Copyright Crises and Controversies

copyright office American Library Association ALA digital librariesThe American Library Association (ALA) blasts a bill pending in Congress that would bring the U.S. Copyright Office out from under the auspices of the Library of Congress.

According to ALA President Courtney Young, the legislation, called the CODE Act, “does not address the longstanding problems facing the agency,” whose technological resources Young says are “woefully inadequate” for the digital age.

Late last week James H. Billington announced he would be stepping down as Librarian of Congress after nearly three decades in the role, amid a growing firestorm of similar complaints.

How to go about addressing them remains a subject of debate, though.

The Association of American Publishers says while it agrees with the ALA that the Copyright Office’s technological infrastructure is lacking, “libraries and the other stakeholders in our copyright system have much to gain and nothing to fear from an independent office.”


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Amazon’s EU Probe in Context (Politico)
One observer frames last week’s news that the European Commission is opening an antitrust investigation into Amazon’s ebook business in the European Union as the latest front in an ongoing and, lately, increasingly global war to determine who should have the authority to set ebook prices.

Nook Scaling Back in Europe? (Ink, Bits & Pixels)
Barnes & Noble closed a Nook office in Luxembourg last week, shortly after buying Microsoft out of the venture. Speculating on Microsoft’s erstwhile hand in shaping Nook’s business in Europe, one industry watcher wonders whether the recent move hints at a broader retreat from that market.

Browser-Based Ebooks Move Beyond Niche (PW)
The Books in Browsers conference goes on hiatus this year amid a period of growth and change for browser-based e-reading. As the event’s organizer Peter Brantley explains, “In the last six years, the concept of reading books online has spread from a wide-eyed fantasy to the point where browser-based software libraries are common.”

Why Amazon Isn’t Killing Literary Culture (BloombergView)
Earlier this month best-selling author Ursula le Guin took Amazon to task for effectively dictating the sorts of content readers have access to. Since those sympathetic to that view and those who reject it have been engaged in a chicken-and-egg debate for quite some time (Did Amazon lower everyone’s tastes or just help us satisfy them?), it can be helpful to recall that the debate’s outlines predate Amazon: “The mass culture has been convicted of killing off serious writing for about as long as there has been a mass culture.”

YouTube Stars to the Rescue? (LA Times)
YouTube celebrities have been landing major book deals for at least a few years now, but the jury is still out on whether the large audiences for certain stars can be converted en masse into book buyers. This article asks whether authors culled from major video platforms can “save” publishing, but it’s uncertain whether the industry needs saving in the first place.
Related: Video Marketing for Book Publishers—How, Whether, When?

A Short History of Amazon’s Search Function (Internet Retailer)
Sounds rather arcane, doesn’t it? Still, search is at the center of how virtually every consumer discovers and ultimately buys digital content. Whether it’s optimizing metadata to better surface in search results or developing mobile-responsive websites that are more amenable to Google’s algorithm, that’s a reality publishers are coming to grips with more and more each day. Here’s a look back at the evolution of Amazon’s search technology that shows how the e-tailer learned and built on similar lessons.
Related: The Mobile Future Is Now and Amazon Is Winning It

UK Bookseller Group Led Push for Amazon Inquiry (The Bookseller)
The Booksellers Association, a UK-based trade group, confirms its involvement in the push to get European Union regulators to investigate Amazon on ebooks, with one leader at the organization saying, “This is the biggest lobbying job the BA has ever been engaged in.”

What’s Next for Digital Publishing and Children’s Content? (DBW)
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