Thursday, May 24, 2007

Copyright Utopia, Day 3 - Licensing Panel

Licensing and the Commons as Copyright Alternatives
Kimberly Bonner (moderator), Mike Carroll, Solveig Singleton, Elizabeth Winston

Cautionary/negative view (Elizabeth Winston):
  • copyright does not fit all takers - some want tighter controls, others want fewer
  • legislation restricts copyright holders' rights after the first sale, but licensing enables holders to retain control
  • using licenses to transfer copyrights (retaining titles) risks monopolization [*I personally believe such risks are minimal*]
  • one legitimate justification for use of license does not automatically justify licensing rather than transferring, as other user rights may be unnecessarily corroded

Supportive view (Mike Carroll):

  • goal of Creative Commons is to get out of normal copyright allowances by licensing legal sharing of creative, scientific & educational materials
  • one size does not fit all but standards are nonetheless necessary
  • CC provides standardization in licensing
  • CC inspired by Open Source movement; idea born in 2001, licenses released 2002
  • each of the 6 possible licenses have three versions: metadata, human readable, legal
  • CC licenses do not apply only to digital works; try to be medium-neutral
  • have been used on blogs, photos, research articles, teaching materials, music, film, books
  • CC licenses have role to play in domain where researchers just want credit/prestige for their work, not monetary compensation
  • growth in use of CC licenses impressive (measured by link backs): Dec. 2003=1 million; Dec. 2004=5 million; June 2005=12 million; June 2006=145 million [*when these numbers where shared the person sitting beside me - a top administrator with the Copyright Clearance Center - softly exclaimed "Wow"*]

Cautionary/positive view (Solveig Singleton):

  • licensing may not solve copyright problems
  • trade creates wealth, voluntary licenses are trade, so both parties are better off, both benefit
  • compulsory licensing, however, cuts into benefits; top-down, non-negotiable, one side raw deal
  • voluntary licensing is form of Utopia but requires active participation
  • nevertheless, there are problems with voluntary licensing: fragmentation (think of all the issues with music: composer, performer, producer, etc.); getting around public legislation (DRM); public legislation itself (criminalization of violations)
  • the need to get around public legislation and the extent of public legislation are themselves symptoms of a collapse of copyright enforcement in the digital landscape, an issue which none of the licensing options address
  • it is worth thinking hard, creatively about Congressional-level addressing of license fragmentation and non-enforceability issues in technological world
  • think "hatless": when thinking about how to solve copyright problems, we need to take off the multiple hats we wear (those of consumer, producer)
  • private licensing agreements are worthwhile experiments that need to go forward

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