Copyrights and Scholarly Writing

An interesting article by librarian Bryn Geffert outlines the many issues and absurdities of copyright laws as they apply to academic writing. The article begins by outlining the ludicrous amount of tedious record-keeping that must be done in order to comply with these laws; Geffert is in the midst of writing a book and requires excerpts of various copyrighted works to be included. The author notes how little many of the copyright holders even care about their works begin used and how even the missing and dead copyright holders must be accounted for. The absurdity of the situation is amplified by the cost to perform all this work, which comes out to be more than the cost to produce the book itself. Geffert suggests a multitude of solutions to this problem, a promising one being that universities will agree under a Creative Commons license to make published works accessible to other universities.

I think that the trent that Geffert describes will begin to take more shape in the years to come. As people realize that copyright laws are getting ridiculous, and as the cost is realized as well, it seems likely that adjustments will be made. Still, since many of these laws are long incorporated into the system, it’s hard to say how soon changes will take place. The first changes to occur will probably be the ones by the universities in which they each publish work under this Creative Commons license to make it more readily available. It seems that universities are realizing the need to amend copyright laws more immediately that other organizations, and this will likely prompt them to be the first to act.



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