Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sound: #25: Am I a music pirate? It's hard to know...

In the last post, we discussed downloading a song to your PC or MP3 player. In this post we will take a look at the legalities surrounding digital music, briefly tour library copyright basics, and copy a music file to CD.

What exactly are you allowed to do with music you have obtained legally? How do you know you have obtained it legally?

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), you're safe with these sites. They also have a list of rules to follow for legally using music files you find online and explanations of the law. While you would be most safe in following their rules, it is important to note that they represent the record industry, and not everyone agrees with the RIAA. Many, many groups oppose their conclusions and their methods of enforcement in an ongoing debate.

What is DRM?

Tied in with the debate about what should be allowed in sharing music online is the debate about DRM, or digital rights management. If you asked a publisher, they would say that DRM provides technology to ensure that artists and authors are compensated for their work. If you asked someone from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), they would tell you that DRM uses technology to interfere with consumers' lawful use of copyrighted works.

Copyright and Libraries: General Rules

  • With regard to music, follow the RIAA interpretation of the law. Even if you disagree, it is best not to get sued at work.
  • Movies shown to the public in a library have to be licensed for use. Remember to follow the guidelines of the library's public performance license.
  • Copyrighted print works cannot be reproduced in their entirety.
  • Make sure you have permission to use artwork for posters, handouts or bookmarks. Use the library's subscription to the clipart.com database to be sure.
  • When creating online content make sure to have permission to use other people's work and to give credit. Follow the creative commons guidelines.

While we're still using the CD...

Even under RIAA guidelines, you are allowed to burn a copy of legally obtained MP3 files for personal (non-commercial) use. In the exercise below, use the music file you transferred to your MP3 player in the last exercise to burn a copy to CD. If you'd like to use something different, any of the Magnatune music titles in the HCPL Digital Media Catalog can be burned to CD.

Discovery Exercises

  1. Burn a copy of your chosen song to CD using these instructions or the instructions available through Harriet.
  2. Write a blog post discussing how easy or difficult the process was for you. Do you still use CDs?
  3. In the same blog post, discuss your thoughts about sharing music online. Do you think music and musicians benefit more from strict copyright protections online or free and open sharing?

This post was brought to you by Linda Stevens, Kathy Knox and Mark Haywood.

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