Lessig on the Lobbyist Threat to Open Access…

One of my favourite podcast subscriptions is a seminar series from the Long Now Foundation. The most recent release is a presentation by Lawrence Lessig on the way that campaign finance from US lobby groups can distort both US legislation and the legislative process: Lawrence Lessig: “How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It”

The whole seminar is fascinating listening, but I think this 3-4 minute fragment from 9 minutes or so in to the seminar may be of interest to the open access/OER community…

Among other things, it provides a humourous take on the sense in which open access academic research publications are free, as well describing how it’s possible to legislate to make it illegal for a funder to mandate that research publications be opened up after a year.

As companies such as Apple seem to be getting into the way of trying to mandate how the outputs of an Apple produced tool can be used (in this case, iBook outputs from the new iBook Author application), I think we need to start watching the copyright legislators quite closely… [Note also related issues, such as with student editions of Microsoft Word, which may not put to commercial use (whatever that means?!)]

And as Patrick McAndrew points out (iBook Author – is it OER incompatible?), is there a side-effect of this that prevents an iBook been licensed with Creative Commons license that allows commercial exploitation of the work or derived works? (The comments to that post are instructive too. I think we can assume that if the legal condition appears to be murky, folk will avoid it – which means they will either not publish works as iBooks, or they won’t readily CC license them?)

PS if you’re concerned about copyright and how commercial lobbiests may influence policy in order to protect their legacy business models, you may be interested in the current Intellectual Property Office (IPO) Consultation on proposals to change the UK’s copyright system (closes March 21, 2012).

In particular, “[t]he consultation covers the rules on copying for educational uses, for people with disabilities, for quotation and reporting current events, for preservation by libraries and archives, for research and private study, for text mining for research, for parody, and for public administration. It proposes protecting all those users’ rights from being removed by contracts. It also proposes a solution to the problem of orphan works, and proposes regulation of copyright Collecting Societies.”

So, what are you waiting for…?! Respond to the consultation on proposals to change the UK’s copyright system

PPS related: John Naughton commenting on commentary of how a failure of the regulatory system allowed the lack of transparency around financial instruments that led to the banking crisis, Our broken system; the Sunlight FOundation on How SOPA and PIPA did and didn’t change how Washington lobbying works; and John Naughton again suggesting how reports from the big consultancy firms may be based on nothing but hearsay (which becomes an issue downstream if those reports are cited in policy development…)

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

One thought on “Lessig on the Lobbyist Threat to Open Access…”

  1. Thanks Tony, I saw Larry Lessig give a talk at the International Conference on Distance Education last year. It was actually more of a performance as he timed his words to fit a moving set of images words and movies cued on his laptop. He had some hard hitting things to say about US politics and the risks that changes would not happen. I made some notes at the time at http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/5796 and have just noticed that ICDE has now made the recording available as well. May be interesting to those who want to hear more of this wise words.


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