Class Assignment:

I think one of the biggest threats to libraries today is the ridiculous expenses they will incur from the way in which the owners and distributors of information will seek to control it via licensing and the like. Also, the idea of stealing web design is a new one to me–it didn’t really occur to me you copyright, if that makes sense.

That said? I’ve stolen just about every kind of digital media there is to steal. Music, audio books, PDFs, MPEGs. You name it.

I’m not saying it was right. But it didn’t feel wrong. I’d already purchased some of that music on vinyl—why not just snag a digital version? I missed an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer because my affiliate bumped it in favor of basketball—I didn’t see how it was a big deal that I downloaded it from a newsgroup. I felt self-sufficient.

When I heard people were being sued on an individual level I mostly cut it out—who needs that level of hassle over a TV show? It didn’t occur to me that people would use the data for anything but personal use—as Lessig suggested in the NPR interview, at most somebody would use it to create something new (a form of creativity I am very much in favor of).

It wasn’t until recently that I started to think about how that applied to libraries. I don’t think it’s the librarian’s job to act as a data cop; particularly as it’s his or her duty to make data accessible. I recently read that small academic libraries (and others, I’m sure) have taken to getting Netflix subscriptions in order to provide streaming movies and TV shows to users. The idea first surfaced back in 2008 but it seems to have caught fire actually got big enough to catch Netflix’s attention. So far, they are disinclined to go after libraries but certainly if it becomes a bigger issue libraries will force the Netflix corporate hand. And, weirdly, I found myself on the side of Netflix. This is a clear violation of their terms. But what about lending? And streaming? And remix and copyright? I’m just not sure. It seems like I’m okay with individuals using their internet wits to free up a few episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which you can watch on Netflix streaming now) but I’m against it at an institutional level. I feel hypocritical.

A topic touched on in the readings that I hadn’t given much thought to before is the idea of copying web design as an infringement of copyright—it’s an interesting idea. And one I should have considered before since I had a craft business online—and a copycat who lifted my designs and sold them as her own (she even went so far as to plagiarize the copy on my website but she didn’t lift the design—I’m a good crafter and bad web developer, it turns out). So I’m familiar with the frustrating feeling of having your creative ideas ripped off and badly reinterpreted.

I think, much like Lessig, that the rules need to be revised when it comes to copyright. We need to set up guidelines that allow for experimentation and creativity without truly damaging individual innovation and creativity. I liked many of the ideas he broached in the interview with Terry Gross (I also enjoyed his pacifying of her fear/outrage that Things Are Changing and She Does Not Understand).