Libraries can't afford to ignore Itunes' awful licensing terms

Jessamyn writes, "Itunes-only music is licensed for personal use. This does not include libraries' ability to offer it for lending. Kevin Smith, Duke University's Scholarly Communications Officer, outlines the real problems libraries encounter when trying to obtain legal access to digital-only files that have restrictive licensing."

In the particular case of the Dudamel recording of Berlioz, we know rather more about the situation than is normal, because a couple of intrepid librarians tried valiantly to pursue the issue. Judy Tsou and John Vallier of the University of Washington tracked the rights back from the LA Philharmonic, through Deustche Grammophon to Universal Music Group, and engaged UMG in a negotiation for library-friendly licensing. The response was, as librarians have come to expect, both inconsistent and discouraging. First, Tsou and Vallier were told that an educational license for the download was impossible, but that UMG could license a CD. Later, they dropped the idea of allowing the library to burn a CD from the MP3 and said an educational license for download was possible, but only for up to 25% of the “album.” For this 25% there would be a $250 processing fee as well as an unspecified additional charge that would make the total cost “a lot more” than the $250. Even worse, the license would be limited to 2 years, making preservation impossible. The e-mail exchange asserts that UMG is “not able” to license more than 25% of the album for educational use, which suggests that part of the problem is that the rights ownership and licensing through to UMG is tangled. But in any case, this is an impossible proposal. The cost is absurd for one quarter of an album, and what sense does it make for a library to acquire only part of a performance like this for such a limited time? Such a proposal fundamentally misunderstands what libraries do and how important they are to our cultural memory.

Planning for musical obsolescence [Kevin Smith]

(Thanks, Jessamyn!)