Revolution Lullabye

June 8, 2009

Lessig, Free Culture

Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture. The Penguin Press, 2004.

Lessig argues that current copyright law, coupled with digital technologies that allow big media corporations to regulate how their copyrighted content is used, is quickly eroding the public commons and our national tradition of a free culture. He uses an anecdotal, qualitative approach in this book intended for a general public audience, centering his argument on how piracy and property are defined and argued about. He focuses on peer-to-peer file sharing, showing that only a percentage of the P2P sharing that occurs actually is copyright infringement. Lessig argues that copyright law must adapt to the new technology of the Internet and be reduced in term and scope. He has lobbied (unsuccessfully) for the adoption of the Eldred Act, an act that does not change the long length of copyright protection given in the Sonny Bono Copyright Act of 1998, but does require copyright holders to register and pay a nominal $1 fee to renew their copyright. Lessig argues that copyright law with more formalities (digital registration and renewal), required renewal periods, a reduced term and scope for derivative protection, and a regulated compensation system to pay artists through P2P sharing is a copyright law that will restore the balance between protection and freedom, a balance that has been lost. He also advocates for authors and other creators of IP material to choose to protect their work under a Creative Commons license, a license that allows creators to extend the fair use of their work by others.

Quotable Quotes

“the future will be controlled by this dead (and often unfindable) hand of the past” – the problem with long copyright terms with uncertain owners, no one wants to risk expensive litigation.

“That while the Internet has indeed produced something fantastic and new, our government, pushed by big media to respond to this ‘something new,’ is destroying something very old” (13) – the tradition of free culture, copyright law and balance

“Free cultures are cultures that leave a great deal open for others to build upon; unfree, or permission, cultures leave much less” (30).

Notable Notes

importance of balance

allow for copyright protection for works that have commercial value. Since most of the works that are currently covered do not have value, free them up for cultural use

we need to teach our students to be producers of culture, not just consumers – this is hard in an increasingly copyrighted American world

copying – a central theme of both copyright and plagiairsm

corporations are using their political power to change copyright law in order to stifle Internet-based creativity, which will democratize the creative process and competition

43 million Americans do P2P sharing. Are they all criminals? The four different kinds of piracy, of P2P file sharing. HOw can it be good?

anticircumvention provisions of DMCA is restricting how we use content and be creative

May 25, 2009

Kiebowitz and Margolis, Seventeen Famous Economists Weigh in on Copyright

Kiebowitz, Stan J. and Stephen Margolis. “Seventeen Famous Economists Weigh in on Copyright: The Role of Theory, Empirics, and Network Effects.” Harvard Journal of Law and Technology 18 (Spring 2005): 435.

Kiebowitz and Margolis point out the assumptions and weaknesses in the brief 17 notable economists wrote collaboratively to support the Supreme Court case Eldred v. Ashcroft, which challenged the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998. The Court overturned the challenge, and the authors argue that the economists’ argument did not have any hard data to back it up and it did not offer a complete understanding of the purposes of copyright. Copyright is not merely exclusion; it is ownership, and ownership (through copyright) helps regulate production and prevents some of the negative impact of network effects. It isn’t just the copyright owner vs. the public commons good; copyright is more about protection (for the public good) than about exclusions.

Quotable Quotes

“Open access is not a universally preferrable way to manage a resource” (448).

“The copyright owner’s role is similar to the private owner of a natural resource that can be subject to crowding. In both cases, the owner tries to prevent dissipation of value through misuse of an asset. A rational owner would approve derivative projects that maximize his or her profits. Copyright policy must balance beneficial restrictions that constitute stewardship over resources against standard monopoly losses” (449) – then argues for the benefit of allowing paradoies, critiques

“copyright protects expression, not ideas” (449)

“A more complete view requires consideration of the responsiveness of creative efforts to marginal incentives and the function of onwership of intellectual property beyond the incentive to create” (449).

Notable Notes

only a small % of books, movies made from 1920s-1930s have current market value – the law doesn’t affect that many of them

the brief argued two things: 1. copyright extension doesn’t make economic sense, since the authors weren’t not creating because they didn’t have a super-long copyright protection 2. extra incentive has little real effect on the authors (*focused on the economic effect with royalties, not other effects) but imposes new and more restrictions and costs on new authors

the law – 70 years after death, 75-95 years for institutional authors, applied retroactively

May 18, 2009

Litman, Choosing Metaphors

Litman, Jessica. “Choosing Metaphors.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 13-26.

Litman argues that the metaphors used to understand copyright protection and fair use have changed in the past thirty years, a change that has paralleled growth in copyright protection and restrictions in fair use. Copyright, when first conceived, was a balanced bargain between the author and the public, but has now shifted to a system of incentives, one grounded in the belief that more protection and control will result in more works of authorship and financial gain for authors. Fair use is now seen as a loophole that needs to be plugged, and piracy has shifted from the large-scale acts of criminals to describe individual unauthorized acts, for profit or not. These changes in metaphors have occured at a time when there is the digital technology to enforce tighter restrictions and control over intellectual property. Litman argues that copyright should not control how someone chooses to consume a work after its initial distribution.

Quotable Quotes

The expansion of copyright has “blinded many of us to the dangers that arise from protecting too much, too expansively for too long” (14).

Copyright has now become “property that the owner is entitled to control” (17).

Notable Notes

distinction of piracy today to any individual doing any unlicensed activity (21.) It’s not enough (or shouldn’t be enough) that this unauthorized behavior could result in detremental effects. Those detremental effects should be accounted before prior to accusing someone of piracy. Everyone has always copied and shared intellectual material – that’s the name of the game.

move to limit legitimate owners of copyrighted material from doing what they please with it (19) first sale doctrine, right to reread, loan, sell, give away

February 20, 2009

Robillard, Young Scholars Affecting Composition

Robillard, Amy E. “Young Scholars Affecting Composition: A Challenge to Disciplinary Citation Practices.” College English 68:3 (January 2006) 253-270.

With the publication of an all-undergraduate research and scholarship journal in composition (Young Scholars in Writing), composition has changed (whether scholars have noticed it or not) in two distinctive ways. First, that students can publish in the field has marked a shift from treating writing as a verb, a pedagogical focus (how does one learn how to write) to treating writing as a noun, a more objectified, researched scholarship focus (what is writing and should it be studied.) Second, student scholarship, scholarship that compositionists can take up, argue with, and use in their own scholarship, creates a contradiction in the ways we think about students and how we cite them. It is common practice to protect students in our scholarship by assigning them first-name pseudonyms, but now that they do contribute to the knowledge of our field (are not just products of our pedagogy), we need to consider both the legal and, more importantly, affective functions of citation. How we choose to cite student writing and student work in our own scholarship affects how we think of them – as authors or as passive products of our pedagogy.

Quotable Quotes

“To analyze student writing for what it demonstrates about a particular pedagogy – this is an authorizing move in the discourse of composition studies, perhaps the authorizing move.” (256).

“Citation practices vary, too, according to the status of the person being cited” (262).

“To cite Sahra Ahmed or Silas Kulkarni or Alicia Brazeau is to align oneself with students, to forward the argument that students contribute to the knowledge of composition studies as more than examples of particular pedagogies. To cite students is to forward the argument that writing as a mode of learning (Emig) is a dialogic process; teachers teach students to write, but students, in their writing, teach teachers about more than the results of particular pedagogies” (263).

“To name is to control. To withhold a student’s name is a form of that control” (268).

Notable Notes

Connors and Howard – citations practices

categories for functions of citation for readers, authors, and authors who will be cited (258)

categories for functions of citation of students on both students and composition scholars (266)

we need to teach students about the affective aspects of citation practices

legitimate relationship to students’ work

deep acting

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