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posted by cmn32480 on Monday July 27 2015, @08:16AM   Printer-friendly
from the dewey-decimal-system dept.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is agitating for a new Librarian of Congress that will loosen restrictions on fair use and appreciate how content use has evolved in the digital age. The current Librarian, Dr. James Billington, has been criticized by EFF and others for failure to modernize the institution, being slow to grant exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and reportedly communicating with staff by fax. Now that Billington is retiring, the EFF hopes that a fresh face will speed up digitization of LoC public domain works, do a better job of overseeing the Copyright Office, and improve access to the Congressional Research Service.

Jessamyn West, the librarian whose Librarian of PROgress campaign has become a focal point for this discussion, has been a leading voice on what we can hope for in, to use her term, the #nextLoC. In a post last week, she laid out a wishlist of what she and other members of the library community would like to see.

As she notes, these priorities could certainly match those of somebody who already works in a library—perhaps unsurprisingly, the American Library Association too has advocated that President Obama nominate a professional librarian for the position. But they could also come from somebody who is simply passionate about users rights. Free speech, privacy, and intellectual freedom are core values of both EFF and librarians everywhere, and we can always use another well-placed advocate. We urge the president to choose one.

The Atlantic also has a discussion about the next Librarian of Congress:

"A lot of people are very happy that Billington finally stepped down, so we can get some better technology infrastructure for both the Copyright Office and the Library," said Samuelson. The previous Librarian of Congress did not hire a permanent chief information officer—despite being exhorted to do so by the Government Accountability Office—and has instead churned through five IT chiefs in the last three years alone.

A new Librarian could also shape copyright policy, Band said, just by communicating to libraries that they should take advantage of recent changes to fair use. The 2012 HathiTrust decision, for instance, found that searching ebooks and making them accessible to the disabled is covered by fair use. The Copyright Office "is very troubled by the evolution of fair use," Band told me. "A different Librarian who is more involved with these issues should say, 'No, libraries can take more advantage of fair use than the Copyright Office feels.'"

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  • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Monday July 27 2015, @08:27AM

    If I understand correctly, jailbreaking was legal, then it was not. I don't know whether it is legal right now but I do know that a certain phone store that advertising jailbreaking would no longer permit the word "jailbreak" to be spoken on the premises.

    A good reason for jailbreaking is that it enables one to employ technical measures to defeat mobile analytics. Far worse than web bugs, mobile analytics tracks your every tap - what buttons you press, what text you enter, what screens you visit, which apps you use, what you use them for, how long you use them.

    The developer SDKs are all free as in beer, yet they phone home to entire data centers. Data centers are very costly; someone must be paying for all that behaviour insight.

    I can see how mobile analytics could well make a smoking crater of our democracy, what with the upcoming presidential election and all.

    The most-straightforward way to block an analytics server is to blackhole it with your /etc/hosts file. On iOS you can do that with the iFile app from the Cydia store. I don't know about Android, but jailbreaking either platform enables you to transfer your hosts file to your box with scp. I expect Windows phone has a hosts file as well but don't really know.

    If the analytics SDK uses IP addresses or does not use /etc/hosts for name resolution, one can block the IPs by patching a library, I expect that would be the standard C library. If that is still insufficient one could patch the kernel.

    I have some other arguments for legal jailbreaking that I'll post some other time.

    Yes I Have No Bananas. []
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  • (Score: 1) by puzzled_decoy on Monday July 27 2015, @07:19PM

    by puzzled_decoy (5524) on Monday July 27 2015, @07:19PM (#214479)

    I kept reading this hoping I would understand the tie-in to LoC. When I reached the end, I saw the off-topic tag. Yeah.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by DeathMonkey on Monday July 27 2015, @08:49PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Monday July 27 2015, @08:49PM (#214526) Journal

      I kept reading this hoping I would understand the tie-in to LoC. When I reached the end, I saw the off-topic tag. Yeah.
      It is on-topic though. The Librarian of Congress grants exemptions to the DMCA. The DMCA as written prevents Jailbreaking and the existing exemption is what allows it.
      I think the exemptions have to be renewed on a periodic basis or they expire.

      • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Tuesday July 28 2015, @08:30AM

        by davester666 (155) on Tuesday July 28 2015, @08:30AM (#214757)

        Yeah, every three years.

  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Tuesday July 28 2015, @03:50AM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <> on Tuesday July 28 2015, @03:50AM (#214696) Homepage Journal


    I simply assumed every here would know that.

    Again I dont know the current rule.

    But employing technical measure to defeat undocumented invasions of privacy is clearly legal.

    Yes I Have No Bananas. []