Pages

Friday, February 06, 2009

Copyleft

Compartir es buena Current copyright law was formulated before the digital technology became widely available and well before Web 2.0 changed the way that information is created and shared. Patrick and Ewa McGrail argue that copyright law has failed to keep up with the social and legal changes that have accompanied the technological developments of the last 30 years, and as a result it has become both cumbersome as well as impossible to abide by completely. After describing the ways in which copyright law challenges educators and universities, McGrail and McGrail offer some strategies for dealing with copyright in the new millenium and conclude with a call to revise copyright law in a way that acknowledges the realities of Web 2.0.
What's Wrong with Copyright: Educator Strategies for Dealing with Analog Copyright Law in a Digital World. 2009 Innovate 5 (3)


The dying light of the George W. Bush presidency was marked by, among other things, a legislative move to derail recent gains in the federal government's opening of science. In particular, the innocuous sounding “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act” (HR 6845) introduced into the House by John Conyers, Jr. (DEM-MI), on 9 September 2008 was poised to shut down the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy, as well as forestall the spread of this open-access spirit to other areas of federally sponsored research and scholarship. Hearings were held, but the bill did not make it through the House. End of story? Not quite.
Certainly, the Obama presidency promises, among so many things, an improved regard for science. Yet I can't help but agree with Peter Suber's prediction that Congress will see the likes of the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act again, though perhaps not from Conyers, who was an early supporter of Obama. The back story on this bill is complicated by the publishers executing an about-face on “archiving rights,” which they have traditionally supported, but it speaks to a larger battle underway that has everything to do with the public standing of research and scholarly work...
You may find the prospects of such coordinated and cooperative approaches to advancing this public good hopelessly naive, even in this time of renewed hope and economic reconstruction. If so, then I can only advise constant, if not increased, vigilance on behalf of those with an interest in the openness of science. It will be a long road forward of strategic incremental measures, such as the NIH Public Access Policy, with carefully orchestrated counter-measures, even as a number of us within the academic community seek ways to extend this vision of public access to all that we do in the name of research and scholarship.
The Publishers' Pushback against NIH's Public Access and Scholarly Publishing Sustainability. 2009 PLoS Biol 7(1): e1000030