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Video on Demand From the Public Library

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the doing-it-for-free dept.

Television 89

ye oulde library lover writes "In light of the recent story about Wal-Mart and movies on demand, readers should know there is a free service available from some public libraries that lets you download movies and tv shows. The service is just beginning, so selection is pretty mediocre, but the sponsors, Recorded Books and PermissionTV, make some big promises. If your library ponies up the dough for the top service, you will be able to download movies on the same day as their dvd release. All you need is a library card. You can see one of the early adopters — Half Hollow Hills Community Library in the library's blog. Look for MyLibraryDV."

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Doesn't this exist already? (2, Insightful)

Bin Naden (910327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925382)

Don't torrents pretty much do that? So when it's a community initiative, it's piracy, but if the goverment does it, it's ...

Re:Doesn't this exist already? (1)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925412)

The difference is this is legal. its only old movies and Julia Child cooking shows though (so far)

Re:Doesn't this exist already? (0, Troll)

Bin Naden (910327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925466)

its only old movies and Julia Child cooking shows though (so far)
Thanks for reminding me why I haven't gone to a public library in years.

Re:Doesn't this exist already? (3, Informative)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925528)

Um this service only has that. The Library i work for gets the latest dvds in before there street date. Any major dvd movie that comes out we order for the patrons. Stop trolling and actually visit the library (Wich you fund with your taxes) you will be suprised.

Re:Doesn't this exist already? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17926282)

IMO, for the sake of their employer's image, all good library employees should know how to spell and punctuate before they go on a worldwide forum to make comments.

Does it run Linux? (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925536)

It'll have DRM for sure. Which leads to the REAL question: Does it run on Linux?

Re:Does it run Linux? (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17927608)

That sound you hear is the whoosh of sarcasm rushing over your head and the head of the previous poster. Of course it only runs on windows. This is why I stopped using the public library in the first place.

Re:Does it run Linux? (1)

phatlipmojo (106574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936174)

That sound you don't hear is the other people in the world who give a crap. Public libraries feel compelled to contract with the companies (who in turn feel compelled to use the DRM the MPAA forces on them) who sell these services in order to stay relevant and keep up with an increasingly modern, less book-oriented public.
In my library, we haven't gone to video yet, but we have DRM'ed downloadable audio books (from Overdrive) because that's the only way we can offer them without getting our asses sued off. I don't like it, but we don't have the budget for a precedent-setting legal fight; someone else will have to win that for us.
And you know what? Most people don't care. A few Mac users are bummed. I haven't had a single comment or question about the DRM or about whether or not they'll play on Linux.

So it's DRM or drifting away into irrelevancy as people decide that Audible is just easier than going to the library and jeez it's not really that expensive... And once a critical mass of that kind of thinking is reached, the public library as an institution could face extinction. And most of us in the field wouldn't have gone into the field if that idea didn't horrify us.

Re:Does it run Linux? (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944178)

People don't ask because they know what the answer is and don't bother. That's why I've given up on the public library.

Re:Does it run Linux? (1)

phatlipmojo (106574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949238)

It is precisely that kind of thinking that will get you no response from your library. Nobody is going to read your mind. If you have desires or concerns, voice them. Ask questions, ask for services, write letters to the director, the board of trustees (or the county administration, depending on what the structure of your library system is). If you come off defeatist (which you do in this thread) or like a jerk with an axe to grind (which far too many of the people we get complaints from do), you probably will not get anywhere. But if you make a determined and reasonable case, most library systems will do what they can to help you--as long as it wont get their asses sued off or otherwise run them afoul of the law.

Can The Public Get The Videos: +1, Interesting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17925702)

of the war crimes committed by this WAR CRIMINAL and his lackies [whitehouse.org]?

People want to know.

Thank you.

Kilgore Trout

Re:Doesn't this exist already? (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925868)

legal, is te last word you're looking for.

Yes, funny thing, Libraries have been given special permission to lend things.

You should go to one some time.

Re:Doesn't this exist already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17926452)

It's legal, but somewhat pointless IMO. Places like netflix offer me full rental of quality DVDs around 1$ each (most dowload services have poor quality). No bandwidth wasted, no evil DRM like most downloads, amazing selection, easy to copy/convert to another format and all that.

Seemingly, most of the other places (itunes, walmart, libraries and everywhere) will charge WAY more, will usually provide you with so-so quality DRM'ed downloads (which use a fair bit of bandwidth). No thanks?

Re:Doesn't this exist already? (1)

Workaphobia (931620) | more than 7 years ago | (#17930654)

And here I thought I had a right to lend or resell my possessions to my friends and family. Guess it turns out they'll have to buy their own pencils, video games, and books. Oh well, we may be turning into a permission society, but at least it'll be good for the economy.

Arrrh, I know this one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17926506)

> Don't torrents pretty much do that? So when it's a community initiative, it's piracy, but if the goverment does it, it's ...

That be called privateering, matey.

Ahoy! AVIs off the starboard bow!

HUntington Library in NY here (4, Informative)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925394)

I am a network technician at the Huntington Public library in NY next school district over from Half Hollow. We are looking into this service too. we are doing testing. Its not bad but you have to install a client. There are a couple of services that libraries can use.

The service is a disservice (4, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925610)

My library has this and the librarians are clueless how bad this is.
The main problem is this the company and the librarians and the broshures they hand out say it's for MP3 players. well it's not: it only plays on WMA 10 compabtible devices. This means no ipods, very few Mp3 players even the ones that play the older WMA files. It won't play on a mac and it won't play on linux computers. And it won't even play on older windows machines that don't have WM player 10. Sure you can download it but is granny gonna do that?

Also the way the check out works is that you can check it out once for two weeks, renew it once for two weeks, and then you can never check out the same book a second time, making it essential to have multiple fake library IDs if you want to get through some long book.

Now given that the libraries have fixed budgets I'm sure this resulting in the purchase of fewer CDs . The 95% of the world that does not have a WMA 10 compatible "MP3" player is subsidizing this.

If you want to use it you have to not only buy a WMP 10 compaitble Music player, but now you also have to use some new music management system different from the one you use for your other players to transfer the audio. You have to have a windows computer too.

I guess the most galling thing to me was that librarians kept showing me the printed broshure from the company saying it worked with any Mp3 player and insisting I must be mistaken.

Re:The service is a disservice (1)

ffflala (793437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17927684)

Libraries have to pay closer attention to copyright than the average user (though what their patrons do with it is not their responsibility)

Audiobooks --which you're talking about-- are commercial recordings and as such are faced with the same problems as copyrighted music. Your library can and probably does provide thousands of recorded titles including music and spoken word.

What you're suggesting is the only really useful thing would be like them converting all their audio files to mp3s and making them available online. Personally, I think that'd be great too.

But if you want to subvert copyright DRM, audio or video, you will have to roll up your sleeves and learn how to do so.

In this case, learn how to convert WMA files to a format your player can use (hint: spoken voice recordings will do fine if you use the analog hole.)

Take it from one, the librarians really don't care if you take the books and photocopy the whole thing; nor do we care if you copy the entire CD & DVD collection (as long as you don't sell it: we're big on the "for free" aspect.)

So here's the deal: we won't worry about what you do with the material when it's in your possession, and we'll keep your records out of the hands of Homeland Security at no extra charge. In return just do a LITTLE bit of your own work to get it to play on your fashion accessory of choice for free, m'kay?

As for the people who won't know better how to copy the material -- they probably won't want to use it in violation of copyright, either. And if they want to, we will happily point them to the section that will help them learn how to go about doing it themselves (they'll probably want to start somewhere in the 000's). If they need help we can narrow it down to which titles may be most helpful.

Putting that knowledge to use up to you and grandma.

Re:The service is a disservice (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17928262)

Good information, but got a bit condescending towards the end.

I wonder if you missed the main point of his post - that librarians are fooled by the brochure and don't realize the limitations on the software they are buying/using. By buying a system without knowing its limitations, they are not in a very good position to pay a fair price. And by continually giving patrons incorrect information, they are just causing confusion and wasted time.

Now, as for the "But if you want to subvert copyright DRM, audio or video, you will have to roll up your sleeves and learn how to do so" - first off, the DMCA allows for interoperability. So there's no copyright subversion here. People just want to be able to actually use the software. Second, do you have no concept of the computer ability of the general public? It's fine to say "you'll just have to put some effort into it." But the real truth of the matter is that most people could spend an inordinate amount of time and still not understand how to navigate the complexities of file conversion. Computers are just not something that everyone gets - not even everyone under 30.

Re:The service is a disservice (1)

ffflala (793437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17930762)

Before getting bogged down in discussion of interoperability, because essentially I agree with you:

Condescending? Probably, it comes from frustration at repeatedly witnessing common sentiment at a problem that could be addressed with effort to learn on anyone's part.

Same problem with these poorly-informed librarians relying too heavily on vendors for accurate information. That reliance, coupled with reluctance to obtain expertise, keeps many vendors in business.

Second, do you have no concept of the computer ability of the general public?

Indeed I do, having had the pleasure of working on a daily basis with the general public that comes into a library to use public computers, including people who don't know how to use the mouse, still. Extend this to the current majority of librarians in a position to approve the budget for these kind of projects and you'll begin to get a better picture of the context.

For comparison, I recently had the misfortune of witnessing a catalog librarian being the only input on the purchase of an integrated library system --hardware to client applications. This same person had a few weeks prior sent me a link I'd requested to access some search records with the instructions that the link might not work if you don't "click on it hard enough, or several times in a row." She was absolutely serious.

Expecting someone who probably doesn't own ANY sort of digital music player (most of the librarians w/ the seniority to approve the funding) to understand the difference between mp3 files and WMA files, let alone pre-WMP10 WMA files -vs- post-WMP10 WMA files, is probably fruitless.

The point of my response to the OP was that people in our situation may find it more useful to circumvent the relatively easy obstacles instead of holding out in frustration for the ideal format. Twenty-five years ago, when a lot of current library managers/directors were already several years into their careers, this frustration would have been similar to insisting that the books on tape (if there were any to be found) purchases only use 120 minute cassette tape format for ease of duping.

In the time being the material is there, it can be converted if you want it, and isn't all that difficult.

One side or the other is going to have to learn, and waiting for the other side, well...

"Click harder"

Re:The service is a disservice (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17931548)

This is where I felt it got a bit condescending: In return just do a LITTLE bit of your own work to get it to play on your fashion accessory of choice for free, m'kay?

First, as I've said in other posts, libraries aren't free unless you plan on never paying taxes. Second, the fact that most portable audio players and all Macs (around half of which are owned by people over the age of 55, according to a recent survey) can't play these files should not be relegated to a quip about a "fashion accessory."

The simple fact is the library should never have forked out money for such a crappy system and failed the people who pay their salaries (however inadequate that salary is). It's like having all the books on chains but giving a nudge and wink and saying "hey, you know that chain is long enough to reach the photocopier, right?"

Re:The service is a disservice (1)

shalla (642644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943128)

Or, instead, you could look at it as a way of INCREASING who the library is serving.

I'm another librarian. I darn well know that many of the audiobooks that you can download through our catalog are DRMed WMA files that do not work on iPods and only work on certain mp3 players. (To add to the confusion, we're part of a library consortium and different people have negotiated different deals with different vendors, so the patrons in our county have access to three different types of audiobooks available for download. All three types have different requirements. Some allow you to burn them to CD. Some do not. It's particularly fun answering questions about these over the phone.)

I'm currently researching mp3 players to buy for my library to check out to patrons who want to listen to downloaded audiobooks but lack their own portable media player. What I have discovered is that this is a nightmare, as the portable players are generally designed and marketed for music, and audiobooks have different needs, such as loooong track playtimes, bookmarking, and certain time display styles. Really, the whole business is aimed at music.

Anyways, neither the lack of open standards nor the lack of quality players to choose from are the fault of librarians. We're working with the tools we have. Currently, our choices are as follows:

1. No downloadable audiobooks for anyone.
2. Downloadable audiobooks with the DRM and interoperability problems mentioned.

I'd rather offer choice 2, because it's at least giving a good many patrons with Windows PCs at home a chance to listen on their home computer (or burn to CD or whatever it allows), if nothing else, or (once we buy them) on our portable players. And frankly, I can say that a good many do listen. We get the circulation figures for the downloadable audiobooks, and they've gone up every month at a startling rate since we added the downloadable audiobooks to the catalog.

No one in my department thinks the downloadable audiobooks work with everything. Most of us have the urge to smack an audiobook-related person once a day (I vote for OverDrive. We have the fewest of their items, but they bug me the most.). Certainly, we want things to work on all platforms and with all mp3 players. But if your argument is that we shouldn't offer a service unless absolutely everyone can use it, then we wouldn't have any software available for checkout, or we never would have added DVDs when they were new, or we wouldn't pay for access to electronic databases, because people at home without computers can't use them.

So it's an area where we have a lot of demand from the public, but the tools we're given are not designed to work together. Until some sort of standard is agreed upon for DRMed audio files and the major players incorporate it, we're just doing the best we can. Until then, please try not to get too mad when your local librarian gets a slightly crazed look in her eye if you mention eAudio or downloadable audiobooks.

(And I should mention that I do try to educate patrons about copyright. I don't help them photocopy or scan whole books in my library, I have the appropriate copyright notices on the scanners and printers, and I explain to people who ask me that it's against copyright law to borrow CDs and burn copies for yourself. By the same rule, I understand the concept behind DRM, but I think the system is currently flawed. Still, I generally go with educating people about what the law says and letting them worry about whether or not they're searching for programs to convert WMAs to MP3s in their spare time.)

I realize this was a long-winded post, but I wanted to point out that even with its faults, having a system where the public can download audiobooks is adding a service. Of course, libraries and librarians vary greatly from place to place (as do our patrons), so I can't speak for everyone. But for me, I've gotten very positive feedback, despite having my list of things I'd like to change (and it's a mile long).

Re:The service is a disservice (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949688)

Well, I certainly hope you didn't misunderstand the thrust of my posts. My big problem was ffflala's attitude towards the whole thing. It was very much one of trivializing people's wishes to avoid all these compatibility annoyances you go through (e.g the "fashion accessory" comment) and to blame the user for not doing enough work learn how to break the DRM. Second, I was backing up the original posters point about how the librarians bought this crappy system and instead of listening to their patron, they kept claiming they were wrong because of what the brochure says.

I also understand what you're going through and don't wish it on anyone. Trying to figure out how to get audiobooks to library patrons really isn't THAT different from being "the computer guy" amongst family/friends and having to handle every DRM snafu that comes up - it's just a matter of scale. The only real way this will be put to rest is if either content owners realize how stupid and pointless DRM is, or if lawmakers can be made to understand that a library cannot serve as an archive when their materials are saddled with DRM that depends on a very specific set of software that will probably not work 10 years from now.

BTW, on the audiobook question - have you looked into the ipods audiobook playing abilities? I know that they treat .m4b differently from .m4a (even though its just renaming the extension). It saves a per-audiobook bookmark and everything. Or is the whole DRMed WMA a dealbreaker for this? Or, I suppose, price could do it, too (ipods aren't exactly the cheapest players). Actually, I guess if you buy the audiobook off the ipod store, it's probably locked to that ipod, isn't it? Damn them!

Re:The service is a disservice (1)

shalla (642644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17952040)

The DRMed WMA is the dealbreaker for the iPod. (Well, the price is too, but conceivably I could get a grant or find a pot of gold or something if I just HAD to have iPods.) I've heard rumors *cough* of ways around it, but I certainly can't in good conscience break the licensing agreement and suggest to patrons that they start shopping around for ways to break the DRM. :(

We do have one Mac with iTunes on it, and we do allow patrons to (carefully) purchase and download things to their iPods, but that's an individual-patron-paid-for thing, not a library-vendor agreement.

And I'm sorry if I sounded cranky. I did know you were annoyed with the attitude, but I did want to also point out that there were some positives, and under your post was a convenient place to do it.

I know it's frustrating for patrons, and I know that in some libraries, no one really understands the audiobook downloads, so you are going to get the experiences the poor first poster had. That's especially likely to happen in a consortium setting where a group of libraries gets access, but the staff of some of the libraries are smaller and less technologically savvy than others (and probably get brochures in place of training, and those brochures are just as accurate as the first poster commented. I regularly make my own brochures rather than hand out the inaccurate, vague professional pieces.)

But yeah... as soon as someone fixes the universal DRM file solution, we're all set.

p.s. Can I send my mother to you the next time she calls me after installing her printer in Portuguese?

Re:The service is a disservice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17929262)

A handful of libraries throughout the country pay a subscription to companies like Recorded Books and Overdrive so that they can offer digital content to their patrons. I think this post refers to Recorded Books' digital audio content which is available through www.netlibrary.com/recordedbooks. Many librarians know all too well that this content works only on mp3 players which can play DRMed wma files. (No iPod, No Zune.) If you look at the help pages on Recorded Books' siteand on Overdrive's site, you'll see these caveats to their services. These companies have made the decision to offer their content in wma format. Maybe libraries shouldn't hop on board unless the companies agree to offer up more formats which work across many OS platforms and with many, if not all, mp3 devices. Some libraries also offer access to audible.com -- for those of you audiobook listeners with iPods. Audible.com doesn't seem too interested in offering a library platform which could be used remotely by library users as did Recorded Books and Overdrive.

Having downloaded RB's digital audio content and Overdrive's digital audio and digital video content, I can only hope that Recorded Books makes a better effort this go around. The video content I saw was so-so. We get a far better ROI from our physical DVD collection than we will from any digital video content currently available.

Re:The service is a disservice (1)

newmediadave (1061352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17930110)

You are talking about the audio download service that has been around for a year or two. The brochures you mention are about that service. This is a completely different service that's just for video. You don't need any hardware for this, just Media Player 9 or 10.

Checkout an issue? (1)

ebvwfbw (864834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17932736)

Also the way the check out works is that you can check it out once for two weeks, renew it once for two weeks, and then you can never check out the same book a second time, making it essential to have multiple fake library IDs if you want to get through some long book.

Not sure about other people, once I've seen a movie that is it for the most part. I've moved on. I think I have seen the same movie maybe 3 times in my life. I have a whole bunch of old VHS and DVD's that have only ever been watched once. In once case not even that.

Two weeks seems like plenty of time to watch something. This is the same policy for DVDs that they have at my library. I usually don't even have them a week.

You are so right when people who are there to help you have no clue. I'm running into that a lot. Worse they often look at you as if it is your fault. As if you are an idiot. Especially at hotels/motels/resorts that are supposed to have a wifi and it isn't working.

Re:HUntington Library in NY here (1)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925756)

I would recommend against this service, as it supports Windows clients only. As a potential customer, you are in the position of encouraging support for other platforms, such as OS X and Linux. You'd be excluding those patrons of your library if you did not recognize them as first class citizens.

Re:HUntington Library in NY here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17926432)

I am a network technician at the Huntington Public library

Congratulations on mastering ISBN 0764121812!

Library? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17925396)

I always thought they were for books. I was happy to see when they starter offering internet access, but I think this is a bit unnecessary. Why should they be one stop multimedia outlets?

Re:Library? (3, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925794)

As a government institution, they are what the people want them to be. I can still remember the 80's when my local library had audio cassettes and even betamax movies available.

Either way, they continue to function as a repository of recorded media, be it printed or otherwise.

Re:Library? (1)

yintercept (517362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925826)

As a book lover, I concur.

IMHO, public libraries should be concentrating on building up resources within the community. Subscribing to an entertainment resource simply saps taxpayers dollars out of the communtiy and into the entertainment industry. I could see great value in public libraries building up large electronic data stores on an intranet. Subscribing to a movie download service simply puts the library in unfair competition with other local entertainment venues.

Probably (1)

Dude163299 (906461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925406)

Sadly their selection will probably be mostly educational, an not so great movies. I doubt we see the latest an greatest new movies realeases available.

Did I just say great an new movie in the same sentence, ok ignore my previous statement. I for one welcome our new downloadable libraian overlords.

aim your librarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17925410)

I definately AIM that [lib.ny.us] librarian! Do you have any books on asl? brrraawo!

yep (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925414)

readers should know there is a free service available from some public libraries that lets you download movies and tv shows.

Yeah, it's called the internet.

Why is it for individual libraries? (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925438)

Why would individual libraries be doing this? Wouldn't make more sense from a power by numbers point of view to have 1 online library that holds and distributes all the content? Kind of like the library exchange program. If my library doesn't have a book, then I can get to have it shipped from another library that does have the book. There's no reason why each library should have to have their own system. There should be at least a state level (province level cause I'm in Canada) if not national level program. If they really got their act together they could have 1 huge international digital library. With ebooks and everything.

Re:Why is it for individual libraries? (2, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925894)

"Why would individual libraries be doing this?"

Because public libraries are local institutions, rather than federal.

"Wouldn't make more sense from a power by numbers point of view to have 1 online library that holds and distributes all the content?"

Who pays for it? Local governments pay for their own.

"If my library doesn't have a book, then I can get to have it shipped from another library that does have the book."

I'll bet this only works in the same county (i. e. under the authority of the same local government).

"There should be at least a state level (province level cause I'm in Canada) if not national level program."

So will you be raising federal taxes to pay for it or reducing funding to healthcare?

"If they really got their act together they could have 1 huge international digital library."

As others have pointed out, I believe that's called "BitTorrent."

Re:Why is it for individual libraries? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926218)

Ok, how about this. Each library who wants to make this service available to its patrons pays a fee to one organization so that they can handle all the logistics such as setting up server and all that other junk. This way all the funding is still local and still comes from the local libraries budgets, but they don't have to manage the system themselves. Just because it's a national system does not mean the funding would have to come from federal tax dollars. The library of congress in a national library. What if they wanted to start lending out content this way?

Re:Why is it for individual libraries? (1)

tmarthal (998456) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926768)

As I understand it, there definetly is a tiered library system. There is definetly a distinction between a city library and a county library.

Also, have you considered that there actuallly are Federal libraries [loc.gov] like, hrrm, say the Library of Congress? Why couldn't we get a digital subscription to thier collected works? :)

Also of note, is that most state funded University libraries are public places. While I am sure that most state citizens can't checkout books without being a student, I think that there are places that allow you to. I'm sure that every library deals with this differently, but I remember that I checked books out of ASU West's library [asu.edu] when I was in high school and taking a course at a community college, i.e. not an ASU student.

Re:Why is it for individual libraries? (1)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 7 years ago | (#17927366)

"If my library doesn't have a book, then I can get to have it shipped from another library that does have the book."

I'll bet this only works in the same county (i. e. under the authority of the same local government).

Our public library (in Massachusetts) will look for hard-to-find books and articles from about anywhere in the U.S., as far as I can tell. I've special requested articles in obscure journals that have ended up coming from various university libraries around the country. About 15 years ago they found for me an old, 1950's, obscure computing book from the Huges Aircraft Research and Development Laboratory! I got the physical copy (possibly one of few, if not the only one, still in existence) on loan for two weeks. Librarians are amazing people.

Re:Why is it for individual libraries? (1)

zacronos (937891) | more than 7 years ago | (#17933866)

As others have pointed out, I believe that's called "BitTorrent."

One key difference is that the international digital library GP was describing would probably pay for CDs and DVDs with money from taxes, where the current BitTorrent system is funded by through the RIAA/MIAA legal departments.

Re:Why is it for individual libraries? (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926746)

In the US libraries are funded at the local level by city or county taxes. You do have some colleges that allow public use and check out but they are a less common. Most libraries are members of the Interlibrary loan system, where you can request a book and they will get it from other library.
Not sure how the video system would work but I have access to two library that have audio book system similar to it. You can go to the library web site enter your library ID/passwprd and then download audio books with DRM which expire in 2-3 weeks. Both libraries use the same company(you get redirect to the main site after authentication) from there each library sets which kinds of books they allow to be checked out and how many copies of each audio book they have "purchased" for their patrons.

it's a licensing thing (1)

chrwei (771689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17929180)

The library buys one copy and then can lend it out. If it wants to lend the same thing out to 2 people it has to buy 2 copies. If there was just the one central library, that library would have to have hundreds or thousands of copies of each item in order to accommodate all the people that would want to use it. The cost would be astronomical, this is why they choose this model, each library ponies up some cash to buy their members access to some content, the online library service then buys copies of things to accommodate these new members. If you RTFA you'll see that the library mentioned doesn't actually host the content so eventually the "1 huge international digital library" you envision could happen, but it still needs to be funded and paid for at the local level.

I Love Libraries (5, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925440)

A good public library is one of the great resources anywhere. I love them.

Entertainment, information, fun, enlightenment, all for free.

Plus, even in these Internet days, you can still phone the library with a question and they will look up the answer!

Our local library has a really amazing collection of DVDs, both recent and classic and foreign films. Kind of like NetFlix without paying a monthly subscription fee.

It is inconceivable that one could create such an institution these days. No politician would ever - EVER - support the idea today. Can you imagine how the MPAA or RIAA would fight to prevent the free loans of their products? Could book publishers be far behind?

Libraries - gotta love them.

Re:I Love Libraries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17925744)

A good public library is one of the great resources anywhere.
Not every country provides these readily available repositories of books. And very few provide such a high quality as some of the western nation states.

Re:I Love Libraries (1)

bohemian72 (898284) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925772)

Discovering my local library was the final nail in the coffin of my Netflix membership. The library has more DVDs than I have time to watch and many of the big new releases as well as the more obscure stuff. I'm sure ultimately a service like Netflix has a larger DVD collection, but there's really only so many hours in a lifetime.

Re:I Love Libraries (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925820)

You're right. Libraries are still indispensable and quite serene as well; leaning against a book shelf while engulfed in a novel is pleasantly mesmorizing. I used to grab an old VHS movie on the way out as well. Even though this new service detaches that physical association in some respects, I'm an avid fan of old movies in general and those are quite difficult to find on bittorent or the like. Put some old Andy Hardy movies with Mickey Rooney up there and I'll definitely use this service.

Free? (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17928310)

Libraries are only "free" if you don't pay taxes. Or never WILL pay taxes.

I'm not saying I don't love 'em. But you have to realize that for those that aren't fortunate enough to get a significant amount of their budget from charitable donations, the money comes out of your pocket.

Re:Free? (1)

mothas (792754) | more than 7 years ago | (#17930564)

True, and I do pay quite a bit in taxes, but I still think libraries are one of the best values out there. I mean, don't you wish there were a little check box on your tax form sending a dollar to fund public libraries in some way instead of to the current president's re-election campaign?

Re:Free? (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17931570)

As I said, they're well worth it. I just don't like the whole "free" label being stuck on something that in no way is free. It's like saying that the interstate system is free.

Re:Free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17935268)

Taxes are a "sunk cost." In this instance, whether one uses the library or not, the taxes have already been paid.

Logically, you have 2 choices when considering whether to use the library or not:
1 - Pay your taxes and use the library.
2 - Pay your taxes and don't use the library.

Since both choices have "pay your taxes," it cancels itself out and should no longer be relevant as part of the decision.

From a pure cost perspective, obviously nothing is free - there is always SOME kind of cost. But that's just stating the obvious. The fact of the matter is, as an individual living in an area with a public library system, the system is, for all intents and purposes, free to use.

A good idea (2, Interesting)

Andyman1134 (854184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925446)

This looks like it could be a great service, but I can't help but think the movie industry will fight this one to the death. On the one hand, the libraries already have the right to loan movies for free (by law) as well they should be able to. On the other hand, the libraries are unlikely to have deep enough pockets to battle it out with the industry. And it is highly unlikely they will just pass on the chance to fight this one out. If this goes as well as it could (for us) it would severely undercut the industry, therefore destroying the profitability of film making in general. This of course would put the industry into its death-throes. I suspect the argument they could make will be something like "The library may have x copies of the DVD that they purchase. Therefore, x people may borrow the DVD at a time." That seems reasonable I suppose, but would also make this service a lot let useful, as it could be weeks before you get to view your video.

Re:A good idea (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926144)

The movie industry has no recourse here. In fact, libraries work with them [movlic.com]. Plus, every library has a budget; which is why you will never see such a vast movie selection as say Blockbuster.

Response to castr troy (2, Informative)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925476)

Here on long Island (where half hollow hills is) we have whats called "The Suffolk Cooperative Library System" It basically combines all the libraries in suffolk county into one semi unit. Our catalogs can be accessed by anybody in the system and books and dvds can be shipped between libraries. We even do some services as one unit. If it becomes a good service the whole system could offer it. I do not know how the rest of the country works though.

public libraries (0)

cpearson (809811) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925564)

Public libraries around the country are realizing the postion that "information brokers", (google comes to mind*) put them in. With tight budgets and limited technical knowledge they might need to find a new niche. By the way I volunteer at my local library, helping them with thier website, so i know how screwed they are.

Vista Help Forum [vistahelpforum.com]

Re:public libraries (1)

shalla (642644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949944)

It's pretty hard to generalize the state of ALL public libraries from one. Yours may be screwed. Ours just had our best year of circulation ever (over 1 million physical items). Our in-library computer use statistics have gone up every year, our electronic database statistics (both in-library and remote access) have gone up every year, and our downloadable audiobooks which just started a few months ago are really taking off.

On Sunday afternoons, we open the doors and fling ourselves out of the way to avoid the stampede. By 20 minutes after we open, all our public computers are filled, and they stay that way until we close. Our tables are packed with tutors and people working on group projects, the children's department is a sea of small, moving rugrats and their parents, and the phones ring off the hooks. We have people who come in every day and sit and read the newspapers and magazines in our reading nooks, and our silent study area has days that it's filled to overflowing (5 tables, 8 chairs with attached writing arm, and 8 carrels).

We sometimes accept volunteers in the Computer Center if they want to help out a few hours a week and we think they'll be a good fit to help the public with some of the very basic tasks there, like "How do I get to my next email message?". After four weeks of volunteering, one IT student told me, "I never knew libraries were like this."

It would, of course, help if our funding reflected our increased usage, but since many people seem to think libraries are outdated, it can be difficult to get that funding. Since most library funding is done on the local level, libraries in poor or rural areas are often particularly hard hit, hence why some libraries may be seen to be thriving and others struggling. But for all the talk of Google putting me out of a job, it isn't happening yet. (Hell, last Thursday I helped someone with his Java 2 homework.) It's simply giving me more ways to reach out to my patrons.

Now to wander back to the larger topic at hand... Our patrons would LOVE this service. We have huge waiting lists for the new releases, which we just can't afford to purchase in large quantities. A deal similar to the deals with some of the audiobook vendors we have where unlimited numbers of patrons can download movies would be awesome. It wouldn't be a copyright violation, as the library would be paying the fee to the vendor, which has presumably reached an agreement with the distributor to offer the movie that way. In other words, the movie dudes would have agreed to the setup. I'm pretty sure it would have the same hideous DRM problems we currently have with downloadable audiobook files of proprietary file formats, but if that's the only way to get a service, then I'd take it.

I should note that this would actually be done on a county-wide level. All the libraries in the county kick in for services like that and share the rewards, and each library would continue their own physical purchasing of movies as usual. This would really help out all the libraries in the county, as those who have the equipment to download and watch the movie do it that way, shortening the wait list from maybe 500 people to 350 on its release date.

I can't see our consortium getting this in the next year (we're still fighting with our audiobook downloads, darn those varying requirements!), but I can certainly see how it could be a valuable service. Of course, I can say that since I have absolutely no idea what the cost is. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. ;)

Such a deal (5, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925590)

If your library ponies up the dough for the top service,

Great. Now my local library, already facing a funding crunch to purchase non fiction books... Has yet another way to waste scarce cash on entertainment. Libraries are supposed to supplement Blockbuster and Netflix, and do the things they won't because there's no money in it - not compete with them.
Libraries in their race to become relevant - are becoming meaningless.

Re:Such a deal (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925912)

That right. People should be forced to go to the library to check out media. Leave doing it from the comfort of your own home is for the weak.

If you library is cashed strapped, then they shouldn't do it. If you think they are anyways, get involved.

It is called a PUBLIC ligrary for a reason.

Re:Such a deal (1)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926984)

People should be forced to go to the library to check out media.
Not that this will be the primary group of people interested in this service, but what about the elderly and disabled? It seems to me that they would find access to their local public library from their own home to be a valuable service. People who can't walk or drive to the library might still like to read books or watch movies from their library.

Leave doing it from the comfort of your own home is for the weak.
Or written more responsibly, the weak can still do it from the comfort of their home.

Re:Such a deal (1)

ericleasemorgan (928146) | more than 7 years ago | (#17927490)

I concur.

While I am not one to say, "Buy lots o' books." The fees a library will pay to provide this service will be high, and IMHO might be better spent other places.

Re:Such a deal (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17927966)

Parent has no insight whatsoever.

Has yet another way to waste scarce cash on entertainment. Libraries are supposed to supplement Blockbuster and Netflix, and do the things they won't because there's no money in it - not compete with them.

And what about the people that do not have the money to go to Blockbuster and Netflix. They should be exempt from fitness videos, classic film masterpieces, and showing their children Disney movies?

Take the two seconds you spent on that comment and think about how diverse the world really is. And don't dare insult a 2,200 year old institution by saying it should play second fiddle to some corporate time-share. You sir, need more books in your life.

How long can this last? (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925616)

Might as well look at what they have now before the RIAA or whoever tears it to shreds. Unless their selection is really bad, its only a matter of time before someone gets ticked.

I like the idea but... (2, Interesting)

Captain Rotundo (165816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925762)

I don't like sounding like a GNU/Linux zealot, but it is disheartening when these people always choose windows only options, especially when there are easily availble ways to distribute media for any OS. I am near the half hollow hills district, I wonder if I get a cross library sticker (so I can borrow from them since they are in the suffolk county system) if it would let me download too :)

Re:I like the idea but... (1)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926766)

What Library are you with? A couple of Libraries in the suffolk system are testing this. We are testing it here in Huntington. Go and ask . They might show it to you.

Re:I like the idea but... (1)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17927168)

Well, as a fundamental principle there cannot really be an open source program which supports digital rights restriction (because someone can just remove it). So either they must be willing to accept standard convenient file formats which do not include rights restrictions, or they have to use a closed-source program which does. As far as I know, the number of closed-source media players on Linux is fairly small.

Of course, the ideal solution is for public libraries to simply use standard file formats. Perhaps they could simply watermark the videos with your library card number and send them in standard format.

Re:I like the idea but... (1)

Your Pal Dave (33229) | more than 7 years ago | (#17930112)

Well, as a fundamental principle there cannot really be an open source program which supports digital rights restriction (because someone can just remove it).
Uh-oh! Somebody better go tell Sun [openmediacommons.org]!

WM10 is discriminatory (1)

chrwei (771689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17929204)

Libraries are supposed to be about full access to all citizens, and this "certain Windows versions" only DRM excludes the poor ("welfare won't pay for a PC that can run XP"), the rich ("Dude, I bought a Mac"), and the intelligent do-it-yourselfer's ("just added a new node to my beowulf cluster of atomic supermen"). This is partly why libraries still loan cassette tapes and VHS when you have to go way out of your way to buy either new in a store (not counting the never opened collectibles in 2nd hand shops). WM10 DRM is discriminatory.

Why does one need "library card"? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925776)

With physical media (books, CDs, DVDs) the card is an important proof, that one has no outstanding items before she/he can borrow more.

Why can't the Internet downloads be anonymous? To make sure, only local residents can view the material?

A silly restriction in the Internet age — instead of spending money on each library's card-verification software, web-server hardware et al., they should've hired Akamai or someone like that to carry the stuff for everyone.

Would've been far better and likely cheaper too, especially if "Akamai" (or whoever) could be persuaded to give the service a discount...

Re:Why does one need "library card"? (2, Informative)

rabidus6 (896985) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925844)

We just got this at the library I work at. We pay for a certain amount of downloads per month, if it exceeds this we have to pay more. So we only allow residents of the city to use it since they are the ones paying the taxes.

Re:Why does one need "library card"? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#17927658)

We just got this at the library I work at. We pay for a certain amount of downloads per month, if it exceeds this we have to pay more. So we only allow residents of the city to use it since they are the ones paying the taxes.

Your library is trying to fit the new media into the old way(s) of doing business — not entirely unlike RIAA/MPAA.

While it made sense for each local library to stock their own copies of books, the dispersed storage of copies of downloadable files is foolish. It duplicates (tries to, rather), what AKAMAI et. al are already doing on a much bigger scale and with much higher efficiency.

Instead of sponsoring each library to do this, PermissionTV and other sponsors should've set up a single server of their own and pay AKAMAI (or one of their competitors) to proxy the stuff.

Would've been far cheaper than to pay for multitude of programmers like yourself to set it up, for multitude of sysadmins to maintain it, and for the hardware and bandwidth. And it would've made the files available anonymously... Sigh...

Windows only? (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926052)

Don't tell me, let me guess... Windows only? Let's take a look.

Yep, Windows only. [permissiontv.com].


Re:Windows only? (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17927492)

And due to this being the standard practice (or so it seems) I have taken it upon myself to collect as much media as possible by fair means or foul, merely as a means to save it for future generations to access.
What choice do I have ? Pay the Microsoft tax, or ... Pay the Microsoft tax. So much for freedom of speech and Fair Use.
It's interesting how, on open source operating systems there is no DRM angle. Maybe because we realise that "open" means just that.
Back to you, fuckers !

Cleveland Public Library Has Been Doing This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17926190)

Cleveland Public Library [clevnet.org] in Ohio has been doing this since at least Summer 2006. They've been doing eBooks since 2001 and audiobooks for a few years too. All you need is to live in northeastern Ohio or various parts of western and near central Ohio and be a member of a CLEVNET consortium library.

Awe, so close (1)

alta (1263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926462)

As a strong proponent of 'point and click as fast as you can' as opposed to 'RTFM' I downloaded the app, loaded it, ran it, got a list of movies, picked out a nice Abbot and Costello movie from 1952, clicked download, and BAM.

Please enter your library card number.
I looked for the 'signup now' button on their website, didn't see one.
Called, they told me I'd have to come in and apply in person.

Doh! Quite a drive from alabama just for a library card!!!!!
Anyone live near happy hollow hilly library that can run in and pretend to be me?

Re:Awe, so close (1)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926666)

The problem is that tax payer money in that school district is paying for that library. They dont want people who are not hlaf hollow hills school district patrons to use it. Talk to your local Library i am sure they are at least testing it. PS its actually not a bad service if you like older black and white movies, cooking shows, and non hollywood blockbuster movies.

Libraries are responding to their customers (4, Interesting)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926702)

Libraries in their race to become relevant - are becoming meaningless

No, libraries are responding to their customers. The customer is always right because the customer knows what he or she wants. And the customers of public libraries (who pay the taxes) want nearly everything.

During the VHS/betamax wars, the customers pressured libraries to provide this medium. The libraries responded. When books on tape became popular with a certain segment of the population, they asked the library to provide them. Libraries responded. When DVDs and CDs came along, customers asked libraries to provide them. Libraries responded. When the Internet became popular, customers asked libraries to provide free access. Libraries responded again. In many cases, the ONLY free access available is at your local public library.

Libraries responded to these new types of information pretty well, I think, while still providing a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books, children's books, storytimes, programming, reference service, interlibrary loans, holds, local history collections, genealogy departments, classes, and all the traditional things libraries have historically done.

This particular service we've been discussing is new. There are only a couple of offerings. Yup, they are only windows. That's because, dear readers, the vast majority of people are not at all interested in Linux, slashdot, or whatever arcane OS is popular with geeks. It is simply not relevant. When someone comes up with a service that caters to all at once, libraries will get it. Many libraries are well aware of the MP3, iPod issues on some of these new services. But they are not going to wait until they've satisfied 100% of potential users until they implement, particularly on a trial basis, these new services. When LIBRARIES tell vendors their offerings are not good enough, the vendors will change. It happens every time. Libraries also generally have a vast array of "internet accessible" information you are not going to find with Google. This includes almost all periodicals and indexes, both popular and academic. Just go to your local library's web site and look at the list of "online resources." It's incredible. From JSTOR to Information Access, Proquest to Morningstar, Business Reference to Academic Index. That's a vast amount of information available.

If you don't use your local library, that's okay. They are quite busy enough already. I don't physically visit my library either; I do it all on-line. But criticizing libraries because they respond to their customers is crazy. If they didn't, they would already be gone. Lots of the criticism here is of organization that do NOT respond to their customers (e.g. Nvidia). You can't have it both ways.

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them." -Mark Twain

if it's broke FIX IT! (2, Interesting)

LibSpook (1061282) | more than 7 years ago | (#17928002)

Wow, the slashdot community meets it's twin! In a sort of Star Trek "Mirror, Mirror" way without the evilness. By that I mean that the Libraryhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library [wikipedia.org] community has been at the forefront of infotech since BCE putting the tech to real use for the general populace - making the info available. Tags? try the MARChttp://www.loc.gov/marc/overview.html/ [loc.gov] based WorldCathttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WorldCat/ [wikipedia.org], Deep Web? try your Nationalhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_libr ary/ [wikipedia.org] Library or Consortia.http://www.library.yale.edu/consortia/ [yale.edu] Come on slashdotters get in behind your Libraries and build the future!

almost a great idea (1)

chrwei (771689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17929214)

A friend of mine and I had this same idea back in maybe 1998, we knew it would go nowhere without some form of copy protection (was "DRM" even coined back then) that just didn't exist at the time. Neither of us were good enough coders or marketers at the time to make what was needed and so we forgot about it. It's nice to see it happening, but I'm afraid the DRM here is going to exclude too many people, as someone already mentioned.

My wife would love to be able to download content instead of drive to the library, she timeshifts books on tape like mad because there is a waiting list for most things. You might get nothing for many weeks, then get 5 or 10 come up all at once. They only way to be able to listen to everything she wants to is to timeshift. If the same waiting lists apply to this online system, and the DRM prevents timeshifting, then the service would be completely useless to her. Also, she sometimes gets items to preview for appropriateness for my son, so if the can't be checked out again, this also wouldn't work, though I guess they could be checked out again under my son's card, but then the waiting list applies yet again. He also has homework and extracurricular activities so sometimes reading/listening to a long book in 2 weeks is simply not possible, in rare cases even the extra 2 week extension would not be enough. Of course, timeshifting "hard" media is a still a huge gray area, but advanced DRM should be able to know if your are actually playing the content and extend your checkout time by however long you aren't playing it. "2 weeks" is simply not useful, but maybe "2 full playbacks" might be, with no time restriction at all.

Agreement for foreign language training too (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 7 years ago | (#17929626)

at our county system. About a dozen languages for download. Windows only "of course".

already online audio books and ebooks (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 7 years ago | (#17935564)

I havent used them yet, but I've them in the catalog. They basically expire in three weeks, but I'm not sure how they implement that.

Interesting use of the word "free" (1)

nil0lab (94268) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943026)

If you have to run Microsoft software to make it work

If you have you cant copy it to your mobile media device to watch it during the commute

If there are restrictions on my freedom to use it the way I want to ...it's not free, just gratis, and then only for those who conform the the corporate giant.

Our public institutions should not be supporting corporate agendas, like "you must run Microsoft".
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