Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Can copyright be neutral on OA and other modes of authorship?

Tim Wu of Columbia Law School has launched the draft of a new article, Copyright and New Modes of Authorship, open to group editing on WikiLaw.
Thesis: Over the last decade, the success of projects like Wikipedia, open access science journals, and open source programming projects have broadly suggested the existence of a variety of successful modes of authorship. Both open and closed authorship models have successfully led to the creation of socially valuable works. But what does that mean for copyright's central project of promoting authorship? Is copyright helping projects like Wikipedia, or just getting in the way? The thesis of this paper is that copyright should strive for the neutral promotion of competing modes of authorship. But what does such neutrality mean in practice? Some argue that the copyright law might be simply an impediment to authorship. However, the thesis of this paper is different. It argues that some manner of enforceable rights remain useful and probably essential for promoting a broad array of modes of production of expressive works. Yet it is also true, on the flip side, that if copyright favors one mode of authorship too strongly, it may inhibit other modes.