Cover of Catch-22
I keep trying to come up with things to get people to care about copyright, and more importantly your organizations' intellectual property policies. For the most part this topic generates a lot of yawns-- I know this because they are among my least read posts. I will not be deterred. I'm making your caring my life mission.
So, when I saw this it caught my attention: A question of trust:
If you want to place factual information on the web Wikipedia should be your first port of call. Anything else is largely a waste of your time and effort. This doesn’t incidentally mean that other sources are not worthwhile or have a place, but that people need to work with the assumption that people’s first landing point will be Wikipedia.
Of course, I totally buy this. If you want to make a difference you have to go to where the people are congregating, and Wikipedia is where that is happening.
For many of our faculty this should be a concern. Our university intellectual property policies effectively prohibit us from participating. Our policies are contributing to our growing obscurity. For example, the copyright used by Wikipedia, and the all rights reserved copyright imposed by most of our institutions are incompatible. Anything that a faculty member creates, that is somehow related to their job is owned by their university. Here is the copyright from NC State University associated with my terms of employment: RUL 06.01.01
Pursuant to part 126.96.36.199. of the Copyright Regulation, all works created by these employees within the scope of their employment at North Carolina State University, which are subject to copyright, shall be “Directed Works.” The copyright to such works shall be held by North Carolina State University unless an authorized university official assigns the copyright to another party.
This intellectual property policy is a reputation killer. It is leading to greater obscurity for our faculty. It effectively prohibits faculty from contributing to the commons. It makes them a non-player in an economy where reputation is everything. That's why I found this quote in the A Question of Trust article of such interest:
I can see the ground shifting very rapidly towards a situation where a lack of engagement, a lack of interest in contributing to the publicly accessible store of knowledge, is seen as a serious negative on a CV.
I absolutely believe that this is where we are headed. That your digital footprint in the commons will be absolutely critical to your professional and economic future. It's an interesting Catch-22. Your reputation depends on your contributing, and your university IP policies prevent it. Ouch! Our copyright policies are contributing to the destruction of the reputations of many of our young faculty. There's not many things worse in life than having a job that destroys your future employment prospects.
It is time for our institutions, and especially the public institutions, to begin to participate in the commons. It can't be postponed. To do this we have to start by fixing our antiquated copyright policies. It's time for our institutions to adopt open content licenses: Creative Commons 3.0 Share Alike would work. We need to turn our faculty loose. Our very future depends on it.