Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Copyright Utopia, Day 2 - Keynote & Panel Session

Utopian Visions of Copyright: Tweak, Transform or Opt-out
William "Terry" Fisher, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard

Copyright utopia would include...

  • creators are fairly compensated
  • opportunities to engage in creativity are widespread (semiotic democracy)
  • cultural diversity
  • all persons have ready access to ideas, information and entertainment
  • all persons have access to rich, empowering, continuing education

5 ways current copyright system impedes this Utopian vision - and possible cures...

  • proliferation of protected, unregistered works - creates unnecessary obstacles for use & reuse; Creative Commons license is a cure already in place that doesn't require legal changes
  • impediments to education - outmoded/clumsy educational exemptions; ambiguity of fair use; DMCA applied to education hurts film studies; overly cautious gatekeepers (universities, publishers, insurers); cure by expansion of exemptions
  • impediments to semiotic democracy - modified films, mashups, amateur webcasting currently not permitted; cures include modifying fair use for greater latitude for transformative works & less latitude for consumptive works, define "derivative work" more narrowly or eliminate altogether, and resist expansion of rights of integrity
  • impediments to search tools - cures include changing fair use to shield innovative tools such as Google Books or change default rule to opt-out (example: notice-and-takedown policy)
  • crisis in entertainment industry - heightened by technological destabilization; cures include strengthening intellectual property rights, reinforcing self-help strategies, an alternative compensation system, or a renewed entertainment ecology
  • modest reforms, even some without required changes to existing law, are obviously necessary

Panel Session Response
Kimberly Kelley (moderator), Patricia Aufderheide, Alec French, Jim Gibson, Tracy Mitrano

  • universities traditionally resist critical assessment of copyright, which is converse to established educational practices, and simply state "this is wrong, end of discussion" - this needs to change if we're going to foster engagement and understanding in students, faculty
  • copyright is intended to promote continued creation of culture; to promote progress of science & useful arts - need to remember this!

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