you ever wondered why dogs stick their heads out of car windows? And with
such engrossed persistence and delight! They even try to keep their eyes
open, as though they don't want to miss anything. In fact, worry over what
might happen to the dog's sight explains why most humans are such party
poopers in this matter, tugging on the dog to get all of it back inside
the vehicle, trying to shut the window so only the dog's snout can sneak
out. Dogs must think it's magic or something, but they never seem to connect
the experience with the human at the wheel. Good thing, probably. Most
dogs have a vastly inflated opinion of the master's role in the universe.
To discover that masters can control the wind could make for a level of
canine adulation that might embarrass, or even warp, the most mature egos
among pet owners.
Well, lately I've
been feeling a little windblown myself in the midst of the Tasini
tornado of news and commentary and response to commentary and newer news
and even fascinating non-news. The "story" has gotten way beyond the speed
of delivery that a monthly print journal can offer — at least, one print
journal all by itself. Once again, information professionals must turn
to the Web for assistance. For example, the start of Carol Ebbinghouse's
"Sidebar" column on Tasini in this month's issue ["The Tasini
Case: The Supreme Court Has Spoken...Now What?"] contains a verbatim copy
of what Carol wrote for Information Today Inc.'s Web site collection of
We posted it within days of the June decision being handed down. Pretty
much the same copy will probably go into the print issue of Information
Today magazine, but without the full and enhanced coverage appearing
in Carol's "Sidebar" column for Searcher readers. However, since
that other publication — like this one — runs an average 2-month lead in
going to press and since it also has a joint July/August issue, readers
of only print have to wait from June to September to see the coverage.
By the way, is
here where I should mention again the Newslink service we have available
on the site? This service can e-mail you weekly alerts of new announcements
and new full-text article postings — all for free. To register, go to http://www.infotoday.com/newslink/default.htm.
Already the fallout
from the Tasini case has become the next round in the story's history.
And here is where it gets more complicated. Now that the Supremes have
made their decision, one which confirms the copyright ownership of freelance
authors in full-text material currently online, our world trembles as it
waits to learn how publishers, database aggregators, search services, and
authors will work out their ownership problems. The immediate response
by publishers and the information industry has been to announce — publicly,
one might even say ostentatiously — that they are pulling freelance articles
out of their databases by the carload and plan to leave them forever lost
to online retrieval. Some publishers will allow freelance authors to keep
their material online as long as they sign away any rights to revenue from
the articles. Naturally, the authors.... But don't read me on this point,
My primary contribution
as an online consumer advocate will appear in my next "Quint's Online"
column in Information Today. That column constitutes my primary
conduit for direct communication (nagging is such an ugly word) with the
information industry. This "Searcher's Voice" column is primarily focused
on talking to you, beloved consumers. Once again, however, time and tide
have sped things up. The column which I wrote on the Tasini fallout
— "Stop the Trash Trucks: A Tasini Case Damage-Control Proposal"
— carries a proposal for limiting the damage of deleting records, a concept
that needs immediate consideration before the information industry damages
or destroys more full text than they need to. So, instead of waiting for
the September issue of Information Today to hit subscribers' desks,
we published it as a Newsbreak Special Report in July — http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb010716-1.htm.
if this proposal is to do any good, it will need the advocacy of consumers
to make it work. Briefly, my suggestion is that full-text database aggregators
and online search services should not remove the inverted file indexing
created by the now taboo freelancer full text, that they should continue
to maintain full searchability but supply only bibliographic references
(which are not copyrightable) in search results, accompanied by a notice
reflecting the Tasini situation. (For full details and arguments,
read the piece, online or off.) Besides encouraging information industry
players to do the best they can to protect the interests of searchers at
all times in this crisis, I also wave the flag for searchers to protect
their own interests by pressuring vendors to follow this wiser approach.
In response to that exhortation, I have received many e-mail messages,
including some identifying online vendors the writers use so that I can
petition those vendors on their behalf.
And that, dear
reader, explains why you find yourself in the rather shocked position of
being asked to go to a Web site (or to another print publication, namely
Today) to read an article to which this article constitutes a kind
of postscript. "Work, work, work. A searcher's day never ends," I can hear
you muttering to yourselves.
But what can we
do? This story is breaking hard and fast and we must respond as quickly
as we can. All of us. So, readers of Searcher, I ask you also to
send me e-mail messages confirming your support of this full-text damage
control proposal. My address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The more details you can provide, particularly on the vendors whom you
use and would like to follow this approach, the better. Of course, if you
disapprove of the idea, you should also write to the same address, but
I cannot promise to stop my campaigning unless your message is awfully