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Silver Lining

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Siva Vaidhyanathan states in Salon that the most important aspect of the Eldred case isn’t that Eldred/Lessig lost, but that it will be a rallying point for consumer activism, having already helped move copyright onto the front page and into public awareness – I agree:

    In response to this growing demand, several organizations have stepped up to speak for the public. Among the earliest to raise the alarms, the Electronic Frontier Foundation remains at the forefront of legal and technological advocacy. Now the EFF is joined by Publicknowledge.org, an advocacy group devoted to protecting the public domain with the same vigilance that the Sierra Club defends wilderness. And some concerned citizens from Silicon Valley have formed digitalconsumer.org to protect users’ rights in an electronic age.

    And because the legal front remains hot, we can depend on law students at two clinics to help those who get crushed by the copyright system. Clinics at Washington College of Law of American University and at Boalt Hall at the University of California at Berkeley have been compiling research and writing briefs in important copyright cases.

    And at Harvard Law School, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society runs the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, which documents examples of copyright lawyers run amuck.

    None of these organizations — save the EFF — existed in 1998. They are all products of the rise in public awareness created by Lawrence Lessig and his team as they selflessly pursued the case of Eldred v. Ashcroft through the federal court system.

    ….Their work and words have solidified a popular movement. The movement is certainly not strong enough yet to roll back the copyright term through legislation. But in smaller ways, through a hundred lesser battles we can get Congress and the courts to serve the needs of students, teachers, and citizens instead of Hollywood studios.

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