Osiern’s Weblog

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protection and progress

Posted by osiern on October 20, 2008

As historians we build off others research in order to progress the field.  How could we do this if research is “protected,” is protection limiting our progress? Should scholarly research be open to the public for the progression of society?

As a historian and an educator I believe that scholarly work should be open to the public and that copyright law, extensions, and the regulation of copyrighted materials on the internet has at times gotten out of hand. Copyright law, as Dan Cohen, Roy Rosenzweig, John Willinsky, and Lawrence Lessig would agree is a good thing. However, just as with anything else in life, when this good thing is abused and driven by greed it becomes ugly.

All three readings (Digital History Chap. 7, Copyright, and Free Culture) go over the history of copyright law and the explanation of fair use.  But they also discuss the importance of social progress and what they believe was the true nature of copyright citing the U.S. Constitution.  As new media allows for a quick flow of information and document sharing, it has become as Lessig states, a war.  A war between those holding a copyright and those trying to use the material.  He does not feel this war is worth waging, and that will ultimately end up hurting society.

Scholars need to earn a living, but the greed needs to stop.  If research had not been built upon we would be a vastly different society. With the world wide web as a new resource we should have more opportunity for more sharing, learning, and growing.

I believe that by having these conversations in combination with the work of organizations/web pages such as creative commons we can prevent this over protection.  These two pieces help a community of “cultural environmentalists” progress society and make others aware of what the consequences might be for the future.

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One Response to “protection and progress”

  1. gcheong said

    I agree with you that the issues might be lessened if both companies and individuals would stop be so greedy! There’s a middle ground somewhere… individuals get credited/compensated for their original work, companies/publishers make a modest profit, and the public/academia also benefits. Unfortunately, the public/academia seems to lose out the most in this relationship…

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