I popped into the city library in Limerick yesterday and was quite saddened to see the above notice prominently displayed on the counter of the library’s music section. Now, it wasn’t the content of the notice that got to me as I’m fully aware that the music contained on the CDs that I borrow doesn’t belong to me and that I only have the use of it for a certain period of time. No, there were two things about the sign that upset me. Firstly, it’s also illegal for members of the library to photocopy substantial portions of books that the library lends out. However, I didn’t see a prominent notice to this effect at the main counter. Secondly, I was even more dismayed by the inaccurate and misleading message conveyed by the notice. I asked myself for whom is it illegal to download or burn these CDs? To which library does the note refer? Does the Copyright & Related Rights Act 2000 apply to all music libraries or just to this one? Does the library actually offer a CD download service? Is it even possible to burn the CDs that the library lends? Most importantly, the note does not indicate that it is illegal to make an exact copy of a disc or to rip its files to another source. Of course, Limerick City Library does not provide a CD download service to its members. While it’s possible to download music files from the internet, it’s not physically possible to download a compact disc. The correct terms to use instead of ‘download’ are ‘rip’ or ‘copy’. Also, it isn’t possible to burn the type of CDs that the library lends; this can only be done using appropriate blank discs
Now, you may feel that I’m being a bit too pedantic here and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, there’s a reason for my pedantry. If I saw the following sign in a public house I’d be inclined to let it slide: “We sell special cocktails for ladies with melons”. Or if I was visiting a safari park I’d raise a chuckle at a sign that read: “Tigers stay in your cars”. No offense to people who type up notices for bars and safari parks, but I wouldn’t expect them to be as skilled in the art of written communication as, well, librarians. Call me old-fashioned, but I expect librarians to be well-read with a strong command of language and to be skilled in both verbal and written forms of communication. Traditionally, libraries have been a valuable source of information and it’s one of the purposes of librarians to assist the public in providing them with this information. The rise of the internet has made it easier for everyone to find this information online and many people also use the online services that libraries now provide. So, without further ado, I would like to present my suggestion for the actual message that the author or authors of the note were attempting to convey:
Under the terms of the Copyright & Related Rights Act 2000, it is illegal for library members to allow CDs borrowed from a Music Library to be ripped or copied to another source.
The folks at the library are quite welcome to use or adapt my version even though it is a bit longer than the one pictured and may cause young readers to give up halfway through reading it. I agree that my take may also be misleading and raise some questions. However, I hope that it communicates a more accurate message to music lovers in Limerick about what they can and cannot do with the CDs they borrow from their local library. In addition, I hope that the Music Library staff find my post useful and that it doesn’t cause them to revoke my library privileges. In fact, the collection of music contained at the Granary branch in Limerick is quite impressive and features all kinds of music from classical to country to jazz and blues. The section devoted to popular music is quite extensive and includes both familiar and unfamiliar acts from the last fifty years. Anyway, here are some appropriate tunes that I would like to dedicate to librarians and library staff everywhere. Remember, they are only for listening to. Please do not download them (especially the one at the end)