Can you tell that I just added Freedom to Tinker back into my RSS reader? This post about how quickly digital copies of the newest Harry Potter book made it on to the Internet in text and audio — despite or possibly because of J.K. Rowling’s decision not to release the book in ebook format — says some important things about the relationship between distributing information digitally and copyright infringement. Different types of people can think the phrase “downloading music” means buying it, illegally sharing it, exercising your fair use rights, or possibly even making use of the lovely public domain.
Since there have been copying technologies, people have been making copies and sharing information. I’m not saying that this makes any and all sorts of information reproduction right as rain, but it does help to keep a cool head about these issues and remember that the Internet didn’t create copyright infringment, it only made it simpler. The simplification of copyright infringment through information reproduction has made the media campaign to dissuade people from even trying that much more aggressive, and made the lobbyists try that much harder to make even tighter legislation to outlaw it. And, as librarians who like to share as much as we’re legally able, this is a pickle indeed.
JD Lasica’s list of Top 10 assaults on digital liberties could just as easily be titled “Top 10 assaults on digital libraries” as diglet rightly points out. Of particular note to libraries is #10. I’ve been hearing more and more about libraries being strongarmed into consortia that requires them to forego IT and filtering decisionmaking, independent collection development and in some cases even in-house cataloging staff. Keep your eyes open to changed in your digital information environment, and the legislation that constantly surrounds it, so that you can be an advocate for access by your patrons.
Two examples of how smart people who are good with technology have gotten setbacks from doing perfectly legal things with digital media saddled with DRM. Read: Jenny the Shifted Librarian tries to watch a movie and Hilary, Rosen, former head of the RIAA tries to listen to music.
You can’t have it both ways Miss Rosen. If you want DRM, someone is going to have to control that DRM. And if you don’t think they won’t use that control to their ultimate advantage, you obviously didn’t learn anything from your association with the music industry.
From the DRM Blog: Rent, Lease, or Buy – Which Model Is Right For You? No one is saying there’s something wrong with any case, but you don’t want to think your library is buying something when you’re really just renting the right to use it.
I have half a dozen songs from one service and three songs from another service and about 100 songs from a subscription service. I try the services because I cannot give my readers good advice if I do not try the various schemes for selling/renting digital content. But, because I am no longer paying the monthly subscription, I do not have access to those 100 songs I downloaded. The other songs have to be played through “authorized” players and so again I feel constrained. I have some open source software that I like for playing music but cannot use it with any of the content I downloaded.