Rate this
5 (2 votes)
"Libraries are pirates – we need public lending rights"
5 out of 5 based on 2 user ratings

"Libraries are pirates – we need public lending rights"

Harmanan Singh picPublic libraries are usually considered to be temples of knowledge, but Harmanan Singh, 17, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Mumbai in India, argues that when it comes to author rights libraries are pirates.

Piracy – we all know what it means, right?  Administrations around the globe will tell you that it is the illegal sharing of content which does not favour an author’s interests.

And all of you will probably consider an illegal music download, or duplicate copies of books, as prominent cases of piracy. Well, as per the world conventions you are right, and these people are liable to get severe punishment for this so-called “theft”.  I personally am not so sure and don’t quite understand the term and the laws governing it.

To me administrations around the globe have formulated some baseless laws which serve to protect an author but fail miserably.  I would like to present to you an example that firmly establishes my viewpoint. Libraries. You call them temples of knowledge with innumerable pages of content. I am sure that you have a pre-conceived notion that prevents you from feeling guilty when you enter a library.

Consider an author, who publishes a book. Now let Mr. A and Mr. B be any two purchasers of the book. Mr. A is a pirate: someone who makes duplicate copies of the book and shares this content for a fixed cost. Mr. B is a librarian. He allows the members of his library to borrow these books for a fee. Mr. A is a criminal and is sentenced to a punishment for violating piracy laws while Mr. B continues to make relatively safe transactions. Surely, Mr. A is an offender who deserves punishment and every single one of you will support the verdict, while none of you will raise an eyebrow towards Mr. B’s activities.

Ponder.….

A and B both purchase the book from the author at the same price

A and B both share the same content with other people

A and B both earn money by sharing this content

But only Mr. A has to bear the brunt of some controversial laws. Is this justice?  Most governments are based on the right to equality, but the very basis of global legislation is violated in this curious case.

Another example: your friend hosts an amazing dance party, where he plays some really cool music for people to dance. Unfortunately you are unable to attend the party. Your buddy sends you this piece of music via internet to cheer you up. You must have got the idea right! Yet again, an example of violation of a law. It is entirely criminal to make copies of music on the internet. Yet again, your perspective made you miss the point.  Sharing the same content at the party was not even considered as a suspicious activity.

Some legislation has realised that libraries are a potential hazard to an author’s interests. Denmark was the first signatory to Public Lending Rights. PLRs are a set of laws which make libraries pay a percentage of their profits to the authors. The extent of profits shared varies from government to government. Currently, the number of signatories to Public Lending Rights stands at a meagre 28. The United states, the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Australia and Canada are some PLR signatories. Also, the laws are applicable only to public libraries and not private ones. Probably, signing effective PLRs is a solution to the inequities of current anti-piracy legislation.

We cannot allow laws and ethics pertaining to this issue become granny’s old folk tale. We need to change our outlook towards piracy and advocate the need for justifiable laws. So, I hope you think about this the next time you enter a library……….

photo credit: Miss C.J. via photopin cc

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

About me:

I am a Grade 12 science student in Mumbai, India. I am an explorer with an endeavour to visit every nation on this planet. I aspire to be a travel journalist and experience varied cultural vibes across geographies. Wildlife, debating, poetry and entrepreneurship are some of my other interests.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Comments

comments

Powered by Facebook Comments