espresso book machine
Over the past year, the University of Michigan Library has shown itself to be particularly sensible in regards to open content licensing, the public domain, and issues of copyright in the digital age. The U-M Library has integrated public domain book machines, adopted CC licensing for their content, and independently had their Copyright Specialist, Molly Kleinman, articulate the importance of proper attribution in using CC licenses. We recently caught up with Molly to learn more about these efforts – primarily how they came to be and the results they have yielded – as well as discuss CC’s place in educational institutions at large and how CC and Fair Use interact in the academic sphere.
What is your role at the University of Michigan Library? How does the University Library interact with the rest of the University?
I’m the University Library’s copyright specialist. I provide copyright and publishing assistance for faculty, students, researchers, staff, and librarians throughout the University of Michigan, and occasionally to the community at large. I handle questions on both sides of the copyright universe: people come to me as users of copyrighted works and also as creators with concerns about their own rights. At a university just about everybody is both a user and a creator, so I think it’s important to promote a balanced perspective on copyright. A big part of my job is teaching workshops and providing one-on-one consultations about copyright and scholarly publishing basics. I work with librarians all over campus to raise awareness about topics like fair use, Open Access, and author rights. I also support a number of the Library’s activities, including our institutional repository Deep Blue, the Scholarly Publishing Office, and Special Collections exhibits. People always ask if I’m an attorney… I’m not. I’m a librarian by training, and have a background in publishing. A law degree is useful when dealing with copyright, and it’s certainly necessary when you’re providing legal advice, but in many other situations it’s not essential. Copyright is messy and confusing and it makes a lot of people nervous and scared. Approaching these issues as a librarian allows me to explain things in “human readable” language instead of legalese. My goal is to demystify the law and empower students and faculty to advocate for their rights as both users and creators.
is now an entirely different process. The University of Michigan is the first university to have installed the Espresso Book Machine, also termed “the ATM of books,” in one of its libraries. The wait time is about the same, but you’re ordering books now instead of Italian coffee, and the product price is a bit higher—averaging at 10 bucks a pop. But 10 bucks for a printed and bound book that is made in seven minutes is a pretty good deal, especially when you’ve got almost 2 million books to choose from. How is this possible? Or even legal?
The University of Michigan libraries have nearly 2 million books digitized for on demand printing, in addition to thousands of more books from the Open Content Alliance and other sources. But trust me when I say that these books are all very legal; in fact, they have been out of copyright for 85 years, or more. As a result, they are in the public domain, available for anyone to print, read, and repurpose—for free. The espresso version is simply covering printing costs. Compared to the average price of books these days, especially textbooks, ten bucks is pocket change. Online sites like Lulu.com already offer print versions of CC licensed works for cheap—remember the OER Handbook for Educators? It’s only 19.99 for 284 pages. Of course, ordering online is a bit slower than ordering from the EBM.
Once the machine is installed, it is capable of being connected to other digital collections not limited to the U of M’s. Props to the University of Michigan for yet again leading the way on copyright issues.
While we’re on the topic, the Open Content Alliance has the similar goal of “building a digital archive of global content for universal access”. The Open Content Alliance is “a group of cultural, technology, nonprofit, and governmental organizations from around the world that [helps to] build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content. [It] was conceived by the Internet Archive and Yahoo! in early 2005 as a way to offer broad, public access to a rich panorama of world culture.”
ccLearn is very excited to attend this year’s Internet Archive conference in San Francisco where an OCA meeting will take place in October. The theme for this year’s conference is “Using Digital Collections.”No Comments »