This week in LAPIS we looked at the history of publishing as well as issues surrounding copyright and intellectual property law.

Copyright and Intellectual Property: How much is it just about money?  Well, entirely, I guess.  Hogarth got an Act passed to protect his income.  Vera Lynn fought to get it back when her copyright as a performer expired (meaning, additionally that she had no say when the BNP decided to use one of her tracks), Portishead gave away copyright to help a charity.  The pirates that are turned on are those who are causing large losses of money – Pirate Bay and thingybob, for example, recently, and The Pirate King way back when.

As with Shermaine, I have done some piracy in the past.  I spent the best part of two decades taping music off the radio – initially the charts, then mostly live music (I giggled inwardly when Sarah said people did this thirty years ago, I only stopped about ten years back).  As a child, most of what I listened to was those tapes, it wasn’t until I got a paper round that I started, slowly (it took a few weeks to save up for a CD album, the price has gone down since the mid-90s), to build a collection.  Once I did, my pirating activities slowed.  I never embraced the internet for that, I always liked the real thing.  So, at times this stopped me putting money in but later it ensured that I did.  As did receiving taped albums from friends.  Though I spent years listening to a copy of Jagged Little Pill on tape, I eventually did buy it on CD.  With more legitimate ways of accessing good quality music online (esp youtube), will piracy fade away (along with record shops), as new models appear?  And that’s just a random snapshot of music!  What will the future bring elsewhere?

Young Jim in piratical days

Young Jim in piratical days*

Copyright is a minefield but one that is slowly adapting.  There may be many restrictions to what can be done on Moodle (there’s a whole team in the library dealing with the digitisation of items for posting, ensuring compliance with copyright law), but in the world of Inter-Library Loans there has been an opening up of material.  Now, the government tells us, we can print and send or email a pdf of any electronic article for another university – no matter what it says in the contract we have with the publisher who supplies it to us (to be fair, quite a lot are happy for us to do so anyway).  One university in particular is quite bullish about this point, quoting the law at us when submitting a request so that we don’t refuse.  However, at a conference last November (sorry Ernesto, I skipped your send RECs lecture for this – but then I did get to see the British Library book robots!!!), many librarians showed a reluctance to do this.  Despite what the law states, no one wants to be a test case- my own fear is that publishers might ramp up the price of subscriptions or refuse to sell to British institutions if they won’t comply with licence agreements.  Still, it is good that that law has been relaxed.  It would be even better, of course, if all journals just went open access, esp in cases such as this:


*Source of Pirate Hat: (via Google Image search)