Sunday, November 02, 2008

OCLC Policy Change

Here it is:

No comment, as of now. Frankly, I haven't even read it. February is a long time away. Long enough to discover we're okay, make a deal or copy OCLC from scratch using nothing but periwinkle ink and passionate book lovers' time.

Update: Depressing analysis: Terry's Worklog. Wow.

Update #2: The non-legal page remains up, but the legalese page was taken down very early this morning...
"We are reconsidering some aspects of the policy. More information will be available in the near future."
Damn. I wish I had remembered to copy and paste. Does anyone have the original text? (For example, in your browser cache? I browse cache-less, unfortunately.)

Update #3: See Inkdroid pointing out the "viral" nature of the policy. Over a few years the libraries that now get their data from the Library of Congress, bypassing OCLC, will find uninfected records increasingly scarce. They'll be forced to join OCLC—or do all their own original cataloging.

Update #4: A librarian-blogger managed to take a snapshot before OCLC took it down, here.

Update #4: Does anyone get Publishers Lunch Plus? Apparently it has an article called "WorldCatFight." I don't know the terms on forwarding that, but if it's legal, can someone send me a copy?

It would certainly be good if publishers got into this. In my fantasy, publishers "pull a reverse-OCLC" and require unlicensed distribution of records derived from their data. Publishers have want their data out there, not restricted, and since OCLC records often start at publishers, this would shut down OCLC's data-monopoly plans.

Update #5: The terms kill off the Open Library project completely. Not only does it involve viral terms—terms that OL could enver accept—but OCLC libraries are prohibited from participating in anything that "substantially replicates the function, purpose, and/or size of WorldCat, for example for the purpose of providing cataloging services to libraries or other organizations."

I think that means it kills Talis too.

Update #6: Edward Corrado has an excellent summary of some of the issues.

Update #7: Jonathan Rochkind wrote a good explanation of the difference between an open source viral license—designed to keep things open—and an OCLC viral license—designed to keep them closed. He also suggests a remedy—give OCLC a virus instead, by add an Open Data license to everything your library catalogs!



Blogger King Rat said...

So it looks like under the policy LT as a commercial entity (and some of it's users being commercial entities) doesn't get to use WorldCat records absent a separate agreement.

Which begs the question: what percentage of LT data is WorldCat derived?

11/02/2008 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Christine Schwartz said...

Hi Tim,

I printed off the policy. I can scan it and send it to you if a cache version doesn't turn up. Let me know.


11/03/2008 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AUTOCAT had a link posted to the archived policy:

11/03/2008 10:31 AM  
Anonymous infiniteletters said...

It would kill a lot of these international library catalogs too, such as Cooperative Online Bibliographic System and Services (COBISS).

And if the terms are taken literally, it would prevent libraries from getting Library of Congress records or from smaller state consortiums... I doubt they would even try to take it that far.

And what about the vendors that provide catalog records to the highly automated libraries?

"substantially replicates the function, purpose, and/or size of WorldCat, for example for the purpose of providing cataloging services to libraries or other organizations."

11/03/2008 1:25 PM  
Blogger Edward Vielmetti said...

OCLC is like the Associated Press. Like AP, libraries depend on it; like AP, they're stuck with it.

Some papers have started to opt out of AP (it's a slow process based on the contracts) to do their own cooperative news gathering.

11/03/2008 4:33 PM  
Blogger Luciano Ramalho said...

Hey, Tim.

If OCLC is adopting such draconian measures, they are nailing their own coffin. People who never thought of OCLC as something bad will think again. Who can guarantee they will not impose further limitations to the collaborative work of their members?

There will be a trickle, and then a flood of libraries looking for alternatives, until they realize their fatal mistake. By then, they will have become irrelevant, because OL, Google, both or something else will provide an open, safer alternative.

In the long run, this is excellent news for all of us who believe that library records should be free.

11/03/2008 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Carlos Lopez said...

Aren't there anti-monopoly laws to prevent this sort of vendor lockdown? Or is OCLC, with their supposed not-for-profit status, exempt from such laws? How can they possibly maintain that they are "dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information" []? And how are contributing libraries/cataloguers going to be remunerated for the work they have put into OCLC's system?

11/03/2008 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Richard Wallis said...

To hear their side of the story check out the Talking with Talis podcast with OCLC's Karen Calhoun & Roy Tennant.

They seem to be coming from the position of trying to open things up.....

11/15/2008 5:21 AM  
Blogger egh said...

So - now licenses matter.

Does that mean I am no longer a maoist?

Funny how things look different depending on what side of the issue you fall on.

11/18/2008 5:50 PM  
Anonymous A.S. said...

My inner conspiracy theorist tells me that this whole WorldCat policy fiasco is a ploy by Roy Tennant to finally kill off the MARC format. After all, he's been advocating MARC euthanasia for years. And what is WorldCat, after all, but a massive collection of MARC records? Once the world throws off the yoke of WorldCat, it can more easily re-build the library using a more modern data format.

11/26/2008 1:14 AM  

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