Digital Collections, Copyright, and Intellectual Property

I had a friend that use to brag about his father’s twenty-odd patents that he held and how cool it was (they were all for machining equipment and while the man is very smart, the patents are boring af). I always thought patents and copyright worked in a similar fashion, you make/write/design something and file for protection of said thing. Just reading these articles today has enlightened me about the major difference wherein you don’t have to file for a copyright. A simple doodle on a scrap paper is instantly copyrighted (which means I have quite a few copyrighted material in my notebook)! But it has always made sense that a paper for school is considered an intellectual property and is therefore under the copyright law.

Rosenzweig’s article on the availability of historical scholarship is an interesting situation. The field of history is not doing itself any favors by gating off much of its scholarship behind subscriptions to scholarly journals. To allow open access to the recent scholarship of historians would be a great way to involve the public with the field, something public historians seek to do. Of course, not everyone in the public is clamoring to read the latest issue of American Historical Review. But for those who are interested, open access would allow members of the public to educate themselves through these scholarly journals. The denouncement of the National Institutes of Health open access plan as “socialized science” seems a bit extreme at first but when you think about it… why not? If the idea of academics is to study and learn for the greater good of the human race, why should that information only be circulated within academic circles? Socialism has its downfalls, sure. Everyone SHOULD have access to health care. Everyone SHOULD have access to college and higher education. Everyone SHOULD have access to scholarly journal articles! Just like Sanders is always saying. How they do it though… that’s the real issue.

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