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Wednesday, 28th March 2012
What is evidence based copyright law? Are the claims for copyright by the lobbyists justified or are research and innovation being stifled because of copyright restrictions? Should we be redefining just what copyright itself actually means, and who are the winners and losers? Copyright throws up more questions than answers.
There is a London School of Economics (LSE) public lecture on 2 April 2012 I wish I could go to – on what would an evidence based copyright law look like?
Well, we all dream about copyright being able to help do wonderful things. The underpinning of creativity, innovation, the knowledge economy for a start to paraphrase the lecture marketing blurb and others. But is this claim made as a result of lobbying (lobbynomics) rather than data and evidence?
The British Library (BL) made a response to the UK government’s copyright consultation that closed on 21 March 2012 – this consultation process was a result of the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property in 2011. The BL considers that research and innovation are being stifled by the lack of ability to text and data mine research for non-commercial purposes.
Harbottle and Lewis, lawyers in media and entertainment, consider that copyright is especially important for the scientific, technical and medical sector and academic publishers. Possible exceptions to copyright law may allow text and data mining access without licence or payment to publisher’s collections in future. There is an anticipation that the next stage would be to lobby for European level approval for commercial purposes.
The question is who is really pushing for changes in copyright and who will really win out of it? The creators or the investors and distributors? Cory Doctorow writing in the Guardian muses that each lobby for copyright always rules in favour of their own interests. Does it protect an establishment?
Copyright and patent monopolies could be seen as short term protectionism for enterprises. The owni.eu website provides some interesting examples of industry building and borrowing other people’s ideas thereby fuelling periods of creativity and innovation. If copyright and patents had been in place at that time to stop companies then what would have happened?
Going back to the LSE lecture, the speaker William Patry, writing for the Guardian about How to Fix Copyright, asks a simple question. Should we be redefining what copy means? Do we mean a physical object (noun) or to reproduce (verb)? And in a digital era, where we prefer streaming content rather than physical content, where does that leave copyright?
In true copyright style I leave this post with more questions than answers. I wonder will lobbynomics win the day?
By Joanna Ptolomey
Joanna is a freelance information consultant and analyst. She started her career in information as a clinical librarian in the NHS before moving to global consultancy group DTZ. Prior to working in the information sector Joanna was a project planning engineer in the construction industry for 10 years.
She hopes to help people use information for assessing risk, making decisions and in governance. She is particularly interested in inequalities issues such as accessibility, information literacy and the information divide especially in the healthcare sector. She is the author of a chapter 'Digital divide and accessibility' in Government Information Management in the 21st Century. She is also the author of the book Taking charge of your career: a guide for library and information professionals.
You can follow Joanna on Twitter.
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