Not Fit For Purpose: Libraries Explain How Copyright Failed Libraries During The Pandemic

from the and-it's-still-failing dept

It’s no secret that copyright and libraries are often in conflict with one another. We’ve pointed out repeatedly how modern publishers would never allow libraries to come into existence if they weren’t here already. The publishers have made that clear by trying to sue out of existence all sorts of things that appear to be indistinguishable from libraries, including the Internet Archive.

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) recently released a research report based on a survey of over 100 libraries worldwide, exploring whether or not copyright laws got in the way of libraries being libraries during the pandemic, and the answer was a resounding “yes!”

In short, it appears that libraries repeatedly found copyright getting in the way of doing basic, fundamental, library-related tasks, in part because attempts to go online during the pandemic were blocked by publishers who want to believe everything digital must be licensed at all times. 83% of libraries surveyed pointed out that they had “copyright-related challenges” during the pandemic.

One of the most troubling parts of this was that libraries that serve schools found that they could not do what they would have had every right to do in person, because of the publishers’ views of how the internet and licensing works.

Libraries supporting online classrooms faced legal issues around communicating content at a distance. These included whether it was allowed to play music or films in online class settings, as would have been done during in-person classes, or to record lectures that involved copyrighted material. Technical restrictions on conferencing and streaming platforms designed to limit unauthorized sharing of audio & video content restricted uses allowed under copyright. Licenses that allowed material to be accessed on-site only were not useful during closures, and were not necessarily re-negotiated to allow off-site access.

Also more than half of libraries surveyed found that they were unable to serve people online even though they would have been able to serve them in person… but thanks to the pandemic, that was not an option:

In particular, 52% of libraries that had copyright challenges indicated challenges with providing access internationally, as students and faculty returned to their home countries where differences in licenses and technological infrastructure created difficulties. In other cases, libraries had difficulty providing articles and books to patrons who were not institutionally affiliated, but who would have otherwise been served as ‘walk-ins’ on-site.

Given that the purpose of copyright is supposed to be to provide the public with more access to content, this seems like a real problem.

Of course, this is the kind of thing that Congress could fix, and the Copyright Office could help in that effort, but instead, both are simply looking to come up with more ways to make it even more difficult for people to access content online.

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Companies: ifla

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Comments on “Not Fit For Purpose: Libraries Explain How Copyright Failed Libraries During The Pandemic”

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Anonymous Coward says:

like everything/everyone else, libraries simply dont matter! the only thing that is of any consequence is everything to do with the entertainment industries! they are not gonna rest until they have taken complete control of the Internet, stopped everyone doing anything that these assholes dont like and basically fucked up everything that is of any use, any help to customers and the public! and those in government are doing everything they can possibly think of to help achieve this glorified fuck up, because of the back-handers they are getting!

Anonymous Coward says:


What are you asking for? That Techdirt stop reporting on libraries? Please clarify.

Libraries do matter. They are stakeholders with more leverage because they are crucial for education. Most artists and consumers don’t have that kind of leverage. If you want to reform copyright laws, then you need to realize that libraries are your allies.

GHB (profile) says:

Copyright, more like copyshite

Companies are already pushing the boundaries of what they aren’t allowed to do with copyright law. Section 1201, abusive takedown notices and contracts of any kind, including EULAs are the ways that enable them of such acts.

On the contract part, take a look at this, from the IA’s message: on page 15

Anonymous Coward says:

Copyrights are not fit for anything but to serve the greed of a class of selfish social parasites. Copyrights are a rotten tool of the government, orginally created for rotten purposes and being used against us for rotten purposes.

Free up our culture and markets. Bring back free to free markets. Bring back freedom to freedoms Take back our civil rights. Protect our libraries and our access to culture. Protect our public domain. The class of social parasites that copyrights create , they are robbers as they are robbing us of value using the mighty arms of the government. They feed on us and giving us relatively little in value in return. They want to suck us dry and rob us of our culture and civil rights. Get rid of those monoployists. Break their power. Create a brighter world for our children and grandchildren. Create real value. End this plague on our generation, end this curse on our society, Abolish copyrights!

Copyrights have no bright future. It belong to the bin of history, a relic of an unenlightened past. It is a folly of unimaginative closed minds, minds closed to innovation in business models. Not all business models are worth protecting and not all traditions worth protecting. Its time we recognize this. Its 2022, it’s past due time to bury Queen Anne’s legacy.

Anonymous Coward says:

copyright cartel

so your a teacher with online classes. OK. now you want to use a book, vid, music, science publication. sure no problem! and your class size is? prefect. we just need a license for every student to look at any piece of content used for education!
starting a new class and want to use the same content? no problem! so how many NEW licenses will you be needing?
rinse and repeat!

since we came late to the copyright party we reluctantly will allow you to loan out hard copy’s of any copyright cartel content for free.
but with everything becoming digital. we expect a license fee for every loaned out use of anything digital!

as the copyright cartel we see no problem with anyone having access to the content you want…. as long as we get our cut!


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