TTW Mailbox: Sharing iTunes & Copyright

iTunes Macs: 49,000 songs -- Every CD ripped!

Joshua Zehner, Assistant System Administrator at the Fulton County Public Library in Rochester, IN, writes:

Hey, I was surfing you flickr account and I found those pictures from Cherry Hill Public Library in NJ. I was really interested in the three or four photos of their “Listen Before You Borrow” station. Our library would love to do this expect there is one issue my boss has with it, copyrights. Is it legal to rip your collection onto a pc for everyone to listen to, but yet allow those same CD’s to be checked out at the same time? We would love to implement this station into our library, as long as we can get past this one hurdle. Any information about this would be very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

Thanks Joshus for writing! It seems that Cherry hill has been doing this service a while, it’s very friendly and no one seems to be complaining. That said, i’m really at a loss about whether or not this violates copyright. As a try before you borrow service, it just make the process easier than getting a CD off the shelf, popping it into a listening station player and trying it out. I think iTunes actually protects the music more than haviung folks bring their laptops into the library for a massive ripping session into itunes from CDs in the collection.

I confess: copyright confuses me. I am learning more as I prep for classes and Dr. Kate Marek is guesting in my class in a few weeks to present on the topic (I’ll be all ears), but in my mind, it seems ok. I’d love to hear from others who might help my thinking…

Some links:

Chris Kupec uses iTunes at his library:

John Blyberg on making iTunes work in networked settings:

And Chris Kupec also reports this week: I discovered that the Windows version of my iTunes to OPAC script works with info from the iTunes Store too, not just your own personal library. The AppleScript version doesn’t allow me to get info out of the store. Very strange, but a plus for PC-centric public libraries! Might be a way to push teens to use the library more, if they could play with iTunes at home, and order up the CDs from the library. I also have a version of the script that I modified to help me with CD and movie ordering. Check out Chris’ blog at