WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative is open for community review

The OCLC Record Use Policy Council members have been working for the past few months to develop the next generation of a WorldCat use policy.  The draft document, WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative, is open for community review.

 

The draft policy is not final. Between now and the end of May, we very much want your feedback. We hope you will take the time to review the draft policy carefully, and let us know your thoughts. You can post comments here on the community forum, send an e-mail with your thoughts, or register to attend a webinar where you can ask questions and submit feedback to members of the Record Use Policy Council. We will continue to add content to the accompanying FAQ as we get more questions from the community review process.

 

For more information on the Record Use Policy Council, please visit the Record Use Policy Council page on the OCLC web site.

 

Barbara Gubbin, Director, Jacksonville Public Library, USA

 

Jennifer Younger, President Elect, OCLC Global Council and Edward H. Arnold Director of Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame, USA

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Comments 40 Comments

Bill Drew said:

So is OCLC still saying it is the owner of the OCLC records created by the membership? I would like a plain english answer to that question.

David Whitehair Author Profile Page said:

No, the draft policy is not saying that OCLC is the owner of the OCLC records created by the membership. The draft policy is saying that WorldCat is a shared resource that is more than a collection of OCLC member-contributed records. WorldCat's value is in the cooperation and outcomes it supports, not in the ownership of the records themselves. Section 2 of the policy, specifically the text under letter C, explains these ideas further.

--Record Use Policy Council

Erwin Schmidt said:

The new draft may be much improved over the old draft. However, a little clarification will be needed to make this certain.

Section 3A, paragraph 3, subparagraph A, states that " the transfer or making available of WorldCat data and its subsequent uses (including copying, displaying, publishing, modifying, reformating, and/or creating works or services from) shall be carried out in keeping with OCLC member community norms, OCLC's public purpose, and this policy's intent."

The OCLC member community norms state that member libraries must make a commitment to "Limit use of OCLC records, systems and services to OCLC authorized users."

This seems to conflict with Section 3A, paragraph 3, which states that member libraries will be able to "Transfer or make available such data to individual scholars for their personal academic or scientific research or study, or to other libraries and cultural and scholarly institutions, (e.g., museums, archives, historical societies, research institutes), whether these institutions are members or non-members of OCLC, for these organizations' institutional or collaborative re-use."

The conflict would be resolved if it were explicitly stated that other libraries and cultural and scholarly institutions (OCLC members or not) are authorized users of OCLC records when provided by members.

Otherwise, not much improvement here.

Joe Montibello said:

I notice in the glossary a definition for public good. Are OCLC records or the Worldcat database intended to be "public goods?" It doesn't look like it, and I couldn't find the phrase anywhere else in the draft. It sounds like the records are "club goods." Am I reading that right?

Thank you.
Joe M.

David Whitehair Author Profile Page said:

Dear Erwin Schmidt,

Thanks for your careful review. If I am understanding your comment, you have turned up an inconsistency that is due to the fact that the "Principles of Cooperation" (http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/catalog/principles/default.htm) is a foundation document dating from 1996--these "community norms" were adopted by the (then) Members Council in that year. Because the Record Use Policy Council noticed many things in the 1996 Principles that are out of date, like the phrase you point out, the OCLC Global Council has indicated it will discuss updating the Principles at its annual meeting later this month. In the meantime, as you interpret the draft policy, go with what it says in Section 3A, paragraph 3, subparagraph A.

--Record Use Policy Council

David Whitehair Author Profile Page said:

Joe M.,

The use of the term "public good" appears in Section 2, letter D, in the paragraph following the numbered list. It reads "The fact that OCLC has a public purpose does not mean that WorldCat is a 'public good' in the economic sense."

--Record Use Policy Council

The following section struck me as problematic:

"WorldCat's value rests in its usefulness as:
1.A bibliographic record supply. Comprehensive coverage and high-quality, consistent records facilitate operational efficiency in member libraries." (my bolding)

Anybody who's ever seen an encoding-level 3 record knows this is a false statement. OCLC intentionally dumps these low-quality records into WorldCat, an action that directly contradicts the statement above. This makes me wonder what other things in the draft are on as shaky ground as this statement is.

Also, the draft says,

"Not engaging in mass distribution of data directly from WorldCat to nonmembers without OCLC's prior consent."

Isn't that what WorldCat.org does? It makes the database available to everyone. Perhaps this needs to be clarified.

Record Use Policy Council said:

Several of you (including Joe M) have asked about the definition of "public good" in the glossary when the phrase is missing from the body of the draft policy. Our thanks to everyone who asked that! As it turns out, something weird happened when the document was uploaded to the Web. We are fixing that right now -- our apologies! Here is the paragraph that you are missing from the body of the draft policy text in Section 2D.

"The fact that OCLC has a public purpose does not mean that WorldCat is a 'public good' in the economic sense. On the contrary, WorldCat is a shared community resource intended to benefit the cooperative of members who contribute to its growth and financially support it. The goal of sharing widely the benefits of WorldCat sits alongside the practical need to sustain the economic viability and value of WorldCat over the long term. Significant costs are involved in the ongoing provision of the high-quality database on which OCLC members rely. If the database does not receive the continued organizational support of OCLC members, there is a very real danger that it will become fragmented and lose its integrity, that its quality will be diminished, and that, consequently, its utility to the OCLC cooperative will be reduced."

In addition, this paragraph was missed in section 2C:

The WorldCat database is more than a collection of OCLC member-contributed records. Its value is in the cooperation and outcomes it supports, not in the ownership of the records themselves. With millions of bibliographic descriptions and billions of holdings from OCLC members around the world, the WorldCat database is a central point of concentration for the largest library network in the world. WorldCat gives libraries a Web-scale presence. The more libraries participate, the better and more useful WorldCat becomes to libraries, their end users, and other organizations that want to interact with libraries on the Web.


--Record Use Policy Council

Anya Arnold said:

David,

In your response to Joe M. You state that "public good" appears in section 2 letter D. I also had this concern that I did not find a reference to this term so I went back and I still do not see it.

"D. WorldCat's Viability and Value, and the Need for a Policy

A policy is needed to ensure the continued viability and value of WorldCat as a shared cooperative resource. This policy will:

1. Maintain the viability of a shared community resource that benefits the cooperative of OCLC members;
2. Reinforce the collective commitment to shared values, self-governance, and a spirit of reciprocity and trust;
3. Provide the underpinning for a viable business model to sustain WorldCat for the benefit of the cooperative that supports it."

To reiterate Joe M. is OCLC treating this as "club goods." ?

If indeed the term is in the document why not only have one definition, instead of having both terms defined under one heading.

Record Use Policy Council said:

Dear Anya Arnold,

We have restored the paragraphs that were inadvertently omitted when we deployed the draft policy to the Web. Please have another look at Section 2, letter D, the paragraph following the numbered list.

You ask if the Record Use Policy Council means to imply that WorldCat is a "club" or "collective good" as defined in the Glossary. The answer is yes.

--Record Use Policy Council

Phoebe Ruiz-Valera said:

After reading the draft, I would like a little more
leeway as to how each library can use the records.

It seems to me that Section 3.A.2. is too restrictive in its enumeration of uses for the data. A sentence should be added allowing each institution to customize the data, for example: "... academic and scientific research; and any other use the contributing institution sees fit to use the data, within its own guidelines."

This would not require OCLC's approval and the usage would be limited by the policies which govern the type of library (academic, firm, public, etc.)according to its own institution's guidelines and purpose.

Allen Jones said:

While the notion of calling WorldCat a community resource is a step in the right direction, I don't believe it is far enough. In the same manner that the open-source community has embraced the notion of community-based code, librarians should be acting the same way about their code repository (http://www.sourceforge.net), which is WorldCat.

I have seen my fair share of garbage in Worldcat, much of which is vendor-produced, but this means that the profession and the community has not imagined how their work matters in the collective sense. I am guilty about thinking of myself as a consumer of WorldCat's bibliographic records, instead of a fully-fledged stakeholder with a financial stake in a record's successfulness in its use.

Regarding the policy, I hoped for something much more ambitious - an incentivized program where authors and contributors of bibliographic surrogates would get a portion of the proceeds of bib record purchases (LOL - an iTunes for bib records without the Apple-Empire DRM). This has the dual incentive of the community (and vendors) having cause to produce rich bibliographic data and diminishing the motivation to dump stub or scant records into WorldCat. Frequently-used records would reward a vendor or cataloger's institution and not-so used records would sit dormant until someone decided to enrich that data (gaining little for the author). More importantly, ambitious institutions or groups could enrich infrequently used records as potential revenue, but this is crazy thinking.

to quote David Whitehair from the above comment,

No, the draft policy is not saying that OCLC is the owner of the OCLC records created by the membership. The draft policy is saying that WorldCat is a shared resource that is more than a collection of OCLC member-contributed records. WorldCat's value is in the cooperation and outcomes it supports, not in the ownership of the records themselves.

--Record Use Policy Council

I would argue that something is not truly shared unless its stakeholders materially benefit from the use of their collective contributions. If WorldCat were truly a community resource, producers of its records would collectively benefit when Google (or other large-scale users of WorldCat's data) ingests or purchases those records. In this sense, badly described records would not be popular or could be updated (and contributors could be compensated) and, just as code evolves, so could bib record integrity.

If WorldCat's value rests on the cooperation that results from the records' use, then that would mean that OCLC's members would have a material/economic interest to see that WorldCat's data and projects are high-quality, consistently improving and frequently used. Why is it so difficult to have this conversation?

If, as David asserts, OCLC's interest is truly "in the cooperation and outcomes it supports", wouldn't the best outcome be better bibliographic data? How this happens might carry with it significant logistical issues for OCLC, but why shouldn't the collective enrichment of bibliographic data carry economic returns?

OCLC has released a next draft of their WorldCat rights and responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative. Following are my comments.

First, kudos to OCLC for a more transparent process and providing the opportunity to comment. That said, while this draft is an improvement over the first one, it is nevertheless going in the wrong direction altogether. Library bibliographic records belong in the public domain.

Most elements of a library bibliographic record are simply facts. Since I am an author, for example, WorldCat contains my name, the title of my works, as well as publication details - the name of my publisher, date, and place of publication. OCLC does not own my name, or the titles of my works, and it is not appropriate to brand bibliographic records for my works with either OCLC or WorldCat.

WorldCat also contains subject headings for my work. This is the creative work of librarians; however, if attribution makes sense, it is the cataloguer who should sign the work, not WorldCat.

What I have described above is the relatively simple situation of straightforward library catalogue records. The situation becomes much more complex as libraries, and WorldCat, increasingly add other resources. For example, when records from the local institutional repository are added, they will often include metadata that is contributed by the author, and an abstract. Again, if attribution is important, then what should happen is that the person who contributed this work should be cited - not OCLC.

For example, at times I have, as an E-LIS editor, served as an editor for an entire conference, adding in all of the metadata, and not infrequently reading the works and writing abstracts when these were not supplied. I have also occasionally translated abstracts into english from other languages. This is substantive work - much more substantive work than the automated technical gathering of metadata involved in WorldCat. If it makes no sense to attribute my contributions (and I agree that it does not), then how could it make sense to credit WorldCat for relatively trivial sharing of my work?

This is a very important point. Libraries and library associations are very appropriately involved as experts in evolving public policy consultations. We need to be able to effectively advocate for the concept that those who gather and redistribute content gain no intellectual property rights, moral or otherwise, in the process. This is a part of the key battles taking place right now for public space in the realm of knowledge; what is potentially at stake is the whole of the public domain in electronic form. We should take care that do not ourselves develop policies that could be used as examples, to work against the interests of libraries and the public.

Finally, this policy appears to me to suggest that WorldCat is a global resource. From where I sit, a few minutes north of the border, it is not. OCLC is largely a U.S. organization, albeit with important partnerships outside the U.S. Have a look at the Record Use Policy Council membership to see what I mean. Of the 12 members on the Council, 10 are based in the U.S.A. This would be a representative international council only if about 90% of the world's population was based in the U.S.

In many parts of the world, libraries are few and far between, and they have little money. (This is true of many parts of the U.S., too). A library with little money could go a long way with free access to bibliographic materials for freely accessible materials. Many of the records in WorldCat were created by national libraries or public universities, with a mandate to serve the public good. It is a disservice to unnecessarily restrict these records. When the material is freely available, it is a disservice to the authors and those who make the works freely available to restrict access to the bibliographic records.

I question this statement: "As a union of union catalogs, WorldCat enables routing of requests on behalf of not just OCLC member libraries, but any organizations (e.g., Google) or end users who want to interact with participating WorldCat libraries." What does this mean? Can I, as a member of the public, or of any organization Google a book held by an OCLC library and have it sent directly to me? I suspect this is not what is meant, but that is how this statement reads to me.

In summary: my recommendation to the OCLC Record Use Policy Council is to scrap this draft policy, and start fresh with a vision of what a worldwide library catalogue should look like in a world with an internet that is as open as it possibly can be. From my perspective, this means library records that are freely and openly available for use and re-use, as part of a robust and growing public domain. If this is inconsistent with OCLC's current business model - then it is timely for OCLC for rethink their business model.

From The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

Thanks to the Policy Council for the response and for fixing the omission in the draft policy.

http://www.oclc.org/councils/documents/amended_articles.htm

The "public purpose" mentioned in the draft policy refers to the Articles of incorporation (available at http://www.oclc.org/councils/documents/amended_articles.htm). The third article reads in part:

"The purpose or purposes for which the Corporation is formed are...for the fundamental public purpose of furthering ease of access to and use of the ever-expanding body of worldwide scientific, literary and educational knowledge and information."

Now, I acknowledge that I've elided much of the third article here, but I'm doing so to ask a question. If "furthering ease of access" and "reducing the rate of rise of library per-unit costs" are among the "fundamental purpose[s]" of OCLC, does the council see any conflict between that fundamental purpose and this statement in the Rights and Responsibilities policy:

"The goal of sharing widely the benefits of WorldCat sits alongside the practical need to sustain the economic viability and value of WorldCat over the long term."

Thanks for your time, and for your efforts in making this a transparent and inclusive process.

Joe M.

Record Use Policy Council said:

Dear Joe M,

Certainly there is a tension, but not a conflict. It is a practical reality that the costs of 'furthering access to the world's information' through WorldCat and the services it supports must somehow be recovered. In the case of the OCLC cooperative, these costs are shared among those who contribute data to WorldCat and benefit from the services based on it (like cooperative cataloging, resource sharing, and discovery) as well as from the outcomes it makes possible (like furthering access to the world's information). Without members' financial and organizational support, together with members' commitment to a code of good practice around how the central resource can be shared, WorldCat, its services, and its outcomes could not be sustained.

--Record Use Policy Council

Benjamin Hockenberry said:

Record Use Policy Council, is there a definition for "Worldcat Data", as used throughout the policy? I'm being deliberately brief to avoid obfuscating my query, as this question is central to an ongoing discussion on Autocat. A direct answer from OCLC would further constructive discussion as to which data these rights and responsibilities pertain.

Record Use Policy Council said:

The following questions have been added to the Frequently Asked Questions at http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/catalog/policy/questions/default.htm

9. My library retrieves copies of MARC records from a national library catalog that is accessible via Z39.50 or another commonly used machine-to-machine access protocol. The national library is an OCLC member, and its catalog contains some records that were extracted by the national library from WorldCat. How does this policy affect my use of WorldCat data that I download from the national library catalog? [Added 9 April 2010]

In the context of the policy, whether you are an OCLC member or not, there is no impact on your library's practice of downloading copies of records from the national library's online catalog. The policy states that your library's subsequent use of the WorldCat data should be in keeping with OCLC member community norms, OCLC’s public purpose and this policy’s intent.


10. I can't find anything in the draft policy about the ownership of the records. Who owns WorldCat bibliographic records? [Added 9 April 2010]

OCLC only claims copyright rights in WorldCat as a compilation. Those rights are based on OCLC's intellectual contribution to WorldCat as a whole, including OCLC's selection, arrangement and coordination of the material in WorldCat. To the extent copyright rights exist in an individual bibliographic record in WorldCat, the copyright rights in the record would vest with the author of the record. Modifications, corrections and enhancements to a record may vest the author of those changes with copyright rights in the changes.

Having said that, the draft policy takes a very different starting point than who owns the records, what that means, or whether WorldCat data is public or proprietary. Instead, the draft policy begins with a new premise—the conviction that WorldCat is a shared community resource that is intended to benefit the cooperative of members who contribute to its growth and financially support it. Another principle underlying the draft policy is that the cooperative relies on WorldCat to share resources, reduce costs, and increase members' visibility and impact in the communities they serve. To that end, the draft policy sets out a framework of self-governing behaviors that will sustain WorldCat, the services based on it, the outcomes those services produce, and the cooperative itself over time.


11. My library is not an OCLC member, but it is a member of a consortium that makes collaborative re-use of WorldCat data. How does this policy affect my use of WorldCat data that I receive from the consortium? [Added 9 April 2010]

Provided your library's use of the data is consistent with OCLC member community norms, OCLC’s public purpose and this policy’s intent, there is no impact on your library at all, and your library may continue in its use of WorldCat data from the consortium.


12. May an OCLC member transfer or make available its extracted WorldCat data to a consortium of libraries, cultural institutions, or scholarly institutions? [Added 9 April 2010]

Yes, OCLC members have the right to make available or transfer extracted WorldCat data representing their own holdings to a consortium of libraries and/or cultural and scholarly institutions for collaborative re-use by the consortium, whether the consortium is a member or non-member of OCLC. This "collaborative re-use" of the collected WorldCat data by the consortium should be consistent with OCLC member community norms, OCLC’s public purpose and this policy’s intent.

--Record Use Policy Council

J Moore said:

I don't understand what they want us to comment on here. To be honest, I got more out of the COMMENTS posted after it than the document which was legalese.

Adrian said:

Assumed an OCLC member library or consortium wants to publish the data it produced with public funding or as the policy FAQ say "extracted WorldCat data that represents or enriches the records for the member’s own holdings". Assumed the member library or consortium wants to dedicate this data to the Public Domain using a Creative Commons Zero license or a Public Domain Dedication License: Could this member library just do it and put a dump of the data on the internet or does it have to ask OCLC for permission first?

Clearly, this question picks up Heather Morrison's comment but focuses on individual libraries who just want to publish their data because they don't think the whole WorldCat will be public domain in the near future. After all, these OCLC members might think, this data was created with public funding and it might well be argued that it already IS in the public domain. And - since librarians want as much access to free knowledge as possible for as much people as possible - they might think librarians should be fighting for strengthening and enlarging the Public Domain instead of making more knowledge (and bibliographic data is knowledge) copyrighted...

Record Use Policy Council said:

From the Record Use Policy Council: thoughts about your comments

The Record Use Policy Council (RUPC) thanks all of those who have taken the time to read and comment on the draft policy. This post offers some comments of our own. Over the first week of the community review, concern has been expressed over who owns WorldCat records, what intellectual property rights OCLC is or appears to be claiming, and why we (the RUPC) are not recommending that WorldCat be simply released into the public domain. This post attempts to address some of those concerns by clarifying our intent and offering some additional information.

It’s not about ownership

Objections to the approach we have taken exhibit a view of WorldCat centered on who owns the records. The draft policy is, however, not about ownership. We have taken a very different approach, one that is centered on what we learned in our study of the characteristics of robust, enduring commonly held resources, which require:

• Commitment to collective action to build and sustain the shared resource
• Community acceptance and adherence to self-governing behaviors (norms or rules) that manage the use of the shared resource
• Reciprocity, trust, and judgment

We believe the key to sustainability of the OCLC cooperative is collectively managing WorldCat as a “membership good” (aka “club” or “collective” good). Our approach does not require that OCLC members agree on who owns WorldCat records; it does require the willingness of OCLC members to commit to a code of good practice that will sustain our shared resource, WorldCat, over time. We are asking members to exercise their rights to use and transfer records in the context of their responsibilities (as defined in the draft policy).

Okay, but tell me anyway, who owns WorldCat?

Heather Morrison (http://poeticeconomics.blogspot.com/) states that aggregators (like the OCLC cooperative) that gather and redistribute content (metadata) should gain no intellectual property rights. In fact OCLC does not claim intellectual property rights to individual bibliographic records, neither in those originally cataloged and contributed to the database by Ms. Morrison, nor to those WorldCat records she found in WorldCat and downloaded to her library’s catalog. OCLC does claim copyright rights in WorldCat as a compilation. In accordance with US copyright law, those rights are based on OCLC's substantial intellectual contribution to WorldCat as a whole, including OCLC’s selection, arrangement, and coordination of the material in WorldCat (see FAQ 10. The information about the WorldCat quality program (http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/catalog/quality/), an example of OCLC’s stewardship role, may also be of interest).

WorldCat was produced by libraries working for the public good - shouldn’t WorldCat be a public good?

Ms. Morrison also advocates for free access to metadata and points out that much of WorldCat’s metadata was produced by libraries with public funding and a mandate to serve the public. OCLC, too, has a mandate to serve public purposes (see the articles of incorporation), but we have determined that WorldCat should not be “a public good” in the economic sense.

“Public goods” have the characteristic that once provided for some, they can be fully enjoyed by all (think of the highways). This characteristic gives rise to what is known in economics as the “free rider problem.” Once a public good is made available, there is no feasible way to exclude anyone from receiving its benefits, and because of this the incentive to contribute toward the cost of providing the good declines, and there is a strong incentive to “free ride” on the benefits conferred on all.

Consider what would happen if WorldCat (or a significant portion of it) were released into the public domain: in transferring large swathes of WorldCat records to non-member organizations, members in effect would be transferring the cooperative’s chief asset to organizations with no obligation to invest in it. Our analysis suggests that this would increase free riding, diminish the incentive to be a member, and eventually compromise the economic viability of the cooperative. The utility of the database would also be compromised as WorldCat fragments, resulting in a less comprehensive record supply, scattering efforts at collaborative knowledge organization, raising the costs of resource sharing, and reducing the global discoverability and visibility of members’ collections.

We are keenly aware that libraries must be free to do a wide variety of things with their catalog records, and we strove to place minimal constraints on their ability to do so. We worked to balance openness with the sustainable provision of WorldCat and its network of services. Our intent in defining some boundaries is to ensure that the benefits of WorldCat and its services are primarily conferred on those who invest in their provision.

Striking a balance between openness and boundaries

In the draft policy we deliberately sought to make members’ rights as broad as possible, expanding them from the 1987 Guidelines (http://www.oclc.org/support/documentation/worldcat/records/guidelines/default.htm) and from the previously proposed (and now withdrawn) policy. The new draft policy enables member sharing with member and non-member libraries, cultural and scholarly institutions; with consortia; with their agents; and under certain circumstances with many other types of third parties. With respect to sharing with third parties, we have suggested mechanisms to ensure that when WorldCat records are shared with them, the cooperative will benefit.

--Record Use Policy Council

Record Use Policy Council said:

The following questions have been added to the Frequently Asked Questions at http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/catalog/policy/questions/default.htm

13. What is 'WorldCat data' in the context of this policy? How do I know if I have received 'WorldCat data'? [Added 13 April 2010]

In the context of the policy, WorldCat data is metadata for an information object, generally in the form of a record or records encoded in MARC format, whose initial source is or was the WorldCat bibliographic database.

You have received WorldCat data when (1) you have extracted it directly from the WorldCat database using one of OCLC's services for members (e.g., Connexion, WorldCat Cataloging Partners, CatExpress, the OCLC Z39.50 Cataloging Service, Batch Processing services) or under the terms of a non-member agreement with OCLC; or (2) you have extracted it from an online catalog or another source to which extracted WorldCat data has been transferred or made available.

Identifying WorldCat as the source of data that has been transferred or made available downstream of the initial extraction from WorldCat can sometimes be complex. A combination of the following data elements in a bibliographic record can help determine if the record was initially extracted from WorldCat:

An OCLC Number along with
- the 001 field that includes value characters "ocm" or "ocn" and/or
- the 035 field that includes the value "(OCoLC)" and/or
- the 994 field

14. I've noticed some inconsistencies between the policy and the document describing "OCLC community norms." Which document is correct? [Added 13 April 2010]

Occurrences of the phrase "OCLC community norms" link to the OCLC Principles of Cooperation, a foundation document of the OCLC cooperative that was adopted by the OCLC Members Council in 1996. Some sections of the 1996 Principles document are out of date or inconsistent with the draft policy, most notably the bullet point limiting use of OCLC records, systems and services to "OCLC authorized users." The draft policy Section 3A, paragraph 3, subparagraph A supersedes this statement in the Principles document. The OCLC Global Council is currently working to update the Principles document.

--Record Use Policy Council

Record Use Policy Council said:

Dear Adrian,

We feel that re-licensing a member library catalog containing records extracted from WorldCat (as Adrian suggests in his comment to our blog) under a Public Domain and Dedication License (http://www.opendatacommons.org/licenses/pddl/1.0/ would violate the intent of the draft policy, because by definition such a step makes that portion of WorldCat a “public good.” The Creative Commons Zero license (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) would have the same effect. In both cases, subsequent users and transferors of the data would have no restrictions or requirements whatever. For the reasons stated in our long comments above, if enough members did this, it would diminish the long-term viability and utility of WorldCat to the OCLC cooperative.

–Record Use Policy Council

Gina said:

Based on this new policy, will libraries be required to filter or restrict access to records available through their z39.50 servers?

Record Use Policy Council said:

Dear Gina,

Libraries are not required to filter or restrict access to records available through Z39.50. Please see question 3 in the FAQ at http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/catalog/policy/questions/default.htm for more information.

-- Record Use Policy Council

Daniel CannCasciato said:

I suggest adding/considering the follwing three items for section 4, OCLC's Responsibilities.

1) Maintaining member-contributed data including holdings information

2) Maintaining policies, standards, and training and support services to assure that the WorldCat database is accurate and that bibliographic records and related data are created at the fullest possible level

3) Support the public purpose of “Furthering access to the world’s information and reducing the rate of rise of per-unit costs” by limiting less-than-full bibliographic data and proactively eliminating duplicate records from the WorldCat database.

Without them, the cost-effectiveness of using WorldCat as a utility will continue to drop.

Also, I'm not in favor of the proposed definition of OCLC WorldCat data. However, it should be written into the glossary so that everyone knows what is proposed and discovery as to whether state-supported public institutions can even agree to it.

Lastly, the branding requirement (Sect. 3.B.4) suggests that individual library catalogs will need to utilize the icon. Is this what's meant?

Daniel CannCasciato

Adrian said:

I have got two questions concerning your statement that licensing a member library's data with a Public-Domain-Licence would violate this draft policy. (I published a blog post on Übertext: Blog commenting on this policy draft and the public domain. Because it's in english I translate and elaborate one important question here while the second question arose writing this.)

I wonder whether the proposed proscription of Public Domain licensing is tenable from a legal perspective. You say in the FAQs:

"OCLC only claims copyright rights in WorldCat as a compilation. Those rights are based on OCLC's intellectual contribution to WorldCat as a whole, including OCLC's selection, arrangement and coordination of the material in WorldCat."

As far as I can tell this is in line with copyright law that protects databases if they are creative which means based on an original selection and arrangement.

But don't member libraries do the same with their databases making an "intellectual contribution" to their local catalog including their "selection, arrangement and coordination of the material" in their databases? Doesn't follow a copyright claim on the local databases by member libraries out of these circumstances?

I think it might very probably the case that as much as OCLC has a copyright on WorldCat as a whole each individual member library has a copyright on their local catalogs, save members have signed a contract where they give up these rights.

Second question:
You say OCLC has a copyright on WorldCat as a whole. But why should that mean a member library couldn't put their data in the Public Domain? They obviously are publishing only a tiny fraction of data that also is in WorldCat. Why should that violate OCLC's copyright on the entire database? When is a portion of data big enough that it's freeing violates OCLC's copyright? Your argument "if enough members did this, it would diminish the long-term viability and utility of WorldCat to the OCLC cooperative" doesn't seem very strong to me from a legal perspective. It might work as a "social contract" but without legal grounding. (Anyway, I don't get it why libraries should sign a contract which takes their control over their own data.)

In Europe we have a quite vague specification when database copyright is violated. The European Union's Database Directive says the whole database and "substantial parts" should be protected (see here, (41)). Although the directive is vague, I think it's clear that under European law the data of one OCLC member library wouldn't be considered a "substantial part" of WorldCat.

So there are at least two arguments which make it hard to believe that member libraries would violate OCLC's copyright by releasing their data. Rather it is quite possible that OCLC interferes with member's copyright by forbidding Public Domain licenses.

I would be glad to read your thoughts and explanations concerning these questions.

Record Use Policy Council said:

Dear Daniel CannCasciato,

Thanks for your suggestions. We will consider them. In reply to your question about the icon (Sect. 3.B.4): actually we did not have a member's online catalog in mind. We were thinking about some sort of new collaborative work based substantially on WorldCat data--like a subject-based portal for example, created from combining certain records from multiple member catalogs. Additionally, we were thinking the use of the icon would be an option, not a requirement. We will reconsider Section 3.B.4 and try to make it clearer.

--Record Use Policy Council

Record Use Policy Council said:

Dear Adrian,

Thanks for your message. You are correct in your assessment that we had the concept of a social contract in mind as we drafted this policy for the OCLC cooperative. The policy is not about the legal issues surrounding copyright of WorldCat as a whole or the copyright of an individual library's catalog. The policy is about OCLC members' willingness to commit to a code of good practice that will sustain the value and utility of WorldCat over time. As we interpret that code of good practice, it would exclude licensing an individual online catalog containing a substantial number of records drawn from WorldCat under a PDDL license. In addition, we have chosen not to quantitatively define what 'substantial' is, because the policy relies on members' best judgment and self-governing behaviors in these matters.

--Record Use Policy Council

David Sleasman said:

The recent LJ post (http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6726433.html)stated,

'Some say adding WorldCat records to the public domain would enable new bibliographic projects to flourish, neither overseen by OCLC nor constrained by its data policies. Of course, these projects could then compete with OCLC to be the most prominent access point to library bibliographic materials."

Upon reading this I have to ask myself a couple questions:
- Is competition a good/bad thing for the library community?
- Is competition a good/bad thing for OCLC?
- Is the policy ultimately intended to stifle competition for OCLC as a vendor?

I believe that competition to development new tools would be a definite benefit for the community and ultimately better for OCLC as an organization. Competition encourages alternate strategies and innovation.

Competition for OCLC as a vendor would encourage the organization to be more innovative, cost effective, and responsive to the changing information economy.

Solidifying a hold on the bibliographic data would only encourage a monopoly. Monopolies rarely, if ever, benefit the public good or encourage innovation for anyone outside the monopoly holder.

The earlier policy certainly gave the feel that OCLC wanted to secure its exclusive hold. This version is improved, but doesn't fundamentally embrace the public good. Rather it still reads as if the organization protecting its market share at the expense of innovation the library community needs more of...not less.

Adrian said:

A tweet by Anders Söderbäck leads me to the next question in this discussion about a library violating the code of conduct by publishing catalog data with a Public Domain licence. This is a question about the effectiveness of the policy.

What would happen if a library "interprets the code of good practice in a differently way than the Record Use Policy Council"? Are there any sanction mechanisms implemented in the policy? Which consequences would a library face which violates the policy as it is interpreted by the Record Use Policy Concil?

It won't be legal consequences, I believe, because the policy isn't grounded on copyright law as you confirmed. So it only can be consequences internal to OCLC. Are there any statements about the process that follows a violation of the code of conduct? Do sanction mechanisms exist? Or do you just count on the OCLC members that they'll follow the code of conduct in the way the Record Use Policy Council interprets it and will ask for permission if they intend to use the records in a way not covered by the policy?

Frances McNamara said:

The policy seems aimed at requiring libraries to do their cataloging on OCLC and not somewhere else. BUT where is the requirement that OCLC provide the best cataloging service is you are going to require libraries to use it exclusively?

Libraries currently are purchasing workstations with Windows 7. The OCLC cataloging software client Connexions does NOT work on Windows 7, management has stated some time in the next year there will be an upgrade but meanwhile libraries can't use the software on new machines.

If OCLC wanted to technically move to a browser based version, or upgrade the software to Java which wouldn't have the problem that would be fine, but they have dragged their feet and not met their responsibilities. They are a software vendor. We pay software maintenance to them. They need to keep the software upgraded to work with new versions of operating systems. This is not an idealistic policy thing, this is practicalities. Our cataloging staff tell us they cannot use the browser version of Connexions. How did they get to the point that this new OS is out there everywhere and OCLC does not support it?

Is it because they do not have competition, they have a monopoly, so they don't have to keep their software upgraded? This does not make sense. And if they do not provide sufficient support for services of course a library would take all the records they had already created and updated and use them in another system.

Where is the requirement that OCLC provide the services needed by the libraries? When will there be a version of Connexion that works with Windows 7? What is their strategic plan if the result of their planning is that they have not supported this Operating System that most of their customers require? Do they plan to just tell the libraries, tough?

It seems to me the attitude of OCLC is "We own the universe, eat dirt" when it comes to requirements of their libraries. This policy promotes that attitude.

Record Use Policy Council said:

Dear Adrian,

Thanks for your comments. We will take them into account as we look again at Section 5 of the draft policy, which outlines the process that follows a violation of the code of conduct. It reads "OCLC member use of data extracted from the WorldCat database is carried out in a diverse and rapidly-changing environment. It is, therefore, impossible to anticipate all of the conceivable uses to which members might want or need to put WorldCat data. OCLC members are encouraged to discuss with OCLC any uses that do not appear to be covered by this policy. If a particular use is determined to not be covered, OCLC and the member will seek a mutually agreeable resolution of the matter. If, after six months, no such resolution has been reached, OCLC will refer the matter to the OCLC Global Council for prompt advice on how to proceed."

--Record Use Policy Council

In the Review Board Report(http://www.oclc.org/us/en/worldcat/catalog/FinalReport_ReviewBoard.pdf) which (I think) established the record use policy council, these are stated as desirable traits in a new policy:

"The policy should begin with a clear identification of the major encroachments that threaten the economic, technical, or
operational sustainability of WorldCat and should emphasize the need to preserve the characteristics that make WorldCat valuable over time: quality, comprehensiveness, and authoritativeness... it is essential that the policy clearly articulate the relationship between potential threats to WorldCat and actions authorized under the policy."(recommendation 4)

What are the encroachments that threaten the sustainability of Worldcat? Specifically, what are some of the economic, technical and operational threats that this policy is trying to avoid?

"OCLC members are intent upon building and benefiting from a future in which WorldCat is available for reasonable use on a non-discriminatory basis not only to members, but to other partners as well." (recommendation 4)

I think this is an excellent description of my position as an OCLC member.

Thanks,

Joe M.

Record Use Policy Council said:

Dear Joe Montibello,

Thanks for your input. We posted a lengthy comment on the community blog on April 13, 2010 at 1:38 PM in which we attempted to describe encroachments that threaten the long-term sustainability of WorldCat and the services built upon it--services on which OCLC members rely. We said in part:

"Consider what would happen if WorldCat (or a significant portion of it) were released into the public domain: in transferring large swathes of WorldCat records to non-member organizations, members in effect would be transferring the cooperative’s chief asset to organizations with no obligation to invest in it. Our analysis suggests that this would increase free riding, diminish the incentive to be a member, and eventually compromise the economic viability of the cooperative. The utility of the database would also be compromised as WorldCat fragments, resulting in a less comprehensive record supply, scattering efforts at collaborative knowledge organization, raising the costs of resource sharing, and reducing the global discoverability and visibility of members’ collections."

At the recent OCLC Global Council meeting, we heard other suggestions for more clarification of various sections of the policy document. We will be taking all of the feedback into account as we begin the next round of policy revisions, prior to submitting a final version to the OCLC Board of Trustees at the end of May.

--Record Use Policy Council

Ann M. Williams said:

I'm wondering what OCLC hopes to accomplish with this policy. If the goal is to ensure members have access to a database of quality records, many OCLC members are CatExpress members not full catalogers who contribute (can you supply the percentage and 5 year trend?), many records are vendor level 3 records which are minimal at best and often duplicate better records already in OCLC, and incentives for creating or correcting or enhancing records are fairly low (how do member incentives compare to costs over the years?). If the goal is to preventing non-member freeloading, how will this policy keep libraries from discontinuing OCLC membership while still using OCLC records, either provided by OCLC members in a consortium setting or via Z39.50? I'm assuming the expected results are worth all the time and money spent on this?

Ann M. Williams

Record Use Policy Council said:

Dear Ann Williams,

Thanks for your comments. We have referred your questions/comments about CatExpress, data quality, and financial incentives for cataloging to the OCLC WorldCat and Cataloging Services group.

As to our intent (what we hope to accomplish), it is stated in the third paragraph of the policy document: "to encourage the widespread use of WorldCat bibliographic data while also supporting the ongoing and long-term viability and utility of WorldCat and of WorldCat-based services such as resource sharing, cataloging, and discovery."

We have deliberately taken an approach to the policy that is based not on the ownership of records and the specifics of what members can and can't do with them, but one that is based on a members' willingness to commit to a code of good practice that will sustain the OCLC cooperative's shared resource, WorldCat, over time. Our approach vests rights and responsibilities in OCLC members and asks them to use judgment in exercising them.

In this context and with respect to your question about members' making their catalogs available through consortia or Z39.50, we hope that FAQs 3, 11, and 12
(http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/catalog/policy/questions/default.htm) will provide helpful information. We recognize that members want to be able to share their data with others, and we want the policy to support this sharing, provided that doing so either benefits the cooperative or does not diminish the value of WorldCat to the cooperative.

--Record Use Policy Council

To the council,

I appreciate your blog post regarding the encroachments, and I hope that it will become part of the policy draft going forward. I think it would be helpful to have that rationale move with the draft so that others reading the (revised) policy will see that rationale in black and white.

Instead of making all of Worldcat's data open and freely available to everyone, could Worldcat be made available by agreement to competitors (Skyriver is the one that comes to my mind, but I'm sure there are others) in a reciprocal, trusting way that could benefit all three parties (the OCLC cooperative, the competitor, and libraries)?

I would feel a lot better about this policy if it included a clear acknowledgement that competition in the library services marketplace is to be welcomed and embraced for the benefit of libraries. This is well addressed in Section 4(f) ("Entering into agreements to share [worldcat data] as broadly as possible with partner organizations and members' agents"). Appendix 1 and 2, though, seem to dictate that only OCLC will be able to enter into agreements that would allow for competitors.

Libraries are notoriously independent - we want to do what we think is best for our users, in our (economic, geographic, etc.) situation. I guess I'm hoping that this policy will recognize this independence and trust that OCLC members are interested in (and know something about) what's best for our institutions and our patrons.

Last but not least, I want to publicly thank the Council for the process that's taking place. I don't expect the final policy to be exactly what I want it to be, but that's part of the give and take of any collective. I sincerely appreciate the fact that this give and take is happening, and happening publicly, and happening in a way that includes anyone who cares to comment.

Joe M.

Barbara Storch said:

Under 4. OCLC's Responsibilities to Members, add the following:

"Provide cost-effective, affordable options for member libraries to add their holdings."

The current economy has created serious budgetary shortfalls and constraints for many libraries, making it difficult for these libraries to meet the commitment to add their holdings to WorldCat.

Catherine Tierney said:

Are you suggesting any limitation to my providing to a commercial entity my ORIGINAL cataloging records, that perhaps we built in Connexion? I'd export them directly from my database. (I believe I understand the limitations regarding my "holdings," which for commercial entities seem essentially the same as the 1987 document.)

Eilise Mac said:

How does your policy of charging member libraries more for contributing records, if they borrow from somewhere else, help your member libraries?

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About the Policy Council

For more information on the Record Use Policy Council, its members and its charge, please visit the Record Use Policy Council page on the OCLC web site.

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