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Weekly News Digest

April 21, 2020 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

CLICK HERE to view more Weekly News Digest items.

COVID-19 NEWS: 'Verizon Will Buy Video Conferencing Company BlueJeans'

Lauren Feiner reports the following for CNBC:

Verizon is buying the video conferencing platform BlueJeans as workers increasingly rely on web tools to connect during the coronavirus pandemic. …

Verizon will pay about $400 million in the deal, CNBC’s David Faber reported. BlueJeans has more than 15,000 customers. …

Many enterprise tools like Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams have seen an uptick in usage as more American regions have been instructed to stay at home to tamp down the spread of the virus. The acquisition shows Verizon is looking to be a part of that movement as businesses still struggle to reopen offices.

“As the way we work continues to change, it is absolutely critical for businesses and public sector customers to have access to a comprehensive suite of offerings that are enterprise ready, secure, frictionless and that integrate with existing tools,” Verizon Business CEO Tami Erwin said in a statement. …

According to its website, BlueJeans counts Facebook, LinkedIn and IBM-owned RedHat among its customers.

For more information, read the article.

Happy National Library Week!

It’s National Library Week (April 19–25)! All of the typical celebrations won’t necessarily be taking place this year, but you can follow #NationalLibraryWeek on Twitter and visit ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek for updates. The schedule is as follows:
  • Monday, April 20: State of America’s Libraries Report released, including Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books of 2019. [Find the press release here.]
  • Tuesday, April 21: National Library Workers Day, a day for library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.
  • Wednesday, April 22: National Bookmobile Day, a day to recognize the contributions of our nation’s bookmobiles and the dedicated professionals who make quality bookmobile outreach possible in their communities.
  • Thursday, April 23: Take Action for Libraries Day, a day to rally advocates to support libraries.

Contributed Article: Mark Twain, Savvy Creator of Intellectual Property

The following is an article by Dave Davis, a research analyst at Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). It has been lightly edited to conform to NewsBreaks’ style.

WIPO and many other organizations involved with intellectual property (IP) are celebrating World IP Day on April 26. IP is, basically, an abstract term used to describe the various forms of legal protection provided by governments for works of the mind—creative innovation of all types, especially including copyright and patents (but also including trademarks, trade dress, trade secrets, design patents, and other forms of protection).

Sam Clemens of Hannibal, Mo. (later of Hartford, Conn., and then the world), who under the pseudonym Mark Twain wrote many enduring works of fiction and satire, helped to build up the canon of American literature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, while making and losing several fortunes in the process. In observation of World IP Day, which falls close on the calendar to the 110th anniversary of Twain’s death (April 21), here are some of Twain’s most notable efforts to protect his works through copyright and IP:

  • In 1871, he was granted the first of several patents for inventions of his own. He also made investments in the inventions of others, most of which did not pan out—in fact, quite the opposite. Despite this, he maintained an interest in technical innovation throughout his life, purchasing high-tech (proto-steampunk?) devices and writing speculatively about other ones yet to exist.
  • Obviously, as a writer, editor, and publisher, he was deeply familiar with the vagaries of 19th-century copyright. He also acted as a copyright lobbyist, arguing before Congress for term extension (having accepted, grudgingly, that perpetual copyright could not be legitimated under U.S. law).
  • Late in life, he incorporated the Mark Twain Company, using it to license his name for use on products such as cigars and whiskey. Some of these artifacts are still extant and valued by collectors. He at least once took legal action against a “Twain imitator”—long before Hal Holbrook was born. 
  • One company still offers licensing for some IP from the Mark Twain estate, presumably for uses in movies and other high-value new creative works. Although his desire for perpetual copyright was not achieved, his—probably—final unpublished work, Autobiography of Mark Twain (three volumes from the University of California Press), was released in a scholarly edition over successive years from 2010 to 2015, and some of that newly released material, astonishingly for someone who died in 1910, falls under copyright.

As with the sci-fi devices he dreamed up for his fiction, Twain’s IP initiatives looked ahead to a time of IP entrepreneurs such as David Bowie and Bill Gates, who produced works of the mind—both of the sort protected by copyright and those “discoveries” protected by patent. If he were to comment on World IP Day, his remarks might be something along the lines of: 

A man invents a thing which could revolutionize the arts, produce mountains of money, and bless the earth, and who will bother with it or show any interest in it?—and so you are just as poor as you were before. But you invent some worthless thing to amuse yourself with, and would throw it away if let alone, and all of a sudden the whole world makes a snatch for it and out crops a fortune. 

—Mark Twain, The American Claimant (1892)


Dave Davis joined Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) in 1994 and currently serves as a research analyst. He previously held directorships in both public libraries and corporate libraries and earned joint master’s degrees in library and information sciences and medieval European history from The Catholic University of America. Davis is fascinated by copyright issues, content licensing, and data. Also, rock ’n’ roll music.

COVID-19 NEWS: 'Stanford Law School Creates Free Database of COVID-19 Legal Memos'

Sue Reisinger reports the following for Law.com:

Stanford Law School has placed all those COVID-19 memos that have been flooding in-house lawyers’ inboxes into a free, searchable database. …

Created with general counsel in mind, the COVID-19 Memo Database puts more than 4,000 memoranda discussing legal, regulatory, accounting and governance issues wrought by the coronavirus at the legal department’s fingertips. …

The database, believed to be unique, is a keyword-searchable index that lists sources and titles, with links to the original memos. Sources include law firms, the Big Four auditing firms and other business experts. It was developed and is being maintained and updated by the Rock Center and Cornerstone Research. …

The memo topics range from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, with over 250 titles to business interruption issues with at least 18 titles. Other topics include tax matters, workplace issues, securities regulation, antitrust, insurance, international trade and more. Dozens of others deal with issues arising in specific countries such as China, the European Union, France, Germany and Great Britain.

For more information, read the article (registration required).

COVID-19 NEWS: 'WHO COVID-19 Database Launches New Search Interface'

Tomas Allen of the World Health Organization (WHO) Library sent an email to the MEDLIB-L email discussion list with the following message:

WHO is gathering the latest international multilingual scientific findings and knowledge on COVID-19. The majority of citations referenced are published journal articles. The global literature cited in the WHO COVID-19 database is updated daily (Monday through Friday) from searches of bibliographic databases, hand searching, and the addition of other expert-referred scientific articles. Particular emphasis is placed on identifying literature from around the world. Multiple search strategies that are under continual revision are used to obtain this global perspective. New research is added regularly.

Available since January 26th, a more powerful search interface has just been launched on the 14th of April and can be accessed at the following link:

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/global-research-on-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov

The WHO evidence retrieval sub-group has begun collaboration with key partners to enrich the citations and build a more comprehensive database with inclusion of other content. Future improvements are envisioned [to] improve the end user’s experience. The database is built by BIREME, the Specialized Center of PAHO/AMRO and part of the Regional Office’s Department of Evidence and Intelligence for Action in Health.

For further information or questions, please contact the WHO Library via Library@who.int

Read the email here.

COVID-19 NEWS: 'Libraries Brace for Budget Cuts'

Lindsay McKenzie writes the following for Inside Higher Ed:

‘I’d be very surprised if any academic library escapes this situation without a cut or a freeze of one kind or another,’ said Rick Anderson, associate dean for collections and scholarly communication at the University of Utah, in an email. ‘The question is how deep the cuts will be, or how long the freezes will last.’

Predicting the fiscal impact of COVID-19 on higher education institutions at this stage is impossible, Anderson said. ‘We don’t even know for certain if our campus will be open for normal business by August or September of this year,’ he said.

The best-case scenario on most campuses is for budgets to remain static for the 2021 financial year, Anderson said. But he describes this … as a ‘highly optimistic scenario, one that assumes business as usual in the upcoming academic year, and minimal drop-offs in enrollment.’

A more likely scenario involves ‘significant cuts to ongoing budget allocations imposed across campus units, with specific campus directives as to how those cuts will be directed to personnel.’

Institutions such as the University of Virginia have already started to implement institutionwide hiring freezes as part of their effort to minimize the possible economic impact of COVID-19.

In a message to the campus, university president Jim Ryan pledged that the burden of cost cutting would be shared across the institution. All schools and units will cut or eliminate nonessential expenses. The university’s executive leadership team will take a 10 percent salary reduction, and capital projects that haven’t already started are on hold.

Librarians don’t expect to be spared.

For more information, read the article.

COVID-19 NEWS: APA Announces More Free Resources

Nichole Ridgeway, director of library marketing at the American Psychological Association (APA), sent an email to colleagues in the library community stating the following:

[APA] is providing additional free publishing resources beyond those we previously announced in March. We hope these services help to provide both professional and personal assistance as you navigate this pandemic. …

To help students in need of APA Style guidance, tutorials and quick guides adapted from Academic Writer®, APA’s tool for teaching and learning effective writing, are now freely available through July 1, 2020. The Basics of Seventh Edition APA Style tutorial will stay on the site for free after that date.

To help children and caregivers navigate feelings of anxiety, stress, and grief, APA’s children’s book imprint has implemented a twice-weekly Magination Press Story Time with authors reading their books. Story Time is held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET. An archive of all previous episodes is also freely available.

APA staff Lynn Bufka, PhD, Associate Executive Director for Practice Research and Policy, and Vaile Wright, PhD, Director of Clinical Research and Quality, led a webinar series to offer tips for managing stress and anxiety. The webinars provide guidance on how to manage anxiety due to uncertainty, coping mechanisms for having to adapt to a new way of communicating, and the importance of establishing routines.

Visit apa.org/topics/covid-19 and apa.org/pubs/covid-19-resources for more information.

COVID-19 NEWS: 'Startling Digital Divides in Distance Learning Emerge'

UNESCO published an article stating the following:

Half of the total number of learners—some 826 million students—kept out of the classroom by the COVID-19 pandemic, do not have access to a household computer and 43% (706 million) have no internet at home, at a time when digitally-based distance learning is used to ensure educational continuity in the vast majority of countries.

These figures were compiled by the Teacher Task Force, an international alliance coordinated by UNESCO, on the basis of data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the International Telecommunication Union.

Disparities are particularly acute in low-income countries: in sub-Saharan Africa, 89[%] of learners do not have access to household computers and 82% lack internet access. 

Furthermore, while mobile phones can enable learners [to access] information [and] connect with their teachers and with one another, about 56 million learners live in locations not served by mobile networks, almost half in sub-Saharan Africa. …

Globally, at least 1.5 billion students and 63 million primary and secondary teachers are affected by the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with school closures in 191 countries. (see also our global monitoring interactive map on school closures)

For more information, read the article.

COVID-19 NEWS: European 'Commission Launches Data Sharing Platform for Researchers'

The STM Publishing News Group announced that the European Commission and “several partners launched a European COVID-19 Data Platform to enable the rapid collection and sharing of available research data. The platform, part of the ERAvsCorona Action Plan, marks another milestone in the EU’s efforts to support researchers in Europe and around the world in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.”

The article continues, “The new platform will provide an open, trusted, and scalable European and global environment where researchers can store and share datasets, such as DNA sequences, protein structures, data from pre-clinical research and clinical trials, as well as epidemiological data. It is the result of a joint effort by the European Commission, the European Bioinformatics Institute of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL-EBI), the Elixir infrastructure and the COMPARE project, as well as the EU Member States and other partners.”

For more information, read the article.

U.S. Copyright Office Hosts Free Online Lecture Series

The U.S. Copyright Office announced the next discussion in its Copyright Matters lecture series: Awareness to Action: Innovate for a Green Future, to be held April 29 at 11 a.m. EDT. This online event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. It will explore “how creators—who through the copyright system can earn a living from their work—can play a key role in creating a vision of a green future and its untold benefits.” Speakers include Meaghan Parker (executive director of the Society of Environmental Journalists) and Roshan Patel (media producer at Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute).

For more information, visit the website.



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