Social Bookmarking in Digital Libraries: Intellectual Property Rights Implications

Social Bookmarking in Digital Libraries: Intellectual Property Rights Implications

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3093-0.ch001
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This chapter elucidates the concept of social bookmarking, its benefits in digital libraries as well as the implications of its use on the intellectual property rights of the creators of the bookmarked works. The author concludes that digital libraries can use social bookmarking as a means of increasing access to and sharing of information resources; improve web searching; as well as to enhance collaboration in the creation and use of information. Since social bookmarks are, by and large, public descriptions of and pointers to the original resources, digital libraries do not infringe the intellectual property rights of their creators. Nonetheless, the libraries should watch against copying large volumes of content from the original resource as this may be construed as an intellectual competition with the bookmarked resource. Digital libraries are advised to develop and apply social bookmarking policies to streamline their use of social bookmarks.
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Web 2.0 is truly a social web. This is largely because it facilitates extensive user participation in the identification, creation, sharing and use of information. Its architecture encourages and facilitates user contribution, collective intelligence, crowdsourcing, remixing and re-use of content, customer-centricity, creation of user communities as well as the empowerment and ownership of content and relationships (Barsky & Purdon, 2006). Web 2.0 is also about democracy; users generating content rather than merely consuming it; open programming enabling everyone to participate; as well as interfaces which make information seeking and use not only easy but also exciting. Web 2.0 has given immense power to the web users. Indeed, it is described as the users’ web where they set rules and control content.

Musser and O’Reilly (2007) identify the primary drivers of Web 2.0 as: 1) globalisation and the need to reach customers worldwide; 2) increased 24/7 connectivity making the Internet an essential part of the basic necessities of life for many people, even in developing countries; 3) growth of the accessibility of the Internet enabling customers to remain connected everywhere they go and to expect services on the move; 4) deepening of digital interactions and transactions in which customers are now not just connected but engaged – contributing content and transacting business; and 5) transformation of the web to become a business facilitator enabling enterprises to reach more clients and generate more revenue. Arakji et al. (2009) assert that Web 2.0 users participate and contribute to various types of online communities ranging from posting opinions for discussion groups, providing technical advice, posting ratings for collaborative recommendations, sharing digital files on peer-to-peer networks, and developing code for open source software projects.

According to Bates (2007) the basic assumptions about finding information have changed. She argues that while librarians are accustomed to consulting traditional library resources such as the catalogue, a database or even a book, the younger generations including Generation Xers and Mellennials assume that any information they need is available somewhere on the web. She further asserts that these same information consumers consider the Internet to be “collaborative and interactive rather than static”. Consequently, she submits that this attitude should be recognised by information professionals who must now shift their information seeking sphere from the traditional to the context of this Web 2.0 world.

One of the services facilitated by Web 2.0 platforms is social bookmarking. Although it is a relatively recent phenomenon (emerging only in the mid 1990s), it has demonstrated a great potential in enhancing web information management. Its popularity continues to grow by the day because it has provided a new platform for information organisation, discovery and sharing. For a long time search engines, for instance, have relied on three categories of content to describe data. These are page content, link structure and query or click-through log data (Heymann, Koutrika & Garcia-Molina, 2008). Now, however, there is a fourth type of data in the form of user-generated content which has emerged strongly as a source of web page description data. Social bookmarking is one of the services which generate this fourth type of data. Social bookmarking technology allows users to store, organise, and share their documents on various websites thereby giving the users the opportunity to express their own perspectives on information and resources through informal organisational structures (Mu, 2008). Social bookmarking enables users to save links to web documents for later use without having to save the actual documents or the links in the browser. Thus, one’s bookmarks are online and can be accessed from any location or device with an Internet connection (Arakji et al., 2009). Wetzker et al. (2008) emphasises that the social aspect of these services is derived from the fact that resources (usually web pages) are tagged by the community as a whole and not only by the creator of content alone.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Semantic Bookmarking: Semantic bookmarking is a tagging process which facilitates the annotation of resources with tags extended by semantic definitions and descriptions. It is similar to social bookmarking except for the fact that the tags used are pre-determined. Thus, semantic bookmarking seeks to solve common folksonomy problems such as polysemy, synonymy, homonymy, diverse lexical forms, varying spellings and a lack of commonly agreed meaning of terms. The proponents of semantic bookmarking argue that it leads to better retrieval of information, better use of annotation and better quality assurance.

Folksonomy: A user-generated system of classifying and organising online content into different categories by the use of metadata created collaboratively by individuals using social networking platforms. It is opposed to taxonomy which uses well defined classification schemes and categories. Whereas folksonomy is informal and voluntary, taxonomy is formal and comprehensively structured.

Intellectual Property: Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind such as inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual property is divided into two categories: 1) industrial property which includes patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications; and 2) copyright covers literary works (such as novels, poems and plays), films, music, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures as well as architectural design.

Digital Library: A digital library is a library where the collection is processed and stored in digital formats. This facilitates electronic searching and retrieval of the same through digital devices such as computers. Digital libraries are sometimes described as ‘paperless,’ ‘virtual,’ ‘library without walls,’ ‘electronic library’, and ‘bionic library’, among other names. Although some scholars also describe digital libraries as those libraries which have more digital collections than physical ones, others assert that digital libraries only offer services electronically; they are virtual and do not have a physical presence. Some literature also reveals the common understanding that most digital libraries contain highly specialised collections. It is also evident that digital libraries do not stock all the information resources locally but often collaborate with content producers to facilitate online access.

Social Bookmarking: Social bookmarking is the practice of Internet users identifying and labelling web pages for later use. It has become a popular way for individuals to organise and share online resources. Social bookmarking is a phrase generally used interchangeably with social tagging. Social bookmarking is therefore construed as the process through which users identify sites of interest while social tagging is the method by which users classify or categorise bookmarked sites for retrievability. In the context of this chapter, the two terms are considered synonymous.

Crowdsourcing: A combination of the words “crowd” and “sourcing”. It is a content generation model which involves obtaining information by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the Internet using social networking platforms and techniques.

Copyright: Copyright is a subset of the intellectual property rights. It covers literary works (such as novels, poems and plays), films, music, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures as well as architectural design. Copyright laws generally grant authors, artists, and other creators of creative works the protection for their literary and artistic creations. They hold the exclusive right to use or authorise others to use the work on agreed terms. Copyright also provides protection of related rights. The rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and broadcasters in their radio and television programs.

Tagging: The process of adding metadata to a document; it is assigning a keyword or phrase that describes the theme of a group of articles, photos, videos, or other types of media files as a way organising them to facilitate easy access later. Ordinarily, this involves annotating documents with a flat and unstructured list of keywords known as “tags”.

Bookmark: A bookmark is a record about a web resource which is created by a user to facilitate easy access of the resource in future. Therefore, a bookmark is a form of shortcut to the resource saved by a user to enable quick access of the resource later on. This record typically has the title of the resource, comments about its usability, tagging of the people who may find the resource useful and, importantly, a hyperlink to the location of the resource.

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