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RE: IP industry control of use

> Common and accepted practices
> regarding individual and institutional use of intellectual property are
> being turned into a per use/per device toll road

Personally, I'm a big fan of toll roads.  Only the people who use them get
charged, and the more they use them, the more they pay.  It's much fairer
than taking that money out of the paycheck of someone who can't afford a
car.  But I digress...

> What a strange way to negate copyright
> laws. You bought it--it isn't yours because i've hidden a license inside.

That's kind of like saying that employment contracts are a strange way to
negate the right of free assembly.  I may have a constitutional right to
stand on the sidewalk with my friends and talk about politics, but I also
have right to sign a contract saying I'll show up for work at 8:00 in the
morning on Monday, and thus voluntarily limit my right to do other things
at that time.

But that's another digression, because the problem with shrinkwrap
licenses is mutuality.  Until UCITA passes in Nevada, I'm not taking most
shrinkwrap licenses very seriously.  I'm no lawyer, but as I understand
it, if the contract isn't mutual it's not a contract.  You can put a
shrinkwrap license in there if you want, but I'm not under any obligation
to adhere to it.

> The IP industry has not shirked at wild and overblown scare tactics and
> statements. There is no reason they shouldn't get a bit of their
> own tactics back.

Actually, there's a very good reason: this conversation needs grownups.
Wild and overblown scare tactics are stupid no matter who they come from,
and they don't solve the problems, which are real (on both sides).  It's
stupid to cast librarians as moustache-twirling copyright guerillas, and
it's also stupid to cast owners of intellectual property as venal,
money-grubbing copyright fascists (though both characterizations may be
accurate in certain cases).  Publishers are not wrong to be worried that
the new information environment presents a threat to the integrity of
their copyrights; librarians are not wrong to worry that pending
legislation presents a threat to the legitimate sharing of copyrighted
information.  But nobody outside the library profession wants to hear what
librarians think about this conflict because talking to librarians about
copyright is too often like talking to Rush Limbaugh about welfare.

> If anything the library and user community has been too quiescent in the
> face of the aggressive behavior of the IP industry and its well placed
> lobbyists. A really "cute" argument that they've repeated: "we have to eat
> too".

Maybe my problem is that I earn a significant chunk of my annual income by
selling the copyright to my work, so I tend to be a bit more sympathetic
to the plight of information providers than I might be otherwise.  (Cue
violins) When I was younger and my wife was pregnant with our first child,
I put the $15 I made each week writing a newspaper column into the bank,
and when we'd saved about $150 we used that money to buy a crib.  That was
the most satisfying experience I've ever had as a writer.  For me, as well
as for the vast majority of working stiffs in the publishing industry
(violins swell) the integrity of copyright has a lot to do with how well
my family eats.  Yes, Elsevier and Wiley are big, wealthy corporations.
As publishers, they're an anomaly -- for every highly profitable publisher
there are probably ten that are barely breaking even and another ten
operating at a loss.  And even the big ones like Elsevier are primarily
populated by wage earners.  So the "we have to eat too" argument is maybe
not as ridiculous as some of us would like to make it sound.

(Folk, let's give Chuck a moment to compose himself; I'm sure he's wiping
tears away and blowing his nose...  :-) )

Rick Anderson
Director of Resource Acquisition
The University Libraries
University of Nevada, Reno        "When you think Phil, you
1664 No. Virginia St.              think hip-hop."
Reno, NV  89557                       -- Phil Donahue
PH  (775) 784-6500 x273
FX  (775) 784-1328