Scholarly presses are better known for publishing the results of archival research: documentary editions, works of history, sociological studies–all the amazing scholarship that is supported by memory institutions and records repositories. But as cultural institutions with long and storied histories of their own, presses often light upon some pretty amazing archival finds in their working files. During this Archives Awareness Month, we’ve happened on a couple of stories of such recent finds:
* While working on a massive contracts digitization project, Peter Froehlich, Rights & Permissions Manager of Indiana University Press, came across the press’s original contract with one Jorge Luis Borges for the book Borges at Eighty: Conversations. Borges happened to be visiting Bloomington and signed the contract in person; attached was a photo of the occasion featuring the great writer and the Press’s then-editor, now-director Janet Rabinowitch. The Press is now working with the University Archivist to preserve this wonderful history.
* Penn State University Press is working on a reprint of a seminal work on the poetics of Maurice Sendak, by John Cech, originally published in 1996. In the marketing files for the original edition, PSU Press Marketing & Sales Director Tony Sanfilippo found a letter to Sendak about how the press might use some of his illustrations, marked up in Sendak’s handwriting with a personal note to Tony’s predecessor. Perhaps even more appealing to a university press sales director, Sendak also appended an order for a copy of Penn State’s The Photographic Experience! (The story of how the reprint finally came to fruition is also worth reading, so flip over to Tony’s blog for the full tale.)
There have to be hundreds, even thousands, of stories like this–please share some of your favorites in the comments!
Every time I see the acronyms SOPA and PIPA I think they should be characters in a Swedish children’s book, but in fact they are, respectively, the Stop Online Piracy Act (HR 3261) and the Protect IP Act (S 968), two bills in Congress with the aim of giving the Department of Justice tools to take action against offshore “rogue” websites — websites whose sole purpose is trafficking in pirated intellectual property. Think Pirate Bay.
The primary tool for doing so would be to put U.S. companies that do business with such websites — advertisers, credit card companies, etc. — on notice that they were facilitating online piracy, with the aim of drying up revenue and so eliminating the commercial motive for building and maintaining rogue websites. The bills have become the target of a spirited internet campaign seeking to block their passage over fears that they would stifle innovation and interfere with freedom of speech.
SOPA has been the primary target of this campaign, and its most controversial feature, domain name blocking for rogue websites, has now been withdrawn so that the issue can be further studied (see Lamar Smith link below). The White House weighed in on Saturday expressing the Administration’s concerns about the bills, while at the same time urging all parties to come together and seek a solution to the serious problem of offshore online piracy.
AAUP did not take a position on SOPA. Last December, with the Board’s approval, I did send a letter to Senators Reid, Schumer and Gillebrand supporting PIPA; the text of that letter has been distributed to the AAUP membership via e-mail.
To help AAUP members evaluate the controversy surrounding these bills here are links to the SOPA and PIPA bills themselves, to the White House statement, and to statements from Senator Leahy about PIPA, Representative Smith about SOPA, and from six Republican Senators urging Senator Reid to allow consideration of PIPA to go forward without a motion for cloture. (Cloture would not only limit the time for debate on the bill, but would also restrict consideration of amendments to those filed before cloture was invoked.)
Peter Givler is the Executive Director of the Association of American University Presses