Category Archives: Legal Troubles


Ga. State’s Loss in ‘E-Reserves’ Case Might Actually Be a Win for Librarians

In May 2012 fair-use advocates celebrated a federal judge’s decision in a high-profile copyright case. The ruling was seen as a decisive victory for Georgia State University, whose librarians wanted to be able to make freely available as much copyrighted material as possible to students via its electronic reserve system.

On Friday a federal appeals court ended that celebration by reversing the judge’s decision and sending the “e-reserves” case back to the lower court for further action.

At a gla…


QuickWire: Authors Guild Responds to HathiTrust Ruling

A federal appeals court on Tuesday largely upheld a district court’s ruling in favor of the HathiTrust Digital Library in a copyright-infringement lawsuit brought against it by the Authors Guild.

On Wednesday the guild released a statement in response to the ruling, calling it a “narrow fair-use decision” that “was not a total victory for either side.” The group did not say what its next legal move might be or whether it had decided to mount another appeal.

That could depend in part on the next …


HathiTrust Digital Library Wins Latest Round in Battle With Authors

In what legal observers and fair-use advocates are calling a victory for libraries, a federal appeals court has upheld most of a lower court’s 2012 ruling in favor of the HathiTrust Digital Library in a copyright-infringement lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild and other plaintiffs.

The decision is another legal setback for the Authors Guild, which has also been fighting a long court battle over Google’s mass digitizing of books. But the appeals court’s move will encourage both scholars who wan…


Labor Board to Review Use of Employer Email for Union Activity

The National Labor Relations Board is reviewing a federal law that permits private employers to bar workers from using company email accounts for union activities.

Any change could have significant implications for adjunct faculty members and others in terms of their right to use private colleges’ electronic communications systems for actions like discussing the terms and conditions of employment and whether they want to unionize, said William A. Herbert, executive director of the National Cente…


QuickWire: Contractor Says He Hacked Maryland Network to Expose Flaws

A former employee of a University of Maryland contractor has told The Baltimore Sun that he breached the university’s network in an effort to highlight cybersecurity flaws that he said were being ignored.

The employee, David Helkowski, was with a company hired to work on a university website when, he said, he noticed and reported security flaws. When no action was taken to correct them, he said, he took administrators’ information, including President Wallace D. Loh’s Social Security and cellpho…


Harvard U. Committee Proposes Standards for Email Searches

In the wake of a 2013 ruckus that cost a top Harvard University dean her job, a committee appointed by Harvard’s president has recommended that the university adopt institutionwide standards for gaining access to email and other accounts used by students, faculty members, and employees.

“At present, the university lacks a clear, overarching policy in this area,” says the committee’s report. “The absence of a single, visible, and comprehensive policy has led to confusion and uncertainty.”

The com…


MIT Is Still Working on Its Response to Aaron Swartz Case

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is still trying to figure out how to answer criticism of its response to the controversial federal prosecution of Aaron Swartz, the hacker and activist who was arrested on the MIT campus in 2011.

On Thursday university officials charged with reviewing MIT’s existing policies and practices flagged several ways the university could do more to protect digital privacy and encourage open-access publishing, according to an update from MIT’s news office.

But no…


2 Drone-Journalism Programs Seek Federal Approval to Resume Flying

Mizzu drones photo

The U. of Missouri’s Drone Journalism Program, now on hold, hopes to deploy small, unmanned aircraft like these to report on stories such as natural disasters. (U. of Missouri photo)

Two fledgling programs created to teach journalism students how to use drones in their reporting are applying for permits so they can resume operating unmanned aircraft outdoors, their directors said this week. Both programs received cease-and-desist letters from the Federal Aviation Administration last month.

Matt …


Copyright Suit Prompts Counterclaim From Unorthodox Research Library

A copyright lawsuit that several publishers filed in June against a maverick scholar’s online research library has prompted a countersuit raising fair-use arguments—as well as a claim that the publishers are trying to stifle innovation.

The original lawsuit was filed by in federal court in Boston by the Harvard Business School, the University of Chicago, and the publishing company John Wiley & Sons against Michael R. Lissack and the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence, of which Mr…


JSTOR Releases Documents and Summary of Its Role in Swartz Case

JSTOR, the digital-journal archive, has released all the documents it provided to federal prosecutors relating to the case of Aaron Swartz, the activist and Harvard University researcher.

Mr. Swartz, who committed suicide in January, faced criminal charges after downloading 4.8 million scholarly articles from JSTOR in 2010 in defiance of the archive’s terms of service. He used a laptop hidden in a wiring closet at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Although JSTOR did not pursue legal act…