Here in the United States librarians might be ignoring my advice to convert to the new religion of Kopimism, but I’m a genius in France, at least if we go by a group of French librarians who are encouraging people to visit public libraries and copy the books and DVDs they get there.
Apparently, the French government is as wild as the American government, or at least American publishers, to fight Internet piracy, and at least one librarian is fighting back.
30-year-old blogger Silvae is a librarian and calls on members to copy borrowed material. On his blog Bibliobsession, he encourages readers and librarians to launch “copy parties” in public libraries and says others share his views.
“Copy parties”? Instead, they should call them “copy services” as they practice Kopimism. On second thought, if they called them “copy services” someone might confuse them with Copytop.
According to the article:
“The concept of the copy party is simple, members bring computers, cameras, laptops and go on a copy fest inside the library and copy the contents of DVDs, books and CDs. “Do you find this shocking? Well, what is the first objective of a library? It’s to distribute books and works of art,” he writes.
Is that the first objective of a library, to distribute books and works of art? The phrase that American librarians usually fall back on is “access to information,” which is pretty close. Distributing books has been the main way that libraries have allowed people to access information from time immemorial.
The Bibliosessed one “writes that he bases his proposal on the findings of LIonel Maurel, a librarian at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Maurel argues that recent changes in the legislation on copyright in France means members of public libraries are legally allowed to copy works in public libraries.”
That might not be true for American libraries. It’s illegal to copy DVDs regardless of what you want to do with them, but it would be difficult to convict anyone of copying printed books if the files weren’t shared. Just something to think about.
Regardless, Americans embracing Kopimism can claim an exemption based on their Constitutional freedom of religion. The ALA promises to pay all your court costs.
I tried to do my due journalistic duty and verify this, but the Bibliosession blog was having a “Stop SOPA” blackout at the time of writing. That Bibliosession guy is just unhappy about everything, I guess.
The copy parties and the opposition to SOPA are linked. The way publishers have set up the battle, it’s the publishers versus the pirates, and anyone trying to improve access is a potential pirate, and a potential pirate should be treated like an actual pirate. That would explain publishers not allowing libraries to lend ebooks, a story that is increasingly making the national and not just the library news.
Wikipedia (in English) and others are supposed to be blacked out today as well, and The Ubiquitous Librarian speculated on what might happen if academic libraries shut down their electronic sources for the day to make a statement about their often invisible value to the community.
I haven’t seen anyone calling for a public library “blackout” today, though I’m sure people did. Libraries blacking out to protest SOPA seems less supportable than Wikipedia doing it, but libraries blacking out to protest the lack of ebooks might.
Despite the good press, librarians have been way too quiet in the battle to lend ebooks, and it’ll probably hurt them in the end. They should be putting announcements on their websites saying, “You want to check this book out as an ebook? Then contact these publishers and complain about their anti-library lending policies,” with a list of the offending publishers.
A national campaign like that might be effective, especially if it became obvious so many readers want books from libraries that they can’t all be “pirates.” For that matter, even “pirates” probably buy books.
The ALA could coordinate a campaign like that, though now that I’ve suggested it they can use my support for the initiative as a reason for inaction.
Public libraries could also shut down for a day with the same message, but they probably won’t. “Access to information” is more important that fighting to make sure libraries can still lend books in the future.
In the meantime, maybe your local library can host a copy party.