Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ARROW provides digital libraries and publishers ability to locate rightsholders for orphaned works

Those concerned about the orphaned works issues (whether or not in conjunction with projects like Google books) would do well to listen to the podcast at the bottom of this “Beyond the Bookcast” link, concerning ARROW, Accessible Rights and Registries Information, developed by the Italian Publishers Association (AIE). 

The link is here, about 40 minutes.

There is a link to a PDF transcript.

Alexander Woo wrote the following to me, which I will pass along here:

“I thought you might be interested in this new “Beyond the Book” podcast from Copyright Clearance Center from the 2011 Global Market Forum (featuring Publishing in Italy) as part of BookExpo America 2011 in which CCC’s Chris Kenneally interviews Piero Attanasio and Michael Healy. They discuss ARROW(Accessible Registries of Rights Information and Orphan Works) and how it will allow for an evolutionary change in the publishing business. ARROW a system to help libraries with the identification of rights status and rightsholders in digital library programs. It is based on a pro-active search of rightsholders for works eligible for inclusion in any digitization program, and indirectly is a tool for the identification of ‘orphan works’.”

This appears to related more to European copyright law issues, which are not necessarily the same as in the US (they generally are a bit stricter). 

There is a general comment that technological innovation always occurs in an environment where existing legal and ethical boundaries can be challenged, and where people can be affected in unforeseen ways.

The podcast says that in the US we don't have an adequate legal mechanism to distribute orphan works legally; the Google Book Settlement is discussed.  He says that any legislated solution from Congress would probably be "opt out", where as the Settlement tried to be "opt in".  The speakers say that copyright has become much more sensitive politically than had been expected.

One possible result of publishing a little-known work online and making it searchable is that, in a practical sense, the reputation of parties (or their descendants) previously obscure becomes easy to discover publicly, and sometimes this turns out to be unwanted. 

Here is Adrian Johns from the Massachusetts School of Law (start at 4:38 for discussion of orphan works)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Ross Perlin's "Intern Nation": Are employers (and universities) getting slave labor out of young people?

Author: Ross Perlin

Title: "Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy"

Publication: New York, Verso, 2011. ISBN 13-978-1-84467-686-6, Amazon link.

Professional, academic, or work internships sound like something we take for granted.  College students may think of them as a way to “pay your dues” to get into the white collar world, and (for the rest of your life) "get out of things".

Perlin argues that the system of internships invites widespread abuse by employers and universities, depending on “academic credit” in lieu of pay, creating situations where “the rest of us” are lowballed out of jobs, the perennial “race to the bottom.”

On the other hand, apprenticeships have long been valid arrangements to learn trades (and not just on Donald Trump’s reality show). And back in the 1950s, many tech colleges had developed coop programs, where students take five years to graduate but gain valid work experience.

Perlin gives a lot of discussion of how the Fair Labor Standards Act works, and notes that many employers are failing to comply with many of its provisions in the way they run internships, inviting big time lawsuits some day.

Some of his discussion of specific internships is quite striking. He starts out by describing internships at Disney World (“the happiest interns in the world”), living under almost military conditions.

My first job, after my mandatory Army hitch, started in 1970 with RCA, as an” operations research trainee” at the David Sarnoff labs in Princeton, NJ.  But I was paid a reasonable starting salary for that era, $13,500, so one could call it an “apprenticeship”.  The first year was broken into assignments at various plants, one of them in Indianapolis. One problem was that some assignments really couldn’t be completed in a short time with 1970 technical computing resources.  Another was that, while we were given per diem to travel, it wasn’t really adequate to pay fully for secondary short term housing.

Perlin’s Appendix includes an Intern’s Bill of Rights.

I'd love to hear Barbara Ehrenreich's reaction to this book!  Is this another "bait and switch"?

One could compare this book to Bob Weinstein's "I'll Work for Free: A Short Term Strategy for a Long Term Payoff", from Henry Holt in 1994.  Again, this sounds like a race to the bottom.

In this YouTube video, Ross Perlin talks at Google:

Update: July 3, 2015

Ross Perlin writes about an appeals court decision favoring employers use of interns, narrowing the standard to "who benefits" in the New York Times, here