I remember having a conversation with the school media center specialists about a month ago.
The topic? Copyright law and intellectual property. (I didn't think of posting it until now.)
Basically, our school's librarians are in favor of keeping the current copyright status quo and ardently defend intellectual property.
It makes sense (initially) that one's ideas are property and that taking them is tantamount to stealing - until one reads some history.
Only for the past few years have ideas been treated like physical property. Before, the Founding Fathers, among other scholars and officials, clearly made the distinction between intellectual and physical property. Who's always been trying to destroy that distinction and is pretty much succeeding now? Big media (news, recording, movie, publishing) companies and their lobbies.
So what was the librarian's argument?
Intellectual property is a vital incentive for authors to further produce creative works.
I agreed with this in general, but said that a more reasonable time period would be appreciated (the original 14 years as specified in the Copyright Act of 1790 instead of the current life + 95 years).
She said that my opinion would change if I had a family and made creative works, saying that I would be much more willing to support my family then.
I didn't say this to her, but seriously?
Supporting my family is one thing, but I think that maintaining exclusive rights to works up to 95 years past my lifetime is akin to stealing.
Yes, I'd be stealing money and rights to ideas from a deserving public, giving these to grandchildren and beyond who probably will barely know me and won't create many of their own works due to these protection laws.
Furthermore, I've recently read (online) of countless authors who go so far as to encourage their readers to pirate their books.
Right now, publishing companies are claiming (with little official or corporate resistance) such broad intellectual property rights (especially with ebooks) that libraries are being threatened (because soon they won't be able to open up ebooks for limited-time use by the public due to exclusive rights held by the publishers).
So why are the school librarians supporting a position that is detrimental to their jobs?
As an aside, I also wanted to discuss a dispute that came up in my English class. One of my classmates handed out CDs to every student; these CDs were (identical (to each other)) playlists (by this classmate) of existing copyrighted songs by different artists. My teacher refused one out of fear of a copyright lawsuit. He said that while making 1 or 2 copies for personal use qualifies as fair use, making 30 copies starts to infringe on the copyrights and is almost commercial in nature. My argument was that as long as the enterprise is strictly noncommercial, a CD containing a playlist generated by the creator but containing other copyrighted songs is a derivative work and is protected under fair use regardless of the number of copies distributed (as long as none of them are first-sold). I looked this up online and got vague or irrelevant answers.
Does anyone else have an opinion or piece of evidence one way or the other with respect to this?