ATD LogoCopyright, Access and Digital Texts

Charles Lowe · 9 December 2003


As a weblogger and regular reader online, I value when an author provides the links within a text, rather than only within the references. The numerous links within this article act also as a demonstration of access to digital texts. Much of the necessary material to make the arguments in this article are available online. In an open source/open content world, the same might be true for more of our scholarship.

However, I realize that I have given the reader many, many choices. To aid those who might be overwhelmed with so many links, I provide the following selection of resources for learning more:

  • Be sure to read Richard Stallman's The Right to Read. Stallman, as the father of copyleft, the founder of the Free Software Foundation, and the creator of the GNU General Public License, is an important voice within the open source movement. Not only does the story make a strong case for advocacy, but the notes following support and extend the arguments in this article.
  • Lawrence Lessig's speech "Free Culture" is an excellent overview of copyright history and explanation of how copyright has been applied to digital texts. While a transcript is available, Lessig is an excellent speaker and his artful use of PowerPoint slides makes the Flash version the better text.
  • For a good overview of the open source movement, its history and principles from many of the major participants, consult Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution. While available in print, OReilly also makes the entire text available online under the GNU General Public License.
  • David Bollier's Reclaiming the Commons is a detailed definition of the public commons and all its components within our society.
  • Creative Commons has more in depth information about their licenses. They provide example situations for using licenses, a form which guides the user in choosing and using a license, and example license notices on web pages.
  • While these have not been referenced within the article, for those interested in keeping up with the latest on intellectual property issues, consider the following weblogs: BIPlog, lessig blog, Open Access News, and Siva Vaidhyanathan' Weblog. Writing teachers interested in discussing these issues should consider joining Kairosnews.

This article is based on ""Fighting for Fair Use: Winning the Battle Could Still Lose the War," my conference presentation at the Computers and Writing 2003 Conference.

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