The Napster Public Library

Submitted by Steven on Fri, 03/02/2001 - 09:51

The Chicago Tribune has this piece on the difference between Napster and the public library.
\"A library checks books out one at a time, and while one is reading the book, it is not available to others. It does not distribute thousands of copies at once.

A library does not let you keep the book. It sets terms and limits on how long you can keep it, and fines you if you are late in returning it.\"

\"- A library does not make you a copy of the book. Although you could conceivably copy the book while it is in your possession, we all know that making photocopies of copyrighted material is against the law. If you doubt this, go to your nearest Kinko\'s and read what it says on the copy machines.

- The authors of the books in a library do not feel infringed by the lending of their books in a library. If they did, then some sort of action like the Napster action might be appropriate.\"

\"It\'s important to keep in mind that the authors (or in Napster\'s case, musicians) do have rights in this debate. They created the work. They should expect to be able to sell it on the open market as they see fit.\"

\"The Napster allies portray the shutting down of Napster\'s free service as a violation of their rights, when in reality it is the rights of the artists that are being violated.\"

\"In the debates raging over Napster, the defenders of Napster have attacked copyright laws themselves, claiming them to be outmoded and unenforceable.\"

\"Nothing could be further from the truth. The right of copyright is akin to patent law in many ways, most notably in that they both protect the rights of people who design materials for consumption by the free market. This is certainly not a small consideration; this is at the heart of our free-market system. Without these sorts of protections, our economy would most certainly falter, as the incentive to create or produce new types of goods would be considerably diminished.\"

\"Although the laws themselves may have to be amended to deal with emerging technologies, the fundamental rights that they protect are absolute.\"