Expanding the Spectrum: Open Access and the Internet Age

Spelman, Kate

I speak to you as a practitioner, someone who has represented clients on both ends of the spectrum of copyright. This spectrum has at one end a closed, more traditional, proprietary model of copyright, and, at the other end of the spectrum an open, more collaborative based model of copyright. And in between those ends there are many intermediate positions. Our future will include copyright activity on the whole length of that spectrum between the open and proprietary ends.

I have represented clients, I suspect, on each and every point now known on that spectrum, from big publishers down to creators and academics and nonprofits wanting to play in the “open” paradigm.

How many of us have shadow currencies? This issue of shadow currency is important because the nonmonetary values are at the core of the open movement. And the shadow currencies I direct your attention to include airline points—how many of you have paid more money out of pocket than the discount bargain fare for an airfare because you wanted to obtain those miles that the cheaper bargain fare did not offer? Or how many of you are members of Amazon Prime because there is a thrifty part of you that is willing to pay a premium for the product on Amazon so that you feel like you are getting shipping for free?

Today, I am going to focus on two shadow currencies as analogous to the incentive of the open copyright end of that spectrum. One is reputational currency. I would propose that reputational currency is a shadow currency in the copyright world. We know that for many authors and other expressive artists, the attribution is the reputational currency, which motivates as a currency to create the work. And I would say the second large motivating shadow currency is the speedy advancement of larger goals. Specifically, the shadow currency in this instance is the satisfaction and meaning that comes with participating in a project that is successful because everyone is working in collaboration for a larger community benefit. Wikipedia participation includes such a shadow currency.


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Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts

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November 12, 2018