I have now been a non-resident fellow at CIS since 2004. My work currently looks at copyright duration in a comparative and international context, and with the help of my brilliant students at Tulane, we are building a software tool --the Durationator -- to make usable the past once more. We hope to have it complete and available for use sometime in the Fall 2008.
I've been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Visiting Fellowship for 2005-06 at the London School of Economics. This will give me time to work on my project COPYRIGHT AND A SCHOLAR'S WORK as well as teach a couple of courses on copyright. So we are off to London in September.
I am starting to post some of my thoughts on individual questions at http://academiccopyright.typepad.com. I am trying to get all six questions done today, but so far I've put up comments on 3 and 4.
The full questions are also at this site.
I've been thinking about the recent copyright office call for comments on orphan works. What is it that I would wish? The word that keeps coming back to me is "transparency." I have to live within the system, but it would be so nice if one could have tools that helped with this process -- that is
- online data bases FROM THE COPYRIGHT OFFICE (or somewhere else official) that one could search easily to see if a work has been renewed
The Making of the Great War Generation (in progress)
A comparative biography reexamining the meaning of generation, with particular attention paid to gender and those not generally included in the canonized literature (although the canonized writers are very much part of the project.) Individuals discussed include Vera Brittain, Erich Maria Remarque, Edmund Blunden, Mary Lee, Malcolm Cowley, Ezra Pound, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, R.C. Sherriff, Robert Graves, and many, many others.
I am in search of stories from scholars of their experiences with copyright -- good, happy stories that will inspire others; sad, sad tales; personal experiences with literary executors; struggles with multimedia projects -- the whole range. I am trying to get a sense of exactly what scholars are facing with regard to copyright. We all hear the stories of Hemingway and the other famous examples -- Gone with the Wind, Peter Pan. What about others? What about merely situations where copyright is uncertain and so one doesn't proceed with a project?
"Townsend-Gard dreams of a world where librarians and researchers and students don’t have to waste time on copyright determinations. “I really believe that copyright should be more like electricity, where you don’t have to figure out how it’s made,” she says. You should just be able to hit a button and get your answer."
""We get questions all the time about, 'Can you help me with my patent?' But we couldn't until we got certification," said Elizabeth Townsend Gard, a Tulane Law School faculty member and co-director of the Tulane Center for IP, Media & Culture.
Townsend Gard said in each of the past three years, her intellectual property class has done about 100 trademark searches for people.
"“It turns out there’s a lot of weird questions that come up,” Townsend Gard says. The substitution of a comma for a colon in a book’s title can be enough to skew the results. “That the data is that picky is a problem.”"
The song “Happy Birthday” has a long, litigious history dating back to the 1930s. Every year, people spent millions in royalties to use the song, until a class action lawsuit was brought challenging whether the owner, Warner/Chappell Music, actually owned the copyright it so aggressively enforced. Elizabeth Townsend-Gard, Tulane School of Law professor specializing in copyright law, discusses the case of “Happy Birthday.”