Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Creative Commons Connection (Part 2): My grouse with Copyright

[From Part 1]

This is a rant.

My rants aren't eloquent. They generalise. And would be full of holes (so feel free to criticise).

Still, I want to get this off my chest.

My grouse with Copyright.

Often, the "safe" way to deal with copyrighted materials is to adopt a conservative position.

For instance, not to use the content unless explicit permission has been obtained.

My grouse is with how we librarians suffer from a lack of confidence in dealing with copyright. Few librarians can specialise in copyright law.

That lack of confidence stems from our inadequate understanding of copyright law.

I'm frustrated at how librarians -- being non-lawyers -- have to defer our decisions about the use of copyrighted materials, or the publishing of our materials, to lawyers.

Those legal positions are often a matter of interpretation by individual lawyers.

Because there might not be legal precedents.

And they probably do not want to stick their necks out.

I just hate outsourcing my decision-making on intellectual property issues to lawyers. I'd rather be clear on how and what to do.

In the digital age, everyone is a potential content producer (you take pictures with your digital camera, don't you?).

And potentially a online publisher (do you post photos online?).

My grouse with Copyright is that in the digital age, it's going to put librarians at a disadvantage.

We'd end up not being able to use much of the material published by individuals. Or we're not able to publish much of our materials online because we're advised to take conservative positions.

I believe that in the digital age, some librarians must become content producers as well.

We should not just limit libraries to be intermediaries, portals or mere repositories.

We have the capacity to create and share content, relevant for our users.

That's why I believe Creative Commons is important for libraries.

My colleagues and I were talking about how Molly did a great job with her talk on Creative Commons :)

She spoke with certainty and clarity, especially when handling the Q&A.

She spoke about Copyright and Creative Commons in terms that was easily understood.

"Certainty" and "Clarity".

To me, that's what copyright legislation ought to provide.

For commoners to be clear and certain of what to do, to protect their rights. Or share their works in ways which they are comfortable.

[Next: Part 3] Should I allow my work to be exploited?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:10 pm

    Where you have lawyers, it is also the place where Panadol comes in handy.

    I agree with you. It's very confusing and a big road block.

    However, I believe Librarians can go around this restriction and even add value to the whole historical perspective by not only recording and archiving, but they should also consider taking on a higher value role of commentating and if possible even critiquing works from a historical perspective.

    The goal here is not to evaluate what is good, bad or even worthy, but rather to capture meaning, relevance and reason objectively.

    This will not only ensure fidelity, but it will also greatly enhance the learning outcome for both readers and researchers alike.

    I believe this is what the Smithsonian and the British Museum are already doing.


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