Intellectual Property

Graduate Seminar on Authorship and Intellectual Property in Rhetoric and Composition Studies

I'm excited to teach this class this semester! I had to leave a lot out (there's so much to read in this area of scholarship), but these are what I selected in the end.

English 556 Syllabus

The 2011 CCCC Intellectual Property Annual

The Conference on College Composition and Communication is going on right now, and this very afternoon is the CCCC Intellectual Property Caucus meeting. You should all go if you're in St. Louis for the conference; it starts at 2:00 this afternoon.

Every year, the Intellectual Property Committee publishes an Annual (PDF), and I encourage you to check out the 2011 issue. Here's the table of contents:

Introduction: Copyright and Intellectual Property in 2011
Clancy Ratliff

The Defeat of the Research Works Act and Its Implications
Mike Edwards

Open Access Initiatives
Annette Vee

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: What Golan v. Holder means for the Future of the Public Domain
Traci Zimmerman

“Sentence First—Verdict Afterwards”: The Protect IP and the Stop Online Piracy Acts
Kim D. Gainer

A Dark Day on the Internet Leads to a Sea Change in Copyright Policy
Laurie Cubbison

Occupy Trademark: Branding a Political Movement
Timothy R. Amidon

CCCC-IP Position Statement on Plagiarism Detection Services

Well hello! How shameful that I haven't posted since July. This is just a quick link to the CCCC Intellectual Property Caucus's position statement on plagiarism detection services. It doesn't seem to be online anymore, and I've been asked to provide it, so I'm uploading my copy as an attachment to this post.

My second Prezi

I gave another talk yesterday using Prezi. I kind of like it even though there are many who don't and/or who think it's just a fad. The fact that it's something new and different from PowerPoint is, for me, a good thing.

Free and Open Textbooks in Rhetoric and Writing Studies

Below is my article for this year's CCCC-IP Annual:

The issue of access is one of the main reasons our field has held a prolonged interest in copyright and intellectual property matters. We want everyone to have access to education, art, science, and culture. We want open-access publishing in general, for our scholarship and for teaching resources. But we especially empathize with college students and their diverse financial situations; many are, as we all know, accruing student loan debt, juggling class schedules and work schedules, and, in some cases, supporting their families. Admittedly, many others are racking up high bar tabs, paying high membership dues to fraternities or sororities, and buying expensive clothes, but we maintain concern for the students who are struggling to pay their bills and whose financial future is especially uncertain. Such concern means that we -- especially those of us who, like me, are Writing Program Administrators -- often agonize about our responsibility to select textbooks that are both affordable and pedagogically sound and appropriate for our students.

In this paper, I will describe two developments from the year 2010 that pertain to intellectual property and our field. One is the publication of a report titled A Cover-to-Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Textbook Affordability by a student activist group. The other is the publication of volume I of Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, an open textbook for undergraduate writing courses.

Research and Recommendations on Open Textbooks

Active since 1973 (or earlier), PIRGS have organized campaigns on a variety of issues including student loan debt, the environment, and, since 2005, affordable textbooks. Since 2005, Student PIRGs (Public Interest Research Group) has had a "Make Textbooks Affordable" campaign to raise awareness about the "tipping point expense" of textbooks in higher education -- a cost that can potentially mean the difference between getting an education and not getting one. In 2010, they released a report titled, "A Cover-to-Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Textbook Affordability," which was based on survey research of over 1000 students on ten campuses.

The researchers review some of the problems with the current textbook market, problems that we, as writing teachers, already know about: frequent new editions of books, and shrink-wrap packaging of proprietary software with books (requiring students to buy new books in order to get the CD or access code for the software). Also reviewed are some of the cost-saving strategies currently in place: textbook rental, resale, and e-books. Student PIRGs calls these measures "a good start," but they argue that open textbooks are a more sustainable strategy for keeping textbooks affordable in the long term.

The Student PIRGs research found that open textbooks that give students the option to buy a print copy or download a free online version, like the Flat World Knowledge publishing model, will best solve the economic problem of textbook cost. The research found that 75% of students preferred to have print textbooks, so online-only book options are not ideal. Book rental is not generally an attractive solution either, as the Student PIRGs research found that most students want to buy some books but rent others.

The research group then calculated the savings each current option (renting, e-textbooks, and e-books for e-readers such as the Nook or Kindle) offers. They found that book rental saves students about 33%, reducing their book expense to $602 per year, on average. E-books and e-reader books fared worse, offering savings of 8% and 1% respectively. In a dramatic contrast, open textbooks can cut students' book expenses by 80% while still providing students with choices to accommodate their preferences: "Print copies come in black and white and color, softcover and hardcover, and students can self-print part or all of the text. Digital copies are typically free, and can be accessed online or offline from a variety of devices including e-readers, laptops and smart phones" (12). One of the most interesting findings of the study is that 76% of students would pay a small fee to go toward compensating authors of free and open textbooks (13).

Extending the Student PIRGs Research

I notice three points that are not made in the Student PIRGs report, two minor and one major. First the minor points: the report criticized textbook publishers' practice of coming out with frequent new editions without substantive changes -- and I agree with this criticism -- and they conclude, for a variety of reasons, that using open textbooks is the best solution to the problem of book costs. It should be noted that with open textbooks, the new editions issue is no longer a problem. The textbook author or publisher can make improvements and updates to the book as needed, even if it's more frequently than every two or three years, and the cost of a new edition for the student is negligible; even if he or she already bought a print copy of a previous edition, the student can view online or self-print only the material in the newer edition.

The second minor point I noticed wasn't made is that book rental and buying used would also be options for print copies of open textbooks, likely saving print-preference students even more money. I don't know who sets the costs of book rental, but in order to create a more attractive option for students (and thus make money), the cost-setter would have to price the rentals lower than the cost of buying the books outright. The same goes for buying used: barring special circumstances, like autographed or rare editions, used copies are always going to be less expensive than new copies. Students who prefer print copies can buy them simply in order to satisfy their preference, then decide later if they want to own the books permanently or not. If they choose, they can re-sell the book and get some of their money back, offsetting both their net cost and the cost to the next student who uses the book. Because open textbooks are not published for profit, there would be no serious attempts to undermine the sale of used books, and the used print open textbooks market could flourish.

The major point not addressed in the Student PIRGs report is university bookstore markup, which is typically 30% of a book's retail cost. This percentage may go into a university's operating budget, as it does at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where I teach, making the overall textbook-cost issue less simple than it appears, especially with deep budget cuts for higher education. Certainly if university bookstores order print copies of open textbooks to stock for students to buy, the university bookstores will still apply the markup, and the operating budgets will get that money. However, the fewer dollars a book costs, the fewer dollars 30% of that amount will be. I don't mean to suggest that there's actually an incentive to select more expensive textbooks, but bookstore markup is an factor that enters into my own thinking about the economics of course textbooks.

On a related note, the Student PIRGs report alludes to the 2010 provisions of the Higher Education Opportunity Act regarding making textbook costs public. Universities that receive federal aid are supposed to publicize the costs of their classes' textbooks. My understanding of the law -- what I've done for our First-Year Writing Program site -- is that universities must disclose what their university bookstores charge for each book as well as the ISBN of each book for purposes of comparison shopping. While I agree that sharing this information benefits students and had already planned to post this information prior to hearing about the law, I have to wonder how much our university, so underfunded already, stands to lose from reduced bookstore revenue.

Open Textbook Options for Rhetoric and Writing Studies

The field of Rhetoric and Writing Studies currently has six options for open textbooks. The first, the Rhetoric and Composition WikiBook, was published in 2005 and written by Matt Barton and students at St. Cloud State University. It is not only open-access and freely available to print (permission granted under its Attribution/ShareAlike terms); it is also an ongoing project that students in writing classes can contribute to themselves.

The second open textbook option for writing teachers is Steven Krause's book titled The Process of Research Writing, which he published in 2007 under an Attribution/Noncommercial/ShareAlike Creative Commons license. Both this book and the WikiBook can be viewed in HTML format and as PDFs for no cost and self-printed by students. Students may, depending on their universities' policies, be able to use university printers and supplies for this purpose.

It's the third option, I believe, that is the most in alignment with the Student PIRGs' recommendations for open textbook publication because students can buy a print version of the book. The first volume of Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing was published in 2010, the second volume close behind in January 2011. I am on the editorial board of this book series. Under the licensing terms, Attribution/Noncommercial/No Derivative Works, students may download a PDF of the books free of charge and self-print the whole book or selected chapters, but unlike the other two, Writing Spaces is available for purchase as a bound volume from Parlor Press. Through Parlor Press's web site, students can buy volume 1 for $23.00 (price is the same on Amazon), and volume 2 for $25.00. The Student PIRGs report mentions the importance of accommodating students' diverse preferences (especially the majority's preference for print), and it points out that Flat World Knowledge is a company that follows this model of selling print copies but offering free downloads.

Or at least it appears to follow this model. The fourth, fifth, and sixth options for Rhetoric and Writing Studies are Writing for Success by Scott McLean, The Flat World Knowledge Handbook for Writers by Miles McCrimmon, and Exploring Perspectives: A Concise Guide to Analysis by Randall Fallows. The first two of these are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial Use-Share Alike license. The third is also under a Creative Commons license, but it will be available online later this month, so I cannot view the title page to see the specific kind of license. Flat World Knowledge claims to offer students the opportunity to read the book online for free, buy an electronic version for the Kindle or Nook, or buy a print copy. The "read online for free" option, however, is not as open as one might assume. On the sites for these books, I see no link to a downloadable PDF of the book. I can only read the book in HTML format or as an embedded PDF in a PDF viewer. At the bottom of the screen is a button with "Print this chapter: $2.49."

Now, under the terms of the Creative Commons license, I could buy a copy of the book (or have a desk copy sent to me), scan the whole book or selected chapters into PDF, upload the documents to my course site, and make them available for students -- so that they can view them without an internet connection or print them at only the price of paper and toner. But Flat World Knowledge makes this option quite difficult. The most truly open and sustainable textbook models are the first three options: The Rhetoric and Composition Wikibook, The Process of Research Writing, and Writing Spaces.

Concluding Thoughts

I am impressed with Student PIRGs' dedication to lowering the cost of higher education, and I'm happy to see the 2010 HEOA provisions about textbook costs. Because students are a captive market and cannot choose their own textbooks, I like that they are becoming more aware of options within their current constraints. Intellectual property is an economic issue, of course; publishers buy a textbook author's copyright and make copies, and students buy the copies at a high price -- on average, each student spends $900.00 a year on them, according to the Government Accountability Office (qtd. in Student PIRGs 1).

I would like to conclude with some thoughts on our (professors' and Writing Program Administrators') options and constraints. The genres of writing textbooks are, as most of us know, readers, rhetorics, and handbooks. We have six options for open textbooks, three of which are rhetorics, two of which are handbooks, and one of which combines the qualities of a rhetoric and a reader. We don't yet have cohesive open textbooks that fall into the genre of reader (for classes that don't take a Writing About Writing approach), but as far as books about academic writing and the writing and research processes are concerned, we have a few open textbook alternatives, and we should explore these. I recommend class-testing one or more of these books -- a teacher in my writing program class-tested a few chapters in Writing Spaces with positive results -- and doing local studies to discover campus-specific implementation issues.

Works Cited

Krause, Steven. The Process of Research Writing. 2007. Web. 6 March 2011.

Lowe, Charles, and Pavel Zemliansky. Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing.
Volume 1. 2010. Web. 6 March 2011.

Lowe, Charles, and Pavel Zemliansky. Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing.
Volume 2. 2011. Web. 6 March 2011.

Rhetoric and Composition WikiBook. 2011. Web. 6 March 2011.

Student PIRGs. A Cover-to-Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks Are the Path to
Textbook Affordability
. Student PIRGs, 2010. 6 March 2011.

Computers and Composition Online Issue on Open Source

The new issue of Computers and Composition Online is out! I have an article in it titled Open Source and the Access Agenda. I'd love to know what you think; if you do a blog post on the article, please send me the link and I'll put it in this post. Or leave a comment under the Facebook-note (I have FB set to import my blog posts).

CCCC-IP Annual Article: Two Competing Copyright Curricula

I'm excited about this year's CCCC-IP Annual. We're looking at having at least six articles in the 2009 publication, which will be my third as editor. I plan on getting my article for it finished in the next week or two. Usually the articles cover the developments in copyright and intellectual property law over the past year; this year will be no different except for a couple of reviews of books that were published in the latter half of 2008 that I decided to make exceptions for.

But for my article, I wanted to cover something that happened in 2009 if possible. I did some reading through the 2009 archives of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's blog and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society's site, and then I found the topic.

In 2009, both the Recording Industry Association of America and the Electronic Frontier Foundation released curricula for teaching children about copyright and intellectual property. The RIAA's curriculum, intended for grades 3 through 8, is quite one-sided. The EFF's curriculum seems to be geared toward grades 9 through 12 and examines copyright in a more complex way. I just finished writing a review of Jessica Reyman's new book The Rhetoric of Intellectual Property: Copyright Law and the Regulation of Digital Culture, and I already see so many connections between her argument, which examines the rhetorical workings of the content industries' argument (she terms this "the property stewardship narrative") and the copyright activists' argument (which she calls "the cultural conservancy narrative"), and these curricula: how these narratives are told to young audiences. I love it when I can be invigorated by my research and writing. I'll link to the Annual once it goes live, of course. I expect that will be in early March; I want to publish it before the conference and before my rambunctious little girl is born.

Notes on CCCC Intellectual Property Caucus

The Intellectual Property Caucus at CCCC was quite productive this year, as always. Thirty-one people attended, and we started the meeting off by plugging our projects and celebrating the year's accomplishments when it came to intellectual property issues:

First, there's the publication of Stephen Westbrook's collection Composition and Copyright: Perspectives on Teaching, Text-making, and Fair Use . Also, Charlie Lowe and Pavel Zemliansky have created Writing Spaces, an open access, Creative Commons licensed space that can be used in lieu of a textbook (or in addition to one). Then, following our usual format for the meeting, we heard from the Intellectual Property Committee. The big news there was that we've been invited to write a regular feature for the NCTE Inbox, and Martine Courant Rife volunteered to spearhead that effort. (By the way, if you click the link, you'll see that you CAN subscribe to the Inbox on RSS. That was at issue during the meeting.)

Then we introduced our action tables, met for our breakout sessions, and reconvened to plan actions for the next year. For the purposes of the notes here, I am going to paste the abstract submitted by the action table leader, then right below it put my notes from that action table's report. The notes are notes I took during their reports in the caucus meeting, and since I didn't sit in on these discussions, they're kind of choppy and note-y. And as always, some of the action tables ended up merging, so what I have here isn't exactly what was in the original proposal re action tables.

Exposing Misunderstanding of Fair Use in the Case of the Harry Potter Lexicon

It's disappointing that Steve Vander Ark's proposed HARRY POTTER LEXICON
is coming under fire from Potter creator J. K. Rowling. However, the
attacks on the lexicon from the general public---visible in comments on
news stories and weblogs---are far more disturbing. Vander Ark has been
called a plagiarist, a thief, a crook, and a liar. The lack of support
for his work shows a profound misunderstanding of fair use Speaker #1
wishes to engage in two ways: (a) by sharing strategies for discussion
of fair use; (b) through encouragement of use of the rights all of us
have to create similar works which fairly use copyrighted content.

Notes and Next Actions:

different kinds of misunderstandings of fair use:
1. partial knowledge: some knowledge but misapply it
2. conflating legal and ethical issues: plagiarism of something in the public domain: ethically problematic but legally OK
3. ppl not knowing who to appeal to, governing bodies relevant. vague notions of punishment but not knowing where auth lies
4. misunderstanding of terminology
5. not understanding purpose of fair use

action items: fair use for dummies document
list of common misconceptions for teachers
more formal study: look @ court cases

Copyright, Fair Use, and Digital Delivery of Class Reading Materials

A recent lawsuit brought by a group of academic publishers against
Georgia State University has brought to our attention the dangers of
limiting educators’ Fair Use rights to distribute class reading
materials in digital form (Cambridge University Press et al. v.
Georgia State University). Speakers #2, 3, and 4 will discuss what’s
at stake in the recent debate over application of the Fair Use
exemption to the use of copyrighted works in coursepacks, library
e-reserves, and other forms of online delivery of reading material to
students. They will then take comments that may contribute to the
development of a position statement, directed to academic publishers,
that would encourage a rethinking of the current business model for
copyright permissions for educational use.

Notes and Next Actions:

concerns: for education: what can we do, what can't we do when it comes to digital delivery of online materials
article in CCC in 1998 on fair use. "Use Your Fair Use: Strategies toward Action." 2009
reissuing of article like that in light of course packs, ereserves, etc.
advocacy issues: 4Cs position statement would make a stronger claim re fair use guidelines and digital materials
georgia state case: intervention? 4Cs could begin exploring/supporting defendants in that case?
4Cs educate organization. american library assn. web site. write to house judiciary cmte regarding that decision. action letter. NIH, but implications for government sponsorship of research.
listservs: request to write

Open Access Publishing and Institutional Repositories

Speaker #5 will report on the progress of an OA Task Force that has
been brought together to educate CCCC/NCTE constituencies about OA
options and about mandates to provide open access to federally funded
research, as well as to develop guidelines for meeting those mandates.

Okay, this is the action table I participated in, so I can give a more thorough treatment of it. Most of our discussion was about the following:

Open Access and "The Extended CCC"

As has been discussed on the blogs, notably here and here, a lot of people aren't happy with the recent decision to move some of College Composition and Communication's features, such as review essays, interchanges, re/visions, book reviews, etc. online. My main concern is the open-access implications of that, which Karen Lunsford and I discussed in our action table meeting. For example, if I want to read "Rhetorics of Critical Writing: Implications for Graduate Writing Instruction" by Laura R. Micciche, a review essay in the most recent issue, I have to go here and click the title, then if I'm not logged in with my NCTE member number (which I pay an annual fee for), I get the following:

Please log in to view this journal PDF file: /library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/CCC/0603-feb09/CCC0603ReviewRhetorics.pdf.

What are the implications for future access to this article, only the first paragraph of which will be in the print journal? Libraries, and by extension teachers and students, who already pay a subscription fee for the print and electronic versions of the journal, will not have access to these features unless they pay to join NCTE. Our action item regarding this issue is to query the Executive Committee: what provision has been made for permanent access to TECCC for libraries? The caucus members generally felt that this was the most alarming and pressing issue related to our field and open access.

We also talked about other issues, though, such as:

1. a letter to the executive committee recommending changes to NCTE's journals' copyright policy:
* change the contract to allow authors self-archiving of copies of their articles on their personal web sites
* allow open access to archives the way that JAC does

2. writing a resolution draft about open access -- open scholarship, open teaching materials, maybe even open access textbooks, but we thought that since many in our field write textbooks and textbook publishing houses give us a lot of support, we might have more buy-in with 4cs membership if we leave textbooks out of it and just focus on research

3. joining the Alliance for Taxpayer Access

Students' Rights and Responsibilities in IP

Students are facing more choices for how to treat their own
intellectual products and those of others. It would be helpful for
both instructors and their students to be aware of the legal, ethical,
and cultural ramifications of those choices. Speaker #6 will examine
students' rights in and responsibilities for treating their work
within the realm of intellectual property law issues.

students thinking of themselves as AUTHORS. plagiarism guidelines...turnitin.com
if teachers aren't allowed to use it, they'd be forced to teach plagiarism in more complexity
let students opt in or opt out?
teachers don't have the right to use student writing in college english -- would have to get permission.
in what ways does turnitin repurpose student writing?
NCTE Inbox: we wish there was a simple way to teach teachers to talk about turnitin
ways other professors use the service?
something more user-friendly for NCTE K-12 and college
conversations with students about the business model
for paraphrasing exercises in class, ok use of turnitin

There was also an impromptu action table about research projects in IP. Here are my notes on that:

1998 Computers & Composition special issue on IP: plan to revisit that in a new special issue.
cultural cannibalism: CFP out before C&W
visual/digital rhetorics for kairos
CCCC panel together next year
sharing scholarship, continuing projexts: regular discussion table each year on research, momentum.
1/2 hour for everyone about research?
call out on lists: course materials about authorship, plagiarism, copyright, collaboration, contract negotiation, OA, OS, free speech/privacy/censorship

Syndicate content