The manner in which copyright law is being applied to academe in the digital age is destructive to the advancement of human knowledge and culture, and higher education is doing nothing about it.
That is what Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard University law professor and renowned open-access advocate, told a theater of higher ed technologists Thursday at the 2009 Educause Conference here. In his talk, Lessig described how digital and Web technology has exploded the conditions under which copyright law had been written. . . .
Copyright law was originally intended to protect those who create for profit (Lessig used the example of recording artist Britney Spears). But academics also create original works, he said, and they are — or should be — motivated by a desire to advance human knowledge, not line their pockets. Therefore, sealing their work behind copyright barriers does no social good. . . .
Lessig cited several examples of how copyright law in academe has hampered the pursuit of knowledge: neurologists who were unable to aggregate data for a large-scale brain-mapping project due to copyright restrictions; filmmakers who faced staggering costs re-clearing copyrights on images they used in a civil-rights documentary series when they wanted to release it on DVD. He even recounted a recent incident in which he had been using a medical information Web site to try to diagnose his ill daughter, when he noticed a note that said portions of an article he was reading had been redacted under copyright law. . . .
Academics — presumably stakeholders in the effort to advance knowledge — have been uncharacteristically and disturbingly silent on the copyright “insanity” that has befallen the information trade, Lessig said. . . .
The video of Prof. Lessig's lecture is available at http://bit.ly/IyluS (one needs to download Silverlight Player: http://www.microsoft.com/SILVERLIGHT/). Thanks to Mark Caprio for alerting me about the video.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
A Call for Copyright Rebellion
In Inside Higher Education (10/06/2009) Steve Kolowich reports on the 5th November talk given by Lawrence Lessig at the 2009 Educause Conference. Excerpts: