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Weekly News Digest

October 30, 2018 — 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.

Georgia State University Lawsuit Goes Another Round

According to Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly, “For a second time, publishers have won an appeal in the long-running Georgia State University (GSU) e-reserves lawsuit. However, the case was once again remanded to the district court, giving district court judge Orinda Evans yet another crack at deciding the case.

“In a concise 25-page decision filed late on October 19, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously vacated Evans’ latest decision in part, and upheld it in part, and once again sent the case back to her with instructions for weighing what would be her third verdict.” The suit, which was originally filed in April 2008 by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and SAGE and supported by Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) and the Association of American Publishers (AAP), “alleges that GSU administrators systematically encouraged faculty to offer students unlicensed digital copies of course readings (known as e-reserves) as a no-cost alternative to traditionally licensed course-packs.”

For more information, read the article.

Breaking DRM Is Now Legal--In Certain Cases

Jason Koebler writes for Motherboard, “The Librarian of Congress and US Copyright Office just proposed new rules that will give consumers and independent repair experts wide latitude to legally hack embedded software on their devices in order to repair or maintain them. This exemption to copyright law will apply to smartphones, tractors, cars, smart home appliances, and many other devices.” The exemption had previously applied to tractor firmware, but it now applies to consumer electronics, including those that have DRM. People can now legally break DRM and other software locks “in certain specific cases. The new repair exemption is broad, applies to a wide variety of devices … and makes clear that the federal government believes you should be legally allowed to fix the things you own.”

Koebler cautions, “While this is a huge win on a federal level, this decision does nothing to address the practicalities of what consumers and independent repair professionals face in the real world. Anti-tampering and repair DRM implemented by manufacturers has gotten increasingly difficult to circumvent, and the decision doesn’t make DRM illegal, it just makes it legal for the owner of a device to bypass it for the purposes of repair.”

For more information, read the article.

Springer Provides Urban Studies Portal

Springer introduced an interdisciplinary urban studies portal that is designed to promote sustainable and innovative initiatives in cities. It is composed of 25 book series, 470 books, 23 OA articles, 13 OA books, six journals, and eight special works from Springer that relate to urban studies so researchers, policymakers, and others can get an overview of the field. Topics include urban planning, urban geography, land use, urban health, urban governance, and smart urban technologies. The portal also features interviews with leading researchers and information on publishing options for authors.

For more information, read the press release.

GPO Makes Statute Compilations Available

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) rolled out an initial set of 40 Statute Compilations—public laws that are not in the U.S. Code or that are in a title of the U.S. Code that has not been enacted into positive law—and their amendments as a pilot project on govinfo, with more to come in the following months. The project’s next phase will be to convert the compilations into United States Legislative Markup (USLM) XML and offer the files as bulk data.

For more information, read the press release.

FlatWorld Studies Effects of High Textbook Prices

FlatWorld released the results of an October 2018 survey of 334 undergraduate students on how college textbook costs affect their educational experiences. Key findings include the following:
  • Textbook prices affect class enrollment—One third of respondents reported that textbook prices have impacted their decision on whether to take a class.
  • Professor ratings suffer if textbooks are too expensive—More than 70 percent of respondents reported rating, or been asked to rate, their professors in the last 12 months. For textbooks priced between $100 and $200, more than half of respondents (55 percent) reported that the textbook price has a negative effect on how they rate professors. For textbooks priced above $200, more than 70 percent of respondents reported that the textbook price has a negative effect on how they rate professors.
  • The amount students spend on textbooks varies greatly—Respondents reported spending $403 on average for textbooks during the fall 2018 semester. 24 percent of respondents paid less than $250, 55 percent paid between $250 and $600, and 21 percent paid more than $600.

For more information, read the press release.

Clarivate Analytics Buys TrademarkVision

Clarivate Analytics acquired the Australian company TrademarkVision to build up its AI-driven trademark research solutions. Now part of Clarivate Analytics’ CompuMark, a trademark clearance and protection solution, TrademarkVision’s AI-powered image recognition software helps users search artwork, images, and 3D design patents to determine whether a proposed trademark logo infringes on existing trademarks.

“TrademarkVision’s award-winning AI innovation and deep relationships with Patent and Trademark Offices (PTO) and government agencies around the world, combined with CompuMark’s premier data, industry-leading expertise and global reach will open opportunities for new products and solutions both within and outside the trademark research industry that will underpin the business’s next generation of solutions,” says Jeff Roy, CompuMark’s president.

For more information, read the news.

Springer Promotes Women's Participation in Science

In partnership with the Estée Lauder Companies, Springer introduced two new ways to recognize women’s scientific achievements: the Nature Research Award for Inspiring Science and the Nature Research Award for Innovating Science. The inaugural awards were given to Mirjana Povic (Inspiring) and the Association of Hungarian Women in Science (Innovating). The awards recognize “inspirational early-career female researchers and those who have worked to champion women and girls’ participation in science,” according to the press release.

Povic is an astrophysicist assistant professor at the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute and an associated researcher at the Andalusian Astrophysics Institute (IAA). The Association of Hungarian Women in Science is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization for encouraging girls to participate in STEM education and the computer sciences.

For more information, read the press release.

U.S. Press Freedom Tracker Keeps an Eye on Opposition to Journalists

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker keeps a tally of actions against journalists on its homepage. As of Oct. 30, it lists seven journalists arrested, 40 journalists attacked, five journalists killed, and 19 journalists subpoenaed. Its About page notes, “Journalists in the United States face hostility from local and federal governments, along with a number of legal threats to themselves and their sources. This nonpartisan website aims to be the first to provide reliable, easy-to-access information on the number of press freedom violations in the United States—from journalists facing charges to reporters stopped at the U.S. border or asked to hand over their electronics.”

It continues, “The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker brings together more than two dozen press freedom groups to create a centralized repository for research. The data we gather will help inform advocacy, journalism, and legal action.”

For more information, view the About page.

EBSCO Databases Return to Utah Schools

A guest post on ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Blog from Peter Bromberg, executive director of the Salt Lake City Public Library, covers the recent Utah Education Network/EBSCO Information Services dispute:

On October 19, the board of the Utah Education Network (UEN) voted unanimously to immediately reinstate access to EBSCO K12 databases for over 650,000 students in Utah. As earlier reported by James LaRue, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, in his October 12 blog post ‘Education is not Pornography,’ the UEN Board had previously suspended access to EBSCO content for Utah schools. The board took initial action on September 21 to remove access to the database based on a single unsubstantiated claim from a self-described concerned parent that pornography was available in the database. … It is important to note that the initial decision by the UEN Board to pull the plug on access to EBSCO K12, a vital database that supports information literacy, research, and digital citizenship curricula for students across the state, was taken with no official action by the board, and in the absence of any specific policy or process for responding to constituent complaints. The decision was made after a local news source reported the complaint under the headline, ‘Utah mom finds pornographic pics on Utah Education Network database.’ The article lead with the line, ‘A Utah mom says she found some pretty “raunchy” pictures on a website that is supposed to protect kids from questionable material.’ It is not clear precisely who at UEN, and on what authority, made the decision to take EBSCO K12 offline. 

For more information, read the post. Additionally, the Indiana Library Federation issued a fact sheet, Information and Background on Questions About Database Content in Libraries.

Bitcoin Celebrates Its 10th Birthday

According to Payment Week, the U.K. government’s Cryptoassets Taskforce released a report to coincide with the 10th anniversary of bitcoin. Nigel Green, founder and CEO of the international financial consultancy deVere Group, says that cryptocurrencies are the money of the future. “This is evidenced by Bitcoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency turning 10, and by more and more governments, regulators, financial institutions, and retail and institutional investors, amongst others, appreciating the real and growing demand for digital, global currencies in today’s ever more digitalized and globalized world.” He adds that the task force’s report has a “proactive and pragmatic approach towards regulation of the burgeoning sector [that] should be championed.”

For more information, read the news.

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