[rumori] pho: re: Lock up the Libraries

From: Don Joyce (djATwebbnet.com)
Date: Thu Jun 07 2001 - 06:37:10 PDT

forwarded by Negativland.

> "One of the loudest and most shameful voices in the debate is that of
>Patricia Schroeder, president and CEO of the Association of American
>Publishers. The former Colorado congresswoman enjoys a distinguished
>12-term record of championing women's rights and sponsoring legislation
>such as the Family Medical Leave Act. But in her latest incarnation as a
>front for the publishing industry, Schroeder has been quoted as saying
>that publishers have to "learn to push back" against libraries, which she
>portrays as an organized band of pirates! "
> http://www.technologyreview.com/magazine/jun01/shulman.asp
> Owning the Future: Looting the Library
> Technology Review, June 2001 By Seth Shulman
> A few years ago, I was walking down the street in one of Manila's poorer
>neighborhoods when I came upon a gaping hole where a sewer grate used to
>be. It was an experience doubtless familiar to many who have traveled in
>the Third World: someone had presumably looted a humble-but
>essential-piece of the city's infrastructure. It brought home to me not
>only what a robust infrastructure we take for granted in the West, but
>also how easily it can erode.
> I am reminded of that missing sewer grate by an all-out battle brewing
>here in the United States-only the gaping hole we're threatened with is in
>the stacks of our public libraries. And in this case it's the publishing
>industry doing the looting. As we plunge into the digital realm, the
>nation's 16,000 public libraries are striving to uphold their tradition as
>protectors of public access to new books and articles. But publishers, in
>an increasingly bald, frontal assault on the library's mission, have
>something very different in mind: a pay-per-use model for information
>content that will largely shut libraries out.
> The battle is being waged on many fronts, from legislative initiatives
>and lawsuits to the publishing industry's unilateral pursuit of
>copy-protection technologies that will keep users-including libraries-from
>sharing digital content. One of the loudest and most shameful voices in
>the debate is that of Patricia Schroeder, president and CEO of the
>Association of American Publishers. The former Colorado congresswoman
>enjoys a distinguished 12-term record of championing women's rights and
>sponsoring legislation such as the Family Medical Leave Act. But in her
>latest incarnation as a front for the publishing industry, Schroeder has
>been quoted as saying that publishers have to "learn to push back" against
>libraries, which she portrays as an organized band of pirates!
> At her most hyperbolic, Schroeder has implied that if libraries let
>people borrow electronic versions of books and journal articles, there
>will be "no copyright left."
> There's no question that publishers need to control content in
>cyberspace. But to hear Schroeder tell it, legions of librarygoers are
>primed to topple the publishing industry. She conjures up visions of
>readers pirating electronic copies of the latest works by E. O. Wilson and
>Maya Angelou faster than Napster users swapped songs by Metallica and
>Britney Spears. Her industry's answer to this far-fetched scenario is a
>preemptive campaign to make people pay for any and all access to published
>works-even those borrowed from libraries.
> Just look at the fight over the back issues of journals and magazines.
>Following a legal precept called the "first-sale doctrine," once libraries
>have purchased a given copy of a magazine or book, they have been free to
>archive it and make it available to their patrons. But now, when libraries
>subscribe to a journal online, their access to back issues is at the
>vendor's discretion. Since publishers now see libraries as a threat to
>their ability to profit from this body of published work, they are trying
>to overturn the first-sale doctrine. What's more, journals and magazines
>are just a piece of a larger picture; both sides know that any new rules
>will likely govern access to e-books as well.
> Perhaps even more troubling is the publishing industry's wholesale attack
>on the "fair use" provisions of copyright law, whereby parts of works can
>be legally quoted or copied for noncommercial and educational purposes.
>Take, for example, a scheme spelled out recently by Peter Chernin,
>president and chief operating officer of Rupert Murdoch's News
>Corporation, which counts HarperCollins Publishers among its vast media
>holdings. Chernin is calling for legislation that, according to Publishers
>Weekly, "guarantees publishers' control of not only the integrity of an
>original work, but of the extent and duration of users' access to that
>work, the availability of data about the work and restrictions on
>forwarding the work to others." Put in plain English, Chernin is
>advocating a world that precludes the possibility of libraries as we know
>them, save perhaps as repositories for the fast-aging hard copies they
>already hold.
> We will undoubtedly hear much more from Schroeder and Chernin as this
>complex battle is joined. However, the answer is emphatically not to
>abandon the core mission of the library but to reinterpret it for these
>times. Whatever systems are developed to control the exchange of published
>work in the digital realm, we need to insist on provisions for the kind of
>public access that libraries have traditionally made possible. Too much is
>at stake to let the publishing industry undo the careful copyright balance
>we have all come to rely upon.
> All of which brings me back to that Manila sewer grate. Just as residents
>there came to treat gaping holes in the street as a normal-even
>acceptable-condition, we could get used to a world without public
>libraries. But the absence of free and accessible information would leave
>a gaping hole in our "infostructure" and result in an impoverished world.
>It is a world we can-and should-resist.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Seth Shulman is a freelance writer and author of the recent book Owning
>The Future.
> Giovanna Imbesi
> TuttoMedia
> http://www.tuttomedia.com
> 310-399-2800
> gioATtuttomedia.com

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