Happy World Intellectual Property Day!
Okay, not the most exciting of holidays, I’ll admit. And you may be wondering what it has to do with education. Well, a lot of access to and use of materials in education rests on the principle of fair use. Libraries lending print books are able to do so because of first sale doctrine. Intellectual property law exists to create and manage a delicate balance between property and access.
As a librarian, I’m often more focused on access. And I stand by this perspective, as I do believe right now copyright law is too skewed toward profit and locking away content that can benefit society. Naturally, creators should profit from their work. But 70 years past the death of the author is carrying it a bit too far. Some librarians believe in registering copyright – I don’t, especially in the age of online content. Too many unknowing creators would post things online without registering and could be ripped off. I like automatic copyright – it protects the individual. Corporations would never forget to register.
But here we are in an age where copyright conflicts with educational access. First sale doctrine doesn’t apply to e-books. Everything is licensed. Fair use was always a defense, never clear principle.
Open Educational Resources provide some great opportunities which are starting to be leveraged. Web content helps schools provide access without great cost. In education, we often find ourselves at odds with Intellectual Property Law. Respect for authors doesn’t have to mean cutting off access for students. And with open access, creative commons licenses and other new approaches to intellectual property in the internet age, we’re finding ways to work with content creators and create a rich learning environment that might not be affordable in the realm of traditional intellectual property law.
So on this World IP day, let’s celebrate open content and the content creators that make it work – we truly appreciate your contribution to a vibrant intellectual discourse.
And for anybody who is not a librarian and therefore has not seen this 20 million times: