This week (1 June) Radio National aired a discussion about copyright on the Book Show program. This is the podcast of the discussion between Lynne Spender and Morris Gleitzman (chaired by Ramona Koval). The discussion was prompted in part by Lynne Spender’s article in the Meanjin Quarterly (June 2009). The discussions resonated with me in a number of ways particularly in the context of some reading I have been ding about copyleft. Morris Gleitzman will be responding to Lynne Spender in a subsequent edition of the Meanjin Quarterly.
This post is a placeholder for some of the issues that have been raised by Radio National and others concurrently. A post by Lawrence Lessig led me to the Centre for Social Media in the School of Communication at the American University and their codes of practice for fair use.
I think Radio National’s podcast and the Centre for Social Media’s video offer excellent resources to stimulate debate and reflection about intellectual property and the cultural heritage of ideas.
My colleague Alan Arnold kindly pointed me to Julien Hofman’s A Plain Language Guide to Copyright in the 21st Century.
This book was written for those who want to learn about copyright in the 21st century. It explains copyright protection and what it means for copyright holders and copyright users. It also introduces readers to contemporary topics: digital rights management, open licences, software patents and copyright protection for works of traditional knowledge. A final chapter tries to predict how technology will change the publishing and entertainment industries that depend on copyright.
If there was one word that summed up yesterday’s proceedings, it was “gridlock.” This term was introduced by Michael Heller, a Columbia Law School professor who spoke in the morning. The word came from his book The Gridlock Economy, whose basic thesis is that too much ownership or property, including intellectual property, creates gridlock that results in underutilization of property and stunting of innovation.
As a rhetorical device, the word was extremely effective – perhaps more so than the conference’s organizers had intended. Heller’s talk was the first of a small number of bombs thrown into what was otherwise an agenda filled with speakers from rights collecting societies, primarily from the music industry. By lunchtime, “gridlock” was on everybody’s lips, and collecting society representatives found themselves forced to defend themselves against it.