Librarians targeted in latest copyright battles.
July 12, 2001 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Librarians targeted in latest copyright battles. What, did you think the copyright monopolists were going to forget about librarians defending fair use?
posted by NortonDC (11 comments total)
Goddamn those Librarians. They've been stealing my work for years. The radical fringes of society must be stopped at all costs. Otherwise, we might have to recognize art for art's sake, instead of the product we all know it really is!!!
posted by bob bisquick at 9:19 AM on July 12, 2001

I thought it said libertarians were being targeted. My first thought was, "Well, at least they all have guns."
posted by kindall at 9:30 AM on July 12, 2001

As long as the librarians don't have guns. I'd be too scared to return those overdue books.
posted by astro38 at 9:54 AM on July 12, 2001

Arm the librarians!
posted by straight at 9:55 AM on July 12, 2001

As an employee of a library, I agree. I think we should be armed. You bastards are vicious sometimes. It would help to have the upper hand ...or atleast some bullets.
posted by bradth27 at 10:50 AM on July 12, 2001

More and more, I'm thinking Thomas Jefferson was right. The good that copyright law does in encouraging the production of creative works is offset by the harm it does in restricting access to that work. We need to completely rework intellectual property laws to make this kind of thing go away.
posted by willnot at 11:34 AM on July 12, 2001

Librarians have guns. Trust me.

"copyright monopolists" know that librarians are underfunded and often soft-spoken on political issues and so made an easy target in this case.
posted by jessamyn at 11:45 AM on July 12, 2001

"They've got their radical factions, like the Ruby Ridge or Waco types," who want to share all content for free, said Judith Platt, a spokeswoman for the Association of American Publishers.

I mean, really, can you find a more perfect example of a cheap ad hominem attack (uh, outside of MeFi, that is...)?
posted by hincandenza at 12:35 PM on July 12, 2001

Bull. Shit. Could publishers get any more money-grubbing?
posted by fujikodunc at 1:30 PM on July 12, 2001

As a librarian, I'm not really all that concerned about this right now. It's a battle that's been going on for far longer than I've been in the business. And it'll continue to flare up every once in a while as long as corporate publishers continue to rule the world.

Publishers have always insisted that libraries infringe on their rights to make more money. Of course, they never phrase it like that. They cite copyright infringement instead. It has become a trump card to use whenever they feel like it.

Here are some random facts about the publisher/library relationship:

--Science/Technical/Medical (STM) publications are the most highly priced journals in the world. Brain Research costs $16,000.00 a year. (go to Create Change for a list of other outrageously priced journals)

--publishers charge roughly the same prices for electronic journals as they do for print journals. When they defend these comparable prices, they claim that paper and distribution only accounts for a minimal percentage of their operating costs and that editorial, staff, overhead, etc. are the primary factors in setting subscription rates. But when you ask a publisher why a print journal costs so much, their first response usually is paper and distribution. What the fuck? There is, however, one particular difference between electronic and print for libraries that gets me: if a library cancels the electronic journal, it loses access to everything it already paid for--the publisher will claim that by canceling your subscription, you're forfeiting your privilege to access even that for which you have paid. Unlike print journals, which you can actually keep on your shelves, even if the material may soon be outdated.

--many of the STM publishers not only gouge libraries with these astronomical prices, they also charge the authors to have their work published. In 1999-2000, University of Chicago Press charged astronomers $150.00 per PAGE for research printed in Astrophysical Journal. Now, I should admit that ApJ is not one of the gouger journals. But since I don't have page-charge statistics for Tetrahedron Letters (which costs almost $9,000.00/year), I can't use that example. My point? Publishers are getting wads of money from both ends of the spectrum.

--many libraries are stuck in the middle: on the one hand they have an administration telling them their budgets are being cut for the umpteenth year in a row. How can they possibly afford to continue subscribing to these high dollar journals? It doesn't matter how, say the teaching faculty and researchers, just do it. The library MUST continue subscribing or else the curriculum will suffer. End of discussion. You can bet that Duke Medical Center Library is paying $16,000.00 a year for that Brain journal mentioned earlier. Where would their brain researchers be without it?

Despite the fact that publishers try to come off as these altruist, helping-hands agencies that just want to bring the golden word to the masses, they are not. They are not chemists. They are not astronomers or doctors. They are not artists or writers or thinkers. They are money-makers. And anyone who thinks otherwise is obviously living in cave. It's not true. Sure, there are small publishers out there who really do publish for the love of it. I think City Lights is one of the first and best examples of this today. Black Sparrow Press, too. There are many others like this, and they should be supported at every turn.

But whenever I hear the big publishers boo-fucking-hooing over and over again about how libraries are restricting their freedom to make more fucking money, I just want to piss all over them.
posted by michaelbrown at 3:30 PM on July 12, 2001

< anecdote >
A classically old-maid-English-teacher-looking friend was standing in line at a book signing to have an about-to-be-purchased novel autographed by its very best-selling author. My friend made some polite comment about how much she has enjoyed this author's previous work. The author's first words were to snarl back at her "and I suppose you read them all at the library, too!" My friend, who is a mature individual with little need to tax herself with drama, simply put the book down on the table and walked away.
< /anecdote >

The tension between business and product, what is fair compensation for work done and when it crosses the line to rape-and-pillage is hardly unique to the printed word. What is unique is having librarians standing there quietly going "no, you can't do this" whenever publishers get unruly.

Librarians need all the support they can get. It's a good thing many libraries have cats.
posted by salt at 11:41 AM on July 13, 2001

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