[Air-L] public private - unit of analysis

Lois Ann Scheidt lscheidt at indiana.edu
Fri Aug 10 16:34:22 PDT 2007

One of the things I am struggling with, as I read this interesting and 
timely thread, is the jumble I see being made of units of analysis.  
Set the US IRB issues aside for a minute.

While US law makes it clear that renumeration is required for another 
person to perform a musical work...there is no such requirement for 
someone to write about the work.  Anyone could critique the musical 
line, or the lyrics, or the performance.  They could evaluate the 
presence or absence of the A-minor cord without payment or permission 
to do so for work they could gain access to through legal means.

However, if they want to talk to the author - using the interview 
responses as data - or gain information directly from the author - like 
through an online survey - they need to gain the author's 
permission...it's really hard to interview people who don't agree to be 
interviewed or surveyed.

The difference is the unit of analysis.  One is a things (document, 
webpage, sheet music, etc.) and the other is a person (interview 
subject, blood donor, survey taker, etc.).  The fact that a "person" 
created the "thing" we are analyzing is really pretty much life on this 
planet - and the reason why plant biologists and geo-scientists don't 
usually deal with IRB's or "human" subjects - but if the "thing" is the 
unit of analysis it stands alone in most cases.  Yes there are 
exceptions...there always are.

Now just to cloud the water...assume I am doing a meta-analysis of 
interview texts across 10 published academic papers.  Whose permission 
is required?  Each individual interview subject?...the written text is 
their words.  The paper's authors"...they are the primary authors of 
the works so they own the words in print.  Or maybe the 
publishers?...they own the communication medium that allowed the 
interviews and associated papers to be available to me for analysis.

Answer...no one, it's a "thing"...an article.

A silly aside just to make the point.  You could add many people to the 
list...the mailperson who delivered the journal - they had control and 
custody over the work and were the last person to touch it before it 
came to me.  The printer who moved the words onto the paper that was 
bound and delivered to me...he had custody too.  Now don't tear me 
apart here, I already said they were silly asides...but it proves the 
point...the unit of analysis is the thing...not the people involved.

Having spent a number of years reading IRB applications I can tell you 
that this issue is the primary place applications are held up in 
review.  Researchers want to say they are analyzing a "thing" say a 
webpage, when in fact their unit of analysis is a "person" who was 
selected for interview through the identification of their publicly 
available webpage.  It's really basic stuff but this thread shows how 
easy it is and how often even experienced researchers mush it all up 
and confuse the units.

Lois Ann Scheidt

Doctoral Student - School of Library and Information Science, Indiana
University, Bloomington IN USA

Adjunct Instructor - School of Informatics, IUPUI, Indianapolis IN USA and
IUPUC, Columbus IN USA

Webpage:  http://www.loisscheidt.com
Blog:  http://www.professional-lurker.com

Quoting Jeremy Hunsinger <jhuns at vt.edu>:

> So.... when you look at blogs... you find them to be the sole and
> original composition of a single author?  because I find this a
> curious position because I find so very little in the world that fits
> this position of 'mine in the first place'.   I mean your book which
> is coming out on this topic has to be derivative of the original
> texts, laws, and practices combined with your opinions, so I'm
> wondering what the base of the concept of originality, this is not to
> say that blogs are not copyrightable... the question is ... whose
> copyright is there on what page.
> On Aug 10, 2007, at 5:31 PM, Ed Lamoureux wrote:
>> On Aug 10, 2007, at 4:35 PM, Jeremy Hunsinger wrote:
>>> we should be clear that putting them into form.... requires them to
>>> not be your composition and not a prior composition or prior
>>> idea... no?
>> sorry.. did you mistype this? To be properly protected, the stuff has
>> to have been mine in the first place
>> as noted in a later post, I DID fail to fully explain the analogy to
>> music and the relationship to the compulsory license system.
>> Once I've written the words down, or noted the music or played it....
>> in writing, the work is protected (if it was mine to start with) from
>> ANY copying other than that which is allowed via fair use or my
>> permission.
>> In music, the work is protected from copying (that is, re-
>> transcribing the notes as though they were yours) AND from public
>> performance, but in the case of the latter, the protection is
>> afforded through compulsory licensing that compensates me for your
>> public performance . . . you don't have to ask, but you do have to
>> pay.
>>> On Aug 10, 2007, at 4:32 PM, Ed Lamoureux wrote:
>>>> sorry
>>>> IP law is really clear on this.
>>>> once I put the ideas into form, they are protected by copyright law.
>>>> You can't copy my song without permission. If you do, it's
>>>> infringement.
>>>> Doesn't matter where you do it.  If I find out about it, I can
>>>> seek a
>>>> cease and desist order
>> Edward Lee Lamoureux, Ph. D.
>> Associate Professor, Multimedia Program
>> and Department of Communication
>> Co-Director, New Media Center
>> 1501 W. Bradley
>> Bradley University
>> Peoria IL  61625
>> 309-677-2378
>> <http://slane.bradley.edu/com/faculty/lamoureux/website2/index.html>
>> <http://gcc.bradley.edu/mm/>
>> AIM/IM & skype: dredleelam
>> Second Life: Professor Beliveau
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> jeremy hunsinger
> Information Ethics Fellow, Center for Information Policy Research,
> School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
> (www.cipr.uwm.edu)
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