It was an honor to hear Marybeth Peters and Jon A. Baumgarten hold forth on the state of copyright law as it applies to scholarly publishing. They deftly summarized the founding of and major developments in codified protection for creative work; articulated the current challenges that could weaken it; to wit, exposures we face in light of new media, models, and technologies, not to mention Google; and prognosticated on the timing and nature of likely sutures that will be needed to strengthen it.
Both agreed that copyright’s governing conventions and laws are in need of a significant overhaul; however, each believes that the laws will likely be mended (revised) rather than resewn from whole cloth. This estimate is good news for publishers, since a full reworking would take far longer and perhaps not yield viable improved protection for the foreseeable.
They predict too that the fixes will most likely return to the founding principles of copyright protection; hence, the road to the future will lead us back to the basics.
So, in the midst of our meeting, we were gifted with a seminar in jurisprudence. As I said, an honor to hear them speak. There’s little anyone could add to the talk; if slides and notes are posted to the Wiki, it would be best to check them out, though it’s probably not necessary. We can expect our copyright committee to continue to keep us abreast of developments.
To close the plenary, Peters echoed and amplified Simon’s sentiment from the opening banquet and left us to mull it over: “It’s important to fight to protect copyright; perhaps even more important for the AAUP due to the nature of your work.”