Mar 19, 2007

Wales on copyright

Doing some research, I spotted an interesting quote by Jimbo Wales: I am not a thief - I'm the founder of Wikipedia, but bad law treats me like a teen music pirate. The quote comes from Newsweek International (2005-11-28 : 71) - and to much of my suprise, it was not picked up and reffered to anywhere online. With a little effort, I tracked the article - unfortunatly Newsweek's articles are not free. The article can be accessed by subscribers of Newsweek, BL Direct, and Expanded Academic ASAP (via InfoTrac) (sorry, no direct link I could find). The article may be over 2 years old, but what Wales notes is even more applicable today, as the struggle of free culture continoues. Here are a few interesting excerpts from the article:

bad copyright laws are increasingly affecting a much more important group of cultural producers"

*"we [Wikipedians] are forced to become copyright experts, because so much of our cultural heritage is being threatened by absurd limits on fair use of information in the public domain. I get two to three threatening lawyergrams each week; one I just received from a famous London museum begins, typically, "We notice you have a number of images on your website which are of portraits in the collection of [our museum]... Unauthorized reproduction of such content may be an infringement..." I now respond with a two-part letter. First, I patiently and tediously explain that museums do not and cannot own the copyrights to paintings that have been in the public domain for hundreds of years. And then I simply say: "You should be ashamed of yourselves." Museums exist to educate the public about our shared cultural heritage. The abuse of copyright to corner that heritage is a moral crime. "

*"The excuse normally given, that producing digital reproductions is costly and time-consuming, and museums need to be able to recoup that cost, is entirely bogus. Just give us permission, and Wikipedians will go to any museum in the world immediately to make high-quality digital images of any artwork. The solution to preserving our heritage and communicating it in a digital form is not to lock it up, but to get out of our way."

*"This issue, public-domain artworks, is about an abuse of existing law. But the law itself is also a problem. Copyrights have been repeatedly extended to absurd lengths for all kinds of works, whether the author aims to protect them or not. Even works that have no economic value are locked away under copyright, preventing Wikipedians from rewriting and updating them."

*"We have the people to do it. We have the technology to do it. And we will do it, bad law or no. But good law, law that recognizes a new paradigm of collaborative creativity, will make our job a lot easier. Copyright reform is not about kids' stealing music. It is about recognizing the astounding possibilities inherent in the honest and intelligent use of new technologies."

TTags: , , ,
Listed on BlogShares Creative Commons License
Voice of the Prokonsul by Piotr Konieczny is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.