Thursday, August 28, 2008

WorldCat Copyright Evidence Registry Steps up toStarts to Fill the Void


Our thoughts on rights ownership in both the current market and future digital one are well documented. For an industry that is all about rights and content it is amazing that there is no authoritative rights database and clearing centre where anyone can establish who owns what. AS we go further into the digital opportunities this issue becomes more complex and the opportunities for abuse increase. Today the issue is both about the ‘grey area’ between public domain and ‘in print’ where the ownership can be best described as ‘difficult to establish’ and in the ‘in print area’ where new opportunities to sell rights are not always reflected in the current rights contracts and royalty arrangements.

This week OCLC, the library service to 60,000 libraries in 112 countries, announced that it is piloting a new service, The WorldCat Copyright Evidence Registry that will enable librarians to discover and share information about the copyright status of books. The service is aimed at extending WorldCat, which contains more than 100 million bibliographic records describing items held in thousands of libraries worldwide.

The goal of the Copyright Evidence Registry is to encourage a cooperative environment to discover, create and share copyright evidence using the WorldCat model. It was launched as a pilot in July and enables users to search, find information about a book, see what others have said about its copyright status, and share what they know. Unfortunately it is librarian and library based and these are not the rights owners nor party the rights acquired or available for sale they can only record the status of the rights as they know them. OCLC even state, ‘The rules will help libraries analyze the information available in the Copyright Evidence Registry and form their own conclusions about copyright status.’

Would it not make sense for the service to be open to all rights owners to register, be they publishers, other 3rd parties, agents or authors and thereby create a rights registry that starts to remove the uncertainty and people ‘forming their own conclusions about copyright status.’

1 comment:

Bill Carney, OCLC said...

Martyn,

Thanks very much for your comments on the WorldCat Copyright Evidence Registry (CER) beta. I just want to clarify that the CER beta is open to anyone wishing to share information about the copyright status of a book. Anyone can search for and view the information in the CER. Those wishing to enter information into the system can do so in one of three ways:
1. All are welcome to create a free WorldCat.org account, which can then be used to log in to the CER and add information.
2. Librarians can use their current OCLC cataloging authorization to access the system and enter information.
3. Formal pilot participants have a full CER authorization enabling them to test the rules engine when it is introduced later next month or early in November.

So, in addition to librarians, I invite authors, publishers and any interested party to share what they know about the copyright status of books during the beta.