Book Industry Association sues 30 more library users 

Crackdown continues on "literary freeloaders"

Crackdown continues on "literary freeloaders"

The Book Industry Association of America (BIAA) has sued 30 more local library users in its continuing crackdown on people it says are violating copyright law by reading books without paying for them.

Those named in the suits include a seventh-grader who read a biography of Martin Luther King Jr. and a widow who reads murder mysteries.

"We take this approach reluctantly," says Nashville BIAA representative Kurt Gordon. "But if musical artists can sue to keep people from downloading songs off the Internet, we don't see why we can't stop people from reading books for free."

This latest crackdown on readers follows two others, both last year, in which almost 100 people were named. The so-called "biblio-dragnet" resulted in the payment of almost $1,500 in fines to publishers, with the largest offenders typically being students checking out multiple books for term papers.

"Think about it," Gordon says. "You can't walk into a bookstore and just walk out with any book you want for free, yet that's exactly what libraries allow people to do every day. And every time somebody checks out a book instead of buying a new one, the author is robbed of a royalty."

The BIAA's continuing efforts to have libraries declared criminal enterprises under federal RICO law have apparently stalled, which is what has led to these individual lawsuits against library users.

"I'm outraged at the way these people have come after library users," says Donna Nicely, Nashville Public Library director. "Libraries have a history going back at least to the great library of Alexandria in Egypt," she added. "Turning people who check out books into lawbreakers is reprehensible."

But the BIAA says that it was wrong 2,100 years ago in Egypt, and it's wrong now.

"People who dance to the music must pay the piper," Gordon says. "Everybody just has to realize that by checking out books and reading them for free, they are taking away the livelihood of authors."

(The Fabricator is satire. Don't believe everything you read.)

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