It’s no surprise that copyright law is one of the most complicated and opaque branches of law to study. I really appreciated Rosenzweig’s articles and book chapters attempting to clarify it where historians are concerned, especially digital historians. Each article about copyright addressed more or less the same issues: how do copyright laws affect digital historians? Do we own copyright? How? What are the drawbacks to being overly cautious? What constitutes “fair use”? I have dealt with many of these same issues in my workplace. The Art Museum definitely falls under the umbrella of “erring on the side of caution” when it comes to copyright issues. When I make posts for social media, my boss makes it clear that the images I use have to come from the museum collections; I can’t use images pulled from the web, even those covered under Creative Commons.  The article “Pushing Back Against Legal Threats By Putting Fair Use Forward” brought up an interesting point about how the legal risks are overstated. The two professors mention their frustration that the concerns over copyright actually stifles creativity as well as saying that most scholars are not aware of many of the rights they do actually have. Jennifer Howard’s article makes a wonderful companion to the previously mentioned article. It clearly and succinctly gives advice that falls in line with enriching the knowledge of professors and historians about copyright issues that do not resort to the age-old fear of being sued.

Roy Rosenzweig also does a good job of explaining current US copyright laws and it ties in very well to the other readings and especially to his article on whether all scholarship should be free. I wonder what the copyright implications would arise for both the publisher and the author if academic scholarship were made free. Would there be any effect at all? As to his question on if scholarship should be free, I’m inclined to agree with him. A freer access to scholarship would fully realize the principles of scholarly societies and make the knowledge more accessible, especially to those who could not afford to otherwise.

 

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