October 17, 2007
Activists Ask Copyright Czar For Database Access
"Internet watchdog Carl Malamud and a handful of other high-tech watchers wrote to Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters this week asking her to provide bulk access to the copyright catalog of monographs, documents, and serials on the Internet.
Currently, the information is available through a Copyright Office online application that allows the public to search for individual records -- but no bulk access is available, meaning that the entire database cannot be downloaded.
Alternatively, the Library of Congress's cataloging and distribution service sells a subscription to the current database for $31,500 and makes a retrospective database available for $55,125. The grand total for cost of entry is $86,625 and it comes with copyright restrictions, the group said."
See also: Librarians, Public Interest Advocate Urges Bulk Access to Copyright Records, Library Journal [RJ]
The catalog "is not a product, it is fuel that makes the copyright system work," the letter stated. "Anybody should be able to download the entire database to their desktop, write a better search application, or use this public domain information to research copyright questions."
The $86,625 price tag also "places this database beyond the reach of university libraries, small businesses that wish to provide a better copyright search service, and academics or citizens wishing to analyze the copyright registration process," the group said.
Patents and trademarks, the other two legs of the U.S. intellectual property system, are available in bulk and at no charge on the Internet, the letter points out: "Anybody can build a better patent or trademark system, and many people have."
Officials from Digital Library Federation; Harvard University; Public Knowledge; Stanford University; the University of California, Berkeley; and others signed the letter.
Malamud most recently pressured the Smithsonian Institution to free up images on a Web site run by the museum's photographic office and successfullly challenged the C-SPAN public affairs network to loosen its copyright policy for congressional video footage."
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