Students of 1960-70s surveillance history and politics will recognize the Subcommittee as the Ervin Committee, the same congressional body that produced Army Surveillance of Civilians: A Documentary Analysis, which represents“a painstaking analysis of documents obtained in its investigation” of U.S. Army surveillance of peace, anti-war, civil rights, and other activist groups (Military Surveillance, p.3).
The manner in which copyright law is being applied to academe in the digital age is destructive to the advancement of human knowledge and culture, and higher education is doing nothing about it.
That is what Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard University law professor and renowned open-access advocate, told a theater of higher ed technologists Thursday at the 2009 Educause Conference here. In his talk, Lessig described how digital and Web technology has exploded the conditions under which copyright law had been written.
“If copyright law, at its core, regulates something called ‘copies,’ then in the analog world… many uses of culture were copyright-free,” he explained. “They didn’t trigger copyright law, because no copy was made. But in the digital world, very few uses are copyright-free because in the digital world … all uses produce a copy.”
The paradigm for copyright law enforcement emerged out of this “analog world” as a way of ensuring authors were remunerated for their contributions to culture, thereby creating an incentive to make further contributions and drive the progress on human art and discovery forward, he said.
Times have since changed, said Lessig, but the letter of the law hasn’t.
Yes. This applies to copyright generally, but it applies in spades to academic publishing. Arguably, academic publications have a particular need to be spread and read as widely as possible. Yet the copyright restrictions placed on their online distribution are extraordinarily draconian. We have a general responsibility to test copyright to destruction, and nowhere more than in academic publishing. See also.
“When I am in meetings in Washington, DC, with organizations that presume to speak for workers or on behalf of workers - I ironically find myself the only worker in the room. As a worker with a GED - and 30-plus years of labor union experience - opinions like mine are rarely sought and universally dismissed as being too extremist when most workers feel the way I do about things. This is why it is so common for liberal and left-wing staff and activists to completely misunderstand workers.”—
Chris Townsend, garbageman cum United Electrical Workers Political Action Director