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Jim, James, Dan: Dan, you are right, I should have used “fair use” rather than “public use.” in my blog entry. Sorry about the confusion. However, my observations still stand. Libraries do not act on behalf of individuals in terms of “fair use.” It is up to individuals to be responsible custodians of how they might use library material. Most, if not all, libraries warn their community that there are limitations on ways library material can be distributed or duplicated. And these limitations are often embraced by agreements with vendors. These limitations govern how libraries lend material through interlibrary loan, circulate material to non-primary users outside our communities, reproduce or digitize material for reserve collections in academic libraries, and libraries post clear warnings on photocopiers that certain forms of duplication and redistribution are illegal. The burden for responsible license and copyright use still rests with the individual. It is in this context that I frame my comments about the library’s role.
And James, I understand the essential link between the legal and economic nature of licensing and/or copyright — and surprisingly, we both agree libraries abandoned their role and lost an opportunity to recreate a critical public service role in the matrix when their collections began to digitize through a complicated public/private partnerships. And we both agree the future of the FDLP depends on how well we manage this collections/service responsibility.
Jim and James — I think we can all agree that the future of libraries depends on how they deploy the dynamic between collections and services in a digital world. Where reasonable people can disagree, I hope, is the relative importance of one or the other. One faction might argue collections are still paramount; other perspectives may consider collections to be not as important (or differently important) for the future. It is clear the four of us will disagree about where this set point might rest. However, to equate the difference between our two perspectives as a measure of how the opposing perspective advocates the destruction of libraries … well, I do not think we need to go there. My observations, speculations, and rhetoric does not advocate destruction. They are supposed encourage debate, reflection, and exhortation to action. Judging from your thoughtful responses, this goal is being achieved.
I am going to step back from this rhetorical point and get back to commenting on the future possibilities of government information in our libraries. I am sure we will join forces again over these considerations, but I think all of our perspectives have been underscored enough for the moment.
See you on Day 35.
We have a number of community action items to get people engaged in Civic discussions this week. Today, it’s a summit meeting at the White House about fiscal responsibility; tomorrow it is Obama’s first State of the Union address, and Thursday/Friday it is the release of the federal budget.
On another note, interesting article on a university choosing to go without textbooks. An event that has some deeper meaning for libraries I think.
See you on Day 34.
All right, all right. Readers won’t let me get away with the single comment in the last blog entry I had about the article in the New York Review of Books — and I think this feeds into the long-standing conversation I have been having with J A Jacobs. Simply put: I do not think libraries, as institutions, have any role in claiming a “public use” provision within the infrastructure of copyright. In other words, print and paper technology gave libraries a “gap” between those who owned the information and those who want to use it. While library circulation did not threaten the sale of the same material through the private market, information producers were quite comfortable in letting the libraries enjoy the “free ride” of offering their information products without any compensation for the free use. It was good public relations and a “feel good” partnership.
The mass digitization of the information changed that relationship.
I really think what the google technology does, and what the research libraries agreed to when they chose to work with google four years ago to find an “economical” way to digitize their collections, is create a private market version of “public lending right.”
See you on Day 33.
An interesting editorial item from the New York Review of Books by Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor at Harvard He has actually been tilling these intellectual fields for awhile for NYRB — here is a list of submissions. Goes without saying that I disagree with some of his observations. But with more than 100 days left on the current time clock, I will address those concerns another time….
See you on Day 32.