This is a guest post from David Christopher, Chief, Information and Records Division, U.S. Copyright Office.
When I was young — and I’m not that old — the term “copyright” and its curious symbol, ©, seemed a quaint holdover from a bygone era. It was for me a fuzzy legal term that book publishers thought highly enough of to place on the verso of the title page of every book I ever picked up, but it certainly had no real impact on me or my life.
Boy, have things changed. The Internet, coupled with smart phones, tablets and all of the other wonderful gadgets we use to create, share and enjoy creative works, gives each of us the power to engage in infringing activities, whether knowingly or not, literally on a global scale. Copyright is indeed a hot topic these days (note the reaction to the proposed SOPA/PIPA anti-piracy legislation in online media) and, if anything, copyright matters will only increase in the public consciousness in the years to come.
Given the increased relevance of copyright in the digital age, the U.S. Copyright Office, located here at the Library of Congress, recognizes the need to engage more proactively in public education and outreach. Last October, Maria A. Pallante, Register of Copyrights and Director of the Copyright Office, released a list of Priorities and Special Projects that the Copyright Office will engage in over the 2011-2013 period. Notable among the special projects, we are currently in the early stages of developing a business plan for a robust copyright education and outreach program.
The goal of this effort is to implement a series of new education projects tailored to a variety of audiences including librarians, teachers, artists, copyright practitioners, and the general public. While we already offer online educational resources designed for teachers and students like Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright and the professional development modules Copyright and Primary Sources and Understanding Copyright, we want to offer more.
Look for additional news from the Copyright Office, including guest posts on this blog, announcing program developments and initiatives in the coming months. In the meantime, please contact us with questions or suggested copyright-related topics of particular interest to teachers through our Contact Us page.