Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Purpose of Copyright

HicksShauna tweeted the link to this article on copyright to us all today and it's a goody. I visited two repositories today and both told me they were so concerned with copyright that they curtailed my use of historic records. 

In the article by Open Spaces Quartley by Lydia Pallas Loren, Lydia talks about the original purpose of copyright, the history of it and what it has evolved to today. Her article is an easy read and I recommend it.

My purpose when bringing the subject to your attention is that New Zealand is a young country with nearly 200 yrs of recorded history and a lot of it has been lost already, never to be recovered. The country has concentrated on providing its residents with an up-to-the-minute modern society which has been largely achieved I think.  

But by limiting use of our sparse historic recordings, we are limiting the extension and interest in our history. Sometimes, people in charge don't really understand copyright (and who can blame them), and over-compensate by being so careful that decisions over use have to be put before a committee. Is this what we really want?

I think we need a revival in the uses our history can be put to for cultural and national identity. Free it up, don't lock it away, wrap it in lawyer talk and frighten people into leaving the whole subject alone.


  1. I agree Lyn. As an Oral Historian working primarily for private clients copyright is an issue I take some time to explain. When I am commissioned for private work it is just that private but I also outline a variety of options for sharing and depositing the work with the appropriate body and have them sign a release that they are comfortable with.

  2. Thats great Greg you are spreading understanding, no easy task. Have you read Lawrence Lessig's views on copyright?