DPLS News, December 1996

December 1996

Please note: Older issues of the newsletter are likely to contain
broken links -- the newsletter is presented here "as published."

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Copyright Controversy

Scholars and other data users are watching closely for the outcome of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) meeting this December 2-20 in Geneva. Representatives from 160 countries will decide whether to adopt an international treaty with sweeping affects on the interpretation of copyright in the digital age. The three components of the proposed treaty are for the protection of literary and artistic works"; protection of the "rights of performers and producers of phonograms"; and the "treaty on intellectual property in respect of databases." The third component has received substantial criticism from the research/education community because it grants rights to owners of databases that have never been granted under U.S. copyright law, and omits long- held (in the U.S.) exceptions to copyright such as Fair Use and First Sale. A request for comments on the treaty appeared in the Federal Register in November. At that time, the U.S. delegation was in support of the proposed treaty.

The following organizations have spoken out against the treaty as proposed. In the National Research Council's report entitled "Bits of Power" it is found that "Market forces are not capable of protecting the public good associated with open access for scientists and educators," according to a Nov. 17 issue of the electronic publication, Edupage. A number of national library associations signed a letter stating, "There is a long tradition in the United States of protecting expression but not facts. ... The progress of knowledge is furthered by the reuse of information in other works. We believe that the database proposal would undermine this tradition." The letter also claims that the WIPO treaty was drafted undemocratically without public discussion.

The National Academy of Sciences, of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine submitted a letter stating, "Database publishers would effectively obtain an absolute and perpetual monopoly in their data compilations, including preexisting data sets. The proposed changes would significantly inhibit researchers seeking to reuse and combine data for publication or for research..."

The treaty itself claims, "It accords to the maker of a database the right to authorize or prohibit the relevant acts of extraction and utilization." The Supreme Court of the U.S. has ruled that only works with a substantial creative element may be copyrighted, not facts, such as those contained in a telephone directory. The Information Industry Association supports the draft treaty.

For more information, visit the WIPO website at http://www.wipo.org, and the Public Domain website (a new coalition formed to oppose the treaty and other threats to the doctrine of Fair Use): http://www.public-domain.org.

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One of the most important changes in the world economy since the end of World War II has been the progressive integration of the world's national and international financial markets. Over the last four decades the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has played an essential role in this transition by monitoring and reporting on economic changes among its Western European members. More recently it has turned attention to the transitional economies of Central and Eastern Europe. The OECD is highly regarded for the quality, range, comparability, and policy relevance of its statistically based analyses.

The data collected by the OECD are recognized as some of the best available. The Statistical Compendium on CD-ROM--now available to DPLS users--is OECD's attempt to provide access to many of its most important time series in an easy-to-use format. The country-level data cover over 300,000 monthly, quarterly, and annual time series (which start in 1960) for Member and non- Member countries. The data are far more detailed than what are available elsewhere (i.e., World Bank, IMF, U.N.) and include agriculture and food balances and accounts, labor force statistics, national accounts, international direct investment statistics, financial and fiscal affairs indicators, development and aid statistics, economic indicators, energy statistics, industrial activity indicators, and science/technology statistics.

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The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) has completed migrating its data holdings (more than 40,000 separate files on 12,000 reels of tape totaling 600 gigabytes) to hard disk. What this means for DPLS users is that now all ICPSR data are available in a matter of minutes, rather than days or even weeks.

A second migration, the transfer of data documentation from numerous different formats (including word processor-specific, ASCII, and OSIRIS) to what is commonly known as PDF (Portable Document Format) is now underway. PDF documents can be read by the Adobe Acrobat Reader and by several other freeware packages. See the document http://dpls.dacc.wisc.edu/pubs/acro.html for further information.

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World Development Data

The World Bank has released another of their splendid electronic publications. This CD-ROM, World Development Report, 1978-1996, combines nearly 20 years of print publications into an extremely powerful, fully indexed and cross-referenced database. In addition, a set of 17 accompanying tables (the Selected World Development Indicators), presents comparative socio- economic indicators in areas such as macroeconomic stability and structural reforms, plus data on human resources, environmental sustainability, and economic performance.

Among the many questions this database can answer are: How rich or poor are the people? What is the life expectancy of newborns? What are school enrollment ratios? What is the access to health care? What are the gender differences of adult literacy? How much energy is consumed per capita? How clean is the water and air? And, how well integrated is this country's economy into the global economy?

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Statistical Agency Update

Last spring we asked you to 'stay tuned' for further U.S. budget news affecting federal statistics-producing agencies. September 30 of this year Congress finalized its work on the FY1997 budget. Most agencies received less money than requested. Within the Department of Commerce, the Census Bureau was hit hard, receiving $135 million out of the $150.7 requested for current programs, and $210.5 out of $248.7 requested for periodic programs, including the Economic Census and Year 2000 Census. Seventeen and a half million dollars were reallocated from Census to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) for the Census of Agriculture, although the change to the U.S. code transferring legal responsibility has not yet passed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics was reduced by $10.7 million, on top of a 1996 FY cut of $33.6 million. Significantly, collective bargaining settlements data will neither be published nor collected after calendar year 1995. The Consumer Price Index, receiving media attention of late for allegedly over-projecting the inflation rate, was specially earmarked by Congress to receive $16.1 million of the BLS budget.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis also fell short of its request, despite plans for modernization. According to the newsletter of COPAFS (Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics), "Additional money is very much needed for improving Gross Domestic Product and other Economic Accounts data." On a happier note, the Horn Bill calling for the dismantling of the Commerce Department was not passed.

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News From NLS

The 1994 interview data for the National Longitudinal Surveys of Labor Market Experience 1979 youth cohort (NLSY) will be available soon. Beginning with this survey respondents will be interviewed biennially. Other changes include the addition of new questions and more detailed answers. Expanded data include the characteristics and activities of the respondent's spouse or partner, together with his or her contributions to family income and assets, retrospective questions on childhood participation in Head Start or other preschool programs, and periods not covered by health insurance for respondents, spouses/partners, and children. For more information see the current issue of NLS News.

The NLSY CPS section matches questions asked in the Current Population Survey. This section has changed due to the national CPS revision that occurred in January, 1994. Changes to the CPS are explained in an article, "Data Watch - the Redesign of the Current Population Survey" by Anne Polivka in the summer 1996 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Check the publication menu of the BLS Internet site: http://stats.bls.gov/ for more information.

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GSS Student Paper Contest

The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago announces the second annual General Social Survey (GSS) Student Paper Competition. Papers will be judged by the principal investigators. Two copies of each paper must be received by February 15, 1997. The Winner will be announced in late April, 1997. Send entries to Tom W. Smith, General Social Survey, National Opinion Research Center, 1155 East 60th St. Chicago, IL 60637. For further information: phone: 312-753-7877, FAX 312-753-7886 or email smitht@norcmail.uchicago.edu.

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Corner (spiderweb)

Center for Applied Social Survey - Question Bank

The CASS Question Bank in the United Kingdom is a reference source for question formats and wordings used on major social surveys, provides supporting material on concepts and methodology, and aims to disseminate knowledge about survey data collection methods to achieve comparability of results. The topics include: Census of Population, General Household Survey, Family Expenditure Survey, Labor Force Survey, Family Resource Survey, British Social Attitudes Survey and British Election Study. Its web page is http://kennedy.soc.surrey.ac.uk/qb/Welcome.html.

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Census Guides

If you need 1990 Census data, but don't know where to begin, here are two reference sources for you. The "1990 Census Data Locator," developed at the University of Michigan Documents Center, takes you through the steps of deciding what type of census data you need, and what files to use for the variables and geographic level that you need. http://www.lib.umich.edu/libhome/Documents.center/cenindex.html.

Another useful online tool, developed locally, is "A Brief Guide to Census Resources." The guide is divided into sections that discuss various aspects of the Census such as geography, outlines of printed and machine- readable products, sampling and the presentation of data, and a searching tool for finding further information. The guide is located at http://dpls.dacc.wisc.edu/pubs/census.html, or through Resource Guides on the DPLS home page.

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NACDA Website

The National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging (NACDA) has launched its website. You can search all of NACDA's holdings and retrieve data from six of NACDA's datasets. Point your browser to http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/nacda.

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Uniform Crime Reporting System

Two sites that we know of are currently offering the Uniform Crime Statistics data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the Internet. The Alaska Justice Resource Center (AJRC) at the University of Alaska uses an old-fashioned but functional telnet session to retrieve one of three data types: 1) Crime Rates for a given city over all available years; 2) Percentile Ranking of a city compared to other cities according to size and year; or 3) Listing by State and Year of crime data. The data consists of the Index Crimes known to police and were extracted directly from the published UCRs. The years reported on are 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993 as of July, 1995, so far. Telnet://info.alaska.edu (login: ucrprog).

The other site, at the University of Virginia Social Sciences Data Center, utilizes web forms to generate custom files from 1990- 1993 datasets obtained through ICPSR's National Archive of Criminal Justice Data. This collection consists of four county-level data files. The first three provide arrests for Part I offenses (murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft, and arson) and for Part II offenses (forgery, fraud, embezzlement, vandalism, weapons violations, sex offenses, drug and alcohol abuse violations, gambling, vagrancy, curfew violations, and runaways). The fourth file provides reported offenses (as opposed to arrests) for Part I crimes only. Online plain text codebooks may be viewed as well. http://www.lib.virginia.edu/socsci/crime/.

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End of December 1996 Newsletter.