skip to content

This Is All I'm Going To Say On This Here Blogsite Concerning The Brouhaha About The Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records Because I Have Other, More Interesting And More Complex Problems To Solve (And So Do You)

The moderated discussion hosted and sponsored by Nylink went pretty well. Also, I don't need the records to have fun with the data "” I just need robust APIs. (In fact, as I said today, I'd prefer not to have to deal with the MARC records directly.) Robust APIs would help making prototypes like this one I hacked together in a few hours into a real, usable service.

Mashing Up WorldCat Holdings Data With Google Maps Using Python and Exhibit



  • 💬 Tim at January 17, 2009, 15:39 UTC:

    I think you're missing the point here. The issue isn't MARC records per se, or how much you hate them.

    First, the Policy is quite clear that any data derived from "OCLC's" MARC records is equally subject to the Policy—so, for example, RDA is "born owned" whether or not OCLC takes the least bit of interest.

    But more importantly the library world are the colonists, and the MARC records are tea. The issue isn't this or that technology, but the entire future of data monopoly and ask-first-make-later permission. Nobody cares what version of Windows was the first to disable competitors' products, or what the products were--probably they were defending themselves against a better Clippy. The issue isn't that, but the whole future of restriction and compromise that emerged from Microsoft's monopolies.

    In the future OCLC may well let you have your API. Just fill out a record use form in triplicate, be sure you have support from your institution and certify that your maps API poses no threat to their core business model or any products they may want to develop. Is that good enough for you, or do you think you ought to be able to develop interesting applications for public data on your own authority?

  • 💬 M.A. Matienzo at January 17, 2009, 22:19 UTC:

    I'm not missing the point as I understand the policy quite well, and I understand and respect that if I'm going to have to use someone's API that I'll have to follow their terms. If I think the terms are too restrictive I won't use the API.

  • 💬 Tim at January 18, 2009, 15:06 UTC:

    Well, that proves the point, doesn't it? The Policy is not a terms of service to an API at all, neither legally or in effect. Legally it's a membership agreement to a cooperative organization. In effect it is the privatization of a cooperative and of data, most of which was created with taxpayer money.

    The Policy is about whether OCLC can grow up as a cooperative and then turn itself into a monopoly, locking down data no matter when it was made, who made it or what API they use to get it. To qualify the record merely has to have been at some point transfered through WorldCat, or "derived" from a record which was so transferred. It converts some 95% of all English-language cataloging records into a private possession. The analogy isn't Amazon or Yahoo opening up an API and setting terms. It's the water company deciding that it can tell you when to drink and, because you drank water in the past, it gets a veto over all your actions.