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« Thinking about going to library/information school? Visit Univ of Michigan School of Information's open house - online | Main | Are there any studies on the burden, impact on users when library filters overblock web content? »

November 17, 2007

Comments

Mary,

I would LOVE to speak with you directly about this stuff instead of on this blog.

But let me say here, as I don't know where to add this, that David Burt has reconstituted his FilteringFacts.org web site, and it includes enough legal information for the Barco Law Library at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law to take notice. See what they say at Internet filtering information. Perhaps you might consider creating a new blog thread about David Burt's Internet filtering extensive legal resources.

Thanks for OR statute. While I'd agree that there is focus on the mission of the library, I don't see explicit or really even implicit sections that would allow a library to actively block constitutionally protected material on the Internet, if the library already offers the Internet. Actually, the court settlements in the hate speech cases seem on point here - libraries were sued for blocking constitutionally protected hate speech online, and in their consent judgment stated that the material will no longer be blocked as it is protected speech. http://news.justia.com/cases/246864/

As for the six year old...ouch. I find it hard to believe, and if it did happen, I can assure you that is not the norm. I believe the link you gave was incorrect - it was about the Minneapolis sexual harassment case.

Karen Starr:

I'll hazard a guess that Section 107 of the Copyright Act would allow you to use a book jacket in a PowerPoint slide. The same for music. The same for library web sites. The real question is, why use PowerPoint when you can use an equivalent product for free from OpenOffice.org?

Mary:

Here is an example of the relevant portion of a library enabling act, this one from Oregon, whose Multnomah County Library was directly involved in US v. ALA and whose library trustee didn't get voted into office in 2006 after a victim of his policies published his direct involvement in US v. ALA and in turning down federal funding to allow the continued use of unfiltered computers that sexualized her daughter in the public library:

http://www.oregon.gov/OSL/LD/resources/laws/statutes/357/statlib_policy.shtml

357.001 Legislative findings. The State of Oregon recognizes that:
(1) An informed citizenry is indispensable to the proper functioning of a democratic society.
(2) Libraries constitute a cultural, informational and educational resource essential to the people of this state.
(3) Library services should be available widely throughout the state to bring within convenient reach of the people appropriate opportunities for reading, study and free inquiry.
(4) Providing and supporting adequate library services is a proper and necessary function of government at all levels.
(5) It is a basic right of citizens to know about the activities of their government, to benefit from the information developed at public expense and to have permanent access to the information published by state agencies.

Now you said, "I'd be interested in seeing one or more of the state statutes you refer to that exclude certain material that is legal but not part of the libraries mission." Here in 357.001 that exclusion is not explicit. But I argue it is implicit in that statute and all five of its subsections, some more than others.

Mary, you also said, "No one wants children to see porn in libraries." Now I know you are good hearted. Unfortunately, ALA policy, while it may not *want* that, actively *encourages* that, and here's an example. A six year old kid was using the Internet in a public library to view pornographic web sites. A security guard stopped the child from doing that. The head librarian reprimanded the security guard for violating the child's rights and returned the kid to the porn site. I got this information here:
http://www.plan2succeed.org/nlj-no_smut_at_work_please15sep03by_gary_young.html

That, Mary, is why I believe the statement "no one wants children to see porn in libraries" is incorrect. There are other reasons, that is just one example.

Question. When a library uses a book jacket in a PowerPoint that will be displayed in the local library on a display computer to let their patrons know that the book is available to check out, do they have to contact the publisher for copyright permission? If the set the PowerPoint to music is that also the case. And, if they use book jackets on a website targeted to teens to attract them to book talks do they have to obtain copyright permissions. Book jackets and copyright is not clear within the library environment particularly when libraries use book jackets in their online catalogs. Thanks for any comments regarding the legal environment and local library responsibilities.

The book was written before the Supreme Court decision, and does need to be updated.

It is still true that in public libraries, patrons have the right to access pages that are not illegal. I'd be interested in seeing one or more of the state statutes you refer to that exclude certain material that is legal but not part of the libraries mission. I suspect such exclusions refer to active acquisitions (and all libraries have limited budgets) as opposed to active removals of material.

Even though the plurality at the Supreme Court did uphold the constitutional use of filters in public libraries, it only becomes a majority opinion with the clear proviso that it's constitutional because all an adult needs to do to get to legally protected speech is ask to have the filter disabled. You may have seen my article on this at First Monday To follow this issue, keep your eyes on the ACLU lawsuit against a Washington library that allegedly doesn't unblock on request.

It's still true that only a court can determine if an Internet site is illegal. Actually, I'm not aware of any cases in which a site has been determined to be legally obscene. I don't think therre are many that would actually qualify. The vast majority of porn sites are legal. The tougher issue is whether such sites can be shown to children. State Harmful to Minors laws generally prohibit adults from showing such sites to children. Libraries generally try their best, including calling law enforcement, to prevent adult patrons from showing such sites to children.

Under CIPA, if a public library gets certain federal discounts/funds, then they must try to block the sites from children, and some states as you know have similar laws.

I honestly think pro filter and anti filter folks have more in common than people think. No one wants children to see porn in libraries. The question is how to prevent this without blocking out legitimate sites. I'm in favor of local control (providing that the library doesn't overblock e.g. some try to block hate and violence which is clearly constitutionally protected).

As for the free book :> ...this is my first time as an author and it is surprising to me, but authors only get a few free books (long gone), and have to pay for the rest. :< I'm glad excerpts are at Google Book Search though. I wish the book wasn't so expensive - authors have not say in setting the price. (At least authors of low demand trade books like ours...)

Mary,

I sure would love a "complementary" copy of your book being I'm an educator in this area. An autograph would be great too! Be that as it may, let me ask you a few questions.

Looking at the section about library filtering, your book says on page 126 libraries cannot be criminally liable for "illegal materials." Some libraries claim if they provide filters and those filters fail, the library may be liable, therefore they prefer not to have filters at all. Would you please shed some light on that?

And on page 127, the book says patrons may access anything that is not illegal, and this is due to the First Amendment. Yet many library statutes that create the libraries implicitly or explicitly exclude certain material that is legal but not part of the libraries mission. The same goes for book collection policies and practices created by the libraries themselves. And US v. ALA basically says filters may be used to extend existing print policies over the Internet. Yet the way I read what your book says it appears anything goes, except illegal materials, despite enabling statutes and library policies. Am I right, wrong, how, and why?

Regarding Q4, would a book containing hundreds of uses of language explicitly excluded by a school's student and teacher conduct policy be considered "educationally unsuitable"? And I see it appears you have CIPA being struck down at this time. I'll bet this book was written before 2003. I'll check later.

In Q5 you say only a court can determine if an Internet site may be illegal. With millions of such sites out there, is not requiring a court to disapprove of each one merely a delaying tactic? It would simply be physically and financially impossible to do this. Literally, you are asking for the impossible.

Okay, the free preview shows no more on this topic. And I'll assume this book is pre-US v. ALA.

Do you have any updates to this material? Would you answer my above questions, and do so in our post US v. ALA world?

Thank you.

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