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ARSCLIST  January 2008

ARSCLIST January 2008

Subject:

Re: Libraries, circulation copies and fair use

From:

Karl Miller <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 9 Jan 2008 07:41:12 -0800

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text/plain

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Roger and Allison Kulp <[log in to unmask]> wrote:    ***I think one of the questions Tom is asking,is can a library be held responsible,if a patron borrows a CD or DVD,and burns a copy of it ? My armchair answer is yes, if the RIAA learns about it.If universities can be held liable for "illegal" file sharing that goes on through computers on their property,why not ?
   
  Libraries are not responsible for how a patron uses library materials. For example, the law allows libraries to have unattended photocopy machines. In archival settings, where much of the material is likely to be unpublished or when there are often deposit agreements which specify limitations on copying, one usually needs to apply for permission to copy. While I haven't kept up with some aspects of the law, in the past, libraries were allowed, with certain restrictions, to have unattended audio dubbing facilities. A patron might commit a crime using such a facility, or by illegally duplicating library owned copyrighted material on their own equipment, but the library was not responsible for that crime.
   
  Thinking about this for a minute and reflecting on Tom's original question about a library that would circulate a dub (anticipating deterioration), I am reminded how libraries can be strict in some ways and yet will disregard the law in other ways. I am reminded of the past practice of many music libraries when they would, in support of specific classes, compile anthologies of recorded examples. 
   
  As for the question of a university being liable for the illegal use of its computing facilities, the RIAA has requested user information for those individuals who have been file sharing using that particular university's computing facilities. Some universities have refused to pass along the information. Others have requested a processing fee for each request. 
   
  What seems to me to be most interesting in all of this is the notion of the right of privacy in accessing information. For example, there are laws which govern access to a library patron's use patterns. Also, consider the case of a book like Lebrecht's "Life and Death of Classical Music." As a result of a lawsuit, the British edition of the book had to be withdrawn by the publisher. So, is it legal for a library to circulate a copy of this particular version? Oddly enough, the US version, which is, as far as I know, exactly the same, is still in print in the US. 
   
  Another example...the label AS disc issued some live Koussevitzky broadcast recordings. Berkshire Record Outlet...and others...sold them in the US. They were originally distributed in the US by Qualiton. As I recall, the Boston Symphony got a court order which effectively stopped the sale of those discs in the US. In short, they were, and are, illegal...well probably...even if the ownership of broadcast recordings is still ill defined...the recent AFM agreement with most major orchestras notwithstanding. 
   
  At any rate, those discs are illegal, yet many libraries own and circulate these recordings. The old phrase about a book banned in Boston comes to mind...should a library remove and or destroy those discs? 
   
  I guess my point is that while libraries often fight for the privacy of their patrons, and are, at times, highly restrictive towards access, claiming to be respectful of the rights of the copyright owners, they will often err on the side of convenience, just like the rest of us.
   
  Karl

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