Streaming Media Makes Obtaining Content Harder for Libraries

An article in The Chronicle reveals the all-too-real frustrations of obtaining digital content for academic libraries, like the University of Iowa.

How Streaming Media Could Threaten the Mission of Libraries, by Steve Kolowich

Excerpt:

In March 2011, the University of Washington’s library tried to get a copy of a new recording of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, playing Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique that the library could lend to students. But the recording was available only as a digital download, and Amazon and iTunes forbid renting out digital files.

So the librarians contacted the Philharmonic to see if there was some way they could get a copy of the album that they could lend out like a compact disc. The orchestra referred them to a distributor, which referred them to the publisher, the Universal Music Publishing Group. At first the corporation said it couldn’t license the recording to the university, according to the librarians. Later it offered to license 25 percent of the album for two years in exchange for a licensing fee plus a $250 processing fee.

No thanks, the librarians said.

Welcome to content licensing, a great source of anxiety for librarians in the digital era.

….The licensing of digital media, however, gives publishers far more power. Instead of selling an album outright, they can sell permission to access its contents for a fixed amount of time. (This is a boon for textbook publishers in particular. Under a digital regime, they may not have to worry about losing sales to students’ buying used copies.)

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The new Authors Alliance aims to assist authors with their rights

Excerpted from an article by Jennifer Howard in the The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“A new nonprofit group wants to help authors understand all of their options. Called the Authors Alliance, it’s led by several academics and writers, including Pamela Samuelson, a professor of law and information at the University of California at Berkeley. She has long been a major voice in copyright discussions and has been a moving force behind friend-of-the-court briefs filed in closely followed copyright-infringement cases, including a lawsuit that pitted another authors’ group, the Authors Guild, against Google over its mass digitizing of books.

The new alliance is part of an attempt to develop a positive agenda around copyright, she says, and to arm writers, and perhaps policy makers, with information that will help them make decisions.”

Read full article here.

And, for more: Kevin Smith, a copyright expert and librarian, explains why he joined the Authors Alliance, and how it differs from the Authors Guild, in his most recent blog posting.

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