Introducing the first episode of What Sarah Said, my new videocast/podcast/video-thingie where I answer your questions about libraries, technology, privacy, intellectual freedom, etc. One episode, one question (or multi-part related questions).
Text Transcription (courtesy of Ms. Andromeda)
Hi, welcome to Episode 1 of What Sarah Said, a brand-new podcast with me, Sarah Houghton, author of Librarian in Black, and a librarian in…black. This is a podcast where I will answer questions from my readers and viewers and do my best to help out.
And today’s first question comes from Suzanne, and she says: OK. So what exactly do the copyright laws say about making one coy of a magazine article for personal use, burning a CD for personal use — I know you’re not supposed to but every laptop does this — so is it really truly illegal, and finally, showing a DVD at a school as a fundraiser.
Alright, so three possible parts, three separate questions, and the answer to all three is, yes, that is a violation of copyright. So let’s take these one by one.
So, first off. Making a copy of a magazine article for personal use. If you’re not making a copy of a subscription that you already paid for yourself — for instance, if you’re making a copy of a subscription that your local library paid for, or a friend paid for, that’s a violation of copyright, because you’re making an unauthorized copy of an entire work, and in this case the work is the article.
The second question, burning a CD for personal use. You’re entitled to make a backup copy of CDs that you’ve already purchased. So, in case they get damaged or something, you can make a backup copy. Kind of an archival copy, if you will. Can’t share that copy, but you can make that copy, and keep it in case the first one gets damaged. But if you’re making a burned CD, let’s say, again, from a library copy, or a friend’s copy, that is a violation of copyright.
And then lastly, showing a DVD at a school as a fundraiser. The movie companies require that you pay them a screening fee, a broadcast fee, a display fee, they call it different things, in order to make some money back on that movie. So even if you’re not showing it at the movie theater, if you’re just showing it to a room of 25-year-olds, doesn’t matter. They still require you to pay that fee in order to, to screen that film that they paid to make. And so showing it at the school as a fundraiser — or even not — even if there’s no money involved at all and you’re just showing it for free, that is still a violation of copyright, because you haven’t paid the rightsholders what they legally require you to pay in order to use their product.
So the short answer is, basically, none of those things is OK, and the lesson is that just because it’s easy to do, technically, doesn’t mean that it’s not a violation of the law. Doesn’t mean that it’s not a violation of copyright. So we all have to be very careful in both what we do as library professionals but also what we tell other people they can and can’t do. We need to be comfortable with the law, we need to understand what’s admissible and what isn’t. Otherwise we’re going to give people bad advice, and as information professionals, we don’t like that. So thanks for your question Suzanne, and congratulations on being our inaugural question for the first podcast, and I hope I’ll see everyone else for episode 2.