June 17th, 2010 Brian Herzog
We had sort of an odd situation in my library a little while ago - the story is a bit long, so please bear with me:
As circ staff were checking returned items back in, they found a DVD case with no disc in it (not unusual). They called and left a message for the patron to check their DVD player and please return the missing disc.
The patron called back after we were closed, left a message that she returned the wrong case, and asked we call her at work the next day.
What? Wrong case?
When our Head of Circulation called her the next day, the work number the patron gave was for a video reproduction company(!). When she finally spoke with the patron, the patron told her that she had the disc and the library's case, and the one she returned (accidentally) was a color photocopy she'd made of the DVD jacket (which it was, and confirmed in that the barcode and other stickers were no longer stickers).
This set off debate amongst the department heads in my library. It seems, clearly, that this patron worked at a video reproduction company that was checking out DVDs from the library and not just ripping the DVDs, but creating reproductions of the cases too - to who knows what end. Even if they're not mass reproducing them for sale, this activity is still illegal.
But, we have no actual proof of DVD copying, just speculation (maybe she just liked the DVD jacket?), and it'd be a major step to accuse a patron of this or to notify the police (or FBI?). So after some debate, we decided the library's role is to:
- make information and materials available to the public, and
- make the public aware of the copyright limitations of library materials
Our logic is that we can't police patrons and force them to follow intellectual property laws, but it is our responsibility to make sure they are informed of those laws.
To do that, we wanted to make a small handout or bookmark that informed patrons of copyright restrictions, but I wasn't sure exactly where to begin. I had bookmarked a Columbus Dispatch article entitled "Copying library CD? You just broke the law" awhile ago because of something I'd heard of going on at another library* and that article mentioned Carrie Russell, a copyright specialist for the American Library Association.
I found her ALA contact information, sent her an email explaining our situation and asking if she had concise wording we could use for a short copyright handout. Her response was hands-down the quickest (next day!) and most helpful reply I've ever gotten from someone at the ALA:
I usually suggest that the library suspend the patron's borrowing privileges when it is clear they are infringing.
You can use language from the CFR to craft a letter. This is the language that libraries should use when lending software, but you can use it for this situation too.
Notice: Warning of Copyright Restrictions The copyright law of the United States (title 17, United States Code) governs the reproduction, distribution, adaptation, public performance, and public display of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in law, nonprofit libraries are authorized to lend, lease, or rent copies of computer programs to patrons on a nonprofit basis and for nonprofit purposes. Any person who makes an unauthorized copy or adaptation of the computer program, or redistributes the loan copy, or publicly performs or displays the computer program, except as permitted by title 17 of the United States Code, may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to fulfill a loan request if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the request would lead to violation of the copyright law. (37 C.F.R. 201.24)
Hope this helps.
Some of us liked the idea of suspending the patron's borrowing privileges (at least temporarily), but we decided against that as a first step. From the wording Carrie sent, I created the following copyright notice brochure (changing references to "computer programs" to be inclusive of all library material). These bookmarks are kept at the Circ Desk and given to those patrons we suspect need the information most.
Feel free to edit and use this for your own library, and let me know if you can recommend any improvements. I was going for "fewer words = more likely to be read" but didn't quite get there.
*Another long story, for another time. In the meantime, here's a Video Pirates clip
that's worth watching.
Tags: burn, burnning, cd, cds, copy, copying, copyright, dvd, dvds, intellectual freedom, intellectual property, law, legal, libraries, Library, notice, public, rip, ripping, scan, scanning, warning
February 23rd, 2010 Brian Herzog
I like to think I'm the kind of person open to the opinions of others, and I certainly don't expect myself to be right all the time. However, it's still rare for me to advertise when I think I am wrong, yet today is one of those days.
Last week my director received the following email from a patron and forwarded it to all the department heads to see what we thought about it:
I just heard about Red Box doing a trial with Libraries across the country. This is a fantastic idea, there currently is no Red Box in Chelmsford Center. Attached is a link for you to look at.
In case you've never heard of Red Box, they are dvd vending machines which rent new movies at $1 per night. The machines are located outdoors and are available to the consumer 24/7. Red Box pays the library and also allows the library to free up cash from having to purchase current films.
It would be great if Chelmsford could get in on this trial!!
I had heard of libraries using both Redbox and Netflix, but never really gave it too much though. So I was kind of surprised at my response to my director:
Maybe this is just a reaction based on the kind of day this has been, but I have mostly negative feelings about this. Based on http://tametheweb.com/2009/07/01/red-box-rentals-at-princeton-public-library/ is seems any money we get is minimal, and I'm always reluctant to give
businesses a green light to target library patrons.
If we did put one of these in, I sincerely hope it wouldn't mean we'd be buying fewer DVDs and rely on this as a crutch, because just like Rosetta Stone, they can pull out at any time and we'd be left
scrambling to fill the holes in our collection.
Its biggest benefit would be providing patrons access to DVDs 24 hours a day, but it also means patrons have a reason to be at the front door 24 hours a day, doing who knows what - the police department might not like that idea. Then there's also the patrons who return the RedBox
DVDs in our dropbox, those who put ours into the RedBox, patrons demanding refunds and tech support from the circ desk, blah blah blah.
More reading on this:
I know Conway makes money off our printers and the FaxVend people do too, but RedBox feels way more commercial - like letting a dealership put used cars in our parking lot to make it easier for patrons to shop for cars. Or letting a bookstore set up a table of bestsellers in the lobby and sell books so patrons don't have to wait on a long reserve list.
I don't know exactly why I don't like it, but right now I'm leaning against it - but again, it might just my mood. Blah.
So my question is this: why I am wrong?
I don't feel like I'm right, because I can see positive aspects to a Redbox being in front of the library (especially for libraries that already charge $1/DVD), and it's unusual for me to be this negative. I don't think that every new idea or technology has a place in every library, but still, my answer on this surprised me.
So I thought I'd ask the wider library world for your opinions on Redboxes and libraries. Lots of good comments were posted on Tame the Web when Michael talked about this last year, but I'm still not entirely convinced. What do you think?
Tags: business, commercial, dvd, dvds, libraries, Library, machine, public, redbox, rental, Service, vending
March 19th, 2009 Brian Herzog
Finding information on library shelves always has an element of serendipity to it, but I experienced a bit of it with my request list and patron donations. Here's what I've been reading/watching this recently:
Dead Like Me - I've been watching this series on DVD for the last couple months, and the last movie came in last week. It's about a girl who is a grim reaper, living on earth in secret, helping souls cross over (and it has a frog in it).
Meet Joe Black - I'd never seen this movie, so when a patron donated the DVD, I took it home to watch it. It's about a guy who is death who visits earth, in secret, and helps a soul cross over.
The Black Book of Secrets - I requested this YA book months ago, and it came in last week. It's not about death, but is about the black and sinister secrets everyone carries with them in their lives (and it has a frog in it).
Blank Spots on the Map - This is the book I leave at work to read during lunch. It's about all the secret places in the country the government uses for intelligence work and top secret programs - in other words, Black Ops.
I always have a lot of things on request, and I thought it odd that this group would all find their way to me at about the same time. Perhaps, rather than serendipity or coincidence, this concurrent collection is actually revealing my true nature in all its secretive blacky deathness.
Or, perhaps I just like spies, YA novels, Mandy Patinkin and Brad Pitt. And frogs.
Tags: black, Books, chance, coincidence, death, dvds, items, libraries, Library, public, secrets, serendipity, similar
July 16th, 2008 Brian Herzog
One of the local television stations in Boston, WHDH 7, just aired an investigative story into libraries:
Theaters and video stores usually require an age of 17 or older to see or rent an R-Rated release, unless there is parental permission. But something altogether different is going on in some local libraries. 7News' Jonathan Hall investigates.
Read the transcript, or watch the video.
This is similar to the situation we had here a little while ago (except without the undercover investigators), which prompted us to put label ratings on VHS and DVDs when possible. And it looks like the Boston Public Library, "in line with American Library Association guidelines," is on the same page as us.
Libraries do not raise children, we provide access to information. Parents raise children, and we do what we can to support that need - while at the same time supporting the informational and educational needs of everyone else in the community.
I found this news report interesting, but a bit sensationalized. I'm sure as long as there are parents and children (and news outlets in need of ratings), issues like this will never die.
Tags: children, dvd, dvds, libraries, Library, movies, mpaa, parents, public, rating, ratings, television, vhs, video, videos, whdh
December 4th, 2007 Brian Herzog
In each of the DVD copies of "Live Free or Die Harder" purchased by my library, we found the little insert shown here.
I'd never seen this before, but it is instructions on how to download a digital copy of the movie, from the DVD itself, to your computer (or portable device through your computer).
That's novel. It looks like a one-shot deal, as in, you can download it once (using the code on the card, which is internet-verified), and that's it. No downloading to your computer then sync'ing to a device later, or to multiple devices. But still, for those people who purchase the DVD, it's a nice thing to offer an easily-accessible digital format.
But bad that it can only be transferred once.
And bad that it requires an internet-verified code.
And bad that it doesn't work on iPods, PSPs, or Zunes.
And bad that it's yet another failed attempt at trying to control how people use the products they purchase.
digital rights, digital wrongs, drm, dvd, dvds, libraries, library, live free or die harder, public libraries, public library
July 26th, 2007 Brian Herzog
We recently have been faced with an interesting problem in my library. On the surface it seemed like a pretty simple issue, but the more we thought about it, the more complex it became.
A mother came in and said that she had found the movie "Thirteen" (Official Website, IMDb, Wikipedia) in her (thirteen year old) daughter's room. It was overdue, which means that she must have had it for weeks. It also means that we checked out an R-rated movie to an underage child.
The mother was angry that her child could have checked out such a movie, and didn't understand why the library wasn't enforcing the MPAA movie ratings.
One unusual twist in the story is that the woman wasn't directly challenging the movie being in the library's collection (which is usually the case). She understood that it is a movie people in the community might want to see. She was just upset that her daughter was able to check it out, since the mother had seen this movie and felt it was particularly graphic and inappropriate for her young daughter.
As librarians, our collective first response was the party line: we do not censor materials, we don't tell people what they can and can't check out (based on content, anyway), and library staff certainly can't keep track of what every parent in the community allows their particular children to do. Besides, no matter we may do at the desk, kids can use the self check-out machines and we'd never know.
However, none of us felt that this answer was good enough. Yes, all of it is true, but it also felt like a cop-out. We wanted there to be something we could do, rather than just throwing up our hands and telling parents they're on their own. So, we brainstormed what could be done, and came up with options:
1. Regulate Materials Based on Item/Patron Type
We felt that there must be a way within our ILS [?] to make certain types of borrowers unable to check out certain library materials. We use SirsiDynix Horizon 7.3, and we already use Item Type codes to differentiate between feature films, documentaries, kids DVDs, audio books, fiction books, etc. Horizon also allows different borrower types. We thought that we could let parents choose to give their children a "child" card, which would prevent them from checking out anything with the Item Type for R-rated movies.
Unfortunately, after checking with our system administrator, we found that Horizon does not compare these two codes, and so this idea would not work with the Horizon software. There is a "birth date" field, which we have never used, and we're not sure if Horizon can block certain Item Types based on birth date, either.
2. Create a Separate "Adult" Video Collection
Another idea was for us to shelve any R-rated (or unrated) feature film separately from the rest of the films. This way, at least, a parent can tell their children they are not allowed to check out "adult" videos (we called it "adult" for lack of a better word. We thought about "Mature," but then had a hard time calling something like Jackass "mature"), and it would be up to the kids to obey their parents.
The drawback in this situation, apart from the snickers at the library having "adult" videos, is that it makes browsing for movies more difficult for all the other library patrons. Now, instead of having to look in two places for a movie for tonight (regular videos and also in the Children's room), they'd have to look in three places. Plus, there's the inadvertent stigma for people being seen browsing the "Adult" collection. We didn't want a solution to one problem to create new problems for other patrons.
Another issue with separate collections is that, years ago (I'm told), a nearby library was successfully sued by the ACLU for not allowing children into an adult reading room in the library. In that case, the library wanted to keep kids out to give adults a quiet place to read, but the ACLU said that the library could not discriminate based on age in this way (oddly, many libraries have a similar policy to keep adult males without kids out of the Childrens Room, but I don't think any of them have ever been sued over it). So, we couldn't use a method that barred kids from an area of the library.
3. Label Movies Clearly with Ratings Stickers
Since we didn't want to shelve these movies separately, another idea was to keep them all interfiled, but to put rating stickers on the movies. That way, parents can still tell their kids that they can only check out movies with certain stickers on them.
This seemed to be a good option, but it also puts the Library in the position of possibly judging the content of the material. It really isn't up to us to decide what's "mature" or "family" and what's not, because it's a subjective decision and people will disagree on it. MPAA ratings are not exactly definite indicators either, but at least they are a recognized "standard."
Something interesting I learned through all of this that MPAA ratings are just guidelines and not legally-binding in any way. The mother in this case thought that we were breaking the law by letting underage children check out R-rated movies, but there actually is no law that says this. Movie theaters that enforce age limits based on ratings are doing it of their own accord, not because they have to.
In addition to stickers indicating ratings, we also talked about putting stickers on the movies marking them as "comedy," drama," "horror," etc., as we already do for many books. Of course, DVD cases are so small that the stickers necessarily need to be small, too. Also, more than two or three stickers will looked cluttered and hard to read, which would be counter-productive.
Another concern with starting a labeling program, as I see it, is in knowing where to stop. If we do start labeling movies, and parents successfully use this, it's really not much of a leap for them to want us to put rating labels on books, too (because we certainly have some that some parents might not want their kids reading). And from there it's just a short hop to internet filtering, so although well-intended, even this is a slippery slope.
The argument in support of labeling said that DVDs are different than books. When reading a graphic book, your own imagination plays a large part in how disturbing the book can be. Also, reading a book is a solitary event, and the read can put them down at any time. When watching a movie though, very little is left to the imagination - once something very graphic is flashed on the screen, it'll be in your head whether you are ready or not. Also, kids watching naughty movies is usually a group event. So, one kid, even if they know they're uncomfortable and want to stop watching, might not be able to stop because of peer pressure and not wanting to look scared.
4. Start a Viewers Advisory Program
We already have a few Readers/Listeners Advisory stations in the library. These computers are dedicated to this purpose, and so do not go out to the general internet. Instead, patrons can use them to access our catalog, recently-added books (using the Delicious Library software), NoveList, and iTunes (to listen to music before they decide to check out the CD). Also, we create printed reading guides for various subjects and authors that are available in the library, as well as having a Reading Room webpage.
Our thought was to do the same thing with movies. We could add movie review related resources to these stations (such as Common Sense Media, Rotten Tomatoes, Kids-In-Mind, Yahoo's Movie Mom), as well as creating and printing viewing suggestion guides, such as "Family Movies," "Movies for Girls," etc.
Where We Are Now
At the moment, nothing has been finalized. Since this is a pretty big issue, we wanted to make sure whatever we choose will be useful to parents, but won't interfere with other patrons' use of the library. I think we're leaning towards a mix of options 3 and 4, but the exact outcome depends on what is actually available to us, and how much extra work the Technical Services department can handle in the processing of new movies.
The bottom line for us is that we don't want to be making choices for patrons, nor do we have the staff or mandate to enforce parenting decisions on a child-by-child basis. But what we can do, what we can use our librarian expertise to do, is provide parents with tools and information to raise their own children the way they want to.
Of course, knowing how I was as a kid, it probably doesn't matter. If there was something I wanted to do, I'd continually look for a loophole or a way to accomplish it, regardless of what my parents or the library said.
challenge, challenges, children, dvds, libraries, library, material challenge, materials challenges, movies, parents, patron challenge, patron challenges, public libraries, public library, rating, ratings
Tags: challenge, challenges, children, dvds, libraries, Library, material challenge, materials challenges, movies, parents, patron challenge, patron challenges, public libraries, public library, rating, ratings