Justin Lewis
Copyprivilege: Revising Copyright for Social Production, Writing Studies, and the Transnational Environment. CCCC. Atlanta GA. April 8th, 2011.
Publication year: 2011


In this presentation I consider the history of copyright in the U.S. to try and sketch how copyright went copywrong.  I’ll also argue for a new approach to copyright that would benefit us in our writing classrooms. Following other copyright activists, I call this approach “copyprivilege.” Next, I’ll consider the idea-expression binary in copyright law as a means to connect the macro level of transnational trade to the micro level of our teaching practice. I make this move because I hope to demonstrate how copyright hinders power and agency of individuals in developing economies in much the same way that copyright and text-bound pedagogies hamstrings the power and agency of students in our own composition classrooms. Finally, I turn to examples of the social production of knowledge to outline how copyprivilege successfully operates in the digital sphere. In so doing, I will demonstrate how the wealth of networks combined with a “thin” application of copyright provides a developmental model that rejects neoliberal knowledge privatization efforts in the interest of cultivating the common. By adopting copyprivilege and New Media in our classrooms we can prepare our students to participate in the social information economy while also pushing them to reclaim power and agency toward a more healthy public domain.