Intellectual Property

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CFP: 2014 CCCC-IP Annual

This year is the tenth anniversary of the CCCC-IP Annual, a publication created to fulfill the CCCC Intellectual Property Committee’s charge to keep the Conference on College Composition and Communication’s membership informed on key events and developments in intellectual property that took place over the previous year. Archives can be found at

As 2014 nears its end, we are looking back on what happened over the course of the year in copyright legislation, fair use cases, open access publishing, and notable high-profile plagiarism cases. Developments take place regularly that challenge our notions of what these terms mean, and we engage these developments in a timely manner each year in the CCCC-IP Annual . Typically, each article is an explanation of a particular development in intellectual property and analysis of what its implications are for teachers and scholars of rhetoric and composition. For example, the 2012 Annual contains an analysis of the rise of MOOCs written by James Porter. Starting this year, we encourage multiple genres, such as short (1000-1500 words) scholarly articles, listicles (“7 Things Rhetoricians Need to Know about the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act”), and infographics.

Some articles for the 2014 Annual have already been planned and are in progress; a working table of contents appears below this CFP. In addition to these, we invite submissions on interesting developments in intellectual property. Some ideas include:

* review of Electronic Frontier Foundation white paper published October 27, 2014: "Who Has Your Back: When Copyright and Trademark Bullies Threaten Free Speech"

* Internet Slowdown campaign: and

* FIRST Act (open access):

* Open Source Seed Initiative:

Please write to Clancy Ratliff (clancy at louisiana dot edu) if you are interested in contributing to this year’s Annual by writing about one of the above topics or other current events in copyright, authorship, and intellectual property. Manuscripts will be due February 28, 2015 for publication about one week before the CCCC convention.


Working Table of Contents, 2014 CCCC-IP Annual

Kim Gainer, Sherlock Holmes case

Jeff Galin, Georgia State University fair use case update

Wendy Warren Austin, Slavoj Žižek book review plagiarism case and Nic Pizzolatto "True Detective" plagiarism accusation

Laurie Cubbison, Taylor Swift removes her music from Spotify

Karen Lunsford, California open access law on publicly funded research

Carol Mohrbacher, review of EFF white paper "Unintended Consequences - 16 Years Under the DMCA"

Christopher Gerben, review of EFF white paper "Open Wi-Fi and Copyright: A Primer for Network Operators"

Steven Engel, Montana senator John Walsh plagiarism case

Mike Edwards, review of EFF white paper "Collateral Damages: Why Congress Needs To Fix Copyright Law’s Civil Penalties"

Traci Zimmerman, review of documentary film "The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz":

Graduate Seminar on Authorship and Intellectual Property in Rhetoric and Composition Studies

I'm excited to teach this class this semester! I had to leave a lot out (there's so much to read in this area of scholarship), but these are what I selected in the end.

English 556 Syllabus

The 2011 CCCC Intellectual Property Annual

The Conference on College Composition and Communication is going on right now, and this very afternoon is the CCCC Intellectual Property Caucus meeting. You should all go if you're in St. Louis for the conference; it starts at 2:00 this afternoon.

Every year, the Intellectual Property Committee publishes an Annual (PDF), and I encourage you to check out the 2011 issue. Here's the table of contents:

Introduction: Copyright and Intellectual Property in 2011
Clancy Ratliff

The Defeat of the Research Works Act and Its Implications
Mike Edwards

Open Access Initiatives
Annette Vee

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: What Golan v. Holder means for the Future of the Public Domain
Traci Zimmerman

“Sentence First—Verdict Afterwards”: The Protect IP and the Stop Online Piracy Acts
Kim D. Gainer

A Dark Day on the Internet Leads to a Sea Change in Copyright Policy
Laurie Cubbison

Occupy Trademark: Branding a Political Movement
Timothy R. Amidon

CCCC-IP Position Statement on Plagiarism Detection Services

Well hello! How shameful that I haven't posted since July. This is just a quick link to the CCCC Intellectual Property Caucus's position statement on plagiarism detection services. It doesn't seem to be online anymore, and I've been asked to provide it, so I'm uploading my copy as an attachment to this post.

My second Prezi

I gave another talk yesterday using Prezi. I kind of like it even though there are many who don't and/or who think it's just a fad. The fact that it's something new and different from PowerPoint is, for me, a good thing.

Free and Open Textbooks in Rhetoric and Writing Studies

Below is my article for this year's CCCC-IP Annual:

The issue of access is one of the main reasons our field has held a prolonged interest in copyright and intellectual property matters. We want everyone to have access to education, art, science, and culture. We want open-access publishing in general, for our scholarship and for teaching resources. But we especially empathize with college students and their diverse financial situations; many are, as we all know, accruing student loan debt, juggling class schedules and work schedules, and, in some cases, supporting their families. Admittedly, many others are racking up high bar tabs, paying high membership dues to fraternities or sororities, and buying expensive clothes, but we maintain concern for the students who are struggling to pay their bills and whose financial future is especially uncertain. Such concern means that we -- especially those of us who, like me, are Writing Program Administrators -- often agonize about our responsibility to select textbooks that are both affordable and pedagogically sound and appropriate for our students.

In this paper, I will describe two developments from the year 2010 that pertain to intellectual property and our field. One is the publication of a report titled A Cover-to-Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Textbook Affordability by a student activist group. The other is the publication of volume I of Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, an open textbook for undergraduate writing courses.

Research and Recommendations on Open Textbooks

Active since 1973 (or earlier), PIRGS have organized campaigns on a variety of issues including student loan debt, the environment, and, since 2005, affordable textbooks. Since 2005, Student PIRGs (Public Interest Research Group) has had a "Make Textbooks Affordable" campaign to raise awareness about the "tipping point expense" of textbooks in higher education -- a cost that can potentially mean the difference between getting an education and not getting one. In 2010, they released a report titled, "A Cover-to-Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Textbook Affordability," which was based on survey research of over 1000 students on ten campuses.

The researchers review some of the problems with the current textbook market, problems that we, as writing teachers, already know about: frequent new editions of books, and shrink-wrap packaging of proprietary software with books (requiring students to buy new books in order to get the CD or access code for the software). Also reviewed are some of the cost-saving strategies currently in place: textbook rental, resale, and e-books. Student PIRGs calls these measures "a good start," but they argue that open textbooks are a more sustainable strategy for keeping textbooks affordable in the long term.

The Student PIRGs research found that open textbooks that give students the option to buy a print copy or download a free online version, like the Flat World Knowledge publishing model, will best solve the economic problem of textbook cost. The research found that 75% of students preferred to have print textbooks, so online-only book options are not ideal. Book rental is not generally an attractive solution either, as the Student PIRGs research found that most students want to buy some books but rent others.

The research group then calculated the savings each current option (renting, e-textbooks, and e-books for e-readers such as the Nook or Kindle) offers. They found that book rental saves students about 33%, reducing their book expense to $602 per year, on average. E-books and e-reader books fared worse, offering savings of 8% and 1% respectively. In a dramatic contrast, open textbooks can cut students' book expenses by 80% while still providing students with choices to accommodate their preferences: "Print copies come in black and white and color, softcover and hardcover, and students can self-print part or all of the text. Digital copies are typically free, and can be accessed online or offline from a variety of devices including e-readers, laptops and smart phones" (12). One of the most interesting findings of the study is that 76% of students would pay a small fee to go toward compensating authors of free and open textbooks (13).

Extending the Student PIRGs Research

I notice three points that are not made in the Student PIRGs report, two minor and one major. First the minor points: the report criticized textbook publishers' practice of coming out with frequent new editions without substantive changes -- and I agree with this criticism -- and they conclude, for a variety of reasons, that using open textbooks is the best solution to the problem of book costs. It should be noted that with open textbooks, the new editions issue is no longer a problem. The textbook author or publisher can make improvements and updates to the book as needed, even if it's more frequently than every two or three years, and the cost of a new edition for the student is negligible; even if he or she already bought a print copy of a previous edition, the student can view online or self-print only the material in the newer edition.

The second minor point I noticed wasn't made is that book rental and buying used would also be options for print copies of open textbooks, likely saving print-preference students even more money. I don't know who sets the costs of book rental, but in order to create a more attractive option for students (and thus make money), the cost-setter would have to price the rentals lower than the cost of buying the books outright. The same goes for buying used: barring special circumstances, like autographed or rare editions, used copies are always going to be less expensive than new copies. Students who prefer print copies can buy them simply in order to satisfy their preference, then decide later if they want to own the books permanently or not. If they choose, they can re-sell the book and get some of their money back, offsetting both their net cost and the cost to the next student who uses the book. Because open textbooks are not published for profit, there would be no serious attempts to undermine the sale of used books, and the used print open textbooks market could flourish.

The major point not addressed in the Student PIRGs report is university bookstore markup, which is typically 30% of a book's retail cost. This percentage may go into a university's operating budget, as it does at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where I teach, making the overall textbook-cost issue less simple than it appears, especially with deep budget cuts for higher education. Certainly if university bookstores order print copies of open textbooks to stock for students to buy, the university bookstores will still apply the markup, and the operating budgets will get that money. However, the fewer dollars a book costs, the fewer dollars 30% of that amount will be. I don't mean to suggest that there's actually an incentive to select more expensive textbooks, but bookstore markup is an factor that enters into my own thinking about the economics of course textbooks.

On a related note, the Student PIRGs report alludes to the 2010 provisions of the Higher Education Opportunity Act regarding making textbook costs public. Universities that receive federal aid are supposed to publicize the costs of their classes' textbooks. My understanding of the law -- what I've done for our First-Year Writing Program site -- is that universities must disclose what their university bookstores charge for each book as well as the ISBN of each book for purposes of comparison shopping. While I agree that sharing this information benefits students and had already planned to post this information prior to hearing about the law, I have to wonder how much our university, so underfunded already, stands to lose from reduced bookstore revenue.

Open Textbook Options for Rhetoric and Writing Studies

The field of Rhetoric and Writing Studies currently has six options for open textbooks. The first, the Rhetoric and Composition WikiBook, was published in 2005 and written by Matt Barton and students at St. Cloud State University. It is not only open-access and freely available to print (permission granted under its Attribution/ShareAlike terms); it is also an ongoing project that students in writing classes can contribute to themselves.

The second open textbook option for writing teachers is Steven Krause's book titled The Process of Research Writing, which he published in 2007 under an Attribution/Noncommercial/ShareAlike Creative Commons license. Both this book and the WikiBook can be viewed in HTML format and as PDFs for no cost and self-printed by students. Students may, depending on their universities' policies, be able to use university printers and supplies for this purpose.

It's the third option, I believe, that is the most in alignment with the Student PIRGs' recommendations for open textbook publication because students can buy a print version of the book. The first volume of Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing was published in 2010, the second volume close behind in January 2011. I am on the editorial board of this book series. Under the licensing terms, Attribution/Noncommercial/No Derivative Works, students may download a PDF of the books free of charge and self-print the whole book or selected chapters, but unlike the other two, Writing Spaces is available for purchase as a bound volume from Parlor Press. Through Parlor Press's web site, students can buy volume 1 for $23.00 (price is the same on Amazon), and volume 2 for $25.00. The Student PIRGs report mentions the importance of accommodating students' diverse preferences (especially the majority's preference for print), and it points out that Flat World Knowledge is a company that follows this model of selling print copies but offering free downloads.

Or at least it appears to follow this model. The fourth, fifth, and sixth options for Rhetoric and Writing Studies are Writing for Success by Scott McLean, The Flat World Knowledge Handbook for Writers by Miles McCrimmon, and Exploring Perspectives: A Concise Guide to Analysis by Randall Fallows. The first two of these are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial Use-Share Alike license. The third is also under a Creative Commons license, but it will be available online later this month, so I cannot view the title page to see the specific kind of license. Flat World Knowledge claims to offer students the opportunity to read the book online for free, buy an electronic version for the Kindle or Nook, or buy a print copy. The "read online for free" option, however, is not as open as one might assume. On the sites for these books, I see no link to a downloadable PDF of the book. I can only read the book in HTML format or as an embedded PDF in a PDF viewer. At the bottom of the screen is a button with "Print this chapter: $2.49."

Now, under the terms of the Creative Commons license, I could buy a copy of the book (or have a desk copy sent to me), scan the whole book or selected chapters into PDF, upload the documents to my course site, and make them available for students -- so that they can view them without an internet connection or print them at only the price of paper and toner. But Flat World Knowledge makes this option quite difficult. The most truly open and sustainable textbook models are the first three options: The Rhetoric and Composition Wikibook, The Process of Research Writing, and Writing Spaces.

Concluding Thoughts

I am impressed with Student PIRGs' dedication to lowering the cost of higher education, and I'm happy to see the 2010 HEOA provisions about textbook costs. Because students are a captive market and cannot choose their own textbooks, I like that they are becoming more aware of options within their current constraints. Intellectual property is an economic issue, of course; publishers buy a textbook author's copyright and make copies, and students buy the copies at a high price -- on average, each student spends $900.00 a year on them, according to the Government Accountability Office (qtd. in Student PIRGs 1).

I would like to conclude with some thoughts on our (professors' and Writing Program Administrators') options and constraints. The genres of writing textbooks are, as most of us know, readers, rhetorics, and handbooks. We have six options for open textbooks, three of which are rhetorics, two of which are handbooks, and one of which combines the qualities of a rhetoric and a reader. We don't yet have cohesive open textbooks that fall into the genre of reader (for classes that don't take a Writing About Writing approach), but as far as books about academic writing and the writing and research processes are concerned, we have a few open textbook alternatives, and we should explore these. I recommend class-testing one or more of these books -- a teacher in my writing program class-tested a few chapters in Writing Spaces with positive results -- and doing local studies to discover campus-specific implementation issues.

Works Cited

Krause, Steven. The Process of Research Writing. 2007. Web. 6 March 2011.

Lowe, Charles, and Pavel Zemliansky. Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing.
Volume 1. 2010. Web. 6 March 2011.

Lowe, Charles, and Pavel Zemliansky. Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing.
Volume 2. 2011. Web. 6 March 2011.

Rhetoric and Composition WikiBook. 2011. Web. 6 March 2011.

Student PIRGs. A Cover-to-Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks Are the Path to
Textbook Affordability
. Student PIRGs, 2010. 6 March 2011.

Computers and Composition Online Issue on Open Source

The new issue of Computers and Composition Online is out! I have an article in it titled Open Source and the Access Agenda. I'd love to know what you think; if you do a blog post on the article, please send me the link and I'll put it in this post. Or leave a comment under the Facebook-note (I have FB set to import my blog posts).

CCCC-IP Annual Article: Two Competing Copyright Curricula

I'm excited about this year's CCCC-IP Annual. We're looking at having at least six articles in the 2009 publication, which will be my third as editor. I plan on getting my article for it finished in the next week or two. Usually the articles cover the developments in copyright and intellectual property law over the past year; this year will be no different except for a couple of reviews of books that were published in the latter half of 2008 that I decided to make exceptions for.

But for my article, I wanted to cover something that happened in 2009 if possible. I did some reading through the 2009 archives of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's blog and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society's site, and then I found the topic.

In 2009, both the Recording Industry Association of America and the Electronic Frontier Foundation released curricula for teaching children about copyright and intellectual property. The RIAA's curriculum, intended for grades 3 through 8, is quite one-sided. The EFF's curriculum seems to be geared toward grades 9 through 12 and examines copyright in a more complex way. I just finished writing a review of Jessica Reyman's new book The Rhetoric of Intellectual Property: Copyright Law and the Regulation of Digital Culture, and I already see so many connections between her argument, which examines the rhetorical workings of the content industries' argument (she terms this "the property stewardship narrative") and the copyright activists' argument (which she calls "the cultural conservancy narrative"), and these curricula: how these narratives are told to young audiences. I love it when I can be invigorated by my research and writing. I'll link to the Annual once it goes live, of course. I expect that will be in early March; I want to publish it before the conference and before my rambunctious little girl is born.

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