Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sustaining Copyright in Culture

I am in D.C. for the next week for a variety of meetings, the Center for Intellectual Property's 2010 Symposium, the Summon Advisory Board, then ALA, followed by a visit with Ms. Evangeline Moore about her father's papers, and then the ALA National Day of Advocacy on Capitol Hill.

Let's start with the symposium. This is the first one I have attended and I am not convinced it was money well spent. First that title. Hybrid C: Sustaining Copyright in Culture. I get the hybrid, we live in a hybrid world of analog and digital works and have for many decades, the phrase "sustaining copyright in culture" is as confusing, hazy, and empty as the Symposium turned out to be. I signed up because I thought I might learn something more about fair use, but the argument put forward by Jaszi and Jonathan Band, was pretty extreme. Here is the abstract to Band's 2007 paper for ARL.

“Three appellate decisions [Blanch v. Koons, Perfect 10 v., and Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley] concerning fair use should give educators and librarians greater confidence and guidance for asserting this important privilege. In all three decisions, the courts permitted extensive copying and display in the commercial context because the uses involved repurposing and recontextualization. The reasoning of these opinions could have far-reaching implication in the education context.”

Band thinks these decisions “should give educators and librarians greater confidence and guidance for asserting this important privilege.” Because, if I understand the argument, simply copying copyrighted works originally published for a non-educational market, in an educational context "re-contextualizes" the work and thus makes the use fair use. But he also notes, “many copyright owners will not agree.” (Band, December 2007.)

I did enjoy listening to Maria Pallante and David Balto on the Google Book Search settlement. They disagree on whether the judge will accept the settlement or not, but seem to agree it will be appealed. We could be in for a very long wait on this one.

I had hoped to get some good ideas on how to incorporate issues of copyright and information policy into information literacy, and some of the audience had some ideas (focus on carrots not sticks for undergraduates with contexts that interest them like textbook costs, fan fiction, and open access), but the panelists didn't.

I think that was the overall problem with the symposium. The format of theater style seating before talking heads on a raised panel, left little time for Q&A or interaction. I could have watched a webcast.

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