Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dilemma at the Library

The library is new to me.  Let me rephrase that - I've been familiar with the library for years, had even been there a few times, but not until recently have I started to take full advantage of it.  I've always found them somewhat uncomfortable - stuffy and bare, unfamiliar in their non-consumerist aura, and frankly not appealing (except for the Fanwood library which has guinea pigs but is the stuffiest of all).  Recently though, in an effort to save money, I have resorted to the library and I must admit, it has been working out quite nicely.  Except for my inner dilemmas that is.

I understand borrowing paper-and-ink books - you borrow it, read it, give it back.  Nothing is stolen, just shared, and ultimately the words are yours to remember, not keep.  But audio books?  For someone who is opposed to downloading illegally, this causes a whole host of issues.  On a side note, I once took a popular culture class, in which the professor took a survey on the first day.  One of the questions was Do you download music illegally?  He later revealed that only one person out of the thirty or so in the class answered no.  That was, of course, yours truly.

I have only recently started listening to audiobooks - usually while jogging, but occasionally while in the car or while walking down the street as well.  Audiobooks are, of course, quite expensive, therefore being able to get them free from the library is ideal.  This doesn't seem that different from borrowing books, except that I listen to the books on my ipod and therefore must import the files onto my computer.  This essentially means that I have them forever despite the fact that they don't belong to me.  I am not, of course, sharing them with others but I am taking permanent possession of something that is not mine.

I could delete the files, but that seems excessive and what if I want to listen again?  It takes a while to import all those discs and there are very few copies available (at least at my library), though I may just be making excuses.  I could just not borrow them and save myself some anxiety, but then what's the point of them being at the library?  The librarians must realize that MP3s have replaced CDs and therefore nobody is listening to them as CDs and must be taking and keeping the information.  But does that make it okay?

I know you're probably thinking that I am paranoid and worrying myself over nothing, but the theft of media really does bother me.  If I write a book, I don't want people photocopying it and handing it out.  Artists need income to generate more art (which is one reason why so many bloggers become Amazon Associates and have ads… I have been toying with the former idea though with only three followers there's no real point).  I wonder too if the creators need to give permission for their media to be in a library - if, say, J.K. Rowling, the loudest complainer I know of, says it's okay for Half-Blood Prince on audio CD to be in the library, is it stealing for me to import it and keep it forever?

Questions
  • What do you think of libraries loaning out audiobooks, CDs, and DVDs?
  • Is it legalizing theft or, at that point, does it mean that it's no longer theft?
  • Does this bother you as well or am I alone in my paranoia?
  • Are you another one of the few who refuses to download illegally and gets irritated by those who have huge collections of music and movies that don't belong to them?  No, it's just me?
  • Does anybody know if artists have to give permission for their works of art to be available at the library?
  • Does it seem like a sell-out when blogger start making money off of the products they talk about on their blogs?

1 comment:

  1. Hold up, there are guinea pigs in the Fanwood library?! Where?!

    Listening to Harry Potter audiobooks sounds like a fabulous idea. I've been thinking about it since you mentioned it two days ago and the idea is very appealing to me because I have been wanting something different to listen to on the treadmill.

    I think if libraries were to be concerned about possible theft from loaning out audibooks, CDs, and DVDs, why shouldn't they be concerned about people photocopying books and thus keeping that information for themselves? Libraries must know there is some risk is loaning out items that are so easily copyable but at some point, it can't matter.. There's too much to keep track of. I think it can be assumed that a chunk of people come to the library to borrow - otherwise, they would be downloading the information like most of the world does now. I also think that libraries expanded to loaning out things on discs to try and (at least somewhat) make up for the fact that many people have stopped going to libraries because of the ease and usefulness of the Internet.

    You are the only person I know of who is morally against downloading.

    Why would it be a sell-out when a blogger starts making money off of what they talk about? Don't many blogs get started with the hope that they somehow lead to profit?

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