Thursday, May 26, 2016

SC legslators suggest Wikipedia will do over those expensive databases

(Update: 1:40 p.m. 3/26: Ron Aiken of The Nerve says the language was stricken in conference committee last night but that the sponsor, Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, says he'll bring it up again next session.)

S.C.'s State Library apparently is up in arms about some legislative budget engineering that would put some requirements and restrictions on the statewide DISCUS system, the free digital library available to everyone in the state and probably one of the state's best (if somewhat hidden) resources.

First there was a House budget proviso that would have prohibited the library from licensing electronic sources "where the same information is easily found in free online products such as Wikipedia." (Oh, there's a reliable source, eh?) It also would have prohibited licensing databases of articles "from mainstream newspapers and magazines, as these can almost always be accessed free online and are easily discovered through Internet search engines."

That same proviso also would have prohibited the inclusion of scholarly articles as not "intellectually accessible to the general population," but that was stricken -- as was the whole proviso.

But now the House has amended the Senate version to insert a new proviso that says no database DISCUS buys can have more than 20% of material freely available online.

There also are a bunch of technical requirements, such as that all databases must have responsive design that allows them to be viewable "down to the smallest smartphone size" and that there be an extensive geolocation service for all users. Video would also have to be delivered as H.264, MPEG-4 AVC format.

So in theory the responsive design requirement is a good one -- but will that put valuable databases/info off limits?

If you are out of state (or even on the border and your cell signal is being picked up by a tower in Georgia or NC) does that mean no access?

Sure, H.264 AVC is the advanced standard now, but things don't change much in tech, do they? So how quickly, if this is specified in state law, will it become outdated?

Generally, the success of legislating specific technology requirements has not gone well through the years.

To see the State Library's take on all this and the source docs:

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