The debate about OCLC’s revision of their Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records is heating up. The core issue appears to be the licensing of WorldCat records and the limitations imposed, namely that “data extracted from a WorldCat Record” cannot be used in anything that “substantially replicates the function, purpose, and/or size of WorldCat”.
Aaron Swartz, with the Open Library project, has posted a really interesting overview of OCLC, although his intro suggests that he feels that the 800 pound gorilla comparison is closer to the mark. He followed up with quotes from and comments about Karen Calhoun’s post to OCLC members comment from his first post (thanks for setting this straight, Aaron!) He did not have a link to Karen’s post, and I wasn’t able to locate it via a search.
There is a podcast on Panlibus of Karen Calhoun and Roy Tennant discussing the policy. I haven’t had a chance to listen yet.
Karen did post comments on November 4th on OCLC’s Metalogue blog. Read the comments, especially Jonathan Rochkind’s (Nov 5, 1:41 p.m.); then check out his own blog posts on the topic (I would link to individual posts, but there are quite a few, and they are all worth reading — scroll back to November 3rd and read forward).
I am still fairly certain that OCLC is taking on the tiger’s role: territorial and instinctive. The more thought I give to it, however, the stronger the argument for opening the records and information becomes: the data doesn’t belong to anyone (and if it did, it would belong to the libraries that created it in the first place) and OCLC is playing a losing game if it insists on full ownership and control.