Here’s a roundup of recent articles that might be of interest to fans.
* Academia as a Commons: David Bollier’s speech at Amherst talks about the ways in which academia should be a model for intellectual and creative sharing. Instead, he lists the ways in which “a series of court cases have also reduced the scope of fair use rights”, preventing scholars from quoting letters, printing images, citing song lyrics, copying coursepacks, etc. Bollier argues that students are being taught only about copyright infringments and not about fair use, which is to say “their lawful ability to copy and share information under certain circumstances.” Many of the battles that fans are facing to preserve their values–collaboration, community, noncommerciality–are also being fought in academia.
* Copyright @300 was a conference held at UC Berkeley School of Law to explore “the past and future of copyright law.” Much of the conference is now online in the form of .mp3s or .pdf summaries of arguments. Fans who are interested in the ways in which copyright may be evolving may want to listen in.
* Rodo, one of our German translators, reports on how the large, multifannish German archive fanfiktion.de/ was sent cease and desist letters by a group of opticians arguing trademark infringment. At issue is the fanon term “Lichtbändiger” (aka Lightbender) in Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic; fans created the term to parallel canon’s Airbanders, Waterbenders, Firebenders and Earthbenders. But it turns out Lichtbändiger is also the brand name of certain eyeglasses. After consulting a laywer, the archive owners decided to remove the “offending” stories. While we understand their decision (in that they probably don’t have the means to argue the point), we have to ask: is there really any potential for confusion there? Should companies be able to own words regardless of context?
* A group of European digital rights organizations, libraries, consumers’ rights groups, and ISPs have released Copyright for Creativity – A Declaration for Europe, an appeal to the European Commission, the European Parliament, and Member States, to adopt sane copyright practices that will encourage innovation, education, accessibility, creativity, and participation.