Intellectual Property or Intellectual Poverty?

Librarians everywhere are understandably bent out of shape over recent events.  Apparently several major publishing companies have decided that they don’t like money.  More accurately, they’ve decided they are too frightened of having their products, once sold, illegally replicated by library borrowers,  to sell them to libraries.  How else to explain their decision to refuse to sell e-books to libraries, the places where cheap, thrifty and/or poor people have traditionally been able to borrow books for free?  This is ridiculous for many reasons including, but not limited to the following.

-It creates a demand for free, illegally copied e-books because you cannot get them from the library.

-If the security risk is so great, why risk selling the e-book at all?  Whose going to stop Joe Schmo from illegally copying the e-book he just purchased?

-In a situation wherein the long-standing, established paradigm is being turned on its head, shouldn’t one, if one happens to be an e-book publisher, remain flexible?  Isn’t it possible some previously unseen model, wherein libraries pay something akin to the licensing fees paid by radio stations for songs broadcast over the air (a risky endeavor wherein some canny listener might record the song and, God forbid, listen to it for free, over and over again, and even pass it along–gasp!–to his friends?

This is ridiculous.  I’m going home for the weekend and when I get back on monday, hopefully the intellectual property pixies will have everything magically sorted out.

-Ed Scripsi

Published in: on February 10, 2012 at 6:11 pm  Comments (4)  

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  1. The topic of copyright law and intellectually property has come up a lot recently in my household. We are living in a time of great change and publishing companies (as well as music labels and movie studios) eventually going to have to stop fighting the change or else be left behind by those that do. I had not thought about how it is affecting libraries, it is an interesting perspective.

  2. As intellectual property has been linked to physical media, and the duration of copyrights extended, there seems to be the perception that intellectual capital is static, i.e.: this thing, once thought up, belongs to me, Sir Paul McCartney FOREVER, mwahhaaahaaahahhaaaa. Obviously people gots to get paid for coming up with new stuff. But the real intellectual capital is the ability to think up and create good stuff in the first place. Besides which, the “value” of a book, for example, is largely contextual to a certain time and place. Sure, there’s transcendent value but really? No e-books for libraries? Profiteering, plain and simple.

  3. […] raise the prices of  eBooks” by Apple and several major publishers.  So perhaps I wrong in an earlier blog post to accuse publishers of hating money.  Keep abreast of this gripping story and find out!  And have you, trusty eBook fans of the […]

  4. […] shooting off my uninformed mouth on the eBook mess, I read David Carr’s piece on “Book Publishing’s Real […]

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