Good times in Colorado Springs

The Science and Engineering Building at the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs

The Science and Engineering Building at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs

Last week, I had the pleasure of being part of a wonderful conference—the fourth annual Kraemer Copyright Conference in Colorado Springs. The conference was impeccably organized and facilitated by Carla Myers (a former winner of the Robert A. Oakley Scholarship).  Always oversold, I was lucky to get in because I had a speaking gig. In my presentation about library advocacy, I talked about how, in today’s hyper-partisan policy ecosystem, “action of the ground” is often the best way to influence our information policy agenda.

I suggested that we congratulate ourselves (and others) for meeting the information needs of the public by doing.  To drive my point home, I offered some cases-in-point:

The Supreme Court found in Eldred v. Ashcroft that the Congress had the Constitutional authority to extend copyright term in the Sonny Bono Copyright Act, to life of the author plus 70 years. While a tremendous disappointment, there was a silver lining. The Center for the Study of the Public Domain launched the Creative Commons, spawning a new era of sharing creativity and knowledge by placing more works in the public domain or at least making them accessible without the authorization of the rights holder. Librarians didn’t create the Creative Commons, but man, did we promote and use it.  Today, over 1 billion works are governed by CC licenses in more than 50 jurisdictions.

To address concerns that literacy educators had about the lawfulness of using media in the classroom that implicated the exclusive rights of copyright, Renee Hobbs, Peter Jazsi, and Pat Aufderheide created the first “best practices” document. The publication, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation,” is the first step in an effort to develop standards for educators who continue to experience uncertainty, and often fear, when making decisions about what media is “safe” to use in their classrooms.” Let the teaching continue, and go ahead and use that clip!

Another example: HathiTrust used digital files to preserve works and make them accessible to people with print disabilities.  Nearly all of these works were never available before to college students with print disabilities.  Nobody told HathiTrust they could do it, they just did it. Then they developed the Copyright Review Management System (CRMS) that identified and made available 323,334 public domain documents.  The CRMS is the recipient of this year’s L. Ray Patterson Award.

The conference was a blend of practical and unique and included educational workshops along with research papers and poster sessions. Most of the papers from the conference are available online.  Attendees were itching to volunteer for some new copyright thing. Some asked to join OITP Copyright Education subcommittee! (We always need new committee members to exploit).

Researchers say that people who live in higher altitudes live longer. Colorado Springs is one mile above sea level. Perhaps that is what infected all of us. We felt pleased, and more alive.

About Carrie Russell

Carrie Russell is the Director of the Program on Public Access to Information in the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP). Her portfolio includes copyright, international copyright, accessibility, e-books and other public policy issues. She has a MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a MA in media arts from the University of Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at crussell@alawash.org.

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