File Sharing Involves More than Music
WE TEACH HOW TO MAKE e-books in a module at the Limerick Institute of Technology and we know some students acquire their books through file-sharing sites like the now-defunct Library.nu.
Until its closure on 15 February 2012, viewers could access an enormous collection, including nearly every essential textbook prescribed in the creative multimedia curriculum of LIT. The presence of Kindles in student backpacks from first to third level has boosted the appeal of electronic titles. I saw this trend emerging three years ago when I spotted a Bit Torrent seed in a shared Dropbox folder. The link allowed people to sync and download book titles related Adobe products. By 2010, this practise had become a private set of links, shared casually wherever wifi access was served on campus. But the real burst of activity happened when I saw Library.nu being discussed in a Facebook group. People were interested in reading dozens of the titles that Amazon was marketing and the easiest way to fill your Kobo, Nook or Kindle was to drop some things onto it from Library.nu. As the screenshot at left shows, around 1000 people per week visited this illegal book site from the States. Enough of them left behind a donation to make a handsome operating profit for Fidel Nunez, the NUIG graduate running the site.
Librarians around the world should see the significance of Library.nu's footprint. In an Ireland of empty wallets, people will continue finding things they need at the lowest price point. Alternatives already exist to the Library.nu collection because it's not difficult to find students who put "epub access" right behind "Facebook, Google, and Wikipedia" as essential sites for college. As Alan Toner points out, "The case of library.nu is significant because the demand for the works offered there demonstrates that filesharing is not just about pop music, porn and cams of action movies, but also those forms and sources of knowledge whose acquisition are ritually celebrated within ‘enlightenment’ culture."
Make no mistake--post-graduates, teaching staff, and researchers had bookmarked library.nu and iFile.it as essential watering holes of knowledge. Some of these researchers were from eastern Europe and places with very basic library budgets that would not accommodate the hefty fees required to access academic libraries. Without a Library.nu alternative, researchers dialing into the internet will be denied access to material. This is a fact of life in ramping up to a proper knowledge society. It means Ireland's fantasy landscape of knowledge workers diligently ploughing the furrows of a connected society now have to discover another way of sharing the published work of others. This does not justify the existence of Library.nu but it does point to the need to offer easy access to the world's stack of books, at price points well below those set by educational publishers.
Alan Toner -- "Library Closure of Type.nu", February 16, 2012.