The Globe and Mail has a story on the (in progress) digitization and internet posting of UBC’s complete run of over 35,500 theses and dissertations – with an arch response by SFU’s Dean of Libraries (or whatever). As I’ve been noting, numerous other universities have these schemes as well, usually some flavour of the dSpace software package. Typically, University of Toronto calls it T-Space. Dissertations there do not seem to be online unless you are a library card holder, though strictly speaking they are not in T-Space either I don’t think. Nonetheless, they obviously have a digital copy mounted on a server.
I have to admit, while I love the access, it has been or was standard for years (say when I did my thesis at UVIC in 1992) that copyright resides with the author and there are limits to the number of copies (whole or part) that could be made. Isn’t putting the PDF on a server equivalent to making unlimited copies of the document? This goes beyond fair use, perhaps. For example, the Pomeroy dissertation I linked to yesterday reads:
All rights reserved. This thesis may not be reproduced in whole or in part, by photocopy or other means, without permission of the author.
Seems pretty unequivocal to me.
The Archaeology Branch has had a tough time putting permit reports online because they felt the need to contact the authors of the reports for permission first. Maybe they were over-cautious? Information wants to be free, and all that. Anyway, from the article:
The UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project began with submissions from 1992. The reason? Those papers, stored in the basement of the library processing centre, had not been bound, making it easy to feed them into the digitization machine. Turns out to have been a serendipitous decision, as the library has to abandon the building at the end of the year to make way for the relocation of the school of population and public health.
The first 100 graduate theses have also been placed online.
You can search UBC’s electronic repository here. Why not start with an overview of Borden’s career 1945-1960?
Note its copyright notice, 1995 style:
In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.
Some librarian was thinking ahead to the digital age.