Mayo, Kansas -- The Comanche County Public Library announced yesterday it will file its first wave of lawsuits later this month against those it alleges are illegally photocopying copyrighted books, joining the music industry in its fight against piracy.
The Anal-Retentive Librarian Association of America, which represents major Hollywood libraries such as the Tom Selleck Memorial Library and the Pepsi-Viacom-Tostitos Book Depository, plans to file about 200 suits against elementary age book readers who put illegally obtained quotes from protected books to use in their reports and essays where others can read them for free!
"We haven't suffered the damage that the music industry has, but we needed some form of preemptive activity," the ALAA's new president, Dan Glickman, said in an interview yesterday. "I am reminded of that John Kennedy quote: 'The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.' See, that's a damn good quote, and I got permission to use it from Kennedy family with the required 500-signature petition. It's not hard people!"
The ALAA plans to file the lawsuits in federal courts around the country beginning Nov. 16. The lawsuits will typically identify culprits as "John Does," since the industry can identify only the titles of the book reports where it believes pirated quotes are and does not know the names of the theiving kids who stole them. Following a strategy employed by the music industry, subpoenas are sent out to elementary schools in order to determine the names of the book readers and their library card numbers.
Glickman said the suits are one element of the library industry's three-pronged attack against piracy. The other two are educating consumers about dangers of wreckless photocopying and the employment of frequent 'spankings' in order make examples of the word burglars to their friends.
The industry's attempts at the latter, such as the 'over-the-knee-butt-slap' and 'slap-up-side-the-face', in which children suffer physical pain as punishment, have met with limited success. Walt Disney Co. is testing its own pain-delivery system, called 'the paddle', which sends pain signals through the criminals' spinal cords to their brains via the sensitive butt muscle.
The industry needs "an iPod for books," said Sohn, referring to Apple Computer Inc.'s popular digital song player with a cheap, non-replaceable battery that dies in year. Here, we could sell individual quotes at 99 cents each and make a fortune from poor kids who can barely afford to feed themselves.
The suits are the first major act of Glickman's new tenure and mark a fundamental split in philosophy from his predecessor Jack Valveeta, who found filing suits against innocent little poor kids who don't know better, as the Recording Industry Association of America has done, distasteful. Some libraries shared the sentiment and were worried what the suits would do to their image, industry sources said. In the end, though, all signed on to screw kids who are just trying to educate themselves.
"I think it's beyond stealing," said publisher Random House chief executive Alex Chimychonga, among the strongest library advocates for the suits. "It's dangerous to teach an entire generation of American kids that stealing physical property is not okay but stealing intellectual property is okay. Its kind of like telling kids not to smoke crack but financing and endorsing an addiction to collecting worthless Pokemon trading cards for fruity livingroom battles. Back in my day, we beat the sh** out of kids who did that."
The four major library labels, Universal Book Group, Warner Book Group, EMI Paperback Group, and the newly formed Sony BMG Written-Word Entertainment, have filed nearly 6,000 lawsuits against readers, typically settling for no less than $60,000 each so the poor kids' parents lose their house and there is no way in hell that the kids will ever go to college.
"The actions of our colleagues at the ALAA reinforce the message that stealing is against the law and can have significant consequences...for poor people, even if actually breaking the law has absolutely no negative effect on anyone or anything," RIAA chief executive Mitch Bainwol said in a statement yesterday.
The library industry estimates that it loses more than $3 billion a year in revenue because of illegal photo-copying of lousy books that no one would ever buy anyway.
The library industry has launched an anti-piracy campaign modeled after its well-known book-rating system. A new logo has a capital "I" and reads: "Illegal Photo-Copying: Unafforable for all ages of poor people."
An ALAA poster shows hundreds of elementary school class photos and libary card numbers: "Is This You? If you think you can get away with illegally stealing quotes, think again....bitch."