Legal Deposit Controversies (But Especially The One About Holograms)
April 7, 2019 3:27 AM   Subscribe

*picks up conch shell that finally came through via ILL, blows piercing yet mournful note that rings out through every reference section across time and space* Librarians of Metafilter! Can you tell me about controversies involving legal deposit (in any country), and help me find one in particular that involves Canada and holograms?

Thanks for answering my call. You are true warriors of information.

I'm trying to find proof of a story that's stuck in my head, but all my research so far has come to nowt. Twenty, maybe twenty five years ago, I remember hearing about a controversy involving the clash between legal deposit and artistic livelihood. Library and Archives Canada requires two copies of everything published in Canada be left with them. An artist had made an extremely low print run - like, seven copies or so - of a very expensive book that was made up of holograms. LAC demanded their copies, but the artist fought against it because they stood to lose a lot of money - I think each book was being sold for $20K or similar.

I don't know what the outcome was or even if I'm making this up, but I would love to get the juicy details of that particular battle. Failing that, do you have any other examples of legal deposit controversies, in Canada or elsewhere?
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs to Law & Government (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
That seems really unlikely to me, just because legal deposit doesn't have a lot of enforcement teeth. It would probably only have been one copy, because the regulations only require one copy for small print runs, but those regulations were updated after the LAC amalgamation in 2004, so they may have been different prior to that.

I have a friend who worked at LAC for most of his career, so if no one else comes up with anything, I'll ask him this week.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:39 AM on April 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here's something along those lines!

"Westra (1997:121) notes that in South Africa the only case to be documented in South Africa’s legal history was the case between the South African Library and Pippa Skotness from 1993 to 1997. This case is viewed as the only legendary case that South Africa has had to grapple with in the history of South African library services. In this case Skotness refused to comply by arguing that her copies of her expensive book as a work of art rather than a book and the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the South African Library."

I must be a bad librarian, because I didn't realize that legal deposit laws were a thing, especially in the United States!
posted by toastedcheese at 11:33 AM on April 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Here's the first page of an article that appears to document the Skotness case in more detail. (This appears to be the article cited by toastedcheese's article, though it doesn't appear in that article's reference list.) Unfortunately, it's paywalled, so I can't proceed past that point; but perhaps you could request it via ILL or some such.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:48 PM on April 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ah, here we go. From the Globe & Mail, 2002-11-01:
A group of Toronto holographic artists has democratically voted to use civil disobedience against the oppressor -- Canada's National Library.

"After much debate, and with one nay and one abstention, we are decided. We will not submit a copy of our book to the National Library. The unique nature of the books, along with the extensive effort to produce each book, makes it impracticable," says Michael Page, Ontario College of Art and Design teacher and leader of the group known as the Ripple Tank Collective, which made the decision at the group's regular meeting two weeks ago.
The Globe & Mail article notes that the print run was 21 books, which sold for $6000 each, and 10 of which went to the artists who had works included. It also cites the Skotness case, and notes that that case led to the South African law being changed.

Unfortunately, I was unable to easily find any other references to this case online beyond the Globe & Mail article. I suppose you could contact Michael Page and ask him yourself.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:05 PM on April 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

« Older YANML. TINLA.   |   Geely wha? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.