piracy in the library: when internet natives go bad

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Presentation at Buying & Selling E-Content Conference, March 27, 2006


  • 1.
    • Piracy in the Library:
  • When Internet Natives Go Bad
  • John McDonald
  • California Institute of Technology
  • March 27, 2006

2. What does a pirate look like? 3. Or, more like this? 4. Library Sloop? 5. Security of licensed content

  • Online publishing led to licensing of academic research materials
    • Licenses adapted from database & software models
  • Clauses focused on explicit definitions of users and usage
    • Who (authorized users)
    • What (licensed content)
    • When (term and renewal)
    • Where (jurisdiction)
    • How (technical aspects)
  • And Why(as in)Restrictions on Use
    • Prohibited users
    • Prohibited use

6. Prohibited Uses

  • Usual prohibited uses (or duh!)
    • altering, recompiling, reselling, publishing or republishing, making persistent local copies, altering copyrights or changing publisher or authors names, etc.
  • Common breaches (or what seems logical to the publisher but not to our users)
    • Systematic or programmatic copying or downloading.
    • Downloading by volume (too much or too much from the same issue)
    • Allowing unauthorized users to access content

7. Case Studies: Intentional Piracy

  • Open Proxy
    • Are neer-do-wells accessing licensed content?
  • Data Harvesting
    • Why screen-scrape an online dictionary?
  • Sequential/Excessive Downloads
    • Who needs 1,083 articles from one journal?
  • Systematic/Automated Downloads
    • Why would someone use a program to download content?

8. Case Studies: Accidental Piracy

  • JSTOR Open Proxy
    • 1 stinstance: misconfigured server
    • 2 ndinstance: virus
  • Data Harvesting
    • Acquiring Data as data
  • Sequential/Excessive Downloads
    • Traveling / Sabbatical / Graduation
  • Systematic/Automated Downloads
    • Crossword puzzle assistance
    • Mozilla plugin (PDF capture)

9. Problems for libraries

  • Most security issues are reactive in nature
  • Incomplete information communicated to library
  • Inconsistent instructions among publishers
  • Unknown trigger events and breach cure procedures
  • Rare / inconsistent follow-up

10. Improving Content Security

  • Libraries
    • Pro-active enforcement of license terms
    • Improve technical infrastructure for compliance
    • Reactive enforcement process
    • Identify users & breaches when notified
    • Communicate with publishers
  • Publishers
    • Improve technical infrastructure
    • Define trigger events
    • Communicate to subscribers
    • Investigate may lead to new views on content

11. Why should we care?

  • Provide seamless access to information with a minimum of intermediation
  • Negotiate clear and explicit licenses
  • Provide information according to license terms
  • Reduce impact of misuse by one on the potential use by others
  • Ensure that our usage metrics are accurate representations of usage.

12. Why should you care?

  • Protect content
  • Develop new content & revenue streams
  • Understand new information consumers
  • Usage enhances your content
  • If you dont, then they are smart enough to do whatever they want...

13. Do they care?

  • They might value your content for a reason you dont
  • Creative commons and educational use is a de-facto standard in academia
  • Interchangeable nature of content
  • Immediacy trumps everything

14. Keep track of it, or . . . 15. It might be taken & re-purposed!