Database ownership and copyright issues among automated library networks: An analysis and case study
The purpose of this study is to analyze issues of data base ownership and copyright among automated library networks using a social and political model. An attempt has been made to describe these issues using an approach which is not based on legal or moral opinions of right or wrong among network parties. The study explores the possibility that the barriers to networking regarding data ownership and copyright are not specific to the context of libraries, but are instead part of a larger recurring theme in social groups, organizations, and systems. The social network model is significant because it explains ownership issues as a consequence of the dynamic nature of library network relationships, which ahve been complicated by environmental forces and a confusion of network roles. The research focuses on the Online Computer Library Center's decision to copyright the data base and the reactions of regional network and libraries. The history of the issue is traced up to the date of copyright in 1984. Data were collected from primary and secondary sources, including materials from teh archives of regional networks and interviews with nine leaders in library networking. A descriptive research methodology is used to analyze the data, and a case study of the Southeastern Library Network and its relationship with OCLC is included. The debate over ownership is a direct outgrowth of issues of centralization versus decentralization between OCLC and regional networks. These issues have strained relationships between OCLC and regional networks that attemped to develop their own services independently. Resolving the conflict will require overcoming the problems of governance, competition, communication, policy formulation, and role definition which recur in library network relationships. These issues must be resolved in order to share information internationally and to link national bibliographic utilities and information networks in a common system.