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United States Government Politics

Library of Congress Threatens Washington Watch Wiki 125

Posted by kdawson
from the trademark-madness dept.
BackRow writes "Washington Watch, a site devoted to tracking the cost of federal legislation, has raised the hackles of the Library of Congress with a new wiki that makes an unfavorable comparison to the LOC's THOMAS legislative search engine. After Jim Harper, Washington Watch's creator and the director of information policy at the Cato Institute, announced the wiki, he received a nastygram from the LOC." Quoting: "After the announcement, he was contacted by Matt Raymond, the Director of Communications at the Library (and the author of the Library of Congress' blog). Raymond said that he possessed 'statutory and regulatory authority governing unauthorized use of the Library's name and logo and those of Library subunits and programs,' and he asked that Harper stop using the names 'Library of Congress' and 'THOMAS' in his marketing materials."
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Library of Congress Threatens Washington Watch Wiki

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  • by metrometro (1092237) on Monday May 07, 2007 @07:29PM (#19029247)
    Chew on the government, fine. But when they spend decades cranking out coal-funded "science" written by PR flacks, it's more like dingo-ate-my-baby than a watchdog.
  • by Shihar (153932) on Monday May 07, 2007 @07:50PM (#19029465)
    You can accuse Cato of a lot of things... lacking principles and being anyone's lap dog is roughly the last. Brooking's, American Heritage, and lots of other think tanks can be 'flexible' in what they advocate based upon the party flavor of the month. Cato is unbending, rock solid, and deeply principled. Now, you can argue that their principles are abhorrent, but anyone who knows anything about Cato can not say that their principles are bent by who gives them money. They are Libertarians who are as happy to criticize business, Democrats, Republics, and anyone else who violates their principles (and all three do, regularly).
  • Re:Obvious Solution (Score:2, Informative)

    by philpalm (952191) on Monday May 07, 2007 @08:01PM (#19029571)
    Quote from article:
    "I contacted Raymond about the issue, and he tells Ars that he was acting under Library of Congress Regulation 112, which says that "the use of the Library's name, explicitly or implicitly to endorse a product or service, or materials in any publication is prohibited, except as provided for in this Regulation." For Raymond, the issue here is that Harper was critical of the Library's own work in a way which endorsed his own; as Raymond puts it, "the use of THOMAS in the Washington Watch press release in a negative way is clearly used in the context of endorsement, rather than general criticism."

    Raymond claims that he has no intention of trying to silence critics, and points out that the Library's blog has opened itself to reader comments, critical or otherwise. His concern, rather, is "in the context of marketing and endorsement."
    My comment:
    It is not an obvious solution, Washington Watch wants to take it to court to determine the validity of the Law. Raymond the bureaucrat wants to be protecting himself (his job entails enforcing rules made by Congress) and the LOC in emphasizing that there is a law not permitting the use of the LOC in any marketing scheme.

    Now if Washington Watch is a non-profit organization then I guess there would be no marketing scheme....
  • by tourvil (103765) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @08:11AM (#19034319)

    Oh boy. For what it's worth, I work for a D.C. government watchdog and am very familiar with Cato. I read their books, I go to their events. Their office is sweet - lots of windows, big atrium. Bottom line is their science positions are intellectually dishonest at a comprehensive level, and that keeps them well funded by industry. So yeah, I distrust the information they put out, because they have shown they are willing to place and promote false information that directly benefits their funders.

    It would be worth a lot more if you cited some examples and/or sources. I know very little about Cato, so I have no reason to give their studies more or less weight than others. But your post, which is currently modded 5 Insightful, gives me no information on why I should distrust their information.
  • Cato Publications (Score:5, Informative)

    by binarybits (11068) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @09:07AM (#19035157) Homepage
    I'm a longtime Slashdot reader and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. I'm not sure why you're so hostile to the Cato Institute, but you might want to check out a few of our recent publications:

    Obviously, you're not going to agree with everything we publish, but you'd be hard-pressed to find another think tank that's done as much work on the issues near and dear to the hearts of Slashdotters.

  • by binarybits (11068) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:34AM (#19036569) Homepage
    The problem is that metrometro didn't point to any specific examples of "false information," so there's not much I can do to respond to such a vague accusation. Instead, I thought I'd highlight our recent work on issues of particular interest to Slashdot readers in order to give readers some context. I'm not going to claim everything we publish is high quality (we publish about a dozen books, 50 papers, and hundreds of articles every year), but in my experience, the vast majority of what we publish is of high quality.

    And incidentally, the insinuation that we're "well funded by industry" is false: if you look at our annual report [], you'll see that only about 2 percent of our funding is from corporate sources.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.