Author Archives: TheLuddbrarian

About TheLuddbrarian

"I won't explain myself because I hate common sense." librarianshipwreck.wordpress.com @libshipwreck

Librarian Is My Occupation: A History of the People’s Library of Occupy Wall Street

historyofthepeopleslibrary

As bicyclists, joggers, and tourists looked on in bemusement, three exhausted individuals pushed a broken-unwieldy-wooden-wagon-thing-on-two-wheels across the Williamsburg Bridge. It was July 21, 2012, a hell of a day to push something heavy through Manhattan and Brooklyn. It is impossible to know exactly what the onlookers thought of those pushing the cart, but it is likely they did not recognize that what they were watching was working group members from the Occupy Wall Street People’s Library moving the last remnants of the collection out of a storage unit and to, alas, another temporary home. It may be that three sweaty people pushing a giant wheeled crate does not make most people think of libraries, but the People’s Library had always been dogged by others’ ideas of it.

We should know. We’ve heard them all…

Librarian Is My Occupation: A History of the People’s Library of Occupy Wall Street” was written by two members of the OWSL working group, it was included in the book Informed Agitation. The full text of the chapter is available by clicking the above link (or the picture).

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#RestoretheFourth

4th_amendment

Call Congress! Rally in the streets! Get up, get angry and get involved, but remember that change requires more than just one phone call or attending one rally! The surveillance currently being conducted by the NSA has been going on for several years now and it has relied on the collusion of Internet companies, telecoms, government, and most importantly it has relied on the passivity of a population easily distracted by fancy electronic gadgets. So, restore the fourth, but also…

Take steps to secure the privacy of your personal devices (a resource guide)

Keep in mind that Paranoia is not a tactic, systemic critique is needed

Remember, that “More than Machinery we need humanity”

Recognize that a bias towards surveillance may be embedded in some of the technology you use

And as you fret about the panopticon be wary of falling for a Panoptic Con

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A Resource Guide for Protecting Your Privacy

smashsurveillance

Thus, what follows is a list of programs, apps, and sites that will better enable you to protect your privacy and anonymity without forcing you to totally “go without.” Granted, of paramount importance in going forward is for us (all of us) to develop a more nuanced relationship with our technology and the Internet in which we better understand that just as we use our technology others may make use of it to use us. This list is a work in progress and will be broadened as we learn of new services.

The Guide is available at Librarianshipwreck.wordpress.com

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“More than machinery we need humanity” – The NSA, Verizon, Prism, and You

doomed

“People generally do not like being spied on, but what people like even less than the actual spying is having to recognize that it is going on when they had previously been able to pretend it was not happening. This, in some respects, is the sentiment behind much of the discomfort in the recent NSA and Verizon tale that is unfolding; people knew that the government had the capability to demand all of this information, knew the government was probably doing it, but until Glenn Greenwald’s expose in the Guardian they were able to pretend that all was hunky-dory…”

Read the rest via librarianshipwreck: https://librarianshipwreck.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/more-than-machinery-we-need-humanity-the-nsa-verizon-prism-and-you/

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Will Copyright Reform be SOPA in Disguise?

goodlattequestions

What does one do in honor of World Intellectual Property Day? For most people the response is to say “wait, it’s World Intellectual Property Day?” shrug, and then go back to other matters (like downloading intellectual property). But if you are US Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and you chair the House Judiciary Committee, well, you might celebrate with a bit more pomp! Especially, if that means that you are delivering remarks at the Library of Congress.

So what did Representative Goodlatte say? And, more importantly, did he say it at a proper volume so that it could be heard by all without him risking being shushed by a librarian? Luckily the text of his comments was made available in a press release (no shushing necessary) with the easily understandable title of “Chairman Goodlatte Announces Comprehensive Review of Copyright Law.

After opening his remarks with some light humorous patter (the revision of the copyright law in 1909 was to make it applicable to motion pictures [hilarious {you had to be there (I mean in 1909)}]), Goodlatte goes on to explain that copyright law has not exactly kept pace with the changes in the technologically enhanced dissemination of copyrighted material.  Example please (bonus points if you couch it in a reference to the founders)! Luckily Goodlatte obliges:

“Our Founding Fathers could never have imagined a day in which citizens would be able to immediately access the knowledge and news of the world on their smartphones as they walk down the street.”

This is a fair point, it may also be a fair point that “our Founding Fathers” might “never have imagined” assault rifles or ballooning student debt or climate change or Star Trek or People magazine, but I digress. Back to you Representative Goodlatte:

“The Internet has enabled copyright owners to make available their works to consumers around the world, but has also enabled others to do so without any compensation for copyright owners.  Efforts to digitize our history so that all have access to it face questions about copyright ownership by those who are hard, if not impossible, to locate. There are concerns about statutory license and damage mechanisms. Federal judges are forced to make decisions using laws that are difficult to apply today. Even the Copyright Office itself faces challenges in meeting the growing needs of its customers – the American public.”

The solution, as should be expected from the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is to announce:

“that the House Judiciary Committee will hold a comprehensive series of hearings on U.S. copyright law in the months ahead. The goal of these hearings will be to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age. I welcome all interested parties to submit their views and concerns to the Committee.”

Let us start by stating the obvious: contemporary copyright laws are a mess, and they do need to be revisited for the current age. The number of works (particularly audio works) that may disappear because nobody is sure who the copyright holder is (and therefore authorized to approve digitization/conservation) is staggering. Most people seem rather befuddled by much of the tangle that is copyright law (I say this as somebody who explains what “Fair Use” means on a daily basis). And something does need to be done to give cultural creators better means of controlling the dissemination of their work (though there are certainly solutions other than tighter copyright laws).

In other words Representative Goodlatte’s basic insight is correct: copyright laws need to be updated. Librarians (and many others) have been saying that for years.

Yet this announcement should cause as much pause as optimism, if not more pause than optimism. Copyright law needs to be adjusted, but whose interests are going to be focused upon in the revamping of these laws? Will strengthening the public domain be the focus? Shall Creative Commons be used as an example? Or will this be a stealth way of executing many of the policies that have caused uproar from many groups of late? Does Goodlatte mean it when he welcomes “all interested parties?” Before you answer consider the following…

Representative Goodlatte was one of the original sponsors and coauthors of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and as should come as no surprise he was one of the Representatives who helped CISPA to pass the House (just last week [he cosponsored CISPA the first time around]). So what direction might his copyright review take? And whose opinions shall he solicit?

In the “Technology and Innovation” section of Representative Goodlatte’s website are the following helpful sentences:

“I support efforts to enforce our nation’s intellectual property laws to ensure that those who steal the intellectual property of others are prosecuted.  I also believe that technology can provide some of the most effective solutions to help protect intellectual property.”

Those do not seem to be the statements of somebody with a goal of broadening copyright to allow a more relaxed understanding of Fair Use (and other) policies. Rather they seem to be the words of somebody who wants to see SOPA or CISPA or whatever it’s going to be called, pass under the seemingly friendly guise of “copyright reform.” After all, he says “prosecuted” not “preserved” for the ages, or better yet, “shared.” Thus the challenge falls to those of us who would like to see copyright updated to benefit the public (and creators [as opposed to just those who hire creators]) to ensure that copyright reform is reform and not regression.

Copyright laws in the US need to be reformed, they need to be reformed badly; however, they need to be reformed in a way that benefits the public instead of in a way that simply ensures that a cartoon mouse thought up by a long dead anti-Semite never enters the public domain. And they need to be updated in a way that won’t result in you being prosecuted for making a mash-up video featuring Representative Goodlatte and an advertisement for where you can obtain a good latte.

True, all that has been announced so far is Goodlatte’s intention to review copyright laws but this is a conversation that we need to engage with at the outset instead of launching a campaign when the bill is already being voted on.

Do you want World Intellectual Property Day (which is actually the 26th) to be about the World, or do you just want it to be about property? Alas, I think we know how Representative Goodlatte answers that question.

[cross posted at librarianshipwreck.wordpress.com]

[Note: I first came across the press release at Library Journal, as part of the Info Docket blog]

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