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A Lay Perspective on the Copyright Wars: A Report from the Trenches of the Section 108 Study Group

Neal, James G.

It is a deep honor to have been invited to deliver the Horace S. Manges Lecture this year. I value enormously the confidence of Professors Ginsburg and Besek to allow a Columbia colleague from the libraries to step up to the challenge of contributing a perspective on the debates around the current state and future development of copyright on the national and global stages. I employ the metaphors of conflict because I have been involved over a twenty-year period in the extraordinary battles that have come to define the high stakes for the legislative and legal treatment of copyright in an increasingly digital and networked world. I view this history and this present through the prism of a cultural, educational and scholarly organization, the library and archive, seeking to sustain and redefine its relevance and impact. I also observe through the lens of the university, an institution struggling to achieve a balance among its commitments teaching and learning, research and community service, in a financially and politically threatening environment.

I have outlined four basic objectives. First, I will suggest a framework for understanding the heightened attention to copyright in the library and the university. Second, I will describe from my perspective the key developments in copyright that impinge on these interests. Third, I will frame my 108 Study Group experience in the context of these trends. Fourth, I will speculate on the future of copyright hostilities and recommend a strengthening of university and library political resolve and capabilities.

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Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts

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Academic Units
Libraries and Information Services
Libraries
Published Here
February 9, 2010