Thursday, July 30, 2015

The fate of "Happy Birthday" hangs in the balance

Here at the library, we have been following the legal status of the "Happy Birthday" song with great interest.

Those less-enmeshed in copyright foibles than we are may not be aware that the "world's most popular song" has actually been at the center of a lot of controversy. There's a reason that the servers at so many restaurants can't sing the old standby anymore-- their employers are afraid of being slapped with a copyright violation lawsuit from Warner/Chappell.

Now, it seems, thanks to a couple of dogged attorneys and our neighbors over at the University of Pittsburgh libraries, you may soon be able to sing at your niece's birthday without fear of litigation. More information over at Hollywood Reporter:

The story contains a possible coverup of evidence, no less. Happy pre-Friday!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How journals got so darn expensive

Wired recently published an interview with a library science researcher in which they asked about the current state of scientific literature (hard and social sciences), how we got here, and why that is a problem for researchers, students, librarians, and everyone else.

It's very readable and worth a couple of minutes.

People will often ask us why we don't have a subscription to X journal. Most libraries would love to have a subscription to everything, but for the vast majority of us, it's just not feasible. As the cost of the "must-have" titles ratchets ever skyward, libraries around the world are forced to either expand their budgets drastically or to make difficult decisions regarding their "nice-to-have" subscriptions.

The balancing act for scholarly publishing today is in finding a model that rewards good researchers with the credit they deserve while weeding out the poorly-done papers. Then, access costs need to be affordable enough for institutions and individuals to actually see that good research and give it the wider audience it deserves.

Hopefully open-access publishing will continue to grow, improve, and gain prestige. Trailblazing journals like PLOS ONE are demonstrating that "free to read" can also be "high-quality" and "impressive on a CV."