Logie, John. “Parsing Codes: Intellectual Property, Technical Communication, and the World Wide Web.” Technical Communication and the World Wide Web. Eds. Lipson, Carol and Michael Day. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2005. 223-42. Print.
- L. begins by highlighting how the web and other digital networks have made work in technical communication fraught with the perils and possibilities of intellectual property. Because of their digitality the costs of reproduction are substantially decreased (if not completely removed); as such, the circulation of texts that TC’ers (and others) develop are subject to participation in an ever-evolving corpus of digital texts that travel on the intrawebz (223); however, this ease-of-proliferation often comes at the expense of traditional copyright and intellectual property law/precedence.
- Logie notes that because of the rapid legislative changes in IP law it is likely that TCers in the 21st century will be beholden to the constrictions of IP in digital spaces. As such, it is imperative that we teach IP as a facet of TC in order to not only teach the standard but also as a means to challenge it.
- L. recounts the development of US copyright law (225-232) all the while drawing attention to the interesting intersections of IP and TC (derivative works, corporate authored works, work for hire, etc.) before moving on to discuss copyright in the age of digital media and the www. Logie recounts four moments in the US Congress’ response to the rise of digital media:
- The No Electronic Theft Act of 1997: This act made copyright infringement punishable as a felony offense that requires jail time. This is the first time IP/copyright was not considered an issue of civil law and instead was treated as criminal law.
- DMCA of 1998: This legislation made the US a participant in the WIPO and directly addressed “infringing technologies” or different technological creations that circumvent digital protections by declaring them universally illegal. This piece of legislation also directs ISPs to remove copyrighted content (or direct folks who make content available) or face consequences (an infringement of net neutrality?). Taken together with the NET Act, these two pieces of legislation allowed lawyers for the content industries to mount an aggressive campaign against fair use.
- Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998: This piece of legislation extended copyright protections for: individuals – life of author + 70 years, corporate texts – 120 years, already copyrighted work – 20 years. This is the piece of legislation that most consider an assault on the possibility of a healthy public domain.
- The TEACH Act: While intended to extend fair use to distance education, this act effectively limits fair use by proscribing its definition through a host of different requirements.
- In the end Logie notes that the problem with copyright in our contemporary era is that it favors the copyright holders far, far more than the public interest (recall the constitutional copyright clause). As such, he recommends (along with Porter) that writers should push and contest the limits of copyright as long as the ethical standard of attribution is carried fort (citation). Speaking to TCers, Logie notes that, “Because TCers often are among the first adopters of new communicative technologies, they have a special obligation to model ethical policies and procedures for the use of those technologies. At minimum, technical communicators have an obligation to actively engage with IP issues when they intersect with their work, and TCers must take steps to articulate the ethical bases for their use of copyrighted materials whenever those uses are at odds with current copyright laws” 239-40).
- As a protest method, L. recommends that teachers draw attention to the myriad ways that their pedagogies are inhibited by the current copyright regimes: this includes creating “protest links” (that don’t work) to copyrighted content, webpages that describe why they don’t contain images/texts/videos and other protest oriented, web-based consciousness raising activities. (240)