I've been following the conversation on plagiarism and copyright with great interest. I share Russ's views, and am glad to see the convergence of the two issues. I was at a CAUT sponsored conference on Academic Freedom last year, at which a presenter (name forgotten and all my files are packed for an office move today) showed us the Creative Commons organization. This is an online free service which allows people to publish their work (there are various formats) and to choose a license to determine what can or cannot be done with the work. The kind of copyright language Natasha quoted is probably the most restrictive (other than the "don't read" kind!), but a creator (author, scientist, artist etc) can choose a licencem with a simple restriction such as any use of the work must credit the author and which allows reproduction or a combination of licences to provide more detailed restrictions.
You can look at the various licences at http://creativecommons.org/
If someone violates your copyright of a book or article, the onus is on you to do something about it. There are no copyright police unless, like Disney and McDonald's, you have the bucks and something to lose. So when you publish through the Creative Commons and choose your license, the same thing is true. You can't really control what other people do with your work.
The philosophy behind the Creative Commons is what really impresses me, though. If we think about the fact that many of us are getting paid already to do our research, then it seems to me the payers (taxpayers, citizens, students) have a right to see what we've discovered. And if we think about what the point of creating knowledge is, then I think that, fundamentally, it must be shared. It's about education in a wider context.
There's so much possibility in freely shared knowledge, locally and globally. Some US universities are already making their course content available online for free. You can't get the paper credits for doing the course for free, but you can read all the class material. Without checking those boxed files, I'm in danger of crediting the wrong schools, but I feel fairly sure that Havard and MIT are among those leading this movement. One of the many exciting aspects of this kind of free sharing is coming from the scientists. For many years now, the reporting of scientific discovery has had to go through journals such as Lancet for medicine, and which have become exhorbitantly expensive. Journal subscriptions are eating up university library budgets and it seems every year the number our small library can afford is reduced. But more importantly, the scandals around medical journal editorial policies (here in the Canada recently) and around drug company restrictions on the reporting of discoveries (the Nancy Olivieri case and the David Healey case) make it clear that Academic Freedom must include the right to publish to as broad an audience as we wish and the right to provide our knowledge to others for free. Many authors use the Creative Commons alongside traditional publishing. You can look for restrictive clauses in publishing contracts and refuse to agree to giving up the right to publish on the net. Ironically, perhaps, some authors have found that when someone else reads their work (or a piece of it) on the net, they have decided to buy the book so they can have the hard copy.
Sorry this post got so long. Check out the website.
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