Sunday, February 28, 2016

An Advocate for Open Access and Privacy Has Been Nominated to be the Librarian Of Congress

The Librarian Of Congress sounds like an unimportant position but it actually is very important for the influence they have over copyright policy in the USA (and the world because of how the USA prioritizes copyright over important national interests).

President Obama Nominates New Librarian Of Congress Who Supports Open Access, Fights Against Surveillance

Hayden was one of the leading voices speaking out against surveillance. As President of the American Library Association at the time when the PATRIOT Act was being debated, she was vocal in opposition, especially to Section 215, which was used to create the phone metadata program that Ed Snowden revealed. What many people forget is that it was the librarians who were most vocal about Section 215 when it was first proposed, as many people thought it would be used to demand things like library records to see what was being checked out -- and librarians are big supporters of privacy.

She's also spoken out for years about the value of free access to information. Here's a 2003 profile of Hayden in Ms. Magazine (where she was named Woman of the Year) in which she notes:
“Libraries are a cornerstone of democracy—where information is free and equally available to everyone. People tend to take that for granted,” says Hayden. “And they don’t realize what is at stake when that is put at risk.”

This is very good news. The broken copyright system is a deadly diseases for the USA economy and has done great damage for a long time. This is a one small step that could reduce the damage that is done. It is good to see President Obama taking a good step in this direction given how much damage he has done with his many other policy decisions, including Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and TTIP.

Not blackballing someone because they believe in privacy is also somewhat remarkable given the consistent efforts of President Obama to greatly enhance the survailence state in the USA.

In President Obama's statement he says

Her understanding of the pivotal role that emerging technologies play in libraries will be essential in leading the Library of Congress as it continues to modernize its infrastructure and promote open access and full participation in today's digital world.

This is a good step. I hope she is confirmed. But it is one decision moving the right direction compared to a huge number of initiatives making copyright more damaging to the USA and globaly economy. So while I am glad for this one step, it doesn't come close to erasing all the damage his adminstration has done.

Related: Why Copyright Extension is a Very Bad Idea (2009) - Librarians Standing Up to the Madness (2009) - Library of Congress in Washington DC - I Strongly Support Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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