Downloading music at the library: a follow-up

March 28, 2008

We got a really good question in response to the post about downloading music at the library. It was such a good question, that we’re devoting a whole post to it. Read on…


What’s the library policy about assisting with illegal downloads from non ad-supported or P2P (peer to peer) sites?

The library’s ethical use of the Internet policy states:

“All users of electronic information resources such as the Internet are expected to use these resources in a responsible manner, consistent with the educational and informational purposes for which they are provided. It is unacceptable to use the Library’s computer system and Internet resources for … any purposes which violate applicable U.S. or state laws. Users must respect all copyright laws and licensing agreements pertaining to software, files and other resources obtained via the Internet.”

By going online at a public computer, they’ve already agreed to legal use, but people don’t always think about copyrights when using the Internet.

The p2p (peer to peer) websites we’re aware of require a software download, so that might not be an issue. But people post mp3s online illegally all the time. When asked for help, you can show a patron the mechanics of downloading a file and saving it to a flash drive. After you explain the mechanics, you might say something like “remember that this may be copyrighted, you may need to purchase it or make sure you have permission to download it” or “make sure you check the copyright before you download this.” Frame it as “we are looking out for you.” Do not be judgmental, don’t accuse of them anything. Just remind them to check for their own benefit. After you’ve showed them the general mechanics of downloading to a flash drive, they’re on their own.

If you have any other questions about downloading music, please post them here and we’ll do our best to answer them!


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