Libraries – all libraries – need to pay attention to recent legislative moves. The United States has two worrisome pieces of legislation at the moment. There’s been a lot of discussion about SOPA and now there is the Research Works Act (RWA), which is in opposition to recent Open Access movements and barrs federal agencies from unauthorized free public dissemination of research funded in part by federal money but published by the private sector.
Some Canadians may be thinking so what, that’s the US, but it’s vital we stay vigilant and be aware of what is happening. We are going through our own issues with copyright; bill C11 is in second reading. Is what is happening in the US a sign of things to come elsewhere? Maybe. At the very least, it gives us good insight to what publishers are thinking. Libraries are still fighting the ebook fight: experiencing limited uses, differing catalogues of items, and the issue of renting rather than owning material. This is not the last time copyright, ownership and open access will be battlegrounds.
Both SOPA and RWA are library issues, regardless of borders. We need to not only be aware of what’s affecting our field but to take action where we can. There are still things that can be done, as New Jack Librarian points out.
Publishers are trying to figure out new models for publishing and it’s affecting all libraries. This will not be the last battle – stay vigilant and be ready to fight.