The copyright mailing list is a group of more than 100 lawyers who focus on copyright. This list, and their Copyright FAQ, are the best resources on copyright law in the world; current, factual, and peer-reviewed. This is not unusual for a mailing list. As a source of experts, I once found an accomplished but poorly published scientist from an old message in a mailing list archive.
The FAQ may be a brilliant informative document in itself, or the definitive pointer to further tools and resources. By virtue of its public origin, FAQs are far more likely to attract the peer review often very lacking from other resources. They are also open invitations to communicate with the knowledgeable FAQ maintainers.
Newsgroups, (also known as Usenet Discussion or Network News), are large discussion grounds where resources and ideas are shared, and sometimes discussed. Messages are archived, available for searching or sifting. As a public notice board, non-commercial queries/briefs are often welcome.
Associations are more involved than their internet companion. Associations are also more into paper publishing, conferencing and collating specialist statistics. As an example, the Australian Booksellers Association publishes the best benchmark statistics on this topic. When approaching an association, consider asking for their publication list.
Another prominent source are the local service directories, such as InfoLink in Western Australia. Most communities have a public directory of local associations and government authorities. If in doubt, ask a local librarian for directions to such a directory.
1) Research through past discussion,On a personal side, mailing lists are easy to use and a minimal investment in time (the information comes to you). However, mailing lists are difficult to develop and maintain. Few reach the potential brilliance of this form of communication, so many of the forums you come across will be non-existent or on their deathbed.
Mailing lists depend on four vital ingredients - Content, Participation, IT-support, and Management. Often, one of these elements go wrong and the forum dies. As a member, there are important obligations starting with participation, and ending with forum etiquette.
The better forums are private. Membership is not automatic, the list manager has more control, and often, more control and effort is expended developing interesting content and discussion. If you find a closed or private forum, persevere.
Because one of the primary functions of a special interest group is resource discovery - and because FAQs are collectively created, they are valuable and generally reliable. I consider the Official Copyright FAQ the best document in the world on copyright law.
As an aside, many FAQs are also available as web pages. Trouble is, without an system to vet true newsgroup FAQs, you are far more likely to encounter FAQs which have not been vetted by the news.answers team. The Official Copyright FAQ is 70+ pages of topical and factual detail with links to further information. There are several other copyright FAQs with less than 10 pages, (and not particularly concerned with providing information). Access an established FAQ archive for your FAQs. www.faqs.org has a small list (but is elegant as a source of FAQs). Another longer list resides midway down this document.
Discussing the mailing list, I thought long and hard on how to simplify the task of communicating with list software. Not only are there five prominent list software packages but each package allows us to accomplish different things. The email interface predates popular use of hypertext, and is a little clumsy at first - especially if you are interacting with different mailing lists as a researcher will.
Our solution is threefold:
Firstly, James Milles of the Saint Louis University Law Library has graciously permitted us to include his grand table of Mailing List Commands divided by list package. Very comprehensive and easy to use lookup file.
Secondly, hypertext allows us to add information into the subject of an email message. With this in mind, we have added shortcut email links to our articles for the more common tasks. You must move the subject information into the body of the message, then post.
Here are two examples:
BusLib-l (Business Librarians' Electronic Discussion List)
Libref-l (Government Documents List)
Thirdly, retrieve the technical help files for the list software.
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