Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Library Things in the News

It’s been a crazy week in the news for libraries.

The weirdest story has to be this one from Florida. The headline claims that a male librarian at Florida Atlantic University was arrested for filming students masturbating and urinating in the library restrooms, although from the story it’s not clear if he was an actual librarian or just someone who worked in the library.

Either way, eww.

One student reported him after the library guy was paying too much attention to him in the restroom. Makes sense.

Then there’s the concerned student who “then discovered a 30-second clip of himself peeing had been posted to”

It wasn’t reported just how the student discovered the clip, but it couldn’t have been tastefully. Imagine the shock if you’re looking for some porn and discover something like that.

A sadder story is that the shooter in the school shooting in Colorado last week was supposedly targeting the school librarian. The librarian is also the debate coach and had “disciplined” the student somehow earlier in the school year. It’s too depressing to think about.

But the story that intrigued me the most came via Library Link of the Day about a father who “bought” a digital Christmas movie by Disney from Amazon, but was disappointed that when he and his children tried to watch it, the movie had disappeared from his Amazon account.

Disney apparently wanted to show the movie exclusively on their own TV channel, so they pulled it from Amazon, even for those who had “bought” it. A nice Merry Christmas from Disney.

After some hassle, the movie was refunded, then returned to his account, but the father seems to have learned a Christmas lesson.

“I don’t think you can buy digital content at this time,” he said. “I don’t think it’s possible. There may be a button that says buy now, but that does not exist. It’s a rental. Any promise that it’s going to be there forever, it’s only good as long as the company exists and decides it’s OK.”

What amazes me is how few people seem to realize that when they pay Amazon or some other company for digital content, they’re not buying it. They’re just licensing some software. In a sense, giving this stuff as gifts is giving the weirdest present ever.

The same is true for libraries, of course, and I still question the wisdom of a library paying considerably more for an ebook than a paper book and not actually owning anything. Does that really seem like a wise use of funds?

But what the heck. The/A holiday season is around the corner, so I’ll be too busy celebrating to worry about it, especially since I’m not planning to watch any Disney movies.



  1. Brandon Nordin says:

    Surprised your surprised, re the perception of buying vs licensing digital media. I seem to recollect even in the shrink-wrap box of software era, one was actually licensing the SW from Microsoft et al, vs. an out and out purchase. Overall, one of the untold stories of the print to digital transition is the move from physical ownership to licensed/lease access – with an implied potential of changed condition of use, well after the initial acquisition date.

    Things like Post cancellation access often have similar issues in the library. It’s often assumed, but in fact is a specifically licensed issue. Different types of products may have different types of rights, even from the same publisher. Similarly access rights may vary or change by class of account or geographic market.

    However, the benefits and conveniences of digital access largely outstrip the simplicity of legacy media models. The inconsistencies – as the market seeks to evolve to a new set of “standards” amidst a high rate of technology and technology-driven social change – are annoying and at times, time-consuming to understand, anticipate and resolve for information publishers and consumers alike.

  2. BlahBlahBlah says:

    The male library employee at FAU is not a librarian.

  3. For movies and music, I only buy them on “physical” media. As your story shows, you can’t trust “digital” media when it comes to ownership.

    • The Librarian With No Name says:

      Interesting. For myself, I find it much more infuriating to pay for a physical disc that gradually gets scratched beyond playability over the years. At least if Apple or Amazon pulls the plug on my media collection I can get good and outraged and complain to my local paper. When a CD wears out, it’s just as gone, and I’ve got nobody to blame but the inexorable increase in universal entropy.

  4. AL, you’re such a pisser!

  5. When you buy a book, you don’t buy or own the intellectual property, you license a bundle of rights and buy some paper. The fact that it is not easy to separate the intellectual property from the stack of paper doesn’t change the bundle of rights you license, it just makes it harder for the owner of the intellectual rights to manage the use license provisions. The only reason you can sell a used book is because there really isn’t a practical way to stop you. Digital media merely makes it easier for intellectual property rights holders to do what they’ve wanted to do previously but couldn’t.

    • Actually, you can sell a used book because of what’s known as the “first use doctrine.”

    • First sale doctrine is merely legal recognition of the fact that there has been no practical way to separate form from content. Now, there is.

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