Thinking Beyond the Four Factors

Every year, libraries and other information professionals recognize Fair Use Week, a week dedicated to educating our communities about the power of Fair Use to help them make informed and responsible decisions about their use of copyrighted materials.

Fair Use week in white text on black background

For example, the University Library at the University of Illinois will be sponsoring a Fair Use Week Game Show, hosted by Copyright Librarian Sara Benson. This event will teach participants about how to conduct a Fair Use analysis in a fun and engaging manner in hopes of getting our campus excited about the possibilities that Fair Use opens.

When considering whether your use of a copyrighted work is a Fair Use, there are 4 main factors to consider: Purpose, Nature, Amount, and Effect.

Purpose refers to your intended use of a work and specifically considers whether you are using it for educational purposes, which is more likely to be considered a fair use, or for profit, which weighs against Fair Use. Nature refers to the work itself. Factual and published works are more likely to be considered a Fair Use than creative or unpublished works.

Amount considers how much of the work you intend to use. Using a small or less important portion of the work is more likely to be a Fair Use, while using the whole work or the “heart” of the work is less likely to be a Fair Use. Lastly, Effect looks at the potential market impact of your use of the work. If it is likely your use would impact the original creator’s ability to profit off their work, your use is less likely to be considered a Fair Use.

In order to make a Fair Use determination, courts weigh each of the four factors holistically to decide whether your use of a copyrighted work is allowed. However, could there be more to a fair use than the four factors used by the courts?

Graphic image of balace scales

“File:Johnny-automatic-scales-of-justice.svg” by johnny_automatic is marked with CC0 1.0

Using another person’s copyrighted material may not just be a legal question, but an ethical one. For example, many libraries make cultural artifacts taken from indigenous people available to the world. As these items get digitized, libraries are typically the copyright owners for the digital version. While doing your Fair Use analysis, it may be worthwhile to also consider whether the community these items were taken from would approve of your use of the material, even if a court would rule that your use is fair.

Another example is the use of personal photos, which the internet makes readily available online. While your use of these photos may be considered a Fair Use after weighing the four factors, is it ethical to include images of other people’s faces in your work without their permission?

Fair Use gives us guidance about how to avoid being sued for copyright infringement and arguments to defend ourselves if we do. But, Fair Use may not always be enough to tell you whether your use is ethical. When in doubt, you can ask your local librarian for tips and resources on using someone else’s copyrighted materials ethically and responsibly.

In the meantime, you can check out the Fair Use page on our Copyright Reference Guide, which contains several resources to help you think through your own Fair Use analysis. Happy Fair Use week!

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5 Things for Educators to Know About Copyright Before Posting on Youtube

Making Youtube videos can be a fun and easy way to incorporate new media into a virtual classroom and provide an alternative to live lectures. That being said there are a few copyright concerns to keep in mind before you post. Youtube is a public online space that anyone can access, so the guidelines for copyright compliance are different than if you were in a traditional classroom setting. Read through this post and the recommended resources before you get started. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, it is just some information and resources I’ve come across in my research on this topic.

  1. Youtube WILL take your video down if you use copyrighted content that does not belong to you! Youtube uses software, such as the Copyright Match Tool and Content ID, to detect when content is shared by someone who is not the creator. If your video if flagged by these tools it may be taken down instantly. The process to get a video re-posted is complicated and your account may even be suspended. So, be very careful if you want your videos to stay online!
  2. Youtube does recognize research and teaching as conditions for Fair Use, but only on a case-by-case basis after your video has been flagged. It is best not to use copyrighted content in your videos but if you absolutely MUST, there are some ways you can set yourself up well for a Fair Use case. First, be sure to tag your video with metadata that make it clear this is an educational video. Second, when you make your channel be sure to brand yourself as an educator. For example, if your channel is called something like “Professor Smith’s Political Science Classroom” that is a pretty solid indicator that your channel is educational in nature. Third, only use what is absolutely necessary to your lesson. Don’t post a whole video clip if you are only analyzing 5 seconds of it. Even if you follow all this advice your video may still be taken down so save yourself the trouble and try not to use copyrighted material. If you want to learn more about Fair Use, visit our Library Guide on the subject.
  3. You can easily find images, music, and video clips that have a creative commons license. It is no fun to make a video with no music or images. Fortunately, you can find many of these with a Creative Commons license. A Creative Commons license is when a creator has given permission for their content to be used freely by anyone. One of the best places to find creative commons content are CreativeCommons.org but Youtube even has some creative commons content of their own in the Youtube Audio Library. Be sure to consult these resources before using copyrighted content.
  4. You can give your content a Creative Commons License using the setting on Youtube. If you are open to others using a remixing your content without getting flagged for copyright infringement, you can change your terms of service to allow for this. All Youtube videos are automatically given the standard Youtube License but if you go to the Terms of Service in your account setting this can be changed to a Creative Commons License. That being said, only videos that contain 100% original content can be given this license on the platform. Read the Youtube Terms of Service to learn more.
  5. Are you still not sure if you are violating copyright with your videos? Youtube has a Copyright Troubleshooting feature! Youtube provides a lot of great resources for creators and this one is pretty cool. If you need  more clarification on what is and is not a violation of copyright you can use this Copyright Troubleshooter tool that will take you through a series of multiple choice questions that get to the heart of your issues and provide an answer.

In summary, Youtube is a great place to put your content if you want it to be easily accessible but it is important to respect copyright in the process. For more information you can consult these resources:

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The Art Institute of Chicago Launches Public API

Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, are a major feature of the web today. Almost every major website has one, including Google Maps, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Wikipedia, and Netflix. If you Google the name of your favorite website and API, chances are you will find an API for it.

Last week, another institution joined the millions of public APIs available today: The Art Institute of Chicago. While they are not the first museum to release a public API, their blog article announcing the release of the API states that it holds the largest amount of data released to the public through an API from a museum. It is also the first museum API to hold all of their public data in one location, including data about their art collection, every exhibition ever held by the Institute since 1879, blog articles, full publication texts, and more than 1,000 gift shop products.

But what exactly is an API, and why should we be excited that we can now interact with the Art Institute of Chicago in this way? An API is basically a particular way to interact with a software application, usually a website. Normally when you visit a website in a browser, such as wikipedia.org, the browser requests an HTML document in order to render the images, fonts, text, and many other bits of data related to the appearance of the web page. This is a useful way to interact as a human consuming information, but if you wanted to perform some sort of data analysis on the data it would be much more difficult to do it this way. For example, if you wanted to answer even a simple question like “Which US president has the longest Wikipedia article?” it would be time consuming to do it the traditional way of viewing webpages.

Instead, an API allows you or other programs to request just the data from a web server. Using a programming language, you could use the Wikipedia API to request the text of each US President’s Wikipedia page and then simply calculate which text is the longest. API responses usually come in the form of data objects with various attributes. The format of these objects vary between websites.

“A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat, the data for which is now publicly available from the Art Institute of Chicago’s API.

The same is now true for the vast collections of the Art Institute of Chicago. As a human user you can view the web page for the work “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat at this URL:

 https://www.artic.edu/artworks/27992/a-sunday-on-la-grande-jatte-1884

If you wanted to get the data for this work through an API to do data analysis though, you could make an API request at this URL:

https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/27992

Notice how both URLs contain “27992”, which is the unique ID for that artwork.

If you open that link in a browser, you will get a bunch of formatted text (if you’re interested, it’s formatted as JSON, a format that is designed to be manipulated by a programming language). If you were to request this data in a program, you could then perform all sorts of analysis on it.

To get an idea of what’s possible with an art museum API, check out this FiveThirtyEight article about the collections of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which includes charts of which countries are most represented at the Met and which artistic mediums are most popular.

It is possible now to ask the same questions about the Art Institute of Chicago’s collections, along with many others, such as “what is the average size of an impressionist painting?” or “which years was surrealist art most popular?” The possibilities are endless.

To get started with their API, check out their documentation. If you’re familiar with Python and possibly python’s data analysis library pandas, you could check out this article about using APIs in python to perform data analysis to start playing with the Art Institute’s API. You may also want to look at our LibGuide about qualitative data analysis to see what you could do with the data once you have it.

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Holiday Data Visualizations

The fall 2020 semester is almost over, which means that it is the holiday season again! We would especially like to wish everyone in the Jewish community a happy first night of Hanukkah tonight.

To celebrate the end of this semester, here are some fun Christmas and Hanukkah-related data visualizations to explore.

Popular Christmas Songs

First up, in 2018 data journalist Jon Keegan analyzed a dataset of 122 hours of airtime from a New York radio station in early December. He was particularly interested in discovering if there was a particular “golden age” of Christmas music, since nowadays it seems that most artists who release Christmas albums simply cover the same popular songs instead of writing a new song. This is a graph of what he discovered:

Based on this dataset, 65% of popular Christmas songs were originally released in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Despite the notable exception of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” from the 90s, most of the beloved “Holiday Hits” come from the mid-20th century.

As for why this is the case, the popular webcomic XKCD claims that every year American culture tries to “carefully recreate the Christmases of Baby Boomers’ childhoods.” Regardless of whether Christmas music reflects the enduring impact of the postwar generation on America, Keegan’s dataset is available online to download for further exploration.

Christmas Trees

Last year, Washington Post reporters Tim Meko and Lauren Tierney wrote an article about where Americans get their live Christmas trees from. The article includes this map:

The green areas are forests primarily composed of evergreen Christmas trees, and purple dots represent Choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms. 98% of Christmas trees in America are grown on farms, whether it’s a choose-and-cut farm where Americans come to select themselves or a farm that ships trees to stores and lots.

This next map shows which counties produce the most Christmas trees:

As you can see, the biggest Christmas tree producing areas are New England, the Appalachians, the Upper Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest, though there are farms throughout the country.

The First Night of Hanukkah

This year, Hanukkah starts tonight, December 10, but its start date varies every year. However, this is not the case on the primarily lunar-based Hebrew Calendar, in which Hanukkah starts on the 25th night of the month of Kislev. As a result, the days of Hanukkah vary year-to-year on other calendars, particularly the solar-based Gregorian calendar. It can occur as early as November 28 and as late as December 26.

In 2016, Hannukah began on December 24, Christmas Eve, so Vox author Zachary Crockett created this graphic to show the varying dates on which the first night of Hannukah has taken place from 1900 to 2016:

The Spelling of Hanukkah

Hanukkah is a Hebrew word, so as a result there is no definitive spelling of the word in the Latin alphabet I am using to write this blog post. In Hebrew it is written as חנוכה and pronounced hɑːnəkə in the phonetic alphabet.

According to Encyclopædia Britannica, when transliterating the pronounced word into English writing, the first letter ח, for example, is pronounced like the ch in loch. As a result, 17th century transliterations spell the holiday as Chanukah. However, ח does not sounds like the way ch does when its at the start of an English word, such as in chew, so in the 18th century the spelling Hanukkah became common. However, the H on its own is not quite correct either. More than twenty other spelling variations have been recorded due to various other transliteration issues.

It’s become pretty common to use Google Trends to discover which spellings are most common, and various journalists have explored this in past years. Here is the most recent Google search data comparing the two most commons spellings, Hanukkah and Chanukah going back to 2004:

You can also click this link if you are reading this article after December 2020 and want even more recent data.

As you would expect, the terms are more common every December. It warrants further analysis, but it appears that Chanukah is becoming less common in favor of Hanukkah, possibly reflecting some standardization going on. At some point, the latter may be considered the standard term.

You can also use Google Trends to see what the data looks like for Google searches in Israel:

Again, here is a link to see the most recent version of this data.

In Israel, it also appears as though the Hanukkah spelling is also becoming increasingly common, though early on there were years in which Chanukah was the more popular spelling.


I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these brief explorations into data analysis related to Christmas and Hanukkah and the quick discoveries we made with them. But more importantly, I hope you have a happy and relaxing holiday season!

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Mapping Native Land

Fall break is fast approaching and with it will be Thanksgiving! No matter what your traditions are, we all know that this year’s holiday season will look a little bit different. As we move into the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to share a mapping project to give thanks and recognize the native lands we live on.

Native Land is an open-source mapping project that shows the indigenous territories across the world. This interactive map allows you to input your address or click and explore to determine what indigenous land you reside on. Not only that but Native Land shares educational information about these nations, their languages, or treaties.  They also include a Teacher’s Guide for various wide age range from children to adults. Users are able to export images of their map, too!

Native Land Map

NativeLand.ca Map Interface

Canadian based and indigenous-led, Native Land Digital aims to educate and bring awareness to the complex histories of the land we inhibit. This platform strives to create conversations about indigenous communities between those with native heritage as well as those without. Native Land Digital values the sacredness of land and they use this platform to honor the history of where we reside. Learn more about their mission and impact on their “Why It Matters” page.

Native Land uses MapBox and WordPress to generate their interactive map. MapBox is an open source mapping platform for custom designed maps. Native Land is available as an App for iOS and Android and they have a texting service, as well. You can find more information about how it works here.

If you’d like to learn more about mapping software, the Scholarly Commons has Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, consultations, and workshops available. The Scholarly Commons webpage on GIS is a great place to get started.

 The University of Illinois is a land-grant institution and resides on Kickapoo territory. Where do you stand?

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Land Acknowledgement Statement

As a land-grant institution, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a responsibility to acknowledge the historical context in which it exists. In order to remind ourselves and our community, we will begin this event with the following statement. We are currently on the lands of the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Chickasaw Nations. It is necessary for us to acknowledge these Native Nations and for us to work with them as we move forward as an institution. Over the next 150 years, we will be a vibrant community inclusive of all our differences, with Native peoples at the core of our efforts.

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Tomorrow! Big Ten Academic Alliance GIS Conference 2020

Save the date! Tomorrow is the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) GIS Conference 2020. This event is 100% virtual and free of charge to anyone who wants to engage with the community of GIS specialists and researchers from Big Ten institutions.

The conference kicks off tonight with a GIS Day Trivia Night event at 5:30PM CST! There is a Map Gallery that is open to view from now until November 13th, 2020. The gallery features research that incorporates GIS from Big Ten institutions, so be sure to check it out! There will be lighting talks, presentations, social hours, and a keynote address from Dr. Orhun Aydin, Senior Researcher at Esri, so be sure to check out the full schedule of events and register here.

This event is a great way to network and learn more applications of GIS for research. If you are interested in GIS but don’t know where to start, this event is a great place to get inspired. If you are an experienced GIS researcher, this event is an opportunity to meet colleagues and learn from your peers. Overall this is a great event for anyone interested in GIS and the perfect way to start Geography Awareness Week, which goes from November 15th-21st this year!

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Free, Open Source Optical Character Recognition with gImageReader

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a powerful tool to transform scanned, static images of text into machine-readable data, making it possible to search, edit, and analyze text. If you’re using OCR, chances are you’re working with either ABBYY FineReader or Adobe Acrobat Pro. However, both ABBYY and Acrobat are propriety software with a steep price tag, and while they are both available in the Scholarly Commons, you may want to perform OCR beyond your time at the University of Illinois.

Thankfully, there’s a free, open source alternative for OCR: Tesseract. By itself, Tesseract only works through the command line, which creates a steep learning curve for those unaccustomed to working with a command-line interface (CLI). Additionally, it is fairly difficult to transform a jpg into a searchable PDF with Tesseract.

Thankfully, there are many free, open source programs that provide Tesseract with a graphical user interface (GUI), which not only makes Tesseract much easier to use, some of them come with layout editors that make it possible to create searchable PDFs. You can see the full list of programs on this page.

The program logo for gImageReader

The program logo for gImageReader

In this post, I will focus on one of these programs, gImageReader, but as you can see on that page, there are many options available on multiple operating systems. I tried all of the Windows-compatible programs and decided that gImageReader was the closest to what I was looking for, a free alternative to ABBYY FineReader that does a pretty good job of letting you correct OCR mistakes and exporting to a searchable PDF.

Installation

gImageReader is available for Windows and Linux. Though they do not include a Mac compatible version in the list of releases, it may be possible to get it to work if you use a package manager for Mac such as Homebrew. I have not tested this though, so I do not make any guarantees about how possible it is to get a working version of gImageReader on Mac.

To install gImageReader on Windows, go to the releases page on Windows. From there, go to the most recent release of the program at the top and click Assets to expand the list of files included with the release. Then select the file that has the .exe extension to download it. You can then run that file to install the program.

Manual

The installation of gImageReader comes with a manual as an HTML file that can be opened by any browser. As of the date of this post, the Fossies software archive is hosting the manual on its website.

Setting OCR Mode

gImageReader has two OCR modes: “Plain Text” and “hOCR, PDF”. Plain Text is the default mode and only recognizes the text itself without any formatting or layout detection. You can export this to a text file or copy and paste it into another program. This may be useful in some cases, but if you want to export a searchable PDF, you will need to use hOCR, PDF mode. hOCR is a standard for formatting OCR text using either XML or HTML and includes layout information, font, OCR result confidence, and other formatting information.

To set the recognition to hOCR, PDF mode, go to the toolbar at the top. It includes a section for “OCR mode” with a dropdown menu. From there, click the dropdown and select hOCR, PDF:

gImageReader Toolbar

This is the toolbar for gImageReader. You can set OCR mode by using the dropdown that is the third option from the right.

Adding Images, Performing Recognition, and Setting Language

If you have images already scanned, you can add them to be recognized by clicking the Add Images button on the left panel, which looks like a folder. You can then select multiple images if you want to create a multipage PDF. You can always add more images later by clicking that folder button again.

On that left panel, you can also click the Acquire tab button, which allows you to get images directly from a scanner, if the computer you’re using has a scanner connected.

Once you have the images you want, click the Recognize button to recognize the text on the page. Please note that if you have multiple images added, you’ll need to click this button for every page.

If you want to perform recognition on a language other than English, click the arrow next to Recognize. You’ll need to have that language installed, but you can install additional languages by clicking “Manage Languages” in the dropdown appears. If the language is already installed, you can go to the first option listed in the dropdown to select a different language.

Viewing the OCR Result

In this example, I will be performing OCR on this letter by Franklin D. Roosevelt:

Raw scanned image of a typewritten letter signed by Franklin Roosevelt

This 1928 letter from Franklin D. Roosevelt to D. H. Mudge Sr. is courtesy of Madison Historical: The Online Encyclopedia and Digital Archive for Madison County Illinois. https://madison-historical.siue.edu/archive/items/show/819

Once you’ve performed OCR, there will be an output panel on the right. There are a series of buttons above the result. Click the button on the far right to view the text result overlaid on top of the image:

The text result of performing OCR on the FDR letter overlaid on the original scan.

Here is the the text overlaid on an image of the original scan. Note how the scan is slightly transparent now to make the text easier to read.

Correcting OCR

The OCR process did a pretty good job with this example, but it there are a handful of errors. You can click on any of the words of text to show them on the right panel. I will click on the “eclnowledgment” at the end of the letter to correct it. It will then jump to that part of the hOCR “tree” on the right:

hOCR tree in gImageReader, which shows the recognition result of each word in a tree-like structure.

The hOCR tree in gImageReader, which also shows OCR result.

Note in this screenshot I have clicked the second button from the right to show the confidence values, where the higher the number, the higher the confidence Tesseract has with the result. In this case, it is 67% sure that eclnowledgement is correct. Since it obviously isn’t correct, we can type new text by double-clicking on the word in this panel and type “acknowledgement.” You can do this for any errors on the page.

Other correction tips:

  1. If there are any regions that are not text that it is still recognizing, you can right click them on the right and delete them.
  2. You can change the recognized font and its size by going to the bottom area labeled “Properties.” Font size is controlled by the x_fsize field, and x_font has a dropdown where you can select a font.
  3. It is also possible to change the area of the blue word box once it is selected, simply by clicking and dragging the edges and corners.
  4. If there is an area of text that was not captured by the recognition, you can also right click in the hOCR “tree” to add text blocks, paragraphs, textlines, and words to the document. This allows you to draw a box on image and then type what the text says.

Exporting to PDF

Once you are done making OCR corrections, you can export to a searchable PDF. To do so, click the Export button above the hOCR “tree,” which is the third button from the left. Then, select export to PDF. It then gives you several options to set the compression and quality of the PDF image, and once you click OK, it should export the PDF.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there are some limitations to gImageViewer, as can often be the case with free, open source software. Here are some potential problems you may have with this program:

  1. While you can add new areas to recognize with OCR, there is not a way to change the order of these elements inside the hOCR “tree,” which could be an issue if you are trying to make the reading order clear for accessibility reasons. One potential workaround could be to use the Reading Order options on Adobe Acrobat, which you can read about in this libguide.
  2. You cannot show the areas of the document that are in a recognition box unless you click on a word, unlike ABBYY FineReader which shows all recognition areas at once on the original image.
  3. You cannot perform recognition on all pages at once. You have to click the recognition button individually for each page.
  4. Though there are some image correction options to improve OCR, such as brightness, contrast, and rotation, it does not have as many options as ABBYY FineReader.

gImageViewer is not nearly as user friendly or have all of the features that ABBYY FineReader has, so you will probably want to use ABBYY if it is available to you. However, I find gImageViewer a pretty good program that can meet most general OCR needs.

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An interview with Billy Tringali on JAMS and Open Access

This week I had the opportunity to talk to Billy Tringali. If you don’t know Billy he worked in the Scholarly Commons as a graduate assistant from 2016-2018 and now works as a Law Librarian for Outreach at Emory University. Our conversation this week was about a passion project that he started during his time here at Illinois. Billy is the founding editor-in-chief of a brand new open access journal, The Journal of Anime and Manga Studies (JAMS). The first volume of JAMS came out recently so be sure to go take a look!

"JAMS" with orange book icon and a dark gray background

How does JAMS fit into a broader scholarly conversation? What gaps in scholarship are you addressing with this journal?

JAMS is currently the only open-access journal solely dedicated to publishing scholarly articles on anime, manga, cosplay, and their fandoms. While there are other journals which publish works about anime, like the incredible Mechademia, they are not open-access. Anime and manga studies is such a diverse field, and there is a lot out there being published. The goal of the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies is to provide a space for academics, students, and independent researchers examining the field of anime, manga, cosplay, and fandom studies to access high-quality research about these topics and share their research with others.

Tell us about your experience working with the Illinois Open Publishing Network (IOPN). What advice do you have for scholars interested in using this resource?
Working with IOPN has been a dream. Such a qualified, helpful, and truly brilliant staff. If you want to use this resource (and why wouldn’t you?!) come prepared to work! JAMS went through a one-year long notes process before being accepted into IOPN, and they don’t publish low-quality work.
Did you always envision the journal as open access? Why or why not?
There was no point in time in which JAMS wasn’t going to be open-access. While I was attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I had more than 14 million items at my fingertips. It was amazing. So much knowledge just a click away. In my coursework I learned how imperative information access is to scholarship, and I could only imagine how difficult it must be for scholars at smaller universities and outside the academe to find peer-reviewed research on this subject. JAMS aims to be part of that solution by publishing work that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere.
What unique challenges do you encounter as a new open access journal that you were not expecting?
The truly worst (and also funniest, looking back) was the professor who doubled-over in laughter when I told them I was trying to start up an open-access journal about anime and manga. But for every person that scoffed at JAMS, there was another who was so interested and excited to see this project succeed. A wonderful lesson to learn as a young scholar was to persevere!
What are the advantages for scholars who publish their work under a creative commons license?
Publishing under a Creative Commons license allows your work to be seen by everyone. It’s as simple as that. Do you want people to see what you’ve made? Then a Creative Commons license is a great choice!
I know Anime and Manga studies is a small area for academic research in the United States. How has this impacted the peer review process? 
It’s actually not all that small! There are a wide variety of researchers doing work on anime and manga studies, they just all happen to be spread out among a number of fields! We have peer reviewers from a diverse set of backgrounds – from education, to information science, to fandom studies – who are all so passionate about anime and manga studies. Our peer reviewers do an incredible job strengthening the papers submitted to JAMS, and I am incredibly grateful for their willingness to dedicate time to this journal.
What are your hopes for the future of this publication? 
(Combining this the question that was above)
I mention this in my “Welcome from the Editor-in-Chief”, and I think I said it best there:
“I hope the Journal of Anime and Manga Studiescan exist as a space that publishes high-quality scholarship about anime, manga, cosplay, and their fandoms. I hope that JAMS can bring visibility to the deeper meanings, understandings, and cultural significance of anime, manga, cosplay, and their fandoms. I hope that, in making JAMS open-access scholarship about anime and manga can be accessible to everyone, regardless of university affiliation. As Aramata Hiroshi and the Kyoto International Museum of Manga imbued a burning desire in me, I hope that the papers you will read in this journal imbue the same sense in you to do all you can for this fantastic art form.”
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Open with Purpose: Open Access Week 2020

International Open Access Week 2020 is upon us, and the need for equitable access to research has taken on a new sense of urgency. Every year, libraries celebrate Open Access week to bring attention to issues related to scholarly communications. The theme, “Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion” is intended to get us thinking about the ways our current systems marginalize and exclude.

Banner for Open Access week. Blue background with white text that says "open with purpose: taking action to build structural equity and inclusion"

This year, we celebrate amidst a pandemic that has completely changed how we do things. Usually, immediate access to scholarly research isn’t on many people’s minds. But, research about COVID-19 has made clear the importance of open access to research. This urgency has caused several publishers to open up their content related to COVID-19 and may be accelerating the shift towards open access as the default for scholarly publishing.

Making research about COVID-19 openly available speeds up the research process by allowing more people to access the data they need to find a solution to this crisis. The CDC, UNESCO, and National Institute for Health have all compiled open access information about COVID-19 for research and educational use to assist in this effort.

However, making research available for free is not enough. In her blog post “Opening up the Margins”, April Hathcock writes, “there are so many ways in which open access still reflects the biased systems of the scholarship in which it’s found, even as it can be used to open up scholarship at the margins” (Hathcock, 2016). Open access is still exclusionary if it maintains practices that privilege the publication of white, western, academic voices and centers those perspectives.

open access logo. orange open padlock

It is no secret that COVID-19 disproportionately affects African-Americans. A quick search of “COVID-19 and African-Americans” in Google Scholar reveals tons of studies demonstrating that fact. While the pandemic has made visible the need to address social inequalities that lead to higher vulnerability in black populations, these problems are not new and the solutions cannot be found under a microscope. The people living in these areas are not the ones conducting research, and yet their perspective is invaluable to knowing how the lived experiences of oppression contribute to this tragedy.

Researchers should not treat people as objects of study but as full people whose susceptibility to the disease cannot simply be linked to genetics. To address the pandemic, we must center the experiences of those most vulnerable. With open access advocacy, we must make sure to include voices that aren’t traditionally acknowledged as scholarly and recognize how those experiences inform the research process.

“Open with Purpose” means mindfully and intentionally creating systems that invite people in. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgency of this movement, but the social, economic, and political viruses of racism, sexism, classism, etc. had already made this urgency visible to those who are the most marginalized. Open systems need to not only unlock research, but also to question the very structures that keep it closed to certain people in the first place and rebuild them into something better that can more fully address the world’s problems.

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U of I System Weighs in on Sovereign Immunity

In June 2020, the United States Copyright Office put out a request for public input on issues related to states’ liability in cases of copyright infringement. This topic was brought to public attention in March during Alan v. Cooper, where the Supreme Court found it unconstitutional to repeal state’s sovereign immunity in cases of copyright infringement since there was not enough evidence to justify this action. This means that creators whose copyright is violated by the state do not have clear next steps for how to proceed with litigation.

To determine how to move forward, the U.S. Copyright Office was asked to study the extent to which states violate copyright, whether there is a remedy for the creator, and whether the violation is a result of intentional or reckless behavior. The study will inform the decision to repeal this immunity enjoyed by states, which would certainly have consequences for institutions like universities and libraries.

Reading room of the Main Library at the University of Illinois. Large room with tall white ceiling, large windows, light fixtures, and wooden tables and chairs.

“Main Library”. wabisabi2015. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 license. https://flic.kr/p/238q6et

As a state-funded, land-grant institution, the University of Illinois system is a major stakeholder in this conversation. The University system both consumes and creates a huge amount of copyrighted material and has a responsibility for making sure our community is following copyright law. We also need to make sure we have the freedom to use and share copyrighted materials to help foster the scholarly and educational mission of the institution.

So, Sara Benson, Copyright Librarian and interim head of the Scholarly Commons, and Scott Rice, Deputy University Counsel, submitted their own response to the United States Copyright Office on behalf of the University of Illinois system. They are currently awaiting a response, which is due by October 22, 2020. In this document, Sara describes some of the ways she educates our community on issues of copyright in her role at the library to help us all contribute to a culture of copyright awareness. This is because the responsibility for following copyright law primarily falls to individual people to make the right choices.

And, for the most part, we do! Sara and Scott say that the University system only experiences 3-6 copyright infringements a year, and that these infringements are not the result of intentional or reckless behavior. The University of Illinois community makes a good-faith effort not to infringe copyright, and will continue to be diligent in face of potential legislation that might increase our liability for copyright violations.

Maintaining our ability to use copyrighted materials in our teaching and research is a group effort. So what can you do to be a good copyright actor? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Cite your sources! Including attribution shows a good-faith effort to credit the original creator. While this doesn’t necessarily protect you from claims of infringement, it is helpful for showing that the work wasn’t used maliciously.
  • Learn about Fair Use! Fair Use is a great way to think through whether your use of copyrighted materials is permissible. But, keep in mind that only a lawyer can give you advice on whether your use is a fair use.
  • Ask for help! When in doubt, asking for a second opinion is a good way to avoid copyright infringement. Email Sara Benson at srbenson@illinois.edu with your copyright questions (please note that Sara cannot provide legal counsel).

Check out the library’s Copyright Reference Guide for even more tips on how to be a good copyright-actor!

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