Sunday, September 23, 2007

Librarians as terrorists

Universal Music Group is suing a guy to prevent him from selling compact discs that he owns. If Universal wins, it could set a huge precedent for what we are allowed to do not only with our CDs, but with books or anything else we buy (rent?) (license?).

This could be especially bad news for libraries and those who love them, as Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Fred van Lohmann said on the fine radio show "On the Media." Here's a partial transcript of Lohmann's comments (the entire transcript is here).

If Universal here is able to trump the First Sale Doctrine by putting a little label on a product that says "For promotional use only, not for resale," then I think you're going to see a lot of copyright owners try to do the same kind of thing. You're going to see labels that say, "This book not for use in libraries, for personal reading only." You're going to see labels on DVDs that say, "This DVD not for video rental, for home use only."

The American Association of Publishers, I think, really puts the point on this. They represent book publishers in the United States and they have always had an uneasy relationship with libraries because they feel that librarians buy books and then they give them out, loan them for free.

That has led Pat Schroeder, the head of the association, to say that they have, quote, "serious issues with libraries," unquote. And one of their spokespeople, back in 2001, compared some in the library community to Ruby Ridge and Waco-style terrorists.

So First Sale is incredibly important if you believe in things like libraries and used-book stores.

The idea that we may lose control over what we do with our used books or CDs (or that anyone would consider librarians to be terrorists, for heaven's sake) is dismaying. This may be the biggest "must win" for consumers out there right now.


ΕΡΜΕΣ said...

i don't think Universal has a pot to pee in, legally speaking. that's absurd. the future is sharable media.

timroth1618 said...

The American Association of Publishers has "serious issues with libraries."

Wow. Having issues with people that help educate society...that's not only outrageous, that sad. The drive for profits in the short-term is blinding the AAP to the long-term benefits of libraries. Without libraries and the "terrorists" that run them, it will be harder to promote reading for children who will grow up and have money to buy books!

Nonsense like this is why our democracy isn't very healthy right now.

Babblemur said...

Librarians v. Publishers

Librarians will destroy the publishers. Smash.

Consider that libraries spend annually thousands and thousands of dollars on books, large public libraries spend over $100,000 a year on books, and Universities spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. And there are are several thousand libraries in the US alone - if you do the math it becomes clear. Libraries are a huge economic necessity to publishers. This is why the publishers haven't come down on libraries years ago.

In my opinion.