Thoughts by the University of Texas Libraries Scholary Communications Advisor and resident copyright expert Georgia Harper on Pam Samuelson’s article, “Reforming Copyright is Possible,” published in the July 9 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Pam Samuelson is a visionary copyright scholar, winner of a MacArthur Grant, and an optimist. She believes that despite the dim prospects for badly needed comprehensive copyright reform, we can take small steps to make big improvements, both within and outside the legislative process. Several of her proposals for libraries’ independent action exhort us to rely more confidently on fair use, engage in concerted efforts to search for owners of out-of-commerce works and identify them so that people may use more freely those for whom owners cannot be found, and work together to bring our out-of-copyright works to digital life. For example, she applauds the efforts to create a Digital Public Library that would provide public access to public domain works. She is right. All of these ideas are good ones that deserve our attention and our action.
Her suggestions about how modest legislative efforts could improve the picture for public access to libraries’ holdings are more difficult to embrace. Continue reading