Heard people talking on Twitter about Dorothea Salo‘s presentation “I own copyright, so I pwn you!”at the Special Libraries Association conference this week, and was sorry to miss it. Now that I’ve seen her slides, I’m even MORE sorry. I particularly liked her “LESSONS” slides, which bring up some of the concepts that I tried to put in the “Librarian’s Copyright Litany“, but more action-oriented and direct. Here they are, each followed by my commentary:
“No more Nice Librarian! When copyright holders act as enemies of all we value, we need to treat them as such.”
Librarians are not, generalizing broadly, the kind of people who embrace confrontation. But being “nice” has not really gotten us where we want to go, especially with regard to the increasing tensions between the library and publishing worlds.
While not every librarian needs to be an aggressive copyfighter; we do all need to be aware of the issues, and paying attention to who is on our side. It is not overblown to characterize recent actions (suing over course uses; attacking interlibrary loan) of some publishers as the actions of enemies.
“We are not the copyright police! We must resist all attempts to turn us into enforcers.”
I see a lot of librarians who take action to protect the copyrights of corporate content providers by telling our patrons what they cannot do. While I do appreciate that some of my colleagues are worried about protecting their patrons from lawsuits, others with whom I’ve talked seem to feel a moral obligation to “protect” content from users. This seems to me to be getting the values of librarianship backwards.
“Time to put our benjamins where our mouths are. Open access ain’t free. If we want it, time to pony up.”
Yes, with our ever-declining budgets, that means ceasing to buy some of the things we currently pay for. May I suggest starting with the ones that restrict our users’ rights to actually make use of them?
“We need to own our own stuff. If we don’t negotiate for what we write, who will do it for us?”
Librarians do not always do a bang-up job of providing access to our own content – even in the journals we run ourselves. We need to do better on that, including changing policies of journals we run, retaining our rights as authors when we publish elsewhere, and we need to actually follow through and post our stuff in permanent locations online.
Actually, I need to do that. I cc-licensed the paper I presented at the ACRL conference, but I have not uploaded it to our institutional repository yet. Bad CopyrightLibrarian! Time to do better!
Please note: images and textual quotations in this post are courtesy of Dorothea Salo, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license. No, I did not ask her if I could use them. That would be disrespectful and a waste of both our time.
My blog writing is, as always, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.