Ninth Circuit Provides Important Protection To Bloggers

In an important victory for free speech advocates, the Ninth Circuit has joined other courts in establishing that authors protected by the First Amendment need not be journalists to have such robust protections.

In Obsidian Finance Group, LLC v. Cox, — F.3d —- (2014) (filed Jan. 17th, 2014), the Ninth Circuit overturned a lower court decision that limited certain First Amendment protections to institutional journalists. The Court explained that “protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story.”

In aligning the Ninth Circuit with other circuits which have addressed the issue, the court reaffirms that negligence is the minimum legal standard for any case involving matters of public interest (and possibly all cases). To receive general damages without suffering specific harm and to receive punitive damages, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant published the statements with actual malice, meaning intentional knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard of the truth.

In New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), the Supreme Court established the modern First Amendment framework. Public officials must prove actual malice to prove liability. Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130, (1967), then extended this standard to public figures. A decade later, in Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 350 (1974), the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment required a negligence standard for private defamation actions. Significantly less than the actual malice standard, it nonetheless established that there could not be liability without fault.

In Obsidian Financial Group, the Ninth Circuit does not suggest the defendant is blameless:

Crystal Cox published blog posts on several websites that she created, accusing Padrick and Obsidian of fraud, corruption, money-laundering, and other illegal activities in connection with the Summit bankruptcy. Cox apparently has a history of making similar allegations and seeking payoffs in exchange for retraction. See David Carr, When Truth Survives Free Speech, N.Y. Times, Dec. 11, 2011, at B1. Padrick and Obsidian sent Cox a cease-and-desist letter, but she continued posting allegations.

The accusations and statements, however, were difficult to view as factual assertions. Where there were assertions of fact, the court explains, the plaintiff must establish the negligence of the statements.

The Ninth Circuit also sidestepped the issue whether the Gertz negligence standard applies to matters of purely private concern. It noted the unresolved question, when it stated that “the Supreme Court has ‘never considered whether the Gertz balance obtains when the defamatory statements involve no issue of public concern.’” (quoting Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, 472 U.S. 749, 757 (1985) (plurality opinion)).

Instead, the Ninth Circuit noted that the blog was made available to the public at large, just as every blog does. Moreover, the court noted that “public allegations that someone is involved in crime generally are speech on a matter of public concern.” So instead of answering whether the negligence standard applies to private matters, the court expanded the realm of public discourse to almost any public accusation.

This strategy has the effect of expanding the negligence standard to almost any claim. It may leave certain personal matters personal, though this is unclear. It could also leave certain formats, such as personal emails, texts, and friends’ lists as matters of purely private concern, but undoubtedly many of allegedly defamatory posts on such platforms will also be matters of public concern.

The distinction between matters of public concern and purely private matters has less and less meaning, and the distinction is likely to continue to erode in the context of defamation, though perhaps remain relevant in some issues involving privacy.

Nonetheless, the case is an important victory for free speech interests. Of course, this does not mean anything can be published with impunity. Negligence is not a terribly difficult test to meet and those plaintiffs who have truly been harmed will still have their day in court. It is difficult to be the subject of online attacks, but the rules of law should apply equally to all speakers, journalists, bloggers, and citizens alike. In the Ninth Circuit, it now does.

Nurturing culture to build economies and communities

A newly released briefing by Professor Ann Markusen of the University of Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs highlights the importance and influence of a creative arts community serves as a tool to develop a region’s broader economic growth.

The paper published by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation highlights the opportunities created by encouraging a creative arts economy to help develop a more robust economic environment. Among the key findings of the report:

City appreciation for cultural entrepreneurship has grown following economists’ and city planners’ documentations of the roles that artists play in the local economy. Many artists and designers contribute to the city’s economic base, bringing in income from elsewhere by exporting their creations—books, recordings, visual art—and by travelling to perform elsewhere. Pools of artists attract and anchor cultural industry firms in fields like publishing, advertising, music, design, and architecture. Artists often work on contract in other industries to design and market products and services (visual artists, musicians, and writers) and improve employee relations (actors). …

Despite heightened interest in fostering artists/designers as innovators and entrepreneurs, most cities have found that traditional policies and services don’t work for artists. … Artists are many times more likely to be self-employed than are scientists and engineers. Some 48 percent of artists reported in the 2000 Census long form that they are self-employed. … Overwhelmingly, surveys of artists underscore that they need and want to develop business skills. Many organizations—some nonprofit, some linked to higher educational institutions, some for-profit—offer artist-tailored entrepreneurial training.

The work by Professor Markusen reinforces many of the themes discussed in the recent  NKU Chase Law + Informatics Institute program: Success Strategies for the Professional Artist in the Digital Age. That program helped artists and their attorneys learn to navigate self-promotion, online contracting, sophisticated financing, and a host of challenges that pull the artist away from the creative process and into the fast-paced world of digital commerce. A webcast is available of the program.

Group shot of panelists at Success Strategies for the Professional Artist in the Digital Age event

“With social media gaining in popularity, more people are becoming content creators, and there is great opportunity to share creative works, but many are now becoming aware that there is real value to maintain some control over what is shared,” commented Terry Hart, director of legal policy, Copyright Alliance.

“Artists have long been recognized as commodities in our communities, driving innovation and adding color to our environment,” shared Sarah Corlett, director of creative enterprise, ArtsWave SpringBoard. “It has become increasingly more important that our creative sector has opportunities to turn their passion into profit through education and training. This improves the likelihood that these individuals will stay in our region and continue to make this an even better place to live.”

Professor Markusen, building on her earlier scholarship concludes in the report that for cities, “economic development strategy/practice is increasingly turning to occupational approaches, asserting the significance of human capital and entrepreneurship in supplementing traditional industry-targeted programs.”

But the creative artist panelist had some words of caution.  Dayton School of Law professor Dennis Greene reminded audience members that “the devil is in the details.”  Jennifer Kreder noted “when art is created in more traditional visual medium and then digitized several issues will come up” to which Stephen Gillen explained that “there is no ‘one size fits all answer'” for how best to contract for rights.

The Kauffman Foundation report provides a strong reminder of what cities can do to improve the likely success of artists and entrepreneurs in their communities. These are partnerships well worth promoting.

Success Strategies for the Professional Artist in the Digital Age was presented by the NKU Chase Law + Informatics Institute and sponsored by the ABA Business Section Cyberspace Law Committee, Copyright AllianceArtWorks SpringBoardKentucky Arts Council, and Frost Brown Todd, this program featured expert attorneys and filmmakers who discussed a range of business and legal practices.

 Frost Brown Todd

ABA Cyberspace Law Committee
Copyright Alliance

How Google Book Search transformed from impossible to inevitable

English: Google Digitization signs are all ove...

English: Google Digitization signs are all over the Michigan engineering library. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a widely reported copyright fair use decision, Judge Denny Chin ruled that the Google Books program constituted fair use, denying claims of the Authors Guild that the scanning of 20 million library books and posting snippets of those works online infringed the rights of authors.

The litigation history reflects the transformation that has taken place on the internet in the past decade. In 2004 Google entered into an agreement with several universities, beginning with University of Michigan.

Google began the process of digitizing books at the nation’s great libraries, starting at the University of Michigan, the alma mater of company co-founder Larry Page. “Even before we started Google, we dreamed of making the incredible breadth of information that librarians so lovingly organize searchable online,” said Page. A 2005 lawsuit resulted in three years of negotiation and a proposed settlement in 2008. That settlement collapsed among antitrust concerns and fairness of the representatives of the plaintiffs’ sub-classes.

As the Google Books program evolved, two discrete projects operated. In the Partner Program “works are displayed with the permission of the rights holder.” The rights holders had the ability to opt out of the scanning, but in 2011 the Association of American Publishers settled with Google. According to the decision, “As of early 2012, the Partner Program included approximately 2.5 million books, with the consent of some 45,000 rights holders.” The participation suggests an industry voting with its feet.

Under the publisher agreement, Google stopped displaying ads with the publisher’s books. In turn, the publishers provide Google with the books. This settlement, even more than the two district court decisions, effectively ended the dispute – leaving the two lawsuits as mop-up activities.

In the HathiTrust litigation, Judge Harold Baer determined Google’s Library Project partners who comprised the HathiTrust partnership were entitled to fair use protection for the digitization of the 20,000,000 volumes copied and used by the libraries. The decision highlighted the benefits to visually-impaired students and researchers who had access to content not previously available through audio readers or braille, the benefits of digital search functionality, and the importance of protecting the library collections from physical harm and erosion.

In both opinions, the courts highlighted the new research opportunities created by the digital database:

Mass digitization allows new areas of non-expressive computational and statistical research, often called “textmining.” One example of text mining is research that compares the frequency with which authors used “is” to refer to the United States rather than “are” over time. Quoting the brief of the Digital Humanities amicus, “it was only in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century that the conception of the United States as a single, indivisible entity was reflected in the way a majority of writers referred to the nation.”).

The Google decision followed the same path, highlighting the benefits of digital search, the limits placed on commercial exploitation by Google, and the pro-market effects agreed to by the publishers. “Google Books expands access to books.” With this simple sentence, the court highlights the essence of the eight years of litigation. In looking at the transformative nature of the fair use test, the court explained, “Google Books does not supersede or supplant books because it is not a tool to be used to read books.”

The court does not discuss the tremendous value the Google Books program benefits the search engine, speech recognition and other algorithms operated by Google. It also dismisses the intermediary copying as a necessary function to enable the research and archival function to be exploited. But it does highlight that Google “does not run ads on the About the Book pages that contain snippets” and that Google “does not engage in the direct commercialization of copyrighted works.”

Google’s settlements and decisions not to commercialize the Google Books program likely tipped the scales with the publishers and may have strongly influenced the courts. Unlike Judge Baer, Judge Chin does not even discuss the potential to license the digitized database to Google. Baer rejected the potential to license the database as speculative. Moreover, since new works are added by voluntary participation with the publishers, the licenses for new works are included.

The decision appears a simplistic fair use summary that could lead casual observers to wonder why it required eight years of litigation. But changes to the conduct of both parties are what really led to this simple decision. Google adapted its behavior to limit its commercialization of the works. Publishers shifted their position from one of demanding opt-in, ex ante control to recognizing that the opt-out partnership met their needs. Eight years of experience did not produce significant evidence of authors being harmed as a result of snippet-searches replacing library purchases of academic texts.

In addition, the role of digital texts has changed. The Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad have paved the way for a fundamental shift in the relationship authors have with electronic texts. Market forces proved Google correctly anticipated a highly reconstructed book industry. Google was only one of the players bringing about this change.

Both the HathiTrust litigation and the Authors Guild v. Google litigation will likely be appealed, but there is little appeal in undoing the transformations to publishing that the Google Books program began.

One year later – DRM-free ebooks hugely positive for Tor

New York Times technology columnist David Pogue discussed the decision last year by Tor Books UK and US to drop copy protection. It just released a statement regarding the effect of the DRM-free ebooks after one year.

His column deftly discusses the tension between consumers who want the inconvenience of encryption eliminated and concerns that DRM targets lawful consumers far more than those acquiring illegally distributed copies. Although he does not address the plethora of DRM-free versions on bit torrent sites, he notes that the changes to DRM for commercial products might affect the rate of piracy, but not the existence of piracy.

The Tor announcement highlighted a few other features of their strategy. First, the strategy was about their authors and the goals of the authors to engage more effectively with their readers. Secondly, as a science fiction imprint, their readership is among the most capable of getting DRM-free copies, so the publisher needs to make the consumer happy more than it needs to protect itself from the consumer. And finally, the decision to eliminate DRM does not mean that the works are not for-profit, on-sale copies. This statement captures many of Tor’s concerns:

We had discussions with our authors before we made the move and we considered very carefully the two key concerns for any publisher when stripping out the DRM from ebooks: copyright protection and territoriality of sales. Protecting our author’s intellectual copyright will always be of a key concern to us and we have very stringent anti-piracy controls in place. But DRM-protected titles are still subject to piracy, and we believe a great majority of readers are just as against piracy as publishers are, understanding that piracy impacts on an author’s ability to earn an income from their creative work. As it is, we’ve seen no discernible increase in piracy on any of our titles, despite them being DRM-free for nearly a year.

Pogue suggests but does not state outright that DRM is an ineffective strategy for reducing piracy. But he is very explicit that the point of an anti-piracy policy is to increase sales and revenue. DRM-free does not mean without cost. iTunes sells its music even though it dropped DRM. He also points out that his own books have had fared similarly in the market.

If book consumers thought that everyone in the household could easily read the same book (in the manner that a family can share a physical book), it might be more willing to spend money to own the ebook. For works that have no physical cost, the increase in unauthorized copies is not the right metric. The right question is whether more customers will purchase the work. If more copies are sold, the work is more successful, even if more copies are also pirated.

Pogue makes another strong point that the ease of the transaction directly impacts sales. “Friction also matters. That’s why Apple and Amazon have had such success with the single click-to-buy button. To avoid piracy, it’s not enough to offer people a good product at a fair price. You also have to make buying as effortless as possible.” High transaction costs are reasonable only for expensive, infrequent purchases. Weight is a normal force on friction; only weighty purchases should have high friction.

Finally, Pogue addresses the pricing of ebooks. Frankly, he is more generous to the publishers than I would be on this issue by acknowledging the costs associated with “author advance, editing, indexing, design, promotion, and so on” but like the music industry, the investments are declining. The public is likely to value the fair price point of an ebook as a percentage of its physical counterpart. If the physical copy has a secondary market in the used bookstore, then the loss of resale also needs to be factored in for the consumer. Otherwise the consumer is only paying for the convenience of instant access, and if the instant access is undermined by cludgy DRM, there is no value to be had.

Tor heard this from its constituents:

But the most heartening reaction for us was from the readers and authors who were thrilled that we’d listened and actually done something about a key issue that was so close to their hearts. They almost broke Twitter and facebook with their enthusiastic responses. Gary Gibson, author of The Thousand Emperors tweeted: “Best news I’ve heard all day.” Jay Kristoff, author of Stormdancer, called it “a visionary and dramatic step . . . a victory for consumers, and a red-letter day in the history of publishing.”

Tor never says it has become more profitable, but the company does relish the role it is taking in leading the publishing industry towards a more consumer-friendly business model.

The move has been a hugely positive one for us, it’s helped establish Tor and Tor UK as an imprint that listens to its readers and authors when they approach us with a mutual concern—and for that we’ve gained an amazing amount of support and loyalty from the community. And a year on we’re still pleased that we took this step with the imprint and continue to publish all of Tor UK’s titles DRM-free.

So the lesson from Tor is simple – for low-cost impulse purchases DRM doesn’t add value. High quality, fairly priced, and easy to access works will continue to attract a growing market. These are the points of emphasis and differentiation for the marketplace. DRM may be a legal solution, but it is not a sound business strategy.

Foretelling the Future of the Book Business; Turow says leverage comes at too high a cost for the literary market

A student of the publishing industry would be amazed at the transformation which has taken place in the last decade. According to the Association of American Publishers, “[t]he eBook phenomenon continued in 2011 with eBooks ranking, for the first time, as the year’s #1 individual format for Adult Fiction.”

This transformation comes at a time when the battle over tablet readers has suddenly heated up. Apple’s lead in tablet computing has slipped to a paltry 50.4% – still the global majority, but a 15% decline in the last quarter. Which of course is before the new Microsoft marketing push for its competing Windows 8 products. Using Google’s Android OS, Samsung has taken away the majority of that market share away from Apple.

An increase in book reader form factors to include Apple, Microsoft, Google powered Samsung (and maybe Sony) does not suggest a fragmented market. (Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are pushing branded tablets as well.) Instead it suggests that the dominant computer companies are rolling from video games and music distribution into consumption of the publishing industry.

Perhaps this is why antitrust actions continue. The Department of Justice plans to press its case against Apple and publishers MacMillan and Penguin over restraint of trade in the pricing of ebooks on the iTunes platform. Former publishing defendants Hachette Bok Group, HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster have settled identical charges.

Notably absent from the list of defendants was Random House. Instead of arranging pricing structures with its competitors through a standardized iTunes license, Random House instead elected to grow more powerful by acquiring Penguin. As the New York Times describes the merger, it “narrows the business to a handful of big publishers, and could set off a long-expected round of consolidation as the industry adapts to the digital marketplace.”

The merger combines two European publishing giants – Bertelsmann’s Random House and Pearson’s Penguin, reducing the “big six” by at least one. It may trigger even more. Again from the New York Times:

[T]he major publishers have been expected to join together, getting smaller in number and bigger in size. The other four houses among the so-called Big Six are also owned by larger media conglomerates: HarperCollins, which is part of News Corporation; Macmillan, owned by Georg von Holtzbrinck of Germany; Hachette, whose parent company is Lagardère of France; and Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS. They could all now face increased pressure to consolidate in response to a combined Penguin Random House.

In the blog from Authors Guild (of which I am a member), Scott Turow had this to say:

“Survival of the largest appears to be the message here,” said Scott Turow, Authors Guild president. “Penguin Random House, our first mega-publisher, would have additional negotiating leverage with the bookselling giants, but that leverage would come at a high cost for the literary market and therefore for readers. There are already far too few publishers willing to invest in nonfiction authors, who may require years to research and write histories, biographies, and other works, and in novelists, who may need the help of a substantial publisher to effectively market their books to readers.”

Still, the lesson may be that big wins. The Google Book scanning project has been in litigation for seven years with apathy and partial settlements derailing most of the importance of the litigation. In October 2012, the publishers capitulated and settled. The arrangement involved the Association of American Publishers, along with McGraw-Hill Companies, Pearson Education, Penguin, John Wiley & Sons and Simon & Schuster. The Authors Guild continues to fight, though the relevance of the litigation seems to be waning. The actual use of the digitized books has become more constrained and falls into fair use activities like text searches and archival backups. As a result, the Authors Guild was handed a stunningly lopsided defeat in its action against the HathiTrust, the partnership between Google and the university libraries that allowed digitization of their collections.

These concerns are a far cry from the monopoly concerns leveled at national book retailers a decade ago. In 2011 Borders Books was the latest mega-book retailer to disappear in bankruptcy. (Waldenbooks was a subsidiary disappeared as well.) Crown Books, once the third largest retailer, collapsed a decade earlier. This leaves only Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million as bookstore retail chains, though Walmart, Costco, and Target sell mass retail. Online Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million dominate sales.

It has never been easier for an author to publish materials for the world to see or even to place works into national distribution. The only thing the new publishing order lacks is infrastructure to support nurturing talent and carefully editing works. Larger publishers rely more on backlists and less on new authors. Fewer editors spend less time on more manuscripts. Research and factual works are mined by researchers using word searches and shoddy research that diminishes the need to acquire actual copies of those works.

Arbitrary legal barriers to the transformation are irrelevant or even counter-productive. Antitrust suits will simply change who will dominate the new, concentrated landscape. Nonetheless, it is important to note the passing of an era even if nothing can be done save mourn its passing.

So, in keeping with the season, sing along – with feeling:

Five major publishers, four ebook sources, three mass market chains, two national bookstores … and just Amazon for all our online needs!

Georgia State Electronic Reserves and Copyright Ruling

Guest Blog by John Schlipp,[*] Intellectual Property Librarian, W. Frank Steely Library; 

Not too long ago, headlines in the news reported of college students and homemakers taken to court by the recording industry for noncommercial file sharing of a small number of MP3 music files. Although officially illegal, some of these cases could be considered small change compared to piracy and copyright infringement issues of greater magnitude. Please understand that I am not condoning piracy. However, from a business point of view, one might question the return on investment by the Recording Industry Association of America for pursuing minor infringements. Indeed, discussions from intellectual property scholarly communities have debated whether these and other types of alleged infringements constitute piracy or fair use. One need only read the headlines to see that academia is not immune from the copyright piracy debate: “Are College Professors and Librarians Digital Pirates?;” “Professors get ‘F’ in copyright protection knowledge;”  and most recently a triumph for educators as, “Judge sides with GSU on copyright fight.”

As an intellectual property librarian directing the new IPAC (Intellectual Property Awareness Center) at Northern Kentucky University’s Steely Library, I have been following Cambridge University Press et al. v. Patton et al, the GSU (Georgia State University) case, since its inception in 2008.[i] For those unfamiliar, this case deals with the practice of librarians posting class readings for instructors as electronic reserves on password restricted content management sites such as Blackboard and determining at what point such postings are fair use rather than infringement. On May 11 2012, Judge Orinda Evans of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled that virtually the entire alleged infringements in this case were fair use. This is a victory largely for librarians, educators, and fair use, but a defeat for publishers.  Since librarians and educators must still work with publishers for the content they need, it is almost certain that the publishers will appeal this case.

I coach instructors about fair use and copyright in the classroom, as well as copyright from a creator point of view. Usually their preconceived beliefs about fair use and instruction range from excessively cautious (as they are intimidated by some misleading copyright notices posted by publishers and other media producers) to overly oblivious (believing that everything copied is fair use for education). Moderation is the exception. This tells us that, on the one hand a larger group of educators relinquish much of their lawful fair use opportunities for instruction, while others defy the fair use doctrine which could result in copyright infringement.[ii]

Kenneth Crews (legal copyright expert) and author of Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators, suggests that we can only benefit from fair use by taking control and understanding our legal rights as copyright owners and copyright users. With this awareness, we can be familiar with alternatives that the law allows and make choices about copyright that best advances our objectives as teachers, learners, and information professionals.[iii]

The doctrine of fair use within Section 107 U.S. Copyright Law, allows an unspecified limited reproduction of copyrighted materials related to classroom use. Those of us in education often refer to fair use guides from authorities such as Kenneth Crews at the Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University Libraries which provides a defacto checklist to determine whether or not our educational use is fair use.

How does all of this apply to librarians?  As more college students receive their class supplemental readings from library electronic reserves on online content management systems, such as Blackboard, librarians and faculty are under scrutiny from publishers. A growing number of educators have gone so far as to create and promote Open Access journals (often with Creative Commons notices) to share their works for classroom instruction or other noncommercial applications. Textbooks may not be too far behind this new distribution model as discussed in an opinion piece targeted to Academic Publishers about Open Access in the Chronicle of Higher Education in April 2012 @ .

Guidelines have existed to support librarians and educators since 1976 when the Agreement of Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-for-Profit Educational Instructions with Respect to Books and Periodicals were published in House Report 94-1476. Since then other guidelines, such as the American Library Association’s Model Policy Concerning College and University Photocopying for Classroom, Research and Library Reserve Use in 1982 and the 1991 federal court decision in Basic Books, Inc. v. Kino’s Graphic Corp., 758 F. Supp. 1522, 1526 (S.D.N.Y. 1991), have codified conservative safe harbors which most educators follow. Other guidelines for the digital world have also been introduced, such as CONFU (Conference on Fair Use associated with a 1995 report on the National Information Infrastructure), which never garnered the same support from publishers as the former guidelines.
A new Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) was introduced earlier this year. It crafts a new guide to address digital needs unthought-of when the earlier guidelines were created. Many fair use scholars have criticized the previous guidelines as too restrictive for educational use, whereas others argue that the newer Code is too laissez-faire. Hopefully the recent GSU case decision and the Code will offer educators a basis to make an informed decision and risk analysis that considers the law’s fair use flexibility for librarian and educators.

Why should educators be concerned about copyright and other intellectual property issues?

  • Virtual presence on the Web places small-to-midsized colleges at risk with larger institutions of higher education.
  • Educators must set an example for our students to respect intellectual property.
  • To protect our colleges and faculty/staff from lawsuits and other legal inconveniences.
  • The awareness of copyright compliancy with fair use (and the TEACH Act for online courses) are good preventive measures for all of us, including our students.
  • Respecting copyright ensures resource innovation and protection for both creators and consumers of copyrighted works.

To foster these points, more colleges are offering their faculty and students support with institutes such as the NKU Chase Law & Informatics Institute and Steely Library’s new IPAC. The IPAC will educate creators and consumers of intellectual property about issues such as copyright & fair use, plagiarism, patents & trademarks, and other resources and support related to the legal and ethical aspects surrounding intellectual property. Diverse campus and community constituents served may include, but are not limited to, students, educational instructors and librarians, authors and researchers, entrepreneurs and small business owners, inventors and scientists, musicians, visual artists, and others.

The new IPAC plans to accomplish its mission by providing associated information resources, workshops, conferences, an online intellectual property discussion support group, social networking access, and basic updates on legal intellectual property developments to support educators and the community. Why not help us with a survey as we build our new IPAC at Steely Library? Your input and specific needs count.  Tell us what programs and resources would support your intellectual property awareness needs. See to complete our brief survey. As educators, we continue to inform our campuses and regional communities about the dual aspects of intellectual property (as creators and as consumers). In doing so, we build awareness and respect for the intellectual works of everyone.

[i]  Howard, Jennifer, “Publishers Sue Georgia State U. for Copyright Infringement,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 16, 2008,, accessed May 17 2012. There are two other federal copyright cases which librarians and educators are also watching very closely: Association For Information Mediat and Equipment et al v. The Regents of The University of California et al; and Authors Guild et al. v. HathiTrust et al. These cases deal with similar instructional issues which involve video content streaming for classroom support and a public accessible virtual collection of over nine million digitized works from college libraries. Including GSU, these cases will ultimately affect how educators utilize fair use and follow related copyright laws in the classroom.

[ii] John Schlipp, “Coaching Teaching Faculty: Copyright Awareness Programs in Academic Libraries,” Kentucky Libraries 72 (Summer 2008): 18-22.

[iii] Kenneth D. Crews, Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators: Creative Strategies and Practical Solutions,(Chicago: American Library Association, 2012), page xii.

[*] John Schlipp is an Associate Professor of Library Services and manager of the new IPAC (Intellectual Property Awareness Center) at Steely Library, Northern Kentucky University (Highland Heights). Formerly he served as Patent & Trademark Librarian at the Public Library of Cincinnati. Prior to receiving his MSLS from the University of Kentucky in 2000, he worked in the communications industry for 15 years. Schlipp’s contributions include: articles and book reviews; an intellectual property awareness program for teens and young adults entitled Creative Thinking; associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky (University Press of Kentucky, 2009), and a chapter in the textbook Distributed Learning Librarianship (Sharon Almquist, ed., Libraries Unlimited, 2011).