May 09, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Copyright in a collaborative age

The paper that myself and Michael Holloway, (who helps with admin and research for ORG) wrote for the Journal of Media and Culture is now out. Called Copyright in a Collaborative Age, it takes a look at the impact of new technologies on copyright, a system that was never designed to deal with things like blogs and wikis. Here's the intro:

The Internet has connected people and cultures in a way that, just ten years ago, was unimaginable. Because of the net, materials once scarce are now ubiquitous. Indeed, never before in human history have so many people had so much access to such a wide variety of cultural material, yet far from heralding a new cultural nirvana, we are facing a creative lock-down. Over the last hundred years, copyright term has been extended time and again by a creative industry eager to hold on to the exclusive rights to its most lucrative materials. Previously, these rights guaranteed a steady income because the industry controlled supply and, in many cases, manufactured demand. But now culture has moved from being physical artefacts that can be sold or performances that can be experienced to being collections of 1s and 0s that can be easily copied and exchanged. People are revelling in the opportunity to acquire and experience music, movies, TV, books, photos, essays and other materials that they would otherwise have missed out on; and they picking up the creative ball and running with it, making their own version, remixes, mash-ups and derivative works. More importantly than that, people are producing and sharing their own cultural resources, publishing their own original photos, movies, music, writing. You name it, somewhere someone is making it, just for the love of it. Whilst the creative industries are using copyright law in every way they can to prosecute, shut down, and scare people away from even legitimate uses of cultural materials, the law itself is becoming increasingly inadequate. It can no longer deal with society