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Desperation Shows As Critics Argue That Nominated Librarian Of Congress Is 'Pro Obscenity'

from the that's-the-best-you've-got? dept

Last week, we wrote about the exciting decision by President Obama to nominate Dr. Carla Hayden to be the next Librarian of Congress. As we noted at the time, she seemed immensely qualified for the position, having successfully run and modernized the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. She also clearly recognized the importance of open access and access to culture. Given the job, there's really no honest reason that people can find to criticize the choice. She seems almost perfectly qualified for the position.

But, of course, there are some critics, and boy, are they reaching deep in the depths of inanity to attack this choice. A key issue, of course, is that the Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress, so Hayden would run the Copyright Office as well. In our original post, we already noted the rather snide statement put out by the RIAA, which basically says "Hayden's fine for the library, but she better keep her filthy hands off of the Copyright Office":
“We are gratified that President Obama has chosen a qualified and capable nominee to be the next Librarian of Congress. We look forward to working with Dr. Hayden.

“It is worth noting that the Library of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office have been mutually respectful of each other’s areas of expertise. We would hope that the new Librarian would continue to demonstrate that respect for the Copyright Office’s expertise in copyright policy and recommendations to Congress.”
This is bullshit, of course. Basically, the Copyright Office has been ignored by the Librarian of Congress, because the last Librarian basically ignored his job, focusing on hobnobbing with rich people in fancy locations, asking them for money. The MPAA's statement wasn't quite as bad, but did laughably claim that they hope she'll honor "the role of copyright as a driver of knowledge and creativity" which is not a particularly accurate statement:
“We congratulate Dr. Carla Hayden on her nomination. The Librarian of Congress plays a pivotal role for the copyright industries and the nation as a whole as the custodian of our intellectual and cultural heritage. We look forward to learning more during the confirmation process about Dr. Hayden’s vision for leading the Library and honoring the role of copyright as a driver of knowledge and creativity, as well as an engine of our nation’s economic growth and positive trade balance.”
The sketchy lobbying group, the Copyright Alliance did something similar to the RIAA, saying "keep your hands off the Copyright Office."
“We in the Copyright Community hope that Dr. Hayden will demonstrate a deep respect for the value of copyright; appreciate and support the value of authorship to our culture and the laws that protect that authorship; cultivate a direct relationship with the Register of the Copyright Office, Maria Pallante, and continue the deference that the Librarian of Congress has historically demonstrated to the Register of Copyrights.”
But from there, the complaints really stretch the bounds of reality. First up, there's old friend of the blog, perpetually angrily confused musician David Lowery, who breathlessly announced his horror at the fact that the "former director of [a] P2P Piracy Alliance" had endorsed Hayden. Of course, what Lowery leaves out entirely, is the fact that the individual in question, Adam Eisgrau, works for the American Library Association, the exceptionally well respected organization that represents library interests, and of which Dr. Hayden was once President. So it should hardly be a surprise that the ALA supports Hayden's nomination.

But, in Lowery's telling, this is all really about piracy, because well over a decade ago, Eisgrau happened to run the group P2P United, which represented a bunch of P2P applications in lobbying Congress to teach them about the technology and the fact that it had plenty of non-infringing uses. The group once helped raise money to pay off the $2,000 fine that the RIAA forced upon a 12-year-old honor student who downloaded some music. And, as Eisgrau noted at the time, contrary to Lowery's claim that his group was about supporting piracy, the group had always spoken out against piracy, but warned about the harm of throwing out the baby (P2P technology) with the bathwater of infringement by some users.

But, really, Lowery's statement is not the craziest one we've seen. That award goes to a press release I received yesterday from a group called The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) trumpeting that "Obama nominee to Library of Congress led a pro-obscenity group!" Oh really? Of course, it turns out that the "pro-obscenity group" is also the famous and well respected... American Library Association. NCOSE insists they're "pro-obscenity" and "pro-porn" because the ALA has long fought against mandatory internet filters in libraries.
President Obama has announced his intention to nominate Dr. Carla Hayden, former president of the American Library Association, to the post of Librarian of Congress. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) believes that the pro-pornography agenda of the ALA raises concerns about Dr. Hayden’s nomination.

"The American Library Association (ALA) has been on a campaign to prevent the use of pornography-blocking Internet filtering systems on public library computers since the 1990s," said Patrick Trueman, president and CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. "The ALA even filed suit in 2001 against the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), written by U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The act was designed to protect children from pornography by requiring the use of Internet filters on computers at public libraries receiving federal funds. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld this statute as constitutional. Yet, the ALA during Dr. Hayden’s tenure as president opposed this common sense measure and distorted the Supreme Court’s decision regarding it, as it continues to do to this day."
That, of course, is a massive misstatement of history. The ALA opposed mandatory filters not because it's "pro-obscenity" but because those filters don't work (both in that they block a lot more than porn, including important educational resources, and in that lots of porn still gets through) and because libraries believe in the importance of freedom to access information. That doesn't mean that it's okay for children to surf porn, but that there are better ways to deal with that than mandatory filters on all computers (even ones exclusively used by adults).

To understand the actual positions of the ALA regarding CIPA, why not read the group's actual statements, such as the explanation of why mandatory filters may not be the best solution by former ALA President Nancy Kranich:
Librarians are dedicated and committed to providing an enriching and safe online experience for children and adults alike. We care deeply about children and all of our library users. We have taken numerous steps to help communities develop policies and programs that ensure that their library users have a positive online experience. Based on our extensive experience working with children and their parents everyday throughout the country, we know what works. More than 95 percent of public libraries have Internet-access policies that were created with community input. These policies set forth the community’s rights and responsibilities for conducting productive, safe Internet use. The vast majority of library patrons use the Internet responsibly, as outlined by their communities’ policies....

... Just as every parent is a little different, every local community has its own set of priorities based on its geography, demographics and size - to name just a few of the factors.

This presents a major problem with the Children’s Internet Protection Act. This legislation imposes a one-size-fits-all mechanical solution on libraries that are as diverse as our families and takes away local and parental control, ceding it to unaccountable filtering companies. Blocking technologies come between librarians and their mission - to connect people with a broad range of information to meet their needs.
And another statement by former ALA President John Berry:
The filtering mandate imposed by Congress is unworkable in the context of a public institution because it restricts access to constitutionally protected speech on the users served by libraries. No filtering or blocking technology exists that blocks access only to speech that is obscene, child pornography or harmful to minors. And no filtering technology protects children from all objectionable materials. many of you will have seen the March issue of Consumer Reports evaluating several filtering software products; the best of the products failed to block one objectionable site in five.

We’re concerned that filters give parents a false sense of security that their children are protected when they are not. Not all problems brought on by transformative technological innovation, like the Internet, have technological solutions, at least in the short term. We believe that education is more effective than filters—kids need to make good decisions about what they read and view, no matter where they are. To be sure, this is a collaborative effort between parents, teachers, librarians and many others.

The Children’s Internet Protection Act is a misnomer. The legislation does not strictly limit access for minors, but for adults and all Internet users in a library.
If this is the best that people can come up with, hopefully it means that Hayden's nomination will sail through. But, boy, people are reaching deep to argue that the American Library Association is either "pro-piracy" or "pro-pornography" by misrepresenting events from over a decade ago, and magically tying them to Dr. Hayden.

Reader Comments

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  • identicon
    Rekrul, 3 Mar 2016 @ 10:52am

    I'm pro-obscenity. I don't think the government or courts should arbitrarily be deciding what is and isn't acceptable on the basis of how offended they are by any particular thing. Obscenity as a legal concept needs to go.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 3 Mar 2016 @ 10:53am

      Re:

      Obscenity as a legal concept needs to be better defined. For example: a work shall be considered obscene if it cannot be approved for the Apple store.

      Oh, wait. Maybe that's not a good example.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2016 @ 11:27am

        Re: Re:

        ... a work shall be considered obscene if it cannot be approved for the Apple store.

        Oh, wait. Maybe that's not a good example...



        A better example would be Penthouse. If Penthouse is willing to publish a work, it's not obscene.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          David, 3 Mar 2016 @ 2:24pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          A better example would be Penthouse. If Penthouse is willing to publish a work, it's not obscene.

          Who would we be doing a favor banning theoretical physics as obscene?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2016 @ 11:05am

      Re:

      The fact that a concept unabashedly infantalizing as governments censoring bad words and pictures in the face of clear language stating otherwise, leading to centuries of absurd rationalizations called jurisprudence is the true obscenity here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 3 Mar 2016 @ 10:52am

    I think the MPAA means

    The MPAA hopes she'll honor the role of copyright as a driver of censorship and eternal rent seeking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 3 Mar 2016 @ 10:56am

      Re: I think the MPAA means

      The RIAA is no better.
      We in the Copyright Community hope that Dr. Hayden will demonstrate a deep respect for the value of copyright; appreciate and support the value of authorship to our culture and the laws that protect that authorship;
      We in the Copyright Community hope that Dr. Hayden will demonstrate a deep respect for the value of monopolies; appreciate and support the value of censorship to our culture and the laws that protect that censorship;

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2016 @ 8:58pm

        Re: Re: I think the **** means

        We in the **** **** hope that Dr. Hayden will demonstrate a deep **** for the value of ****; appreciate and support the value of **** to our **** and the laws that protect that ****;

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2016 @ 10:52am

    And she's out! (they hope)

    she seemed immensely qualified for the position

    Strike 1.

    having successfully run and modernized the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore

    Strike 2.

    She also clearly recognized the importance of open access and access to culture.

    Oh, hell no!
    Strike 3!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2016 @ 11:06am

    OMG! Don't tell me he's pro-freedom of speech, too...?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sorrykb (profile), 3 Mar 2016 @ 11:10am

    For the children

    "The American Library Association (ALA) has been on a campaign to prevent the use of pornography-blocking Internet filtering systems on public library computers since the 1990s," said Patrick Trueman, president and CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. "The ALA even filed suit in 2001 against the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), written by U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The act was designed to protect children from pornography by requiring the use of Internet filters on computers at public libraries receiving federal funds."

    I challenge NCOSE to prove that it's done even half as much for children's welfare in its 60+ years of existence than a public library does in a single year.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2016 @ 11:51am

    If NCOSE truly cared about obscenity, they'd focus more on the RIAA and MPAA, who harbored people like Roman Polanski, Garry Glitter, R Kelly, and all those people who sexually harassed Corey Feldman and countless others. They've done more damage to children than any picture of a naked lady ever has.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jessamyn West, 3 Mar 2016 @ 12:14pm

    Thank you

    Sometimes it can be complicated to explain our anti-censorship and pro-privacy professional values in the library world to outsiders. These values sound so out of line with standard business practices that people feel that they must be hiding some sort of nefarious other agenda.

    Internet filters don't work. The ALA is a 60,000+ member organization which works very hard on a regular basis to ensure that people have access to the information they want and need in order to solve problems in their lives or just ... because they want it. It's no one's business bus theirs.

    Dr. Hayden is a staunch advocate for libraries and the people who libraries serve. We are lucky she's been nominated and should hope she's chosen to lead the Library of Congress into this century.

    Thank you for this article.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anomynuos Crowad, 3 Mar 2016 @ 1:47pm

    And why would being "pro-porn" be a bad thing to begin with?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 3 Mar 2016 @ 2:35pm

      Re:

      Beat me to it. What does it tell about me that I recognize all the minute differences (mostly in the accompanying prose) of this 1967 recording to the 1965 "That was the year that was" rendition?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2016 @ 2:03pm

    Where is the...

    Save the Children, be a Better Parent campaign with a best practices list for parents to follow?

    I be there is a trick or two that doesn't require lawsuits, filtering, taking websites down, infringement on others wants or desires, and doesn't require or allow someone to impose their idea of morality on others. That's the easy part. Getting parents who aren't already practicing these to follow through is the hard part.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Riff Ronely, 3 Mar 2016 @ 9:14pm

    Great nomination!

    The library. Books, all kinds of books, news, periodicals, music, video, movies, presentations, pictures, slides, studies, research papers and sometimes even small gatherings for this or that or music and magic.

    That kind of sounds like the internet.

    Today's copyright industries sure do hate both.

    If only they hadn't woken up twelve years ago in a 222bpm cocaine driven panic. Censorship sucks. Filtering is a fundamental fault. The internet is breaking because a troop of 800lb ancient and angry gorillas have been beating on it for well over a decade.

    The copyright industry and the complexes that support it suck (everything).

    If only we could be sane and do something like a copyright that granted the original authors and creators all rights over their works for life + 25 years with a provision for an additional 25 years past the create date of the works in the event of an inconvenient death (make a song, poem or painting when you're 90 and pass the next day? 50 years), for the families. If any creator signs over their rights then the rights to those works terminate in 50 years. At the end of these terms the works become part of the public domain. All works, all rights, everywhere.

    Information and art is meant to be shared thus guaranteeing a steady flow of knowledge and progress. All of which is meant to be enjoyed. All of which is presently being forced into an overvalued prospect of overpriced digital strangulation for centuries.

    If only.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2016 @ 12:36am

      Re: Great nomination!

      Copyright was implemented for,and benefits the middlemen much more that the creators. Besides which the Internet is showing that building a fan base is much more important than any copyright, and that there is money to be made offering services to creators, without demanding that you gain control over the works that they create.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2016 @ 11:55pm

    surprised they don't just call her a terrorist for not supporting their views.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Beech, 4 Mar 2016 @ 2:10am

    Information

    Wait, they're up in arms because the future Librarian of Congress was involved with a group or librarians that focused on getting information to people? AND she's endorsed (but not affiliated in any way) with another group that's focused on getting people information? AND there's a chance that group possibly wanted to get information to people for free?

    How can Obama, in good conscience, nominate someone who wants people to have free access to information to the position of Librarian of Congress?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    M. Alan Thomas II (profile), 4 Mar 2016 @ 3:13am

    By "Sexual Exploitation" the NCOSE means, among other things, "pornography." This is the group known until recently as Morality in Media. Their annual "Dirty Dozen" list of "the top 12 facilitators of porn in America" / "leading contributors of sexual exploitation" regularly features such stalwarts as the American Library Association, the Department of Justice and/or Attorney General, the Department of Defense, Wikipedia, and anyone whose ad campaigns they felt were over-sexualized (although some of their claims suggest that their mind is dirtier than mine if that's what they're getting out of it).

    Basically, they're well-known, longtime haters operating under a new name.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 4 Mar 2016 @ 5:40am

      Re:

      although some of their claims suggest that their mind is dirtier than mine if that's what they're getting out of it

      Give me a moralist and I will show hideous things in his/her mind. Those who verborrhage (spew bullshit) the most are often the ones with most twisted beliefs, ideas.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 7 Mar 2016 @ 8:02am

      Re:

      anyone whose ad campaigns they felt were over-sexualized (although some of their claims suggest that their mind is dirtier than mine if that's what they're getting out of it).

      I didn't look at their list, but there would be plenty to choose from.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 4 Mar 2016 @ 5:59am

    Not a surprise considering these guys are in the same league of people who ruined lives of students, single mothers, elders and printers pursuing imaginary losses. It would be a surprise if they actually presented sane argumentation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 4 Mar 2016 @ 11:28am

    Um yeah. "Obscenity"

    Ours is a culture where bronze boobies and girls eating ice cream are band on Facebook while videos of people killing cats with blowtorches are not.

    I think we have an abysmally fucked up notion of what is or isn't obscene.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Mar 2016 @ 12:56am

    "We would hope that the new Librarian would continue to demonstrate that respect for the Copyright Office’s expertise in copyright policy and recommendations to Congress."
    Otherwise we might have to spend more to keep the broken system that only benefits us

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 6 Mar 2016 @ 2:58am

    "Think of the children!"

    Translation: "We're too embarrassed to discuss natural, normal, life-learning issues with our kids, so leave us alone! We want our kids to be just as screwed up as we are!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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