Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, September 08, 2007

MIT webcast on fair use and the cultural commons

MIT has released the webcast of a forum, Copyright, Fair Use, and the Cultural Commons, originally held on April 28, 2007.  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)  From the description:

Moderator William Uricchio [Co-Director, Comparative Media Studies Program and Professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT, and Professor of Comparative Media History at Utrecht University] sets the scene for panelists’ discussion of current copyright wars with a brief historical overview of copyright protection....Uricchio notes, “Bizarrely, the faster information circulates, the longer we’re extending copyright protection. It seems totally at odds with where our constitution framers and case law emerged from.” ...

Hal Abelson [Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, MIT School
of Engineering] offers his sense of how copyright concerns constrict life at the academy. MIT, he says, has begun putting fences up around its own course materials, including the most basic and central of thinkers. For instance, it has limited online, published versions of Aristotle, Pascal and Fermat to students in a particular course, for a single semester. Huge expense goes into getting permissions from faculty, and university lawyers are so concerned about offending copyright holders that they bar reams of material from MIT’s OpenCourseWare site. Abelson believes these fences risk “destroying the university as an intellectual community,” and recommends using open content (granting Creative Commons licenses) as much as possible, as well as aggressively exercising fair use.

PS:  Apart from Uricchio and Abelson, the other panelists were Wendy Gordon (Professor of Law at Boston University), Gordon Quinn (President Co-Founder of Kartemquin Films), and Pat Aufderheide (Professor of Communications at American University).