REAL PUBLIC LIBRARIAN

Thursday, September 22, 2005

To view or not to view - the legalities of DVDs and games in libraries

I have been putting off blogging for a little while because I haven't had a finished topic to blog about - you know, a well constructed and satisfying blog article about something significant with a clever conclusion. But as nearly everything I'm involved in at the moment is in a state of half-finishedness (which is pretty normal in a small public library situation), if I'm to keep up the momentum of this blog I'll just have to ramble.

Unresolved legal issues around the showing and lending of DVDs and console games are an example of the half-finished stuff hanging around at the moment. This is particularly in the context of the Youth Library where these resources will have a big emphasis. After combing the copyright law and interpretations re showing DVDs in the library, I emailed Roadshow who handle the distribution of about 80% of DVDs in Australia, and while their response was not exactly what we wanted to hear, at least it was definitive. Libraries (no matter how teeny as is the case with the Youth Library) are considered to be public places, and therefore even if you own the DVD and even if you are not charging for entry, you MUST seek prior approval via Roadshow before screening a DVD; and then if you do receive approval, you must remit to Roadshow the sum of $55 (including GST) for each screening. Looks like movie night might only be once a month!

This lead us to read the fine print re playing console games like Playstation and XBox in the library - this is an area not so well covered/understood in the library world so I emailed Sony direct to see what their response might be - a somewhat dangerous strategy as it now means I have drawn attention to our operations. Coincidentally our library supplier has sought legal advice re lending, and after chatting with him today, he will extend that to the legalities of playing games in the library. But so far no answer from Sony. I did try to impress on them in my email that we actually promote their product; and would they take into account the communtity benefit resulting in young people accessing their product in the wholesome environment of a public library? (implication: playing Sony games keeps kids off the street - surely a marketing gift showing what good corporate citizens they are?). Somehow I'm expecting a negative, legalistic response. So things are looking a bit grim for our brand spanking new huge $9,000 plasma screen which has pride of place in the Youth Library....

One little ray of hope to the potentially blank plasma screen dilemma has been the great response from our local pay TV provider Austar. Their deal is remarkably affordable - $200 installation and around $80 a month subscription to a good selection of youth oriented channels including 2 music channels (well 3 if you count the country music channel, which I don't), The Comedy Channel, and Nikelodeon. And no worries about screening in a public place. Voila, moving wallpaper for the Youth Library, ensuring a constant background of colour and noise.

Speaking of half-finished stuff, the Youth Library is due to open in early November and we still haven't advertised for staff yet...

Oh well, you can only deal with one thing at a time - pity you can worry about everything at once though!

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