Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Uh, did I miss something?

From today's Inside Higher Education comes a story about a recent symposium, convened at George Washington University, to explore copyright issues on university campuses. The sponsoring agency? A new group benignly calling itself "Copyright Alliance." Its mission, according to the piece, is to "promote strong copyright protection for artists."

Did somebody say, "thinly veiled PR front?"

What struck me most about the story was this particular passage, which refers to "a lack of critical engagement with copyright issues at the university level and the result that students often don’t understand the logic behind prohibitions on illegal file sharing."


For my part, I can only imagine teaching about intellectual property critically, and trying to cultivate a critical sensibility in my students with respect to I.P. issues past, present, and future. Indeed most of the folks I know who teach about I.P. do exactly the same thing, trying their best to balance a healthy respect for the law with a recognition that, at least in some cases, I.P. law may well have been extended too far beyond the parameters set forth in the United States Constitution.

The question I'm left with is this: since when does "critical engagement" really mean "acquiescence?"

P.S. You can check out Siva Vaidhyanathan's (somewhat off-the-cuff) thoughts on the so-called Copyright Alliance by clicking here.

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