When I spoke on “Beyond the Copyright Wars” on April 21 at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, it was gratifying to dialog with several librarians at the university. They are frustrated by challenges in interpreting fair use, and volunteered to share information as we research the problems of librarians (enabled by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant.) Thanks to Prof. Lew Friedland, who asked me to speak!
I continued to “Law and Interdisciplinarity,” a conference held at the Center for International Education (CIE) at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Attendees’ research was extraordinarily diverse, exploring everything from the definition of borders in undocumented immigration to how national states are trying to contain and control communication flows across the Internet. My presentation drew some savvy questions from Prof. Monroe Price, who wanted to know more about how the terms of codes of best practices in fair use work. Were the “best practices” just aspirational—what communities want to do—or do they have a basis in fact? What if people don’t currently use fair use much, but want to and should be able to? I was able to note that all the codes of best practices are grounded in expectations for practice, the kind of work that a group needs to do to meet its mission, and traditions in practice that are, often, being subverted by confusion and fear.