Defense of Libraries & Defense of File Sharing: Not the Same Thing

I read this article on and this author argued that if you are defending public libraries, you can’t oppose file-sharing over the internet because basically both file-sharing and public libraries perform the same functions. Here is what he says:

Libraries and file-sharing do not differ in principle. The purpose of libraries was – is – to make culture and knowledge available to as many as possible, as efficiently as possible, for free – simply because of the greater socioeconomic benefit of an educated and cultural populace. How is this not file-sharing?”

Is this guy serious? How can he equate the purpose of public libraries, which offers more than free books and DVDs but performs outreach to communities, offers free classes, and oh yeah, is funded by tax-payers money with file-sharing? And I don’t think this gentleman is talking about innocent file-sharing such as sending a Word document through your e-mails. He is basically talking about people who rip TV shows or music and them put on bittorrent websites, in other words piracy. File-sharing is only good when it is used justly, honestly it never has! Then he goes on to say:

So how is this different from file-sharing? From manufacturing your own copies of knowledge and culture from others’ sources? Is it different at all?

Yes, it is different. It differs in efficiency. Where public libraries can educate one citizen at a time from one original book, file-sharing has the potential to educate millions at a time with the same effort spent.”

Ummm…how is having the latest episode of a high-profile television show “educating millions”?

Now, I am not going to get on my high horse and say “I don’t watch pirated videos” because I do, on YouTube and other websites. And I can understand why people do it. With high movie ticket prices, high DVD and digital movie prices, and the lack of availability of certain shows, it is no surprise why people download shows and movies illegally. But never, in a million years, would I equate the great service that public libraries perform with piracy. Public libraries provides materials for free, not expecting to see any financial gain, and educating the masses. Can you say the same for the people who conduct file-sharing?

Another thing the author missed: it is ignorant to believe that everyone has access to the internet! Even in 2015 and so many devices somehow digitally connected, the internet is still a luxury that not everyone can afford. So how can you promote file-sharing if it’s not openly accessible to everyone? Libraries don’t just serve the elite. Libraries provide open access to all and that is where libraries will always trump file-sharing and the internet.

So, yes I can defend the continue use of libraries. Libraries and file-sharing are definitely not the same thing. Maybe if this guy got away from his computer and took a trip to his local public library, he may see that too.

If you want to read the rest of this horrendous article you can find it here.

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