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‘Copyright, Fair Use, and the Cultural Commons’ now on MIT World

Kaitlin Thaney, September 10th, 2007

From the Science Commons blog

Now up on MIT World, “Copyright, Fair Use, and the Cultural Commons.” The Web cast is from the April 28, 2007 panel discussion featuring Creative Commons‘ own Hal Abelson, William Uricchio (who moderated the event), Wendy Gordon, Gordon Quinn, and Pat Aufderheide.

From the Web site:

“Moderator William Uricchio sets the scene for panelists’ discussion of current copyright wars with a brief historical overview of copyright protection. In 1790, when news traveled by horse and carriage, copyright protection was good for 14 years. Today, when a digital, networked society enables instant transmission of data, protection lasts 70-plus years. Uricchio notes, “Bizarrely, the faster information circulates, the longer we’re extending copyright protection. It seems totally at odds with where our constitution framers and case law emerged from.” [...]

Hal Abelson [Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, MIT School of Engineering] offers his sense of how copyright concerns constrict life at the academy. MIT, he says, has begun putting fences up around its own course materials, including the most basic and central of thinkers. For instance, it has limited online, published versions of Aristotle, Pascal and Fermat to students in a particular course, for a single semester. Huge expense goes into getting permissions from faculty, and university lawyers are so concerned about offending copyright holders that they bar reams of material from MIT’s OpenCourseWare site. Abelson believes these fences risk “destroying the university as an intellectual community,” and recommends using open content (granting Creative Commons licenses) as much as possible, as well as aggressively exercising fair use.”

Visit MIT World’s Web site to listen to this wonderful discussion, as well as to learn more about the forum’s participants.

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