3/17/2012

How to Protect Copyright Is Key Topic at Publishers' Meeting (Chronicle)

Check out this Chronicle article.


This is the paragraph that caught my attention:
  • Some of the comments, though, sounded more combative than conciliatory. Fritz Attaway, executive vice president of the Motion Picture Association of America, dismissed the arguments of what he and other panelists called the Copy Left, meaning open-access advocates and reformers who want copyright restrictions loosened. "The intellectual base of the Copy Left is pretty flimsy," he said. "Our industries do something that no one else can do. We create content that people want."
And so my comment is:

Fritz Attaway is mistaken on both of his points.


(1) Academic open access advocates are not asking for copyright to be diminished in any way. Open access and the open policies behind it do not seek to remove or weaken the author’s copyright … in fact they work to help faculty / authors keep their copyright.

Open access simply asks that publicly funded resources be freely and openly available to the public that paid for them. It’s a very simple point: when I pay for something, I should get access to what I paid for.



(2) "The intellectual base of the Copy Left is pretty flimsy" is a pretty flimsy argument. The intellectual base of open licensing (which respects and builds on top of copyright law) is
strong and sophisticated. Watch Larry Lessig’s 2009 keynote to Educause.



Maybe the Chronicle could host a debate on these important issues – a live webinar, perhaps?


And then we, the tax payers -- who fund the K-12 textbooks, the college textbooks vis-à-vis students’ state and federal financial aid, and the academic research, data and resulting journal articles – could listen and decide whose view we value more. I expect most tax payers will want free and open access to what they paid for… for themselves, their communities and their children.


I live in Washington State. My state government gives $65M / year to the 295 public K-12 school districts who then spend another $65M in local funds – for a total K-12 textbook annual expenditure of roughly $130M for a mere 1 million students. The results for our investment? 80% of our textbooks are 7-11 years (on average) out of date; and worse - students are not allowed to write or highlight in their books because the books have to last for 10 years. Want a digital version? Sorry – that paper book needs to last for 10 years because it was so expensive. Lose your book? You're parents will need to pay to replace it.


Might it be better for districts to adopt free and openly licensed (CC BY NC SA) CK-12 textbooks that are both aligned with Common Core and WA state curricular standards?  Every student could have a new book every year, with updated content, the paper copy costs $4.50 to print so every student keeps their books at the end of the year – building an academic library at home, and they can have iPad, Kindle, Adroid and/or web versions if they choose.


WA State policy makers decided their 1 million K-12 students deserve better and they have acted.


I know what model I prefer (a) as a tax payer and (b) as a parent of two public school children.


Cable Green
Director of Global Learning
Creative Commons


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