Advocates of the Balance Between the Rights of Intellectual Property Owners and the Rights of Information Users

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The American Library Association Committee on Professional Ethics is proposing changes to the Code of Ethics. ((Do those outside the profession know that librarians have an ethical code? We do! And it is part of what makes us special as a culture.)) Other than two minor changes (adding commas where there were none previously -- see the proposed changes page for details), the big change is in article 4, which now reads:

We recognize and respect intellectual property rights.

The recommended version reads:

We recognize and advocate balance between the rights of intellectual property owners and the rights of information users.

This is a good change. It puts the librarian profession at the crux of publisher's rights and user's rights -- a position that is increasingly non-existent in what seems like an increasingly polarized world.

The introductory memo also includes a discussion about enforcement of the code. Personally, I fall into the group that sees the code as "a document of moral responsibility." The recommendation going forward seems to be to advise local institutions to adopt the code as part of local policy. That is probably as far as it can go, because I don't see our profession herding our own cats to try to vote in some measure of enforcement through the professional organization. Besides, such energy would best be spent elsewhere in the profession.

The text was modified to update a link from to on January 20th, 2011.

The text was modified to update a link from to on January 20th, 2011.

The text was modified to update a link from to on November 21st, 2012.