Monday, June 19, 2006

A Cheer for Comics and a Moan for America pt. 2

Now, I saw this at Duke during my last few days of the semester, before I'd started the blog. However, if it's important enough for WIRED News, it's important enough for me to glance over.

This comic book comes out of the Duke Law School, put together by three professors and named Bound by Law?: Tales From the Public Domain. Fortunately, the comic book doesn't seek to slant the issue of today's copyright one way or the other. Despite its cartoonish appearance, it takes a very reasonable and measured approach to educating people about copyright. From the WIRED article:

Wired News: Who is the audience for this book?

James Boyle: Our first audience is documentary
filmmakers and film students. But we're also trying to reach people who
might not think of themselves as documentary filmmakers, people who
have video blogs for example, who are using digital tools and editing
software to put things online.

But beyond that, there's a larger audience of people who are
interested in the effect of copyright on culture, in the free-culture
movement, people who are interested in what a world without gatekeepers
might look like.

They note that documentaries have come under fire lately for copyright infringement, and that these are the instances where people can most easily see what's wrong with the system. Instances where $10,000 had to be paid for the rights to a four second clip in the background of one scene. Or another documentary maker payed an equal amount for a ringtone that went off during the scene. The tune? The Rocky theme.

I have a lot of respect for the professors whose aim is to make copyright accessible and understandable to all. Without the slant and ridiculousness of Captain Copyright or The Corruptibles, and after some serious thought, I'm going to praise the three Duke Law Professors. Unlike before where I pointed out that the comic book nature of the propaganda simply skewed the debate, this books informs through examples that are well documented and covered outside of the comic. It notes the importance of copyright, expressing a clear and cogent opinion of how much control copyright owners should have.

This comic gets to the heart of the issue, without making any overly ridiculous claims and both furthers general knowledge and encourages discussion on the concept of copyright. So I cheer for the three Duke professors. May their presentability of ideas and honest dialogue become infectious and spread to other contested issues that need real debate so badly.

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