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:
- 7 Big Questions: Taking the plunge with social media
- IBM Social Computing Guidelines
- Price Chopper Attacks Customer’s Job Over Negative Tweet
- Anthony Rotolo: Companies, and schools, need a strategy for social media
- Copyright and DMCA Policy
- SU iSchool: Social Networking
Some of our classes do tweet. For example:
- Tweets related to IST613 (Planning, Marketing & Assessing Library Services)
- Tweets related to IST 300 (Star Trek and the Information Age)
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:
- Columbia University Libraries Copyright Advisory Office
- Copyright Advisory Network - the blog is not active currently, but their online forums are!
- Copyright Questions & Answers
- LibraryLaw Blog
In Twitter, I'm following these people who tweet on copyright (and likely also on other things):
- Stanford CIS
- Berkman Center
- Larry Lessig
- Copyright Law
- Siva Vaidhyanathan
- Creative Commons
- Michelle Thorne
- Copyright Clearance Center
- Digital Koans
- Syracuse University's Copyright & Information Policy Adviser
- Kenneth Crews
- Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center
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.