New Developments in Search Engines,
Copyright, and More
By Paula Hane
main focus of our attention over the last month or so has definitely
been the sad state of affairs at RoweCom/divine and the
panic among its library and publisher creditors. We monitored the
listservs and press releases and also followed telephone
contacts to chase the developing situation as reported in several
NewsBreaks on our Web site. The summary of what we knew
time is reported on p. 1.
The ramifications of this will be hugeeven
if by some miracle all the subscription money is recovered
and sent on to the publishers. The trust between librarians
and subscription vendors has evaporated. After the
RoweCom/divinedebacle, many libraries are considering
direct subscriptions, despite the hassles that might
Search Engine News
This has been an unusually busy time for search engine
news, including ongoing rumors about a possible Google
IPO. In the January 2003 NewsLink, I covered Fast Search & Transfer's
(FAST) enhancement of its AlltheWeb showcase site (http://www.infotoday.com/newslink/newslink0301.htm).
One exciting development is the official launch of
a new, specialized engine that Web search guru Gary
Price has called a "must see." eBizSearch finds and
indexes documents about e-business, e-commerce, and
closely related topics. It crawls the Web sites of
universities, commercial organizations, research institutes,
and government departments to retrieve and catalog
academic articles, working papers, consulting reports,
magazine articles, and published statistical facts.
eBizSearch was developed by the eBusiness Research
Center at Penn State's Smeal College of Business. "Focused
and specialized search engines like eBizSearch will
be some of the most important of future search technologies," said
Lee Giles, associate director of research at the eBusiness
Giles was one of the creators of CiteSeer (http://citeseer.nj.nec.com/cs),
the popular computer science search engine that is
now known as ResearchIndex. Thisautonomous citation-indexing
tool uses machine learning and domain-specific algorithms.
eBizSearch is based on the CiteSeer technology platform.
Rather than sifting through reams of potentially
irrelevant information, eBizSearch focuses tightly
on relevant data. This feature makes its results more
productive for those who are interested in e-business.
Users can search by document keywords as well as by
citation. The citations' context is displayed so that
a user can immediately discern the impact of the work.
The search engine was also blazingly fast in my sample
Terra Lycos launched an entirely new version of HotBot
that includes a new interface and customization features.
With its addition of Google and Teomaand its
previously offered FAST and Inktomithe engine
now conveniently connects users to the four primary
search catalogs on the Internet. HotBot allows users
to type in a search term once and then choose a catalog.
After reviewing the results, they can then retrieve
any of the other catalogs' results with just one click.
HotBot's new features let searchers build a custom
home page that contains the advanced search filters
they designate, select how they want search results
formatted and presented, and "skin HotBot" using cascading
style sheets. The HotBot home page does not have any
advertisements; contextual ads are presented on the
A Lycos representative said that specialty catalogs,
such as Google's News Search, were deliberately not
included at the new version's launch to keep HotBot
clean and simple. However, some might be added in the
future. HotBot does not provide a simultaneous metasearch
capability, since this would remove control from the
user. In his SearchDay newsletter, Chris Sherman said
the "newly reinvigorated HotBot has regained its position
as an essential tool for all serious Web searchers."
The folks at Google, who are never long without an
announcement, rolled out a beta version of Froogle (http://froogle.google.com),
a new shopping search tool. Froogle does not sell products
or promote partner stores within the search results.
By focusing entirely on product search, it applies
the power of Google's search technology to a very specific
task: locating stores that sell the item users want
to find and pointing them directly to the store to
purchase it. Froogle ranks store sites based only on
their relevance to the search terms.
In other news, Google has filed for the dismissal
of a lawsuit that was brought against the company.
Search King sued Google last fall, claiming that the
engine had arbitrarily reduced page rankings for its
Web sites, thereby leading to financial losses. While
some have suggested that Search King just sued to gain
publicity, Chris Sherman pointed to some interesting
commentary about the issues involved in online law,
including the argument of First Amendment protection
for Google's PageRank (see http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/03/sd0113-google-suit.html).
Yahoo!, Inc. announced an agreement to acquire Inktomi
for approximately $235 million. The transaction is
subject to customary closing conditions, including
regulatory approval and the approval of Inktomi's stockholders.
The companies expect to complete the deal in the first
quarter of this year.
Inktomi recently sold its enterprise search software
business to Verity so it can focus on Web search and
its paid-inclusion business (see the NewsBreak at http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb021118-1.htm).
Inktomi had also made "significant improvements" in
its overall Web search capability, including increasedrelevance,
a fresher and larger index, paid inclusion, the utilization
of an XML interface, and features targeted at understanding
user intent for Web interactions. Inktomi had been
a search provider for Yahoo! a few years ago until
Google took over that role.
Some are saying that the deal sets the stage for
a shake-upor at least strategic repositioningin
the search engine world. In particular, it puts pressure
on Google, which has been Yahoo!'s search technology
supplier since 2000. Inktomi in turn has been the supplier
for Microsoft's MSN service. We could soon see some
interesting developments in Web search.
Things have been busy at the offices of JSTOR, the
nonprofit organization foundedin 1995 to create, maintain,
and provide access to important scholarly journals.
JSTOR announced the completion of its Arts & Sciences
II Collection with the introduction of 47 new titles.
Released in stages over the past 18 months, Arts & Sciences
II is a collection that contains the digitized archives
of 122 journals in many disciplines, including history;
economics; Asian studies; classics; history of science;
archeology; geography; and African, Latin American,
Slavic, and Middle Eastern studies.
Arts & Sciences II is one of six journal collections
in the JSTOR archive, along with Arts & Sciences
I, Business, Ecology& Botany, General Science,
and Language & Literature. JSTOR offers the complete
back runs of 322 journals in 26 disciplines. The archive
can be accessed from more than 1,500 academic and research
libraries in 71 countries.
The JSTOR archive is now also available to younger
students as a result of a successful 2-year pilot project
at 16 public and private high schools in the U.S.According
to the announcement from JSTOR, the project demonstrated
JSTOR's benefits for high school students and waswell-received
by educators who found value in the historical depth
and interdisciplinary perspectives of the archive's
material.U.S. high schools can license access to all
of JSTOR's six collections.
Copyright News in Brief
Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization
dedicated to promoting the creative reuse of intellectual
works, announced the launch of machine-readable copyright
licenses. These licenses, available free of charge
allow copyright holders to easily inform others that
their works can be freely copied and used under specific
conditions. (See the NewsBreak about the organization's
plans at http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb020603-2.htm.)
Afederal jury has acquitted the Russian
company ElcomSoft, which had been accused of digital
piracy under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
(DMCA). Stephanie C. Ardito covered the case in her
November 2001 and March 2002 Legal Issues columns.
ElcomSoft produced a decryption program that could
modify or eliminate the security protection on Adobe
U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) has
reintroduced in the new 108th Congress a bill that
seeks to amend the DMCA. Known as the Digital Media
Consumers' Rights Act, the legislation aims to protect
the fair use rights of those who use copyrighted
material. TheALA's Washington Office is urging members
to contact their representatives about signing on
as sponsors. Details about the bill are available
on the ALA site
The World Intellectual Property Organization
has released a new report titled "Intellectual Property
on the Internet: A Survey of Issues" (http://ecommerce.wipo.int/survey).
As this issue went to press, the U.S.
Supreme Court upheld the Sonny Bono Copyright Term
Extension Act, a 1998 law that extends copyright
protection by 20 years.
The M&A Scene
Thomson Corp. announced that it has acquired Delphion
Research, a full-text patent research tool that serves
professional researchers and businesses worldwide,
from privately held Delphion, Inc. for a purchase price
of approximately $22 million.
Delphion Research offers full-text patent documents
from leading patent authorities: the U.S. Patent and
Trademark Office, European Patent Office, World Intellectual
Property Organization, and Japan Patent Information
Office. It also provides access to the International
Patent Document Center patent collection. This comprehensive
collection delivers seamless access to more than 35
million records from 70 patent offices worldwide.
Delphion Research will become part ofThomson's Scientific
group. It will be headed by Bob Smith, who is with
the current Delphion management team. Delphion, Inc.
will continue to own and manage its other software
development and services businesses.
Goodbye to Fathom.com
On March 31, Columbia University plans to close Fathom.com,
its money-losing online learning portal. Fathom offered
digital content from Columbia and 13 other academic
and cultural institutions. The site also provided for-a-fee
access to thousands of online courses and knowledge
products, including XanEdu CoursePacks. It offered
free seminars andfree access to articles, interviews,
lectures, and reference materials.
We reported the launch in an April 2000 NewsBreak (http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb000410-1.htm) and
noted the impending closure last month (http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb030113-2.htm).
According to The Wall Street Journal, "The closure
marks yet another failure of efforts by colleges and
universities to cash in on the once-sizzling dot-com
craze by offering courses and other learning opportunities
over the Internet." It may take a significant upturn
in the economy as well as a new public attitude toward
the value of quality educational content to enable
the success of a for-profit online venture.
For the latest industry news, check http://www.infotoday.com every
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provides abstracts and links to the stories we post.
Paula J. Hane is Information Today, Inc.'s news bureau chief
and editor of NewsBreaks. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.