Can library staff that work for the government participate in political campaigns?
Especially useful are the appendices, one of which is a handy chart that helps you determine whether a given work has passed into the public domain; another is a table of state library confidentiality statutes. Other chapters end with summaries of relevant court cases. Throughout, the book is illustrated with case studies that illustrate how the law is interpreted and applied.
The book is also richly documented with several hundred citations to legal journals, laws, and court cases, which you yourself may never read, but which will give your library's lawyer a good running start on any legal problems you may have to contend with.
But it's certainly best to avoid lawsuits in the first place, which is why the pertinent sections of this book should be consulted whenever library policies are being established or revised. People have taken libraries to court over issues that may never have occurred to you to worry about. This is also a book to draw on when acquainting your library board with the legal ramifications of proposed policies.
Of course any book will date rapidly, so though this one will be a key resource for librarians, Minow's web site, http://www.librarylaw.com, should also be a regular stopping point for breaking news and updates on library legal issues. Nonetheless, this book gives us reason to be profoundly grateful that librarian Mary Minow went on to get a law degree, and that lawyer Tomas Lipinski went on to get a library degree.
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InfoWorld: You obviously feel strongly as an artist about the need to protect fair use of content.
[John Perry] Barlow: We can't be creative without having access to other creative work. [If] I have to make sure that the rights are cleared every time I download something or somebody wants me to hear something, it's going to cut way back on what I hear, which is going to cut way back on my capacity to create. Imagine what it would be like to write a song if you'd never heard one. Fair use is essential. But it is under assault.
InfoWorld: Why is it a difficult proposition to make this case?
Barlow: It's a difficult proposition because the content industry has done a marvelously good job of getting people to believe that there's no difference between a song and a horse, whereas for me, if somebody's singing my song, I think that's great. They haven't stolen anything from me. If somebody rides off on my horse, I don't have anything and that is theft. Otherwise intelligent people think that there's no difference between stealing my horse and stealing my song.
[The content industry] has also managed to create the simplistic and basically fallacious notion that unless we strengthen dramatically the existing copyright [regime], that artists don't get paid anymore. First of all, artists aren't getting paid much now. Second, making the institutions that are robbing them blind even stronger is not going to assure [their] getting paid more. And it's going to make it very difficult for us to create economic [and] business models that would create a more interactive relationship with the audience, which would be good for us economically and good for us creatively.
John Perry Barlow, interviewed by Steve Gillmor in Infoworld, Jan. 24, 2003 http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/01/24/030124hnbarlow_1.html
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