Week 4: Copyright and Alternatives

The Idea of Copyright- History of copyright law from Wikipedia

Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig

Towards a Global Learning Comons: ccLearn, by Ahrash Bissell and Jamie Boyle.

Swedish copyright law

History of Copyright

The Statute of Anne 1709, regarded as the first copyright law, gave for the first time the author rights for a fixed period (28 years). This was followed by the Berne Convention in 1887 that established the recognition of copyright amongst several sovereign nations setting out the scope of copyright protection which is still in force today. According to the Berne Convention an author does not have to actively register or otherwise apply for a copyright to be applied to the work. As soon as the work is written or recorded in some physical medium its author is automatically granted exclusive rights to the distribution of the the work and any derivative works unless the author explicitly disclaims them or until the copyright expires. In the beginning it was a legal concept covering books but now it has grown to having a significant effect on sound recordings, films, photographs, software and architectural works.


Technology has produced the possibility for new controversies regarding copyright in areas such as software, databases, database rights, the internet and digitised works in general. Some commentators argue that digital copyright is fundamentally different and is difficult to enforce and others have argued that the Internet undermines the economic rationale for copyright. Since copyright is as it is primarily for historical reasons connected to the technology of yesterday it seems that it is high time to re-evaluate copyright law.

 Global Learning Commons

Creative Commons (CC) licenses give creators a variety of licensing tools that allow them to make their work availble to the public on generous terms, while retaining the copyright. They are made to be easily understood with icons and metadata so that they can be searched not only for content but also for degree of legal openness. CC licenses are used on many OER with the advantage that they create a commons of material that can be used by anyone without permission or a fee, and they do so in a way that marks the content for computer searching. CC licenses that permit customization and adaption are particularly important in an educational context. They are international and have been translated into the languages and legal systems of over thirty countries.  An example of this use is the MIT OCW materials under a CC license. The materials can be translated and used by users who provide attribution of the materials they choose to adapt; and that the use of the materials be a non-commercial activity; and that the user shares the derivative work openly. Access to educational resources must be free because it is unwise, impractical and unjust to charge for access. There are, however, different levels of freedom.


Technical unfamiliarity, workload, and standardized curricula make it difficult for teachers to experiment with open educational tools. There is wariness of letting students participate actively in the educational process. Privacy fears and copyright restrictions keep most experimentation hidden. There are issues of quality that may be solved by Web 2.0 tagging and tracking techniques that can imitate many of the market mechanisms. Investment in OER has to reach a critical mass to start becoming selfsustaining. In order to overcome certain barriers to use of OER there will have to be new initiatives that certify that groupings of OER are compliant with a state’s curriculum.


Why do we need a free culture?

The biggest argument for a free culture that I can find in Lessig’s presentation is that free culture is that it is natural. Prior to regulation by copyright laws people added to the common knowledge base freely. Lessig points out in his “refrain” that creativity is based on the past. In order to access and use this creativity it must be made free. Freedom is a tradition that encourages innovation and technology allows for new ways of accessing our common creativity. These two together have a potential for improving life for everyone.

 Copyright in Sweden  Much of the discussion of copyright in Sweden today is centered on the revised Swedish Copyright Law that came into force on July 1, 2005. The purpose of the revision was to enable copyright holders to stop the unlawful file-sharing of files, mainly music and movies, on the internet. There is still a question about whether this law achieves its purpose. Four men who run one of the most popular file-sharing sites in the world, The Pirate Bay, were charged with conspiracy to break copyright law in Sweden. Its servers do not store copyrighted material but offer links to the download location of films, TV programmes, albums and software. The website is said to have between 10 and 15 million users around the world and is supported by online advertising.  In both cases, the court found the evidence presented by the prosecution strong enough for a conviction and in both cases, the defendant was sentenced to pay a fine. Both advocates of the right to file-sharing and advocates of a strong, enforceable copyright law deemed the sentences a success for their side.John Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of global music body, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industries, said: “The operators of The Pirate Bay have always been interested in making money, not music. “The Pirate Bay has managed to make Sweden, normally the most law abiding of EU countries, look like a piracy haven with intellectual property laws on a par with Russia.” In general I think that it can be said that Sweden is following the directives of the EU when it comes to copyright and more about this can be found in A Brief Overview of the Swedish Copyright System.    


2 Responses to “Week 4: Copyright and Alternatives”

  1. Teemu Says:

    ““The Pirate Bay has managed to make Sweden, normally the most law abiding of EU countries, look like a piracy haven with intellectual property laws on a par with Russia.”

    Yes. But also the Pirate Bay and expecially the Piratpartiet have made Sweden to look like the most proactive and future oriented society looking for solutions to one of the most important challenges of the world – in a peaceful way.

  2. n4w4c4 Says:

    Hi Rose Eriksson

    I enjoyed your beautiful pictures and I want to share with you your photos. Meanwhile, I put the following comment on your blog concerning copyright. Hopefuly, I managed to give it its right.

    “On the other hand, Rosmari in her Blog about the same subject begins by refering to the historical background of copyright then she moves to the alternatives which technology offers. After that, Rosmari speaks about open education resources and the free license offered by CC.

    In her opinion this is a good alternative which allows everybody to get benefit without causing any harm. She stresses the question of compatibility with the state’s law. Before she moves finally to the copyright in Sweden she stresses her opinion that: technology makes a good alternative provided that there must be a compatibility with law. This is the common style of discussion which divides the topic into three points: general background-the body of the topic-A conclusion.”

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