Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Libraries in Today's Digital Age: The Copyright Controversy. Yes, copyright is confusing for librarians. This essay looks at many of the issues which arise from copyright and new digital formats.

From the site:

In recent years, a copyright legislative battle has ensued between copyright holders (primarily represented by the publishing, entertainment, and software business industries) and those who wish to use or have access to copyright materials (primarily represented by library, educational, and public interest communities). Copyright holders argue that they will not make their copyrighted works available to the public in digital formats unless the law is revised to prevent piracy and protect the marketplace for intellectual property by controlling access and use. Libraries argue that users rights to information should be upheld regardless of technological innovation and digital formats. The big question: Can copyright law continue to balance the interests of both copyright holders and users in the digital environment?

In an attempt to update the law to encompass new digital environments and to allay copyright holders' fears of widespread piracy, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA), an amendment to the copyright law that has been the source of much controversy. Interestingly, the DMCA has not sufficiently addressed the digital environment, because digital technologies continue to evolve at a rapid pace. For example, Congress did not anticipate the development and popularity of file sharing technologies, like Napster. At the same time, the DMCA has furthered a trend to erode the "balance" of copyright law by awarding more rights to copyright holders while restricting the rights of public who wish to enjoy the same user rights to digital information resources as were enjoyed in the print environment. Thus, copyright law and its adaptability in the digital environment continues to be fraught with uncertainty. This ERIC Digest will focus on the continuing ambiguities libraries and their users face in dealing with copyright in the digital environment.

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