The copyright hammer

It might just be me, but I’ve noticed an increase (from about zero) in articles and reports on the way that copyright restricts people’s access to information and cultural works, with sometimes negative consequences. This morning, I stumbled across a series of articles in the U.S. Chronicle of Higher Education, titled “The Copyright Rebellion.” They tackle the crucial issue of how copyright law actually interferes with teachers’ ability to teach and students’ ability to learn by making it unaffordable for professors to place copyrighted works on their curricula, or for music students to play works by composers who have been dead for decades.

Highly recommended, and a good reminder that the purpose of copyright is to promote both creation and dissemination. While it deals with U.S. copyright law, and Canadian copyright law is somewhat different (fair use in the U.S., fair dealing in Canada, for example), the general principles do apply in both cases. Whether copyright actually does promote creation is an open issue for which the evidence isn’t all that favourable, as I’ve noted before. But there’s no question that it restricts dissemination, as these articles amply demonstrate.

Supreme Court Takes Up Scholars’ Rights

Out of Fear, Colleges Lock Books and Images Away From Scholars

Pushing Back Against Legal Threats by Putting Fair Use Forward (also has a list of links to articles on copyright and fair use for academics and librarians)

What You Don’t Know About Copyright, but Should (U.S. focus)

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