Friday, May 01, 2009

Libraries and Kindles

And sometimes I write an e-mail that is so much fun it should just be a blog post.

Question: Are any librarians lobbying for the right to lend Kindles?

My Answer: From what I gather librarians are just trying to get a consistent and clear answer from Amazon as to what their Terms of Service are and if libraries can loan Kindles. Unlike regular copyright law, electronic rights are usually negotiated by contracts (in this case the Terms of Service or TOS) that can have whatever provisions the owner of the material wants, with no fair use or rights under the first-sale doctrine.

Here is a good summary of what people have been told:

Since TOS are contracts and not copyright law, I see very little use in librarians lobbying anyone in government to change them. Working with the vendors on a product by product basis (as libraries do for databases) is probably the only thing that can be done unless there is a major shift in the way digital materials are handled by libraries/vendors.

Personally I would like to see libraries forming consortiums that refuse to purchase software and databases that are controlled by strict digital rights management software and contracts. When a DRM free e-book reader comes out I think things will be different. I own a mp3 player by Sansa and only purchase DRM free downloads from eMusic, maybe eBooks will be in the same place soon.

PS disclaimer, I'm not a lawyer etc.