I watched an excellent presentation by Anil Dash to the Berkman Center at Harvard where he talks about the craziness of Terms of Service that we take as “law” and how there is already a massive civil disobedience being conducted by the youth when it comes to YouTube and copyright violations. He talks about searching for the words “no infringement intended” on YouTube and how he sees it as poetry. He says that youth are basically saying:

I’m not trying to step on your toes, and I know there is some reason I shouldn’t do this, but the world needs to see this video and I’m going to put it up. 

We all know it is going on. We all know that it is blatant copyright infringement. However, we tend to write it off as just a fad, or just something that comes with the technology advancement, and not actually thinking of it as a solid form of social disobedience where a large number (millions??) of people are taking action to show that they think that sharing the information trumps the rules/laws and they are just going to start breaking that law because they either feel it shouldn’t apply to them, or that their need to share is greater than their need to follow the rules.

After a long email thread with a number of my friends about the Lexis move to convert some of their publications to ePubs and eliminate the paper versions completely, I started to wonder if there is a similar revolution brewing in the library world. Librarians tend to be solid rule followers. They tend to follow contracts and terms of service to the letter and snap at those that try to skirt the rules. However, as the formats change and we are forced to accept those changes without some sensible alternatives, and as the contracts become more restrictive, or the terms of service become more limited, will there be those that begin to put their own version of “no infringement intended” on these services (for, they really can’t be called “products” any longer), and make them accessible to the people they need to share them with?? Will there come a group that says:

Look, I’m not trying to step on your toes, and I am paying a fair price for your product, but your actions are making it very difficult for me to get the content to the right people, and I’m going to fix that in spite of your rules.

Take a look at Anil Dash’s presentation (around the 56:44 mark it will start at the “Civil Disobedience” section.) This section only takes a few minutes to watch. I suggest that when you have an hour, to take a look at it in its entirety. There are a number of relevant issues that he addresses of how the Information Age is shifting, and many of us are not even realizing it.

Happy Library Week!! My thanks to Katie Brown for pointing out the Anil Dash presentation.