I was going to buy a book recently via Amazon, but before I pulled the trigger and clicked myself a copy, I remembered that we have an old, venerable institution in my home town called the Public Library. When I logged onto their online catalogue I found they had a copy of the book, and that it was on the shelf at that very moment, so I saved myself the price of admission and checked it out – literally and literally.
This reminded me that not only does my library check out books, but they also have a good video collection, and even a CD collection. Which made me wonder how long it’s going to be before the record companies try to jam Digital Rights Management legislation down the throats of America’s libraries. For the record, I don’t have a problem with people trying to protect their copyrighted property from theft, but there’s also no question that this is a slippery slope. Just as the computer makes it easy to copy works, it also makes it (or will make it) possible to monitor, track, and retaliate against people who may still be within their free-use rights to enjoy a product.
You’ll know the end to the debate is close when somebody (again) takes a run at public libraries.
— Mark Barrett