I really like being on the Student Advisement Committee for the BYU Library. Basically, we get paid to come up with ideas for ways to improve the library. Unfortunately, none of my ideas this semester are legal. Idea number one: purchase e-book readers for students to check out and read the library's existing e-books. We have literally tens of thousands of academic e-books. Unfortunately, every e-book reader that I researched is only licensed for individual use (this includes the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Reader). Also, the e-books we own all have specific DRM from the publishers so that the files can't be converted to ePub files that can be read on a reader.
Bummer. Maybe copyright laws will change in 5 or 10 years.
Idea number two: make digital copies of our audio books (which are on CD right now) and let students check out MP3 players with the digital recording of the book on that device. I went to the copyright office here on campus and talked to the director about this one. He wasn't sure if it was legal or not, so he emailed me a copy of the copyright law and we both looked at it. After reader through pages of legalese referring to reproduction rights of academic institutions, I found that it is currently legal to make a digital copy of an audio recording, but only if the medium which the book is currently on is obsolete. So we can only do this once manufacturers stop making CDs and CD players, which isn't likely in the next decade or so.
Dang. The frustrating this is that doing these things shouldn't be against the law. We're not trying to sell them to make a profit. We're not letting students copy the material for themselves. It makes me want to figure out who is in charge of writing the copyright law and lobby them for change.
So if anyone else knows any great ideas to implement in the library, let me know! I'm desperate for good ideas.