Howard, Tharon W. “Intellectual Properties in Multimodal, 21st Century Composition Classrooms.” Copy(Write):  Intellectual Property in the Writing Classroom. Eds. Rife, Martine, Danielle Nicole DeVoss and Shaun Slattery, 2011. Print.

  • In this piece H. challenges the commonly held belief that authors have a “natural right” to their work that supersedes all other claims on how the general public might use said work.  It also argues that students should be taught about copyprivilege, not copyright (recall my 2011 CCCC’s presentation for more details).
  • H. begins by interrogating ideas about “natural right” and “private property” when it comes to intellectual creations.  This is especially true for technical communicators who deal with a range of media in their texts beyond the written/verbal and who are often laboring for others (organizations, corporations, etc.).
  • H. highlights that congress not individual authors are granted the authority to secure copyrights.  This certainly isn’t how the rights discourse is portrayed by the content industry.  H. argues that we need to replace the “natural rights” discourse with a “license” discourse that balances the needs of the public and the needs of the creator.  The author uses the example of the driver’s license as a way to make this point:  drivers are granted the right to use the public road through a license.  The case is much the same with copyright and authorship.  This idea also reinforces the need to compensate authors for their expressions, not their ideas.
  • The author claims that Fair Use doctrine is much like a speed limit on drivers – it balances the interests of the driver with the interests of the other people on the road (other creators).  I don’t necessarily agree with H.’s articulation here.
  • Screen captures:  if you listen to Apple, these aren’t protected by fair use . . . even when used for educational purposes.
  • H. closes by acknowledging that we owe it to our students to teach them about copyright and copyright infringement; however, we also have a responsibility to challenge some of the overextension of copyright at the expense of democracy (hence, no natural rights discourse for authors).

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