[Web4lib] C&RL News: Creative Commons For Librarians / Faculty /
McKiernan, Gerard [LIB]
gerrymck at iastate.edu
Mon Nov 10 14:02:03 EST 2008
Hot Off The Press ... / How Timely ...
Thanks, Molly !!
"The beauty of "Some Rights Reserved": Introducing Creative Commons to
librarians, faculty, and students"
C&RL News / November 2008 / Vol. 69, No. 10 / Molly Kleinman
Must Listen --- Author Podcast
These are difficult times when it comes to copyright on campus. Big
music companies are suing fans, publishers are suing librarians, and the
principle of "fair use" is under siege everywhere. Litigation-happy
content holders have fostered a climate of fear in which every student
is a music pirate and every professor a book thief. While I don't doubt
that there is some copyright infringement happening on university
campuses, the bigger problem by far is the chilling effect of all these
lawsuits and "copyright awareness campaigns."
Scholars and students are afraid to do the one thing that copyright law
has intended from the beginning: "Promote the Progress of Science and
the Useful Arts"1 by creating new works and building on the works of
those who came before. Every academic librarian knows at least one sad
story about a professor who couldn't include necessary illustrations in
her book because her publisher was worried about a copyright lawsuit, or
a digitization project that couldn't get approved because the copyright
status of the materials was uncertain.
Additional problems result from major changes to copyright law over the
last 40 years. Until recently, creators had to register their copyrights
to receive protection and mark their works with a properly formatted
copyright notice or the work entered automatically into the public
domain, where anybody was free to reuse it however they wished.
That all changed in 1978, when the United States dropped the
registration requirement; since then, copyright automatically occurs the
moment a work is "fixed in a tangible medium of expression." Now, every
new work is copyrighted-lecture notes, e-mails, snapshots, doodles,
presentation slides. And where once copyright lasted for 14 years, with
the option to renew for another 14, now copyright lasts for the lifetime
of the author, plus an additional 70 years after the author's death, for
an average duration of more than a century. That's a very long time, and
it leaves thousands of works orphaned: under copyright but without a
locatable copyright holder. Between the fear and the orphans, life is
hard for an ordinary academic who just wants some pictures to liven up
her classroom presentations, or the student who would like to add a
soundtrack to his final project.
Enter Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that created a set of
simple, easy-to-understand copyright licenses. These licenses do two
things: They allow creators to share their work easily, and they allow
everyone to find work that is free to use without permission. The value
of those two things is enormous. Before Creative Commons licenses, there
was no easy way a creator could say, "Hey world! Go ahead and use my
photographs, as long as you give me attribution."
Similarly, there was no place for members of the public to go to find
new works that they were free to reuse and remix without paying fees.
Creative Commons changed all that. As it says on its Web site, "Creative
Commons defines the spectrum of possibilities between full copyright-all
rights reserved- and the public domain-no rights reserved. Our licenses
help you keep your copyright while inviting certain uses of your work-a
'some rights reserved' copyright."2
Science and Technology Librarian
Iowa State University Library
Ames IA 50011
gerrymck at iastate.edu
There is Nothing More Powerful Than An Idea Whose Time Has Come / Victor
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