Intellectual Property

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Linkage: mostly outrageous, but two bright spots

Via Copyfight: After a reporter for the Pensacola News-Journal revealed in an op-ed that "more than 10,000 children of Wal-Mart employees are in a Georgia health-care program, which costs the state's taxpayers nearly $10 million a year," and "31 percent of the patients at a North Carolina hospital were Wal-Mart employees on Medicaid," at least one northwest Florida Wal-Mart banned the sale of the PNJ but then lifted the ban. Still, that's pretty awful.

More awful is this story about how lousy U.S. family leave policies are in comparison to other countries (Via Ms. Musings).

The good news is, today's Chronicle has an article about orphan works, which I hope will raise some awareness among scholars about the obstructive qualities of copyright. From the article (link added):

In response to the U.S. Copyright Office's request for comments, Cornell University librarians added up the money and time spent clearing copyright on 343 monographs for a digital archive of literature on agriculture. Although the library has spent $50,000 and months of staff time calling publishers, authors, and authors' heirs, it has not been able to identify the owners of 58 percent of the monographs.

"In 47 cases we were denied permission, and this was primarily because the people we contacted were unsure whether they could authorize the reproduction or not," says Peter B. Hirtle, who monitors intellectual-property issues for Cornell's libraries. "Copyright is supposed to advance the sciences and arts, and this is copyright becoming an impediment to the sciences and arts."

Restrictions on using orphan works, often imposed by risk-averse lawyers at colleges and museums, affect scholarly work in ways large and small.

Right on to that! Finally, G Zombie has it on good authority (see last comment in thread) that an essay in support of blogging will be appearing in the Chronicle soon.

More on H20

The more I explore H20 Playlists, the more impressed I am. Prepare for proselytization. You can search the playlists for a specific term and then subscribe to the results via RSS. You can also subscribe to individual playlists if you want to be notified when new items get added. It's clear to me that they want this to be kind of similar to Open CourseWare; many of the playlists are associated with courses -- so far I'm seeing Stanford, Princeton, and Harvard represented a lot. Also, each item on a playlist has a box next to it that you can check. You can add checked items to your library and then make your own playlists from them. They want us to mix up these readings in all kinds of ways!

Here are some of the many neat playlists I've found so far:

User Innovation

Open Education

Public Spaces/Public Spheres

Introduction to Social Anthropology



Wayne Marshall's Music Playlist (Good hip-hop and reggae links)

Digital Cities: Urban Processes and Urban Futures in the Information Age

Community Based Production

Women In Business Resources

H20 Playlists

I'm excited about H20 Playlists:

H2O playlists are more than just a cool, sleek technology -- they represent a new way of thinking about education online. An H2O Playlist is a series of links to books, articles, and other materials that collectively explore an idea or set the stage for a course, discussion, or current event.

H2O Playlists make it easy to:

transform traditional syllabi into interactive, global learning tools

share the reading lists of world-renowned scholars, organizations, and cultural leaders

let interested people subscribe to playlist updates and stay current on their fields

promote an exchange of ideas and expertise among professors, students, and researchers

communicate and aggregate knowledge -- online and offline.

See also their philosophy. They take basic tagging and kick it up a notch; notice -- here's a sample playlist -- how you can leave comments on others' lists, view derivative playlists, rate playlists' influence, and view playlists with the same tags. I love it. Even though I created my own playlist but it wouldn't let me publish it ("An unknown error has occurred."). Oh well, it's still in beta.

UPDATE: It works for me now, and my first playlist is up.

Via Copyfight.

Another grab bag

Cool! Someone has put photos of my knitting on Wikimedia Commons. On another knitting note, I taught Tiana, daughter of Rachel, to knit last night! I hope I did an okay job.

In the latest issue of Genders, there's an analysis of "Extreme Makeover": Beauty, Desire, and Anxiety: The Economy of Sameness in ABC's Extreme Makeover. Interesting stuff, well worth the read.

There's a special aggregation of bloggers who are posting about iLaw 2005. Not all the posts are about iLaw, but at least it's an attempt to put all the weblogs that might have iLaw notes in one place. Of course, in a perfect world, they'd all use Drupal and create an iLaw 2005 category, and then we could have category-specific feeds. :-) Nevertheless, I'll be reading. I wish I could be there; it looks fascinating.

But if I were at iLaw, I wouldn't get to go to the memorial for Allison Crews this evening. By the way, it now appears as though the cause of death is uncertain, but who knows if "a friend" is a reliable source. I guess we'll know more later.

Around the Web

It's my own little Inside Higher Ed over here. First:

Ulysses is public domain in the U.S. now. Artists and writers can use passages of it freely, create derivative works, etc. Don't miss Logie's post on it.

Arnold Lee, creator of, emailed me to tell me about his short film, Social Security: The Real Connections. I watched it, and while overall, I think his use of shapes, arrows, and animation is a good way to make his argument about Social Security, I don't yet find it to be credible. The whole time I was watching it, I was thinking, where do these numbers come from? It's a problem I have with most new media compositions, to be honest -- and I know this won't be a popular opinion -- but I am still an old fart stickler for full bibliographical citations of all data, especially numbers and statistics. In the ones I've seen, and I'll admit I haven't seen hundreds of them or anything, the sources are not well-documented. I'm going to be very skeptical of any argument that doesn't cite the evidence it uses. I want to know who wrote the sources, what their political advocacy angle is, when the studies were done, and where the sources were published so that I can investigate the research design of the sources, and all that. If Lee puts a bibliography on the site, though, and I find the sources to be credible, I'll be sending the link to everyone I know with my highest recommendation. I know it's difficult to integrate source citations gracefully into multi or new media compositions.

Please go and read New Kid's systematic criticism of an article in the Chronicle on educational technology. My thanks to her for writing it.

Good thread over at Prof. B.'s about childrearing. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Computers and Writing 2005 Link Roundup

For my own and others' reference, links to posts about the 2005 on-site (as opposed to online) Computers and Writing conference.

  • Part 1 and Part 2 of Mike's plans for his presentation
  • Notes from Mike, Charlie, and pictures from Bradley on the Drupal workshop
  • Collin wins the 2005 Best Academic Weblog award and accepts humbly and gracefully
  • Notes from Bradley and Mike on "Politics of Digital Literacy: Cases for Institutional Critique"
  • Notes from Mike on "Copyright Anxiety"
  • Notes from Bradley on "Self Representation and Agency in a Web of Commercialization"
  • Notes from John on Todd Taylor's keynote multimedia presentation, "The End of Composition"
  • Notes from Bradley on "Community Building through Weblogs"
  • Notes from Bradley on "Assessing Students' New Media Projects"
  • Notes from Bradley on "Databases and Collaborative Spaces in First Year Composition
  • Notes from Bradley on "Rhetoric, Writing and Hypertext"
  • Notes from Bradley on "Teaching Visual Literacy"
  • Photos from the conference
  • Fashion commentary from Matt Barton
  • Kim White's notes on the conference

If you blogged the conference and aren't listed, do let me know!

OpenCourseWare Browse

I realized yesterday that I hadn't poked around on MIT's OpenCourseWare in a while. I spent some time browsing the courses on Writing and Humanistic Studies, Women's Studies, STS, Literature, and Comparative Media Studies. Some finds:

I wish I could do more browsing, but I have work to do. I know that back in 2002(?) when MIT OpenCourseWare went live, it was hailed, the only objections -- the only ones I heard, anyway -- being from some who thought that teachers shouldn't be required to make their course designs publicly accessible. Pshaw. How could anyone argue with the clear benefits to students and prospective students? Students can find the courses that are most interesting and challenging to them, allowing for a more individualized program of study, and OpenCourseWare provides by leaps and bounds more insight into the design and content of the course than a title and little blurb in a course catalog does. The one argument contra that does have merit, in my opinion, is the claim that instructors don't have any way to control the look and navigation of the course's site; everything has the uniform MIT OCW look.

What I was really irritated and dismayed by, though, is the sentiment I heard a lot of people express that went something like, "Oh. Well. They're MIT, so they can do that." Eeeyaarrgh! I can't stand this kind of thinking, that you can only do certain things if you're a Big Name. It seems to me to be, if anything, the opposite: that if you're a Big Name, any endeavor you undertake is going to be more high-stakes, and any possible failure is going to be more large-scale and public, so being a small name would give one more freedom to innovate.

Information on works for hire appreciated

One of the projects I'm working on for CCCC-IP is a basic guide for teachers who want to create online teaching materials, especially online courses, and whose institutions' intellectual property policies are vague. For those unfamiliar with what I'm talking about, teachers who create online courses are interested in whether they or the universities own the copyright to works they create. In other words, could they take their online courses with them if they took a job at another university? TyAnna Herrington was good enough to send me some citations of case law and articles written on the topic. I also noticed the definition of work for hire in this document and the definition on Form TX found on the site where you register for copyright:

What is a “Work Made for Hire”? A“work made for hire” is defined as (1) “a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment”; or (2) “a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the works shall be considered a work made for hire.” If you have checked “Yes” to indicate that the work was “made for hire,” you must give the full legal name of the employer (or other person for whom the work was prepared). You may also include the name of the employee along with the name of the employer (for example: “Elster Publishing Co., employer for hire of John Ferguson”).

This definition would seem to favor strongly the university's ownership if the ownership ever came into question, even if the material is hosted on the instructor's own web space, given #1. If this is the definition of works for hire, it makes me wonder why the question is ever raised. I guess the argument would be that the teacher didn't understand the terms of work for hire. But then it could be argued that research universities are paying faculty to do research, too, but faculty members retain the copyright to their articles (or, as is more often the case, they sign it over to Elsevier, Sage, etc.). At any rate, I'm told that case law tends to favor teachers' ownership, so I'm curious to know how that would work.

Of course this gets more complicated when we throw Creative Commons in there. If faculty members negotiate in the beginning that the online courses will be licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike license or an Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license, even if the university owns them, you get that "viral" effect of derivative works shared alike, so faculty members could teach the courses at other universities anyway. As if most universities would agree to that, though...

I'd love to hear your reactions, especially if you have firsthand experience with the problem.

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