Thursday, September 16, 2010

Week 3 - Mazzon

Well one thing is certain, this weeks readings answered a lot of last weeks confusion about information use and copyright law. The Q&A reading was especially useful. The following stances which I take are deliberately one sided:

This week, I want to focus on Mazzon’s article. Much of what he discusses is why I “disagree” – more so dislike – copy right law. According to Mazzon, the current wording of copyright law perpetuates its disuse and abuse. Copyfraud, as he puts it, is the result of misunderstanding (and sometimes deliberate) oversuse of copyright statements. Skakespear, for example, is fully within public domain; yet, every adaptation or reprinting of MacBeth in my library has the standard “we own this” copyright statement. Obviously this is a lie.

I remember back in English class in Elementary School when my teacher told me to write down every fact and its source on an index card to prevent plagiarism. First of all, I hated using index cards; the things were too small and my handwriting was too big to put anything significant on them. Secondly, as I learned from the readings, facts are not protected by copyright. Therefore, am I correct in assuming that this process was useless? I understand that the teacher was trying to instill creating individual work, but, was it going too far? Also, if facts are not copyrighted, then why does the field of academics require peers and students to site where they got their information? Or, is there something I am missing?

Secondly, it doesn’t help that publishers create Copyfraud statements. Copyright laws are difficult enough to understand without them creating misinformation. No wonder why so many librarians I talk to get copyright laws confused easily. I agree with Mazzon, copyright law needs to be enforced on both sides of the coin. If publishers and authors can sue each other and the public for the misuse of their information; then, the government, representing the public, should be permitted to punish those who create false copyright statements.

That’s my two cents for this week.


  1. Question: Why does the field of academics require peers and students to cite where they got their information?


    Good question. Surely, there is the aspect of denoting proper attribution to other scholars. This gives credit, so to speak, to the idea of others. But there are other exceedingly important reasons for this practice. The first speaks to an issue of credibility. When citing other work, scholars are pointing to the fact that they have evidence for the statements they make, often based on the work of others. Citations help a reader easily track down the source of the statement in this way.

    Secondly, and in a related vein, we ought to consider scholarly work a dialog of sorts, in which academics, students and authors are constantly interacting with each other, and with each other's work, via written output. Citing the work of others, in this case, can help situate a scholarly work in an ongoing dialog on a topic or issue, whether the work is lending support to previous articles, for example, or taking issue with them. It would be impossible to trace and follow these ongoing dialogs (into which we often enter, via our own reading and research, as the are underway) without citation.

  2. I had the same questions regarding the citation of academic work as facts. Thanks, Sarah, for a great explanation.