in common with the UK report the fact that much has been written or concluded about the efforts of the NIH in this regard, but again, the debate is best followed from the position of having read the original NIH documents on this subject. The 7 September notice should clarify the NIH position. The notice also "seeks public comment regarding the NIH's plans to facilitate enhanced public access to NIH health related research information." (Comments must be received within 60 days of the date of the notice.)

I recommend reading the primary documents described above. You will then have a good base from which to follow the continuing discussions about them from the various constituencies.

Bonita Wilson

[1] US Congressional Budget Office. Copyright Issues in Digital Media, August 2004. Available at <>.

[2] House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, United Kingdom. Scientific publications: Free for all? Tenth Report of Session 2003-04, 20 July 2004. Available at <>.

[3] National Institutes of Health (NIH). Notice: Enhanced Public Access to NIH Research Information. Notice Number: NOT-OD-04-064. Release Date: September 3, 2004. Available at <>.

Copyright© 2004 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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