Cory Doctorow recently wrote the piece “Why I Copyfight” in Locus Magazine. The short essay is insightful and discusses the relationship between copyright and culture, the disparity between copyists and copyright holders, and the reasons why people (should) continue to resist the tight restrictions of current copyright law. Some of my favourite snippets include:
– “The existence of culture is why copyright is valuable.”
– “… the reason copyright exists is because culture creates a market for creative works.”
– “Content isn’t king: culture is.”
– “Culture’s imperative is to share information: culture is shared information.”
And the most common sense passage I have read in a long time regarding copyright law and enforcement must be:
It’s entirely possible that there’s a detente to be reached between the copyists and the copyright holders: a set of rules that only try to encompass “culture” and not “industry.” But the only way to bring copyists to the table is to stop insisting that all unauthorized copying is theft and a crime and wrong. People who know that copying is simple, good, and beneficial hear that and assume that you’re either talking nonsense or that you’re talking about someone else.
It is unfortunate that current copyright law is more transfixed on control and profit instead of culture and common sense.
Read Doctorow’s full article here.
I think Cory Doctorow is pretty far down the one end of the copyright spectrum (with the MPAA and RIAA at the opposite end). I prefer Michael Geist’s take on it: that there are valid reasons for copyright, and that rightsholders and end users must come to some sort of agreement that benefits both. Reading Doctorow, you get the impression that he’d be happy if everything was free forever…
@Ian: I would agree with your impression on Doctorow. Others like Richard Stallman could also be classified on the far copyleftist side of things. Geist and Lessig see that there needs to be a middle ground, that balance is good, and that too much control of content/culture is not good for anyone. Yet, society needs dissent, and without those pushing the far boundaries, the middle ground becomes impotent.
Hmm… never thought about it that way, but I guess I agree. Without defined ends to the spectrum, the middle becomes mushy. Explains politics, I guess…
Thanks for sharing this, Alec. The system of “fair use” as it currently exists is still a handicap to educators and students. While the ability to profit from one’s creativity is very important, the practice of individuals and (primarily) large corporations going after a school for using an image, video, or other creation for non-profit purposes is mind-boggling. Such use undoubtedly has a far lesser impact financially than the millions spent enforcing copyright in such circumstances. The doctrine of common sense, alas, is a fantasy.
I certainly hope you get back and see this comment…because The Media Education Lab has just released a statement of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education. You can check it out HERE Listen to the recording of the release conference–the first 4 min are a little garbled in audio…but it is good stuff. A wiki has been created to archive how educators are using this statement and incorporating into work
Thanks for the resource!