Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Copyright, copy-wrong and Netflix

First, from a month ago, some thoughts on copyright based on a composer's experience. I am not sure where I picked up this article which talks in general terms about the attitudes towards intellectual property and the rights of the creator. I was very much interested in hearing directly about a creator's experience. In this case a composer who had an online interaction (discussion is not just the right description) with someone who was giving away his creation.

As I reflect on this, I remember the whole issue with Napster and Kazaa. It is that experience that I am sure is reflected in some of the digital rights management software which is used with commercial audio and video.

Which then gets us to today and licensing and Netflix. (And may be related to libraries lending e-readers such as Kindles and Nooks, but that includes actually loaning a physical device which includes the electronic media.)

So the "Netflix "buzz'" is really more about terms of service than copyright, but it sort of is about copyright since in this case, Netflix is acting like libraries do with books, except that all the rules are much more complicated!

I picked up on this with Iris Jastram's post on terms of service. Michael Stevens had a guest post on his blog about the basic service as it is being done in one academic library. (Is this the original source?) Meredith Farkas had some insightful comments (as usual), which were picked up in several places. On the Library Law blog (a great resource for librarians who need to know about the law and libraries), Mary Minow talked about the legal issues involved.

Jessamyn includes links to many of the above, but one thing she said hit home with me: "The big issue is that Netflix is responsible to their main customers, the studios..." Hmmm, are the studios the main customers, or are we (the general public not just librarians or our libraries)?

Somehow, I wound up at The Consumerist, who adds this thoughtful bit:
Is this a violation of Netflix's terms of use? Yes. But the librarians don't particularly care, and Netflix doesn't seem to, either. Yet. As a Netflix spokesman said, "We just don't want to be pursuing libraries."
I am not totally sure what to think, other than to opine, that this is all part of the huge intellectual property/digital rights management/first sale controversy that will ensue as we move away from physical media to downloadable media.

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