Library “Gifts” And Copyright Harvesting – AUTHOR BEWARE!

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Hi Angela – was reading your link from the last issue. I do agree with your advice that authors should not sign over any rights out of hand, but as a librarian who worked with a collection for print impaired students, it was difficult to obtain copyright permission for materials we transcribed into Braille, large print, or audio recordings. I have some sympathy with the gift contract from that perspective.

It’s not just educational libraries who provide materials for the print impaired. These days, public libraries are taking on more responsibility for these people as well. It’s a bit of an issue here in Canada. Although I’m now retired, I follow the library scene, and have been part of a national committee looking into the problems of this library field. Work is ongoing with publishers and government to try to get limited permissions to produce print materials in formats required.

This does not mean that authors do not get paid; in fact, there is a collective which negotiates payments by institutions like school boards, government agencies, etc. to authors for transcription of their works for the use of learning disabled and print impaired people. It’s a complicated business all in all, but I can understand libraries trying to get permissions from donor authors up front.

However, I agree that the examples you cite go wa-a-a-y too far.

I am forwarding a publication of the Canadian Library Association. The relevant portion is on p. 8 and discusses copyright and Open Access. The last paragraph on that page talks about authors’ compensation. The article is broader in concept than my email and does a much better and more comprehensive job than I did!

Colleen Tobman


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