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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Lynch on copyright and academia

The Center for Intellectual Property at the University of Maryland University College has posted OA a chapter from its Handbook. The chapter Cliff Lynch's Copyright Law, Intellectual Property Policy, and Academic Culture, based on a presentation he delivered at UMUC in 2005. (Thanks to Georgia Harper.)
This paper ... examines the interplay between copyright law and academic values. While it identifies a number of areas in which copyright law as currently shaped presents serious barriers to academic inquiry and the research and teaching missions of our universities, the paper also focuses on policy choices that the academic community makes about various rights that are granted under copyright and the very significant ways in which these choices can influence, facilitate, or impede the academic mission within the existing framework. The academy is not simply a victim of current copyright laws and their consequences, however convenient and comforting it may be to fall into that role, and I argue here that it needs to do much more than simply advocate for legislative change and relief; universities can and must take a key leadership role in helping to alleviate many—though certainly not all—of the problems that the current copyright law creates for scholarship by making explicit policy choices that are consistent with fundamental academic values, and they can lead (and, hopefully, help to shape) the broader public thinking about these issues by their example. Some of these choices are difficult, in that they involve renouncing the possibility of enjoying certain (usually in reality nominal) revenue streams in favor of remaining true to fundamental mission imperatives. In this sense, the paper offers an agenda for reflection and self-examination by institutional communities within higher education about intellectual property policy choices and their relationship to fundamental academic values. ...