Saturday, 18 June 2011

This afternoon I will

be going to a meeting of a knitting guild. I am the librarian of that guild - being the person who is considered to know the most about books, their buying, arrangement and other related matters. Whether that is true or not I do not know but, for better or worse, I am the librarian.
When I took the task over from the previous person they said, "I know things need to be changed."
She was right. They did. She had done her best. She had kept a list of all the books - but in the order they had acquired them. They were kept the same way in the cupboard. It made a sort of logical sense to her but nobody knew what was there.
The books were mostly donations. Although there was money, a considerable amount of money, in the bank it was not considered necessary or even desirable to buy books. The guild subscribed to two knitting magazines and members frequently and happily broke copyright copying patterns they thought they "might" want to knit.
I took over the task on certain conditions. The first was that breaking copyright at the guild had to cease. I stood up and explained very carefully why it was wrong and what the potential penalties for breaching copyright were. I backed this up by placing in the library material I had obtained from the Copyright Council. There were some unhappy members. There are still some unhappy members. I rather suspect that most of them have worked out that all they need to do is borrow the material they want to copy and copy it elsewhere - at a rather higher charge but nevertheless at less expense than buying the book or the magazine.
Their argument is that the item is there and the technology is there in order for the copy to be made. Why else do we have the technology? One member of the guild angrily told me I was being "ridiculous" and we conduct her borrowing transactions in silence on her part. I know she copies things elsewhere but that makes no difference to her. She thinks I am just making life inconvenient for her.
Well, life is inconvenient for the people who write books. Copying is an even more serious issue for writers than it is for musicians and artists. It is, quite simply, easier to do.
Not so long ago I said this to a former member of parliament. His reaction? "There really is nothing parliament can do about that sort of thing. If people stop writing then there are still plenty of old books about. People who want to write will write anyway. They can do something else as a day job."
I have the really nasty feeling that he is not alone in his opinion or in his beliefs. It also makes me angry.


Sheep Rustler said...

Good for you! i am intending to go to a Copyright Council training session later this year, for work, but also for my own interest. I have a working knowledge of the law but would like further training from those who write and implement the law.

Anonymous said...


I hope I have never voted for that particular member of parliament. If I did, I want my vote back!

Judy B

Anonymous said...

Well all you have to do is sit down at the computer and write some words. What's so difficult about that? You don't have to practice your instrument for hours on end or get the technique of slopping the paint on just right. Words are just words. Everyone uses them.
Er, I think that may be the problem! It looks easy - and it is not. I could not write a book if I tried to - but I love reading them so I will support you to the end. Ros

Talei said...

Hi Cat! I hope your meeting went well! Have a wonderful weekend! ;) Miaou