Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 8th Oct 2010 13:53 UTC
Legal You think only "pirates" and "freeloaders" rail against current copyright laws? Well, think again - even the Library of Congress seemingly has had enough. The topic is recorded sound preservation, and in a 181-page in-depth study, the Library of Congress concludes that apart from technical difficulties, US copyright law makes it virtually impossible for anyone to perform any form of audio preservation. The painted picture is grim - very grim.
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Libraries are in danger
by orfanum on Fri 8th Oct 2010 21:29 UTC
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The situation is even grimmer than people think; these bad copyright laws are being 'broken', not by good people but by rich (potentially dominant ones), i.e., Google, who can afford litigation and which will therefore become the ultimate beneficiary. Publicly-funded bodies do not like to get near courts, so there's a reticence digitally to preserve or make things available if these processes run the risk even of transgressing copyright law (and at a tangent we have the bizarre situation currently of some University Presses taking another university to legal task over a new application of 'fair use' policy: - this how deleterious copyright law and the digital environment is to the free movement of knowledge).

Here in the UK, an elsewhere, libraries of all stripes are under pressure, not so much from the financial crisis but from the so-called 'Amazoogle' effect: the notion amongst patrons that libraries are second rate to what can be sourced via the Internet (not knowing of course that an awful lot of metadata and content has been offered up to Google for indexing - Google would not 'have' the content otherwise).

As one famous defender of academic libraries (which are likely to be the ones with the knowledge, expertise and content to provide posterity with what we have today) puts it here: some libraries and their institutions are older than most current nation states (and I could add: older also than any corporation). There is longevity and persistence of purpose in them, the goal being to preserve and protect and disseminate human knowledge.

Each time we use Google over a local library catalogue, there's a potential further nail going into the coffin of precisely those institutions that feed it content and metadata, in the hope of furthering their own philanthropic and educational aims. Eventually, once Google has its cache of all the world's knowledge, it will not care about the original institutions. In fact, in some ways, it could be argued that digitisation may well lead to a situation of less long-term and equitable availability of cultural goods: for technical, legal and corporate-interest reasons.

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