Blog Report 5: Ethical or Legal Issue

Reflection Blog: Report on an ethical or legal issue pertaining to your information community.

Report on an ethical or legal issue pertaining to your information community. Use the modules on ethical issues and intellectual freedom as resources to define and reflect on the issue.   You can also cover issues such as: What are you taking away from lectures and readings? What will inform your practice as an information professional?

I want to start off by saying I just loved week 8 and 9 readings! I found it hard at first to really understand all the new legal and ethical issues that the Internet brings in our technological age. My information community is online and centers on online video gaming. Twitch.tv is a considerably large resource for online video game players, but also eliminates the use or need for video game playbooks once corporately produced. This week’s reflection blog asked me to wrap my mind around the legal and ethical rights that come in to play with information provided on the Internet. Basic rules we had for print materials in our libraries are harder to pinpoint online. That is when it hit me after many of the readings, that I am not the only one who shares this train of thought. A few of the legal and ethical issues my information community faces are freedom and privacy, and copyright.

Freedom and Privacy

Michael Zimmer writes, “ In today’s information ecosystem, libraries are at a crossroads: several of the services traditionally provided within their walls are increasingly made available online, often by non-traditional sources” (2013, p 39). These “non-traditional sources” according to Zimmer are both “commercial and amateur” (2013, p 39). Twitch.tv, as I wrote in my last reflection blog, allows members to create their own information sources and services by being able to freely interact with other video game players and upload content on the site. This brings in to question two things:

  1. Do members of Twitch.tv have the right to post and share video game related information with one another?
  2. Do the companies that own these games have the right to know or limit what information is being shared amongst Twitch.tv members?

Christopher Shaffer’s article about the Patriot Act and the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics brings in to question the very ethics on how our society decides who can and cannot access certain information (2014). I couldn’t agree more with the ALA Code of Ethics in relation to the job of a Librarian. It is not the Librarian’s job to limit or share what information others may be seeking. Shaffer writes that the ALA Code of Ethics is for Librarians to “Uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources “ (2014, p. 24). If these rules apply to the books we provide or even the databases our patrons access, I think they should apply to online communities. I think of Twitch.tv to be similar to a database a library may provide. Patrons log on and can access information specific to the video games they play. Zimmer writes “In the library, users’ intellectual activities are protected by decades of established norms and practices intended to preserve patron privacy and confidentiality, most stemming from the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and related interpretations” (2013, p. 30). I don’t think we should have a right to censor online communities and the information provided by the members. These rules about censorship should apply to online. The same freedoms we offer in Libraries with printed or even electronic materials needs to be expanded and adapted as technology progresses.

Now, one could argue that the members of Twitch.tv are causing video game companies a loss in profits that were once earned from printed playbooks. However, we are a free market society and it is not our place to limit or dictate how individuals have access and rights to information. I won’t deny it is not a clear-cut argument when it comes to the freedoms and privacy acts in relation to the Internet. The same argument made for the online communities and their members can be made for the companies who created those video games. This is why copyright serves as one of the biggest issues that online communities face today.

 Copyright

Copyright is tricky, because when printed in a book we know who owns it and that it is wrong to upload pages online from a book without permission. The Internet serves as a giant black hole of unlimited information. How do we decide what can and cannot be uploaded? Does it become censorship when we start limiting the Internet and the individuals who use it?

Members of Twitch.tv are able to record and stream themselves playing their favorite video games online in real time with out permission from the companies that created the games. It could be argued as being similar to printing your own playbook for a game and giving it out for free. Instead of printing a book with the information, the site allows members to access recorded how-to videos. Other members on the site can watch and contribute information in the side chat forums taking place at the same time. I came across several interesting online articles and read posted messages on the Twitch.tv Support Center forums in regards to copyright infringement on the site. One user posted “The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) specifically prohibits broadcasting of content without the specific written permission of the content owner. Computer games are licensed and are copyrighted so a player does not own the content, making streaming technically illegal” (http://help.twitch.tv, 2013). This posted comment lead way to a full on discussion about copyright laws on the site. I found it very interesting to read what other individuals considered to be their freedoms online in relation to online copyright rules. The unique concept of live video game streaming created by Twitch.tv and the information shared amongst the online community members deals with many copyright issues. The site deals with not only the copyright of who owns the video games, but also who owns the music heard in these games.

Kyle Orland writes thatLast year, Twitch started muting audio in archived streams when it detected unauthorized, copyrighted music in the background, using an automated system created by Audible Magic to find infringing soundtracks” (http://arstechnica.com, 2015). Orland talks about how the site had to license and pay for many of the songs heard in the games the members of the site were live streaming. It is the same battle that sites like YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo deal with. None of these sites have truly mastered what is okay to limit or share online amongst each site’s members. Zachary C. Strebeck writes, “On Aug. 6, 2014, video-streaming website Twitch.tv announced that it would implement a new system, similar to YouTube’s ContentID, that would automatically flag and mute unlicensed audio in certain videos” (http://www.strebecklaw.com, 2014). The new system allows for companies to protect their work and not have their games shared as freely. This brings us back around to privacy and freedom and the argument of censorship.

Conclusion

The ethical and legal issues that sites like Twitch.tv face are constantly changing each and everyday as the Internet and technology continues to evolve. I don’t agree with censorship or the idea that we as a society should limit what information can be accessed. However, I can also understand owning something you created and not wanting it shared or accessed freely by just anyone. My questions for everyone out there is how do you think we as a society should draw the line on what we limit on the Internet? As many of the readings these last few weeks have pointed out, it is a fine line we walk in our age of technology and the Internet when it comes to freedom and privacy, and copyright.

 References

Kruse, S. (2015, February). Telephone interview.

Orland, K. (2015, January 15). Twitch licenses legal music library for use

by streamers. Retrieved from

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2015/01/twitch-licenses-legal-

music-library-for-use-by-streamers/

Shaffer, C. (2014). The Patriot Act a decade later: A literature review of

librarian responses and strategies. Indiana Libraries, 33(1), 22-

25.  http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?

url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?

direct=true&db=llf&AN=95710158&site=ehost-live

Strebeck, Z. (2014, August 12). Twitch.tv implements automated

copyright protection, internet explodes.

Retrieved from

http://www.strebecklaw.com/twitch-tv-implements-automated-

copyright-protection-internet-explodes/

Twitch Support Center. (n.d.). Retrieved 2015, from

http://help.twitch.tv/customer/portal/questions/729436-game-

streaming-illegal-

Twitch. (n.d.). Retrieved February 5, 2015, from

http://www.twitch.tv

Zimmer, M. (2013). Assessing the treatment of patron privacy in Library

2.0 literature. Information Technology & Libraries, 32(2).

http://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/ital/article/view/3420

 

 

 

 

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