Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Follow-up to CIP Community Conversation on "IP & Social Media"

This afternoon, I spent an hour engaged in a conversation with members of the UMUC Center for Intellectual Property community on the topic of "IP & Social Media".   To the right is the only side that I used for the hour conversation.  This blog post is a follow-up to that conversation, but it is not a complete summary of what was discussed.

What is "social media"?  Interestingly, wiktionary at one point had this as a definition:
media that is created to be shared freely
Of course, we use social media to share a wide variety of content, including content that is protected by copyright.  However, the perception in the minds of many people is that content shared through social media is in the public domain and can be reused, repeated, remixed, etc.  And that got me thinking...which turned into this train of thought...

I contend that we're using social media to have conversations like those that we have orally (using speech).  Indeed look at Facebook, Twitter, and even some blog posts and you see conversations that would happen orally if they could.  We even use photos and videos as a way of communicating...a way of talking.  Oral conversation is not in fixed form and therefore cannot be copyrighted.  If people are using social media to have a different type of oral conversation, do they expect that it will be protected by copyright law?  Is the"copying" that occurs just a retelling of the conversation (the same way we have retold oral stories since time began)?

This line of thought above is one that I am wrestling with. Is it an accurate or even helpful point of view?  I don't know.  However, I have a feeling that I'll be testing this line of thought with some of my colleagues in the coming weeks.

During the hour, several URLs were shared.  They were:

Some of our classes do tweet.  For example:

Yes, I do allow tweeting during my class (IST 613) and I even tweet occasionally.  I find it helpful to see what they are thinking or what examples stood out to them.  And yes, they will use Twitter to communicate with me in-between class sessions, and that's okay with me.

At the end of the hour, someone asked what copyright blogs I follow.  Here are the ones I currently follow:
I have followed more copyright blogs in the past, but have narrowed down - at least for the moment - those ones above.

In Twitter, I'm following these people who tweet on copyright (and likely also on other things):
Twitter allows you to create lists and so these people/institutions above are my "Copyright" list.

Addendum (4:25 p.m.) - One thing I mentioned - and I could be incorrect - is that tweets may be too short to have copyright protection.  ("Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases.")  However, I could see tweets being like sentences in a email, where - perhaps - each sentence is too short to have copyright protection, but the entire email is protected by copyright.

Someone asked about a lawsuit against Twitter.  The service has been the object of a defamation lawsuit.  It seems to have been mentioned in a copyright lawsuit against AFP.   That case is still moving forward.


Rohit Bangera said...

It was a very informative talk! Enjoyed participating in it!

Schriro said...

Hi Jill. I think it is in fact appropriate to think about social media as a "different kind" of oral, perhaps unofficial, conversation. A helpful comparison might be folk arts; specifically, blues culture comes to mind. Blues greats shared their works with each other, learned from each other, and taught each other freely. When some of them emerged as artists who were good enough to get paid for their performances, they published their works via traditional recording/publishing methods which were covered by copyright.

Similarly, social media is a folk-style conversation in which people share ideas, pictures, videos, etc. In order for copyright to apply, it seems to me that an individual would need to place the material in a different, more standardized or traditional publishing forum.