Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large
ISSN 1534-0937
Libraries · Policy · Technology · Media

Selection from Cites & Insights 5, Number 10: September 2005

Bibs & Blather

Moving My Website If you’re a traditionalist, will work. That’s where my personal website is—and the old site (which now consists entirely of a note to use the new site) will disappear in a few weeks. (Right now, I’m paying $19.95 a month for a dialup account purely to keep that site alive, and that’s just silly.) If you’re wondering, is another part of the LISHost empire (actually, Jenny, there are lots of things we agree on, including hosting facilities), as is Walt at Random (but in that case, it’s obvious from the URL).

To my own surprise, I migrated all the archived content from the old site to the new, including a couple of old essays I might wish to rethink or ignore. Those essays exist; I see no reason to pretend they don’t. (For that matter, I wouldn’t disown any of the essays; I just might write a little less vehemently in one or two cases.) What didn’t migrate is the early Cites & Insights and the single more recent issue that was temporarily unpublishable at I’m considering a C&I mirror at, but haven’t decided anything.

Mostly, the point here is that—even though the first few entries under “Walt Crawford” on the major web search engines will probably still guide you there—my old website will disappear in the near future. Go to instead.

Where Have All the Readers Gone?

[Apologies, Peter Paul & Mary fans. Old folkies never die, we just fade away…] I’m writing this on August 1. The metrics for C&I since January 1 just appeared. It does look as though my excuse, er, reason for publishing a combined July/August issue was a good one.

Which is to say that readership for the first 18 days since that issue appeared was pathetic—enough to keep doing C&I, but about half what I’d expect in the first 18-20 days, and about a third of a typical issue’s first-year readership. It’s not that everyone was reading the HTML pieces, or at least not those HTML pieces: Only one piece in the combined issue was among the top 45 in year-to-date HTML readership, with fewer than 100 unique readers.

I’m not surpri*sed. I’m reading less professional material than usual during the summer, and “serious” blog entries seem to have declined substantially. Many of you have the good sense to take unplugged summer vacations; others are too busy relaxing to spend precious time reading long essays on copyright balance or the perils of futurism. Maybe in the fall?

Clarifying My Stance on Copyright

I give up. Any reader of C&I who is fully literate and capable of understanding long sentences knows I’m a firm believer in creativity and in the rights of creative artists to earn money from their creations (if anyone wants to pay for them, to be sure). They should also know that I place American copyright in a Constitutional framework, which automatically means “intellectual property” is something other than an eternal, unlimited, completely unrestricted property right. (There are very few eternal, unlimited, completely unrestricted property rights, as it happens.)

I also believe current copyright law and practice is seriously overbalanced toward the interests of copyright holders—not necessarily the creators, but Big Media and others who control rights. I believe the Life+70 years (or 95 years for work done for hire) term is absurdly long. I believe the lack of registration—in an era where online registration could be made free and easy—poses its own set of problems, making it difficult for publishers and creators to reach copyright holders in order to pay license fees. I believe expansion of copyright to define “derivative works” very broadly further damages creativity.

I’ve gone to some pains to clarify my stance in recent Walt at Random posts and C&I essays. As I was preparing the ©2 Perspective in this issue, I found myself writing such strained comments as this:

For example (drawing from a March 10 summary at, which does not imply that I support FreeCulture’s stance):

No more. I’ve deleted extraneous “just because I quote someone doesn’t mean I agree with them” notes and will continue to do so.

It’s now clear that no amount of clarification will prevent deliberate misunderstanding and selective quotation on the part of those who wish to view me as an anti-copyright advocate. To the best of my knowledge, there’s only one current case of someone deliberately misrepresenting my views. I’m no longer willing to waste my time and C&I space trying to prevent one jackass from braying.

A Light and Fluffy Summer Issue

That’s what I had in mind here, knowing it would appear while people are still in that summer haze. Six or eight short sections; nothing that would require careful reading or make you think.

But Cites & Insights wouldn’t be what it is if I planned it. You may find that this issue doesn’t make you think or require careful reading, but it’s certainly not full of brief essays. Quite the opposite: it’s chunky.

Chunky issues are never planned. They just happen. In this case, the “biblioblogosphere” investigation turned out to be more interesting and complicated than I thought, and that’s reflected in the length of the results (it could be worse: I could be including the spreadsheets within C&I, which would chew up several more pages). I’d intended to pull together the Orphan Works essay a couple of months ago, but life got in the way.

Maybe you’ll get a light and fluffy issue some time this fall. Maybe not. Your feedback is always welcome, even though I don’t use it as often these days (and haven’t received as much).

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, Volume 5, Number 10, Whole Issue 66, ISSN 1534-0937, a journal of libraries, policy, technology and media, is written and produced by Walt Crawford, a senior analyst at RLG.

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