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Communication Scholars, Putting Copyright/Fair Use Knowledge into Practice

ICA logoAt the International Communication Association meeting in Boston late May,  the theme was Communication @ the Center, arguing that communication scholarship has a central role in the issues of the day.  I moderated a lively panel discussion of how communication scholars have intervened in a major policy issue: copyright. Jonathan Zittrain (Harvard/Berkman) urged communication scholars to follow the lead of other academics in pursuing Open Educational Resources, a burgeoning field of open-access materials including open courseware, journals and e-books. Andres Monroy-Hernandez spoke about his work building Scratch, a collaborative video platform for young people, at the MIT Media Lab.  young people, he said, badly need education about their fair use rights, since they are often confused about when they can use others’ materials. He sometimes finds that insecurity leads to limiting choice.  Francesa Coppa (Muhlenberg College) showed how academics pioneered the winning of DMCA exemptions, allowing them to break encryption on DVDs legally for fair uses. And Steve Anderson showcased the Critical Commons website, featuring fair uses of copyrighted material for cultural criticism.