Before copyright law there were poets and playwrights who bemoaned the theft of their work and words by others while at the same time they stole words to build their poems and plays. Plagiarism was rampant, though, the act of literary theft was only just termed plagiarism, by one poet’s re-purposing of a Latin term for man-stealing or kidnapping. After copyright law was established, there were authors postulating its merits and its deficiencies, in writing, to the public and their peers. Authors were thinking about copyright.
When I discovered that one of my favorite authors, Mark Twain, had stood before congress to give his professional opinion on a copyright term extension I was more than excited. But, I found myself arguing with Twain. I could see some of his point, but I did not agree with all of it. I wondered, where were the author voices on copyright today. I’m still searching, but what I’m finding is that most of the well known, professionally published and successful authors are letting publishers and author’s guilds speak for them. Do they really agree with everything that’s being said?
Now that copyright is immediate without registration, the world is teaming with authors. Some write for fun, and to entertain their friends. Some make a living off of it, or perhaps off of other creative endeavors offered up to the public via the web. And just like those poet thieves from before copyright law, all authors are users of copyrighted content as well. With this huge population of authors, there is still little thinking and postulating and writing about copyright. I’m not saying copyright theory is crazy sexy or anything…well, no, you know what? It is. It is obsession worthy. It is discussion worthy. I mean, think about it, copyright law is government regulation over what we birth and grow in our minds and give to the world. If Athena emerged from Zeus’ head today she would be protected by copyright law! If art is a conversation, copyright law is keeping checks on what we say!
Anyway, my obsession with finding author voices has resulted in these things, so far. Twain and Tolstoy were contemporaries; and if you think all authors would argue for longer and stronger copyright law, Tolstoy would prove you wrong. He was against copyright. He looked on his writing as a service to the public that both provided him the experiences he used to write and the living that let him write. The burden of his education and leisure was to reach out to people, teach them, and attempt to enrich their lives with the fruit of his literary genius.
While I’m not sure I can say that I think copyright should expire before the death of the author, and I adore Mark Twain even if he did declare his belief in perpetual copyright…this video makes some fabulous points.
I recently got an Alphonse Mucha art book and while I was looking through it, in front of some horror movie, with a sketchbook on my lap and a notebook with ideas on visualizing copyright, I got this idea. Those of you that know Mucha are familiar with his many personifications of the seasons as beautiful women, and then the stars as beautiful women. Here are copyright concepts as beautiful women….compliments of me.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
As a special close to the week’s activities, Kyle Courtney released “The origin of U.S. fair use,” an artistic rendering of the codification of fair use into the Copyright Act of 1976… , which readers may explore here.
Source: Fair Use Week 2015 | Harvard OSC
Sharing because it’s lovely. Follow the video for more genius by Question Copyright.
A settlement has been reached in a U.S. lawsuit with Warner/Chappell Music over the copyright to “Happy Birthday to You” that will put one of the world’s most recognizable songs in the public domain, according to court papers released on Wednesday and a source close to the case.
Source: Settlement over ‘Happy Birthday’ copyright puts song in public domain | Reuters
What is Fair Use Week?Each day teachers teach, students learn, researchers advance knowledge, and consumers access copyrighted information due to copyright limitations and exceptions such as fair use or fair dealing. Fair use and fair dealing are essential limitations and exceptions to copyright, allowing the use of copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright holder under certain circumstances. Fair use and fair dealing are flexible doctrines, allowing copyright to adapt to new technologies. These doctrines facilitate balance in copyright law, promoting further progress and accommodating freedom of speech and expression.While fair use and fair dealing are employed on a daily basis by all users of copyrighted material, Fair Use Week is a time to promote and discuss the opportunities presented, celebrate successful stories and explain the doctrine.While Fair Use Week 2016 will be celebrated February 22–26, we believe that every week is fair use week. Fair Use Week is simply a time to promote and discuss the opportunities presented by fair use and fair dealing, celebrate successful stories, and explain the doctrine.
Source: Save the Date! Fair Use Week 2016: February 22-26, 2016 | Fair Use Week
LeEtta Schmidt, Copyright Librarian, University of South Florida; Kyle Courtney, Copyright Advisor, Harvard University; and Calvin Manning, Managing Editor, Taylor & Francis discussed whether it is possible to be too open in an OA environment.
Source: Is There Such a Thing as Too Open in Open Access? at the Charleston Conference | Against The Grain
“Pirates” are actually positively contributing to markets. Our two part episode on piracy talks about real data and how pirates are the best customers.
Source: Episode 4 – Parts 1&2: Pirates Are The Best Customers | Copy-Me
Hooray! This was the very case that I wanted to but didn’t mention in my itty bitty post on the hokey cokey.
Yesterday, the district court in Marya v. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. invalidated one of the most famous, longest lasting, and controversial rights claims in music: Warner/Chappell’s ownership of the copyright in the universally known song Happy Birthday
Source: Public Knowledge Celebrates Court Decision in “Happy Birthday” Case – Public Knowledge
If you want a rundown on why TPP is bad and why fast tracking it through Congress is bad then read: The Most Nefarious Part Of The TPP Proposal: Making Copyright Reform Impossible | Techdirt.
If you want more information on what’s wrong with TPP then look here: EFF: Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
The TPP is being written completely in secret so fast tracking it through Congress will mean our representatives could be agreeing to things they have not had the chance to discuss and the people have not had the chance to consider. Wikileaks has pieces of this agreement if you want to double check the people telling you to question the people telling you it is good.
If you want to contribute your voice to those apposing Fast Track and the TPP: EFF can help you.