Monday, February 27, 2012

Copy Rights

Our bimonthly student newspaper, The HI Tribune, published an opinion piece by Assistant Section Editor, Connor McClain, about copyright infringement (February 9, 2012). He wrote a thoughtful piece about the significance of the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA the PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) bills currently being considered in congress.

As a librarian, I found it encouraging that the editorial staff deemed it worthy of a half-page of attention!

So why did this topic get McClain's attention? And why did the HI Tribune editorial staff deem this an appropriate use of valuable space?

I would like to think that he was influenced and/or inspired by my blog post two weeks earlier, but I doubt it. Instead, I suspect his interest, like that of his main audience (the traditional undergraduates at Hope), was more likely piqued because they were thwarted from using Wikipedia and Google in their protests of those bills. And it is likely that he and his readership had been prevented from using a site that until recently permitted easy downloads of copyrighted materials. (Of course, I don't suspect that piracy is being practiced on our campus, using our network.) But as you might expect from a news writer, McClain's point was more about the threat of censorship than concern for copyrights.

I found McClain's opinion piece encouraging because
"an information literate individual is able to understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally." (ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards For Higher Education)

One of the Darling Library's main objectives is to develop information literate students who are prepared for a lifetime of continuous learning post-graduation. But it is difficult to measure whether students are "getting it". McClain's article is evidence that at least one student is thinking critically about these issues. I hope it means that other students are involved in a dialog as well.

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