Copyright or Copyfight?

July 10, 2009 Leave a comment

“We have handed over the tools of creation.”

“We have democratized creativity to an extent that would have been unthinkable years ago.”

–James Boyle

Duke Law Professor and founder of Creative Commons, James Boyle, gives a talk at Google Zeitgeist 2008 on the subject of “Copyright and Openness”.

Boyle advocates that, given our penchant for closed, centralized, ways of handling content, we need re-wire ourselves towards open, decentralized forms and norms when dealing with creative content.

Gend Leonard takes this theoretical framework and makes it practical it in his talk, “Getting Attention 2.0”. Presented to the Scottish Audience Development Forum in October 2008, Leonard outlines several savvy tactics artists [and all content creators] can use to share their content for free, while cultivating big numbers of loyal listeners/followers and still make money.

Viewing these presentations conjured in me a yearning for a past professional love: the fields of entertainment law and intellectual property. In fact, an urge overtook me that I hadn’t felt in years: the urge to research case law. I found a recent copyright infringement suit brought by a training/consultant firm against some of its former trainers who had started their own training operation and had developed a training manual with content that is the subject of the suit. In a future post, I’ll break down the very interesting judicial analysis here and elsewhere that bring to bear directly on some of the issues we face as an organization, as creators, and as a sector, but for now, I ask:

What are your fears as it relates to this push towards openness, open-source and creative common licenses?

What do you think you (as an individual) or we (as an org or as a sector of trainers/NPOs) would actually be doing differently if copyright ownership, say, of our training materials, were not an issue in our work?

I’m going out on a limb here to say that its my belief that I think our organizational perceptions of the barriers we face (to product development, open source licensing, economic viability) exceed the reality. To sort this out, I’m motivated to put on my legal eagle hat in earnes to assess the gap between common perception and our business reality. In this way, your thoughts will provide me with a better sense of what we’re feeling, what we know, and what we want. I’ll use them as the starting points for my inquiry and adveture in to an area of past (and just revived!) passion.

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