Sustain Creativity: Remix the Politics of Intellectual Property Barbara K. Iverson, PhD. Columbia College Chicago Journalism Department Chicago, IL /USA firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract International copyright laws are supposed to protect intellectual property from theft and unauthorized use and allow content creators to be paid for their works. "Fair Use" in the U.S. ("fair dealing" in the Commonwealth) is supposed to allow for educational uses of intellectual property. These laws are meant to balance commercial interests and the cultural importance of new ideas to the public domain and our cultural environment. Corporate interests have unduly influenced copyright laws, because of a vested interest in keeping exclusive control of material that is arguably of public importance. Technology has altered the meaning “original” and “copy” upon which most of intellectual copyright law is based. Lawmakers don’t understand the technologies they are attempting to regulate. Our society needs a balance between open and closed, owned and free, for it to be economically and culturally vital. In the digital moment we inhabit, we need artists and communicators to think creatively and help us understand that the conditions that pertain to tangible property do not apply to public goods, like intellectual property that aren’t used up as they are consumed. Allowing public access to the intellectual commons won’t result in overgrazing, but could result in a creative renaissance.
Mixing and remixing are interesting, vital, emerging forms of artistic and intellectual creativity. These new ways of juxtaposing and using media represent new forms of literacy. These are not criminal activities, but they do need to evolve ethics and aesthetics. This is a legitimate area for educators, artists, and communication professionals to push for a creative policy of intellectual property instead of a draconian one. Online, we can begin to look at the philosophy and experience of open source development, and at organizations like Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, The Pirate Bay, and other groups and individuals representing alternative points of view on copyright and proprietary ownership of intellectual property. The current restrictions on fair use that have evolved to protect copyright holders no longer balance the rights of free expression in the culture and society critique with the property rights of copyright holders. Media of various forms can currently be thrust into public spaces and the public commons by private, corporate interests, without the
permission of individual members of the public. Advertisements on the public airwaves, or on the sides of public buses, or on huge billboards above public parks or highways are examples of the nearly ubiquitous use of public domain by private corporate interests. Yet individuals who wish to comment on these intrusions into the public commons by using or reusing the images, sounds, or footage to do so, are prohibited from doing so. In addition, recent extensions of the length of copyright serve the interests of the copyright holder, but do not serve the original purpose of copyright, which is to foster creativity and more new ideas. The talk provides a guide for educators in communication and communications arts to understanding the challenges facing us in the areas of copyright, open standards, mixing and re-mixing. I will use Eric Raymond's frameworks of the Cathedral and the Bazaar to provide suggestions for how to organize our learning environments around open source principles.
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