The idea of copyright is to protect the rights of the content creator, and allow them to benefit from their creation. This encourages content creators to produce – as there is guarantee they will be fairly compensated. Good for society right?
The golden age of creativity – The Renaissance, took place before copyright. Ideas were freely bounced around and borrowed without concern. Coincidentally the first version of copyright as we know it was implemented early in the 18th century, just as the Renaissance ended in the 17th century.
While copyright allows owners of intellectual property to benefit, the opposite side of the coin (get it?) is that it creates a barrier to entry for content consumers. This is concerning, particularly in regards to the hoarding of knowledge by academic publications.
Copyright has led to the creation of a self-sustaining system. Academic publishers buy the rights to a paper, and lock the paper away behind a paywall where, realistically, it can only be accessed by members of large institutions or companies. In order to access this information, one has to join a university and conduct research, to increase their university’s ranking. The findings are then sold to the publishers, perpetuating the cycle.
Research is supposed to further the development of the human race as a whole – but the whole of the human race cannot access this research. Surely our collective knowledge should be accessible to all of mankind?
Open access journals have sprung up in support of this notion, and are increasing in popularity. The Directory of Open Access Journals is a great entry point into the world of open access.
By hoarding knowledge, academic publishers are slowing innovation and development across the world. Extreme copyright is moving us towards the opposite of a renaissance, which we have ironically named ‘the information age’.