«Principal Editor Professor Brian Fitzgerald Head of School of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia With the assistance of Jessica ...»
Before the age of 17 one of the questions with which my childhood was most frequently visited was, ‘what are you going to do when you grow up?’ I had a variety of answers to that, and not one of them contained the word ‘copyright’. Not one of them expressed the sentiment that I was going to spend a lot of time thinking about and talking about and writing about copyright. I suspect that everyone in this room is the same – that this is not necessarily a vocational aspiration that you identified at a tender age. But we are all here and we do, I know, represent a full gamut of views on these issues.
What I want to do with my part of the presentation today is to step outside this room. And although the perspective is informed by some of the jobs that Stuart Cunningham just outlined, and in particular a background as a Library professional for some years, and involvement with some of our cultural institutions, in particular in an advisory capacity with the National Library in the 1980s and 1990s; and although it is informed by the experience of being on the two references that I enjoyed being on with the CLRC, the second of which was extremely engaging and on the question which is to prevail in the sense of contract overriding copyright law – my remarks are based on experience as an administrator responsible for seeing that, in a very large institution, we do the right things.
Universities and large cultural institutions are quite rightly seen by most people as places of enlightenment. They are places where expertise is developed and where you expect to find experts. They are places where, usually, you expect people to be very confident about their opinion in their discipline, and particularly in their opinion about how the place should be run, and to be proud of their way of dealing with complexity, except in one area. Raise a copyright issue or query, issue a copyright notice, make a statement about the matter, and the most familiar responses are that passing look of bewilderment, followed by the moment of relief at realising that someone else is going to think about this. More recently, I might add, and in the context of the word ‘music’, more responses are better described by the words ‘indignation’ ‘disbelief’’ and outright contradiction, as happens in cases where we send a network broadcast to the university community reminding them of what they can and cannot do in terms of the deployment of music, including music for private consumption in the work place.
The essential issue in our institutions is that they are places where people use, deploy, repeat, manipulate, generate, modify, share and publish information and knowledge. If I extend the writing metaphor that was used so usefully in Professor Lessig’s keynote address, the issues that face us in the next few years are not to be resolved by a process of virtual infinite sub-division of the components of that knowledge and information into building blocks that have price tags. If I extend the metaphor, it is not that each letter of the alphabet as redeployed in each new word is to generate itself new revenue. Now that statement is in direct contradiction to what is a generally expressed, but not necessarily in that form, view about what the next few years might be about.
I want to talk about a couple of things in a couple of arenas that have developed by way of copyright activity and response in our institutions and then engage at the end in the issue of what open content licensing, and, in particular the now-approved Australian version of the Creative Commons licence might, on the ground, mean for QUT and for other institutions.
We have intense activity in our institution under the general banner of online teaching. It provides every day a stream of questions about what is to happen with the deployment of copyright material. For some years we had an online teaching environment in which our main constraint was that material which was copyright, material which the University should be expected to recognise as copyright, could not be deployed in that environment.
The break through came in the passage of the agreement between CAL and the AVCC in 2001, which mirrored really the way that the Australian legislation at that stage was being reformed. And without going into some of the deeper questions of the legal precepts and some of the assumptions about IP on which our statutory licensing is based, I must say that when we exchanged views with our colleagues in other jurisdictions, in particular in Europe and, for other reasons, in the US, the statutory licensing scheme in its current form – and generally speaking at its current pricing – is the envy of many people who are responsible for administering learning and teaching environments and research environments in other institutions.
Having said that, there are many issues involved in considering the future of that, and those who are concerned with that will be spending a lot of effort on that in the next few years.
What is interesting about the most recent developments in relation to copyright law in Australia, and which I have seen from my particular portfolio perspective in the last few years, is the extent to which those who are responsible for network administration, those whose background is professional IT work, need suddenly to engage with issues that frequently surprise them. Of course, one of the things that has happened with the most recent amendments to the Act is that it has become necessary for Universities and other institutions to clarify the extent to which they need to respond to safe harbour provisions and other provisions that really need to be administered by those people in our institutions who are not, in their normal vocation, involved with content issues.
It is well known that one of the great paradoxes in the economics of what we do in Universities is in the area of research and research output. I am sure most people now in this room are familiar with the proposition that one of the most extraordinary things that happens is that a very large amount of the formal research output of our institutions is developed by people who do not expect direct remuneration for what they do. They are doing it for recognition, certification, engagement with their discipline communities worldwide. Their discipline communities are their most important points of engagement and unless they have specific commercialisation intent, or unless they are publishing in an area which normally returns royalty, what they expect is that recognition.
The process of quality certifying it is also one which is provided gratis. The great majority of refereeing activity is provided for nothing. This is an old issue. For years people have been pointing out that when that material is repurchased by the sector seen internationally as one entity, at the most inflated prices that exist in the world of publishing, something is seriously amiss. In the last few years we have seen a lot of discussion, a lot of theorising about what might happen, but more recently more practical steps being taken to try to ensure the freeing up of the on-line research literature.
What is interesting to me is that, having monitored this from virtually the beginnings of the argument, which are over ten years old, the real momentum has been gained, being led by disciplines and researchers, not by institutional fiat, not by any kind of more heavy-handed approach.
Having said that, the reality in which information is provided day to day in our institutions is that we are increasingly finding high-bred models for provision so that in some cases an information request might be satisfied by having recourse to finding quality information on the net, other times it is satisfied by having recourse to the increasingly impressive array of material that can be licensed in libraries in both universities and elsewhere.
Into this mix of issues about learning and teaching and about research and research output arrives the artful compromise (I did not say artful compromise yesterday, but artful is a great adjective) and one of the things that we will do here following the decision last Monday is that we will look at the way this can be deployed in a way that is useful for our students and for our staff. I know the way we do that will be quite constrained in some of things that we look at, but let me just share with you a couple of things that people have said in the last few months, once they have got the hang of what this Creative Commons stuff is about. Someone in our Business Faculty – a Head of School in our Business Faculty – listened and then said, “Tom, that is going to be very useful in resolving ambiguity in cases where we want students to work collaboratively to prepare material which then gets assessed.
In particular, case study work, which is quite often a feature of higher undergraduate or postgraduate study in business, was in his eyes an ideal case to assert Creative Commons licensing over.
In some cases all this will do is clarify and codify for people things that they now have great uncertainty about. And the problem with uncertainty is that it generates not only confusion and inefficiency, but it also, in the long term, can be seen to generate inhibition in what people are willing to do.
Another issue arising for us is the frequency with which student work either as exemplar or simply for the purpose of generating greater community in class groups is to be shared online. In the area of research there is a more public discussion about the applicability of Creative Commons licensing to some of the repository developments that we have.
We already know, we were reminded yesterday, that the Public Library of Science is using this kind of model but there are many others that might and will be considered in the future. Indeed we have our own institutional repository for refereed research output and other research output at QUT.
One of the first things we will do is review whether there might be some way that we should be looking at the terms of this licence applying to all or some part of that repository. On both research and teaching and learning fronts there is a set of things for us to do. In the Creative Industries area, in particular, it is also going to be looked at with great interest in terms of its practical implication and implementation over the next few months.
Creative Commons and the Creative Industries Perspectives from the Creative Industries
RICHARD NEVILLE, PROFESSOR RICHARD JONES,
PROFESSOR BARRY CONYNGHAM AM AND PROFESSORGREG HEARN Richard Neville is one person that I am sure does not need an introduction, but we must give him one.
He is very well-known throughout the world as a social commentator and a futurist. We all know Richard from various initiatives he has been involved in from the Oz trials, right through to his social and political commentary in Australian television and media. I met Richard at a conference in Brisbane in 2004 and he said that he had been in India and had listened to Richard Stallman, who is the free software guru, talk about free and open source software. He said how fascinated he was with the concept. I asked him, ‘Have you heard about the Creative Commons?’ and he said, ‘Sort of.’ I said, ‘Would you come and speak at a conference we’re planning?’ and he said, ‘Yes, I’d like to.
I really think these initiatives are very good’.
As well as the paper by Richard Neville, a number of other experts also provide us with their experiences and thoughts regarding the adoption of Creative Commons in the Creative Industries. Professor Richard Jones presents reactions to open content licensing from the Australian independent film sector; Professor Barry Conyngham AM discusses his personal experiences as composer, educator and academic manager; and Professor Greg Hearn considers the implications of Creative Commons for the business side of the creative industries.
RICHARD NEVILLEIn the Botanical Gardens, where I walked a few minutes ago to clear my head, there was a line of poetry on a plaque near a tree. The poet is incredibly out of fashion at the moment – and this line of poetry says something like, “all pines are gossip pines the whole world through”. It is under a Bunya Pine. It takes 4 seconds to recite that poem, or that line, that fragment if you like, and it is on a bronze plaque. No permission, I imagine was sought to use it. And no permission was required to go back into the archives of your library or on the Internet and dig up some of James Elroy Flecker’s other poems, one of which is called ‘A Message to a Poet a Thousand Years Hence’. It is a brilliant poem. I will not recite it now, but he actually sends a message to a poet in the future, and that is a poem that was probably written in about the 1920s.
There is an anecdote from Professor Lessig’s book Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity, dealing with a group of filmmakers in Italy doing a documentary on opera. In a scene they filmed, the stage hands in the opera house were watching an episode from ‘The Simpsons’. They wanted to use this and, of course, asked one of the creators, Matt Groening for permission to use four (4) seconds of footage. Groening said sure. Next step however was the lawyers who worked for Fox, and they replied US$10,000 please.
That four (4) seconds was never used. We are living in a culture when four (4) seconds from a distinguished poet has always been free, even forty (40) minutes worth, but four (4) seconds from a very satirical and kind of interesting show, The Simpsons, even though the creators would be happy to allow it to be used for the furtherance of creativity and discussion, is blocked.
There is a resurgence of creativity in our society today and not just in the West. It is happening globally, and it certainly excites people at universities and in the corporate world. I ask myself, what is it about the ages of We acknowledge the assistance of Suzanne Lewis and Vicki Efthivoulou in editing this paper.