Sunday, December 30, 2012

Challenges with Digital Music Matching Services

Many reports have recently surfaced about the new scan-and-match feature for Google Music. According to a Daily Mail article: “Scan-and-match is a free service that scans a user’s computer, giving them online access to the songs it finds, provided Google can match those songs on its servers. The service saves you the time of manually uploading your music to Google Music by scanning the files in your library and comparing them to songs in the Google Music library.”

An article from The Verge describes how some American users have been experiencing problems with this matching service: “explicit” songs are being replaced by “clean” versions in some cases, and others are findings that “clean” songs are replaced by “explicit” versions. Users are able to use a “Fix Incorrect Match” feature as a way to restore the original version of their songs.

Though some are criticizing Google for censorship because of the “explicit” for “clean” version swapping, the Verge reports that “Whether this challenge is simply inherent to music matching services or something else is at play remains unclear.” As previously stated, the service does seem to be swapping “clean” for “explicit” in some instances so the problems are not simply censorship. However, it is interesting nevertheless to consider how censorship affects users of online services such as music matching. Similar problems have been reported in the past for the matching services provided through iTunes Match and Amazon Cloud.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Current Facebook Vote on Data Use Policy

The Financial Post has posted an article on the current Facebook Governance vote. Facebook users are currently able to vote on proposed changes to the Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilites. The proposed changes would allow Facebook to share user information and data with other companies owned by or affiliated with Facebook. Instagram, a photo-sharing program, is one such affiliate. If passed, the changes would also put an end to any future voting on governance issues.

According to the article, the results of the vote are binding if 30% or more of active Facebook users vote. If less than 30% of Facebook users vote, the results are simply advisory. Users can vote, as well as review existing and proposed documentation, at the Facebook Governance site. Voting closes on Monday December 10, 2012.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Fall IFRT Report Released

The Fall issue of the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Round Table Report has been released. This report contains a number of stories and opinions on the topic of censorship in libraries, as well as a summary of current court cases on the freedom of expression. It also has a listing of the ALA committees and associations which address intellectual freedom and outlines how to get involved in these divisions.

See the ALA website for a listing of previous IFRT reports.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Classic Christmas Poem is Edited

There is just one month until Christmas! With this in mind, this post focuses on a recent controversy regarding a newly published edited version of a Christmas classic: Twas the Night Before Christmas (also known as A Visit from St. Nicholas). In this “updated” version, Pamela McColl, an anti-smoking advocate, edited out all references to smoking included in the Clement C. Moore original. The National Post has published an article on the debate surrounding these changes. While McColl views the edited version as way to protect children, others have criticized the move as censorship. Ann Curry, Gail de Vos, and Alvin Schrader, all from the University of Alberta, have spoken out to oppose the changes and are quoted in the article. Although the version is controversial, the book is available through Indigo and

Gail de Vos has reviewed the book for the magazine CM: Canadian Review of Materials.  In this review, she describes exactly how the book has been edited. According to the jacket cover, Santa Claus himself edited out the two lines which reference smoking. In de Vos’ opinion, the changes are detrimental to the development of children’s critical thinking skills. For more information on the book, see the book review.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Censorship and Self-Censorship of “Fifty Shades of Grey”

The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) recently added a blog post entitled Fifty Shades of Grey: Why Should We Care About a “Bad” Book?. Barbara Jones, the Executive Director of FTRF, discusses why we should resist attempts to ban materials that censors do not consider to have “literary quality.” The book “Fifty Shades of Grey” is used as an example in examining librarians’ professional values and practices as well as in thinking about the larger economic context. See the article for one librarian's thought-provoking view on book quality and censorship.

Barbara Jones has also written an article for the American Libraries Magazine on library self-censorship. Controversy in Fifty Shades of Grey discusses how collection development policies have been used by libraries to censor controversial material such as “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Though we are typically concerned with outside censorship, self-censorship is a related issue that we should reflect on as library and information professionals.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Plan for Internet Filter in Australia is Dropped

The Australian government has dropped plans to implement a nation-wide Internet filter according to the Sydney Morning Herald. A recent article outlines the history of the controversial plan and the action that will be taken in its place. The Internet filter began as an election promise and, according to the article, would have required Australian Internet service providers to block content on “child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and material that advocated terrorist activity” had it passed into law. The Australian government has instead opted to have the Internet service providers block individual websites related to child abuse.

Read the Sydney Morning Herald article or watch a related video for further information on the scrapped Internet filter plan.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Libraries & Hurricane Sandy

The Library Journal has published an article on how libraries in the path of Hurricane Sandy have been impacted by the superstorm. While part of the article discusses the damage to facilities and loss of power, much of the article speaks to the importance of libraries as open public spaces. According to author Sarah Bayliss, "[…] public libraries are unofficial but critical places of refuge for people during times of disaster." Libraries in New Jersey and New York have been providing the public with Internet access and a place to charge electronics. Many libraries have also added extra children’s programming and family movie viewings. The CEO of Queens Library has stated that staff members are on hand to "help people with any kind of FEMA applications and other services" that they may need in order to begin the recovery process.

In the aftermath of the superstorm, libraries have brought members of the community together. To find out more about how libraries have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, read the LJ article or view the School Library Journal's photo gallery.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Intellectual Freedom Beyond Banned Books

At our last FLIF meeting, we talked about how intellectual freedom is about more than just the freedom to read and banned books. Intellectual freedom issues can affect us as students as well as the broader academic community. One such issue has been raised in a PhD comics video entitled Open Access Explained!. As the video explains, open access has come about as a result of digitization and journal price increases. With open access, the public is free to read and free to re-use scholarly research.

The video was made in partnership with the Right to Research Coalition (R2RC). The R2RC has a number of helpful ideas in how we can promote the use of open access as individuals, as student organizations, and as librarians. The section on Why Open Access? explains how traditional publishing practices and open access impact students, researchers, individuals in developing countries, and many other groups in addition the general public. Open access in academia is just one example of how issues of intellectual freedom can extend beyond the traditional notions of censorship and banned books.