How We Do That Voo-Doo . . . Reading Literature in the West of Ireland Library

“The Library’s policies regarding Copyright Law are designed to accommodate the tradition of oral storytelling of both Traditional and Contemporary literary works in a manner that upholds the rights of authors.

“Library presentations are a means of advancing knowledge. We believe education and entertainment go hand in hand in the literary realm. To this end The Library encourages Storytellers and presenters to provide information and objects related to the presentation to guests to enhance their experience.”

--from the newly adopted WOI Library Copyrighted Works Policy

(Release Version 01 – 12.20.2009)

The subject of Intellectual Property Rights in Second Life (SL) has been a topic of passionate advocacy and heated debate over the last several months. Everything from “copybotting” (a bot placed in a location which steals objects created by one to be taken and sold by another who did not create them) to the presentation of copyrighted works has been subject to scrutiny and question. How does that affect the West of Ireland (WOI) Library and Cultural Center?

The purpose of a library, real world or virtual, is to promote literary works and to act as a community resource. We usually think of this as involving a large collection of books, periodicals, varied media (music, movies) and computers for online research.

It might interest you to know that the WOI Library there is actually a “collection” which is contained in the bookshelves near the Library entrance. Four of the bookcases contain specific genres of literature in notecard form: Women’s Literature, Science Fiction-Fantasy, Shakespeare, etc. The fifth bookcase (which has a totem pole standing on top of it) contains a wide variety of notecard books and wearable books from The Library’s presentations starting in March of 2008. All of the Library’s “collection” are in works in the public domain.

At the West of Ireland Library our purpose is more specific than a public library's in real life might be, much as a legal or medical library has a specified focus. Our purpose is to honor the Celtic tradition of oral storytelling by the presentation in live voice of a wide variety of works of literature including those of Celtic origin. The objective is to promote exploration of genres and authors, encompassing works across the spectrum of traditional and contemporary literature. The Library uses Second Life to do what libraries have done since time immemorial. The method, in this case, is oral presentation in a communal environment. At no time are presented works passed off as creations of anyone other than the original authors, and there is no admission fee charged.

Could the WOI Library simply present nothing but works in the public domain? Certainly, there is a large body of works available that are in the public domain. Would this really serve our audiences? To focus exclusively on works written prior to 1923? Such uses as the WOI Library makes of copyrighted non-dramatic works are covered by Title 17 of the United States Code, which covers copyright statutes. As the WOI Charity Estate in SL has it’s organizational basis in the United States, it is subject to its laws. Of specific interest is Section 110: Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays.

“It is the intention of copyright law to stimulate creativity for the enrichment of the general public. It attempts to do this by prohibiting use of another’s original works for personal profit. Such use would be defined as derivative and prohibited by copyright law. The West of Ireland Library (The Library) views the presentation of literary works as transformative rather than derivative. Such presentations feature works in a new way to persons that may not have previously accessed or encountered these works.”

For conversations on “transformative” versus “derivative” use of copyrighted materials:

The entire text of the WOI Library's new policy is available at the library by clicking on the copyright poster over the Librarian's Desk. If you have any questions or information to share, feel free to contact Librarian Derry McMahon by notecard on the SL grid.



87% - Looking into other works by that particular author online, at a book store, or a library?

75% - Looking into a particular subject on the internet, or through other research media?

66% - Buying the book for yourself or someone else?

58% - Checking the book out at a Library?

58% - Investigating other works written in a particular genre or form?

0% - Nothing. Just Listened.