Oct 062015
"Buffalo, New York. Swingshift workers on the sidelines at the weekly swingshift dance held at the Main-Utica ballroom."

“Buffalo, New York. Swingshift workers on the sidelines at the weekly swingshift dance held at the Main-Utica ballroom.”

This photograph, shot in April 1943 by Marjorie Collins, is part of a delightful & important project in which more than 100,000 images – taken from 1935-1944 by photographers working the Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information – have been made available online. The website has an amazing interactive map that allows you to search by place *and* time. Read more about the largest photographic project every sponsored by the USA federal government.

I’m charmed by the possibility that some of the young adults in these Buffalo, NY photos became the grandparents of my running, writing, and drinking buddies decades later.

[Note to my colleagues in academia and publishing: According to the Library of Congress, “Most photographs in this collection are considered to be in the public domain; however, labels on a few images indicate that they may be restricted. Privacy and publicity rights may also apply.”]

cross-posted from basil.CA

h/t LLBM


Aug 202015

readerStudents who suffer under the burden of high tuition and large student loans need all the financial help the world can provide them. For my upper-level communications classes the last couple of years I have been using an excellent online textbook. Here is a list of superb resources – free textbooks and journals – for students as well as teachers and researchers.

BC Campus: OpenEd

“It was on October 16, 2012 at the annual OpenEd conference in Vancouver that then British Columbia Minister of Advanced Education, John Yap, announced the BC Open Textbook Project. with project support provided by BCcampus. The goal of the project is to make higher education more accessible by reducing student cost through the use of openly licensed textbooks. Specifically, BCcampus was asked to create a collection of open textbooks aligned with the top 40 highest-enrolled subject areas in the province. A second phase was announced in the spring of 2014 to add 20 textbooks targeting trades and skills training. Our open textbooks are openly licensed using a Creative Commons license, and are offered in various e-book formats free of charge, or print on demand books available at cost.”

The texts cover a wide range, from Anatomy and Physiology to Research Methods and Formal Logic.

College Open Textbooks

The College Open Textbooks Collaborative, a collection of twenty-nine educational non-profit and for-profit organizations, affiliated with more than 200 colleges, is focused on driving awareness and adoptions of open textbooks to more than 2000 community and other two-year colleges. This includes providing training for instructors adopting open resources, peer reviews of open textbooks, and mentoring online professional networks that support for authors opening their resources, and other services.

The range of books is wide, addressing the arts and humanities, social sciences, and the hard sciences.

Creative Commons

Make your own work available to students and professors alike by availing yourself of Creative Commons.

“Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of ‘all rights reserved’ to “some rights reserved. Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.”

International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning

This organization provides an excellent list of open-source journals focusing on learning, “distant education,” and research. It also publishes sometimes highly technical articles on the classroom environment in the digital age.

Open Knowledge Network

Open Knowledge is an educational advocacy group.

Open Knowledge is a worldwide non-profit network of people passionate about openness, using advocacy, technology and training to unlock information and enable people to work with it to create and share knowledge. … We want to see enlightened societies around the world, where everyone has access to key information and the ability to use it to understand and shape their lives; where powerful institutions are comprehensible and accountable; and where vital research information that can help us tackle challenges such as poverty and climate change is available to all.

Open Textbook Library
“Open textbooks are real, complete textbooks licensed so teachers and students can freely use, adapt, and distribute the material. Open textbooks can be downloaded for no cost, or printed inexpensively. This library is a tool to help instructors find affordable, quality textbook solutions. All textbooks in this library are complete and openly licensed.”

The range of subjects is wide, from Accounting to Communications to Law to the Social Sciences.


“OpenTextBookStore was created by educators frustrated with the time involved in finding adoptable open textbooks, with the hope to make open textbook adoption easier for other faculty.

Just to be clear, we are not a publisher. This is just a listing site for publicly available open textbooks, maintained by a teacher. Print copies are made available through third party print-on-demand companies. Many of the courses have course packages available through MyOpenMath.com, which provides free online homework for several open math textbooks.”

The site specializes in math-related texts.

Saylor Academy

Saylor Academy’s mission is sustained by the continued evolution of an open educational ecosystem, and we are dedicated partners in this movement. Saylor’s commitment to the open education ecosystem is founded not just on open educational resources and open source learning technologies, but also on open access to credentials, and ongoing open learning opportunities.

Saylor has a long list of texts, available in multiple formats (PDF, DOCX, HTML).

Thanks to BH for the URLs.

photo by Bob Basil

Jun 282014

Cantech News explains an Alberta land-owner’s ingenious use of copyright law:

Alberta artist Peter van Tiesenhausen has provided an interesting legal precedent in his long-running battle with oil companies seeking to run a pipeline through his 800 acre territory. He has copyrighted his land as a work of art.

Typically, industry can negotiate a land acquisition agreement with a property owner and then claim right-of-way to run a pipeline across whatever properties stand in the way of getting its product to market. …

Realizing that mining companies can legitimately lay claim to any land underneath private property to a depth of six inches, van Tiesenhausen contacted a lawyer who drew up an intellectual property/copyright claim that said that if the oil company disturbed the top six inches in any way, it would be a copyright violation.

“The oil company wanted to come across with a pipeline,” said van Tiesenhausen. “And I said: No! And they said that I don’t have any choice because we own the top six inches and they own everything else underneath, the mineral rights, etc. That’s the way it works in Canada. And I said: you can put your pipeline as long as you don’t disturb the surface. Of course, it’s pretty much impossible or very expensive. But it’s not a field or just a forest, it is an artwork! And they realized that I have a case. So for last 15 years they have left me alone.”

Jun 262014

This is good news, from my publisher’s point of view. From The Globe and Mail:

Canadian content producers are breathing a sigh of relief after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that online streaming service Aereo Inc. violates U.S. copyright laws, dealing a devastating blow to the two-year-old startup. …

The ruling is welcome news to an array of concerned Canadian groups that jointly opposed Aereo’s model in an amicus brief. Organizations including the Canadian Media Production Association, actors’ union ACTRA, and the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), argued to the court that Aereo was exploiting a loophole in U.S. copyright law to avoid paying royalties.

“Aereo had tried to game the copyright system,” said Barry Sookman, a partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP who helped draft the brief. “It tried to find a loophole and to basically engineer its way around the Copyright Act.”

The concern for Canadian film, TV and music creators was not that a company such as Aereo would move north: The groups behind the brief argued that Canada’s legal precedents would make an expansion here difficult since they spell out more clearly how to define new broadcasting platforms. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in a 2012 case that, where new technologies perform the same activity, “there is no justification for distinguishing between the two for copyright purposes.”

Jan 022014

The United States Copyright Office has recommended to the U.S. Congress that it reconsider its copyright laws so that visual artists can benefit from the resale of their work.

Visual artists typically do not share in the long-term financial success of their works because works of visual art are produced singularly and valued for their scarcity, unlike books, films, and songs, which are produced and distributed in multiple copies to consumers. Consequently, in many, if not most instances, only the initial sale of a work of visual art inures to the benefit of the artist and it is collectors and other purchasers who reap any increase in that work’s value over time. Today more than seventy foreign countries – twice as many as in 1992 – have enacted a resale royalty provision of some sort to address this perceived inequity.


That said, the issues are as complex as the art market itself. We believe that Congress may want to consider a resale royalty, as well as a number of possible alternative or complementary options for supporting visual artists, within the broader context of industry norms, market practices, and other pertinent data. …

Although the Internet has provided artists with greater opportunities to exploit derivative images and/or sell mass-produced copies of their works, stakeholders agree that “for most visual artists . . . the amounts involved in reproduction or representation are generally insignificant.” Indeed, it appears to be common ground that reproduction rights represent a “very minor aspect of [most artists’] careers” and that the first sale of a work is “the main or exclusive source of income for almost all American artists.”

(Image by Bob Basil)