Accessing and Reusing Copyright Government Records

Accessing and Reusing Copyright Government Records

John Gilchrist

10 Law and Justice Journal 213 (2010)

Full text available at:


The common policy objectives in modern liberal democracies of promoting open and accountable government and of preserving national culture and heritage are reflected in the provision of access to, and the preservation of unpublished and published works held by government. A wide spectrum of social enquiry is in whole or in part dependent on these government preserved holdings.

The policy objectives in Australia are manifested in two ways. One is in government archival practices and laws. The other is in the Australian Copyright Act 1968 facilitating access to, and the preservation of, unpublished and published works held by archives and libraries. While preservation of these works and the costs associated with it are in themselves a recognition of the public interest in accessing works held by archives and libraries, existing laws and practices facilitating access should be reviewed in light of technological changes in way we access, create and communicate works and in light of further moves towards openness in government.

This article outlines present archival practices and laws in Australia, and the scope of Copyright Act provisions,  before turning to reform. The focus will be on the Australian federal sphere.

Libraries in Japan – Save The Library

Our friends in Japan are dealing with more pressing problems, but librarians in Japan have created a Web site  called “Save The Library” to help libraries impacted by the earthquake and tsunami.

The Wiki is posting information on disaster management, recruitment of volunteers, and expedited ILL, among other topics. Most postings are in Japanese.

Save The Library

Hat tip to Takako Okada.

Kindle and Libraries

In yesterday’s New York Times, Claire Cain Miller and Miguel Helft reported on Apple’s tighter control of the App store.    TechCrunch then added that Apple’s moves may “foreshadow war with Amazon Kindle.” 

As Jason Kincaid writes: ” instead of beating Amazon on price or features, it looks like Apple might just cut them off. Or force them to use in-app payments, which give Apple a 30% cut and would kill Amazon’s margins. Amazon has avoided using Apple’s in-app payments system by kicking users to a browser to complete their transaction, but according to the NYT report . . .  it sounds like this will be banned.”

Just last week, Amazon announced a major event: Kindle book sales had finally passed paperback books sales on (Last year, Kindle book sales outpaced hardcovers.)

With all of this swirling about (and very little mention of what this means for libraries), what should I see on our shelving truck? 

Gregory K. Laughlin has a new article in the University of Baltimore Law Review: “Digitization and Democracy:  The Conflict Between the Amazon Kindle License Agreement and the Role of Libraries in a Free Society.” (Volume 40, Number 1, Fall 2010)

Laughlin asks “whether libraries may lend e-books to patrons without violating the copyright owners’ exclusive right of distribution.”    He continues:

“Amazon, in the license agreement to which a purchaser of a  Kindle e-book must assent prior to downloading the e-book, retains ownership of the “Digital Content” (i.e. the e-book), and imposes a number of restrictions that are inconsistent with transfer of ownership to the purchaser, including prohibiting redistribution.  If libraries are not owners of the Kindle e-books they acquire, then by the explicit terms of the Amazon license agreement, as well as Section 106 of the Copyright Act, they may not lend the e-books to their patrons.”


“Are the license terms prohibiting the lending of e-books (and other digital content) enforceable under existing law? . . . If so, should the Copyright Act be amended to provide libraries with an inalienable right to lend e-books that is equivalent to their current right to lend printed books?”

Laughlin argues: “The right of libraries to lend e-books to their patrons should be inalienable…. There is still time for society as a whole to establish definitively what rights a library has to lend e-books that it acquires.  Congress should guarantee that the interests of the reading public are protected; and it should do so in a way that guarantees the same freedom of access to e-books that the public has enjoyed with physical books for well over a century.”

U.S. Government Blogs Organized by Subject, which provides official information and services from the United States Government, has recently organized federal government blogs by subject.

Under the current organization there are 11 categories:

  1. Business and Economics Blogs: Small business owners, economics news…
  2. Defense and International Relations Blogs: Military, foreign policy, veterans…
  3. Environment, Energy, and Agriculture Blogs: Agriculture, environmental protection, saving energy…
  4. Family, Home, and Community Blogs: Human services, community development, middle class…
  5. Health and Nutrition Blogs: Medicine, public health…
  6. History, Arts, and Culture Blogs: Museums, libraries…
  7. Jobs, Education, and Volunteerism Blogs: Volunteering, employment…
  8. Public Safety and Law Blogs: Security, law enforcement, disasters, emergencies…
  9. Reference and General Government Blogs: Grants, White House…
  10. Science and Technology Blogs: Information technology, Internet security…
  11. Travel and Recreation Blogs: Transportation, parks…

Hat tip to: ResourceShelf.

Green Library Blog

Check out Gerry McKiernan’s new Green Library Blog if you are interested in sustainable development or planning new library buildings.

The Green Library blog is devoted to documenting significant activities, events, literature, and projects that focus on ” … increasing the efficiency with which buildings use resources — energy, water, and materials — while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building’s lifecycle, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal” of and by libraries.

Green Library Blog

hat tip to Arlene Cohen and IFLA.

AsiaLinks from the National Diet Library of Japan

Many thanks to the Librarians at the National Diet Library of Japan for maintaining the AsiaLinks site. Arranged by country, AsiaLinks offers limks to administrative, legislative and judicial sites. In addition to legal categories, AsiaLInk also includes links to libraries, research institutes, political parties, country search engines and periodicals. All country categories appear in Japanese and English.


For Whom Does the Google Bell Toll? Not libraries

I ran across an interesting article by way of a tangentially related Google search today.  The June 12, 2008 issue of The New York Review of Books includes the following item, “The Library in the New Age,” a lengthy discussion of changes in information technology (from the dawn of the written word through Internet search engines), which culminates in an eight-point discussion of how Google Book Search will make physical libraries “more important than ever.”  Written by Robert Darnton, it’s an interesting addition to the scholarship of the digital age.