A Committee of the US National Research Council (NRC) last week repeated its warning that international treaties now under consideration to govern copyright law for electronic databases could hamper the free flow of scientific information.
"The scientific community and its defenders must step in quickly to insist on further, open debate before these changes reach implementation," says the final report of the NRC Committee on Issues in the Transborder Flow of Scientific Data.
The committee, began studying data policy issues in 1995. Last year it took the unusual step of releasing one chapter of its report early, immediately before a diplomatic conference on copyright treaty held by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in December, 1996. Several scientific organizations have argued that giving copyright to compilers of electronic databases would lead to researchers being charged for data they at present receive free (see Nature 384, 299 : 1996).
WIPO representatives and others say these fears are overblown. But opposition was strong enough before the December conference for discussion of electronic databases to be dropped. The subject will be taken up again at an "information meeting" to be held by WIPO in September, 1997.
The NRC report released last week repeats the call for any new treaty to include "fair use" exceptions that would allow scientists and educators to use copyrighted databases either free or at reduced cost. The committee argues that the free and open exchange of scientific information is a "public good" that needs to be protected.
With this guiding principle in mind, government science agencies eager to cut their operating costs should be careful about privatizing the distribution of research data. Those who contribute to a database the scientific community should be able to use it free.
If a commercial distributor adds value to the raw data, the price for researchers and educators "should be no higher than the marginal cost of adding value". For their part, "all scientists conducting publicly funded research should make their data available immediately, or following a reasonable period for proprietary use".
When deciding whether to privatize a database, whether it contains Earth satellite imagery or information on the human genome, government agencies should consider such factors as how large and diverse the user community is, and whether the market can sustain more than one data provider. If there is no market beyond scientists, says the NRC committee, it makes sense for the government to continue to distribute the data.
The committee recognizes that some of the current conflict over copyright law stems from different use of the Internet - businesses tend to protect information, One Possible solution would be for scientists to create their own international science network along the lines of the Internet II now being developed.
Nature/Vol 386, 635, 17 April 1997
Fourth National Convention on Automation of Libraries in Education and Research Institutes (CALIBER-97) was held at Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) Patiala from March 6-8, 1997. The theme of the Convention was "Information Technology Applications in Academic Libraries in India: Emphasis on Network Services & Information Sharing and Network Services. The Convention was jointly organised by the INFLIBNET Centre and TIET, Patiala. Convention was presided over by Prof. Yash Pal, National Research Professor and former Chairman, UGC. Two hundred and five delegates from all over India attended the Convention and deliberated over six technical sessions covering library automation in university libraries, library networks in India, Internet and libraries , strategies for resource sharing, education and training of library profesionals. In all 68 technical papers were presented.
Technical sessions were followed by a panel discussion. The panelists were Dr. M.P. Kapoor, Director, TIET, Dr.I.K. Ravichandra Rao I/C Director, DRTC, Bangalore, Dr. D.N. Banerjee, Director, National Library, Calcutta, and Dr. E. Rama Reddy, University Librarian, University of Hyderabad. They discussed on training the professionals, detabase building, user expectations from libraries. Dr. S.S. Murthy, Director DESIDOC, Delhi was the Co-ordinator at the Panel discussion.
At the concluding session Prof. (Miss) Armaity S. Desai, Chairperson, UGC was the chief guest. Mr. Pramod Kumar, Director, INFLIBNET presented the recommendations of the Review Committee meeting held earlier on March 5, 1997 with the university librarians on the status of automation in university libraries. Chairperson, UGC stressed the need for good libraries and friendly attitude of librarians to provide a good environment for the users. The function came to a close with a vote of thanks by Dr.Janak Raj, Organising Secretary.
The past students of the Pune School of Library and Information Science (established in 1958) have formed an Association named as Pune University Library and Information Science Alumni Association, PULISAA, in short.
Aiming at strengthening the professional and emotional bonds between the alumni and their alma mater, PULISAA has received overwhelming responses from the alumni and the students currently on the BLISc. MLISc and Ph. D. courses.
Prime objectives of PULISAA are to promote the professional excellence of the alumni; publish a Directory of the members; launch a Newsletter; organise seminars and continuing education programmes, institute Awards, work as a liaison between the students and the employers, to name a few.
PULISSAA organised its inaugural meet on 19 January, 1997 at the University of Pune. Nearly 350 alumni, scattered in the country and abroad, attended the function. The Association felicitated Shri K.S. Hingwe, the founder and first Head of the Department and six faculty members who have retired from the service. The Association also published a Souvenir on this occasion. At this forum, "Granthalaya Gaurav Puraskar" instituted by the S.G. Mahajan Felicitation Committee, was also awarded to Shri M.R.Riswadkar, retired Reader of the Dept for his outstanding contributions to library profession.
TRAINING ON MODERN TECHNOLOGIES FOR INFORMATION HANDLING
A five days National Training Course on Modern Technologies for Information Handling was held at the Library of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi from 24-28 February 1997. Dr R.P. Kumar, Chief Librarian of the Institute was the coordination of the training. The training programme was attended by about fifty participants consisting of librarians, information science specialists, documentalists, R&D scientists. teachers in library science, health scientists and computer professionals
from all over the country. The main focus of the training was on the automation of libraries, online searching, CD-ROM and CD-networking, e-mail services, bar-code technology, multimedia, library networking electronic publishing and Internet, etc. The theoretical as well as practical aspects of technologies available for information handling were touched.
NUCSSI ON CD-ROM
The National Union Catalogue of Scientific Serials in India (NUCSSI) is widely being used in libraries for location information of periodicals in India. NUCSSI helps in rationalized acquisition of periodicals by encouraging resources sharing. Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre (INSDOC) has been compiling this database and updating it regularly for many year now.
INSDOC has brought out recently the NUCSSI database on CD-ROM covers holdings information of over 400 major libraries in India and is updataed till 1996. The database is searchable through various options like journal title, library, city and subject.
The cost of CD-ROM alongwith the access software is Rs.6.000/-
For further details, please contact:
Marketing and Customer Services Division
INSDOC, 14- Satsang Vihar Marg
New Delhi-110 067
Phone: 686 3617, Fax: 686 2228
Just as CDs have replaced taps cassettes in music industry, CDs are now well on their way to replacing tapes in the computer industry. It is now possible to quickly and inexpensively make promotional audio-recording samples, distribute operating systems multimedia presentations and software or store multimedia presentations. CD-Recorder is finding application in document imaging and record management systems and is replacing microfilm and microfiche. The features include: information security, high capcity (650-MB of data storage or 74 minutes of audio in single CD), random access, long life (archival life 100 years), and readability on CD-ROM drives.
ILA News Letter November 1996
Electronic Journals Online
Blackwell of USA has launched a project to provide acess to electronic journals. Twelve North America libraries have agreed as partners in the project, to assist in the design of the user interface, help resolve licensing issues with publishers and to determine the best access options. Ten publishers Aslib, Blackwell Science,Blackwell Publishers, Chapman and Hall, Institute of Mechanical Engineers, John Wiley, Kluwer, Oxford University, etc will be invloved.
Initially, the contents of 250 electronic journals will be available in the project. The content of each journal will vary from publisher but will include tables of contents, abstracts and articles. One of the aims of the project is to provide access to material irrespective of location or format.
Later, the project will involve issuing user names and passwords verification of logon and access capabilities, setting up and installing viewers, connecting to the service, and evaluating basic functionality. The full electronic journal service will be made available to other libraries beginning January 1997.
ILA Newsletter November 1996
WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL COMPUTER
A computer 300 times faster than any in use now is to be built through a 93 million contract between the Department of Energy and IBM. This can be used for civilian and nulcear nonproliferation projects such as: developing new drugs, medical devices, improving weather forecasts, designing safer and faster air planes and exploring space. This computer will be built at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California.
Construction of this computer is to ensure that US enters the next century as the world leader in computing power. The super computer programs from small modulers to 3-D simulation in cyber space.
Wista Innovation January1997
India well Positioned in Information Technology
In fact, India has the largest number of software developers in the world, and the number is growing . The largest deployments of sophisticated electronic financial systems in the world at Mahindra and Mahindra, and the launch of Ramco"s Marshall 4.0 financial system, which is a model for globally competitive Indian software products.
Education is going to be a key engine of growth for India. Microsoft India is working on a number of initiatives to make PC technology and internet access more readily available to the public. These programme range from 1_12
to the university level, as well as a programme to help train underprivileged children on how to use the PC.
To maximise IT growth in India, the Government to also look at protecting intellectual property. Because India has a strong software community, the country has a lot to gain by using laws to protect this intellectual property. The Indian sofware export business is modest today at about $500 million a year, but it has the potential to grow rapidly. All countries need strong patent, copyright and anti-piracy laws to protect intellectual property and to ensure that local software companies get a sufficient return on investment to be able to continue to grow. India has the potential for enormous growth in the area of software development and, more broadly, in using technology to support the growth of many industries.
Excerpts from The Hindustan Times 23 March, 1997
India has edge in quality manpower
Mr. H.D. Deve Gowda (former Prime Minister) today had wide-ranging discussions with Mr Bill Gates, the network wizard, over breakfast on the application of information technology, particularly in telecommunications, for raising the quality of life of the rural and urban poor.
During the meeting Mr Deve Gowda outlined his approach to the use of modern technology for the accelerated development of agriculture, water management and human resource development (drinking water, sanitation, health and education). He reiterated his Government's commitment to provide the necessary fillip to the scientists to build on the existing strengths and advantages.
Mr Bill Gates said he had noted some positive signals in the just presented Indian budget regarding the development of information technology in the country. He said there was worldwide recognition for the high quality manpower, especially in computer software engineering, available in India, India can build on this advantage by linking all the universities and scientific establishments with the high quality computer communication network, he said, Later this technology could be taken to all the schools so that the quality of education as well as the R &D can be improved.
The then Prime Minister told Mr Gates that access to the computer technology greatly depended on development of software in Indian languages. Since India wanted to use modern technology for improving the quality of life of common man, the information flow through communi-cations had to be in the Indian languages. He requested Mr Gates to look into this aspect. He said that in terms of information technology, especially the computer technology, India had acquired an edge over the other nations. By providing access to international information through the internet and other networks, India could benefit a great deal, he opined. He said that he expected the Government to lead in this area by investing in fibre optic networks as well as in appropriate use of the computer network for civil administration, including computerisation of land records and rural development programmes. He said that his company was interacting with agencies involved in agricultural and rural development programmes.
Mr Gates said that his company was already engaged in discussions with several Indian firms for developing standardised software in Hindi to begin with. His company was committed to assist in designing the architecture for an information highway which could have multipurpose use. It should be possible in the near future to build a two way network enabling the planners to create low cost schools for the spread of primary and high-level education in far flung areas, Mr Gates said.
Later, addressing a jampacked Press conference here today, Mr Gates, said "Microsoft will work with NASSCOM to reduce software piracy in India." However, he said the piracy levels in the country were coming down and expressed "optimism about the growth of the local software market. Against Rs 850 crore of software legally sold in 1996, the pirated sales are estimated at Rs 500 crore."
Stressing the need for investment in telecom infrastructure, Mr Gates said "To be a leader in the digital economy of the 21st century India must invest in basic infrastructure, education and information technology."
The Hindustan Times 5 March'1997
DOE WARNS OF NASTY VIRUS
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a report warning computer users not to download and run a file called AOL4 Free.com. The "Trojan Horse" program eventually wipes out all files on a user's hard drive, although some files may be saved by quickly pressing the "control-c" keys. DOE says the danger of the AOL4Free.com file shouldn't be confused with rumors of an AOL4 free-infected e-mail message that attacks a system when the e-mail is read. That warning is a hoax.
St. Petersburg Times 28 Apr 97
THE INTERNATIONAL REFERRAL SYSTEM (IRS)
This is an information brokerage service managed by the Industrial Information Section. The IRS serves a wide range of information needs and professionals, from document delivery to online research, from market surveys to industrial/technical expertise and to business opportunities.
The IRS operates by matching clients who have industrial questions with professionals or institutions throughout the world who can provide state-of-the-art, tailor-made answers to those questions. In order to participate in this service, clients are requested to complete a questionnaire, which assists in the formulation of the query in a manner which will find the best matches among the members of the system, Members of the system complete a form giving a detailed description of their services and whether or not a charge is levied. Clients are primarily entrepreneurs in developing countries. All the information professionals and institutions from developed and developing countries who are included in the IRS have substantial industrial development experience and the best possible qualifications.
The IRS offers the means to identify the best world-wide industrial information provider for a specific question, at conditions affordable by developing country entrepreneurs.
UNIDO Links 6/1996