Shall we add PDFs when they are offered?

Charles Muller Apr 5, 2012 6:34:45 AM
Shall we go ahead and add PDFs when they are offered? Even the second level upgrade (5G) is only $60 per year. I'd even be willing to pay it one time.
William Deal Apr 5, 2012 12:48:04 PM

In principle, it would be great to have PDFs available (I'm thinking mostly of journal articles or out-of-copyright books), but even with journal articles, how are we to understand the copyright issues? For instance, because of my university affiliation, I (like many of you) have access to a wide range of articles in PDF format. But I doubt that means that I can upload these to a public database. If there is interest, and no one else has definitive answers about copyright for the H-Buddhism Bibliography Project, I would be happy to consult with our library's copyright expert.

On another note, like Chuck, I would be happy to conribute one-time to the costs of upgraded stroage. I might also be able to get some institutional support for this through our humanities center, if there is need and interest.



William E. Deal
Severance Professor of the History of Religion, Department of Religious Studies
Professor of Cognitive Science (secondary), Department of Cognitive Science
Digital Humanities Faculty Liaison, Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities

Case Western Reserve University
11201 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH  44106-7112 | @wdeal | | 216.368.2205


Charles Muller Apr 6, 2012 12:46:39 AM

Bill, if you could check into some basic principles regarding copyright and PDFs, that would be great. -- Chuck

William Deal Apr 6, 2012 1:08:00 AM
Chuck: Will do. Might take a couple of days to hear back from our copyright expert, but I'm confident the info will be accurate. I'll write back as soon as I hear anything. Bill =================================================== William E. Deal Severance Professor of the History of Religion, Department of Religious Studies Professor of Cognitive Science (secondary), Department of Cognitive Science Digital Humanities Faculty Liaison, Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH  44106-7112 | @wdeal | | 216.368.2205 =================================================== On Apr 5, 2012, at 8:46 PM, Zotero wrote: A new comment has been posted in the discussion Shall we add PDFs when they are offered? in the group H-Buddhism Bibliography Project ---------- Bill, if you could check into some basic principles regarding copyright and PDFs, that would be great. -- Chuck ---------- See the discussion at Change your notification settings at
William Deal Apr 7, 2012 3:04:01 PM

The response I received concerning copyright is pasted below. The indented red text is my query; the black text is the response. I think the answer is pretty complete, but I'm happy to go back with more questions. Let me know. -- Bill 

…contributing and editing the bibliography requires approved access, the site is otherwise public. Although this project is very new, we have already been confronted with some copyright issues involving contributors who want to attach PDFs of books and articles to bibliographic entries. Needless to say, this set off red flags as we want to make sure we don't run afoul of copyright laws. In this regard, we assume the following:

You're correct about the red flags–since this is an internet site, the use is global. A few years ago, a bibliography would be a great finding aid–now, people want to have full service bibliographies, hence the 'let's just attach the content' ideas.

Particularly since publishers are raising a fuss about international use of journal articles (a move that if it succeeds will kill international interlibrary loan for some significant publications) it would be very risky to include actual content since copyright has variance around the world. There is also the related issue of the server that would need to store all that content, as you move forward.

For content that is open access or creative commons or in the public domain from trusted site like Gutenberg, one merely needs to provide links to the content, not host it.  A word or two about links: 

- a link is merely html code, thus as characters, it is not original work of a creative nature–it's very factual.

- while using a link is always better than redundant efforts to attach the content, there is still a risk if you use a 'deep link.' Courts have ruled on deep-linking, whereby  someone links well past the main page of a site so that the visitor who is following the link might miss the value of the hosting site. That adversely affects the market or potential market value of the hosting site's content. A better way to use a link to somewhere else is to provide the citation with a note that it's "in the abc section of  site" Alternatively, if the content link is not too deep within the other site, list the site first and then the link for the citation, so you're not infringing on that 4th exclusive right.

-- any book or article still in copyright can not be posted (as a PDF or any other form) to a public site such as ours -- any book or article out of copyright can be posted

- If you stay prior to 1923 [not inclusive for 1923] for US works, yes 

— Additional —

Remember the Stanford Determinator I talked about in your Freedman Fellows class. Many US [only] books published between 1923-1963 were never renewed and this database can help you determine that. If a work you are citing is no longer in copyright and you have a legal copy, scan it and post it if you like, without worry. You might deflect the less-copyright-educated folks by appending a brief phrase to those items if you  attach them , e.g., copyright expired, per Copyright Renewal Database 

» Articles:

- there is a new JSTOR initiative for their earliest content prior to 1923, and it's free to anyone anywhere, it's their Early Journal program. Check the site for the content and you could link to it since JSTOR is very stable. I would not attach–it just poses too many problems down the road for you as a hosting site. 

- I would not do anything with works published out of the US until this new issue of international use rights settles down. So think about that–many publishers are based out of the US. 

-- a link to an article on a resource site like JSTOR

Such a link would only be usable by someone with JSTOR access, so we assume this would be acceptable. And we assume the same would be true to links to books in electronic form.

» JSTOR, etc.

-- If you link to a JSTOR or other archive site that is fee-based and licensed, of course there will be users who cannot access it. I get this question a lot, people want to provide that convenience, and you can't post the content. However, think about it....the link is not copyrightable so you can use a direct/stable url.

-- Many users will be at academic institutions or public libraries with JSTOR (like CPL downtown) and they will either be able to 1) successfully click right through, or 2) get to their institutions' home pages & have to authenticate first, then copy/paste in the journal title and follow the breadcrumb trail. If you do this, practice kindness to deflect anger, embarrassment, or emails flung back at you because they think "you're providing this and your link is broken." Include  a prominent note along with the citation, something like:  "Content licensed to institutions only. Check the citation via your institution if this link does not allow access."

» Books

-- Books are trickier since you don't know the validity of the site, so just watch the dates. After all, Google books scanned a ton of things and keeps ratcheting back on what you can actually read online, and has stopped a lot of those projects and dramatically slowed on others. The final ruling is due soon on that one, but Judge Chin could keep that going, we though it was done already and he sent the parties back to see if they could come to agreement. 

I would be grateful for any confirmation and/or advice about these issues. If the matter is more complicated than I have sketched it here, I would be happy to schedule a meeting to discuss this further.

As I always caution, copyright is not black/white but that's a good thing. It gives you room for some judgment. On the whole, you've sketched out the big potholes and are aware of them. If you can use links to content vs hosting it, you'll be happier in the long run though–take it from experience we've gained here;-)

Charles Muller Apr 8, 2012 2:09:28 PM

Bill: Thanks so much for inquiring into this matter, and this expert response is a treasure. Please convey our thanks to your librarian. Hopefully everyone will read this, and we can establish some clear policies.