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Above the Fold

A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

October 22, 2010
Vol. 3, No. 36
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:


Has Online Sharing Spurred a New Offline Sharing Economy?  (External site)

ReadWriteWeb   •  October 7, 2010

Share and share alike. The Web is improving our propensity for sharing, both online and off, according to recent studies that indicate more than three-quarters of adults surveyed said that online experiences encouraged them to be more open to the idea of sharing with strangers. "The rise of sharing requires us to use a new language where 'access' trumps 'ownership'; social value becomes the new currency; 'exchanges' replace 'purchases'; and people are no longer consumers but instead users, borrowers, lenders and contributors. All of this means businesses must redefine their role from providers of stuff to become purveyors of services and experiences," says Neela Sakaria of Latitude.

I'm not sure I agree with the conclusion—it seems very much like the kind of positive response one gives to surveys because saying yes sounds "right." The transaction costs of sharing in the digital arena are negligible. Providing that advice on Yelp is a lot different than changing your life around to share an auto on Zipcar. ( Michalko)


CBC Decision Highlights Creative Commons Drawbacks  (External site)

TeleRead   •  October 9, 2010

Artistic license. The Creative Commons licensing agreement covers noncommercial use, but what happens when an organization has mixed commercial and noncommercial platforms? The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently announced a new policy prohibiting use of Creative Commons-licensed music in any of its podcasts in an effort to avoid violating the Creative Commons agreement—as media groups diversify their platforms, will this turn into a bigger problem?

And even when we're motivated to share and provide terms we think are straightforward, it's more complicated than we imagined. This case highlights the proliferation of Creative Common license types and the way responsible caution can drive you away from the benefits of sharing. ( Michalko)


Consumer Demand for Pirated eBooks Stopped Growing in 2010  (External site)

Go-to-Hellman   •  October 8, 2010

Crying wolf? Eric Hellman refutes alarming statistics from anti-piracy firm Attributor, which claims that ebook piracy is costing publishers some $3 billion. Hellman says that, according to his analysis, ebook piracy declined in 2009 and actually stopped in early 2010. He speculates that although the situation may change, right now the "broad increase in consumer-friendly availability of properly licensed ebooks over the last 2 years has squelched the growth of demand for ebooks from illicit sources."

And when you can't share you steal? Not really but Eric's point that piracy dissipates in the presence of low barrier legal alternatives is worth remembering as we build future collections. Less onerous DRM and reasonable prices for ebooks are directly connected to the decline in piracy. (If you don't subscribe to Eric's blog, you should. I told you before.) ( Michalko)


Publishers' Crazy eBook Prices  (External site)

Salon   •  October 6, 2010

Price wars. Columnist Dan Gillmor chides publishers who in some cases are now charging more for the ebook version than for hardcover. This is hardly the way to grow a market.

But now we can say goodbye to reasonable ebook prices . . . ( Michalko)


The Real Cost of Free  (External site)

The Guardian   •  October 5, 2010

Setting the record straight. Cory Doctorow strikes back at a fellow Guardian columnist who'd suggested he was hypocritical for advocating free content on the Web while charging speaking fees. Doctorow says the culture of copying will not be changed by "draconian laws and savage penalties, . . . secret treaties and widespread censorship." The real villains, he contends, are the DRM vendors, the record labels and the studios who conspire to control artistic assets for their own profit. Doctorow's rant is familiar ground—but still worth a look.

Okay, it is a rant, but a quite articulate and reasonable rant about what an author or artist ought to expect independent of the effects of the Internet. ( Michalko)


The Google Book Settlement as Copyright Reform  (External site)

Social Science Research Network   •  September 28, 2010

The bright side. This scholarly paper by Pamela Samuelson argues that the Google Book Search settlement will effectively achieve the copyright reform that Congress has been unwilling to tackle.

This is a bonus article. It's not about sharing, digital rights management or pricing, but it is a very well done overview of the GBS settlement that is under review and a bit of reasoned hopefulness about copyright reform. Warning: long(ish) with those legal citations and footnotes that make even clear prose look frightening. ( Michalko)


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