All Your Database Are Belong to Us?

In “The Database and the Essay: Understanding Composition as Articulation”, by Johndan Johnson-Eilola, I found several things interesting. The main one is that this line of argument seems totally contrary to what Lessig was talking about in his TED talk. Lessig seems to be saying that if the masses of technology users rise up and communicate their thoughts that conceptions of fair use should be expanded, copyright holders (and the legal system) will listen, much like they did when BMI won their battle against ASCAP, with the end result being that information is free.

Johnson-Eilola, on the other hand, seems to be arguing completely the opposite. He thinks that copyright holders and the legal system, enabled by vast improvements in keeping track of transactions as a result of technology, along with trend-setting legal battles, have already made their decision. And the result of that decision will be that all things that can be copyrighted will be copyrighted, and everyone who uses copyrighted material will pay for that use, or they will suffer the consequences.

What do yall think about this?

Also, some additional food for thought:

Texts Without Contexts-some guy’s book that is almost completely a database of previously published work.

-A free economics textbook you say? But I thought “we can’t seperate writing from the economic sphere”? (Johnson-Eilola 212)

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One comment on “All Your Database Are Belong to Us?

  1. Scary stuff! For some reason his essay reminded me of the recent SCOTUS ruling re: campaign finance that effectively says corporations are entitled to the same free speech/free spending rights as individuals. Like you say Nate, he seemed to argue that we should accept changes to fair use doctrine while at the same time urging a hollow “be vigilant.” I think Johnson-Eilola’s quote of of Kenneth Crews (on p. 209) is particularly disturbing and it makes me wonder what the original intent of fair use was–because the quote suggests that folks are arguing that just because it is now easier to charge for the “marketable chunks,” we should. Egads! It just seems crazy to me that data could by protected by copyright.

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