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Lessig on Digital Barbarism

Lawrence Lessig has posted a review of David Halperin's recent book, Digital Barbarism.

Halperin, who authored the (in)famous New York Times article calling for perpetual copyright, has now compiled his ideas into a book. Lessig offers a much-needed critique, including citing misconceptions about Creative Commons (Halperin conflates it not only with "freeware" with software... more

Diversity of language, the Creative Commons way
Daniela Faris · Johannesburg (South Africa) · Apr 24th, 2006 4:32 pm · 20 votes · no comments made
UNESCO's World Book and Copyright Day was celebrated yesterday, 23 April. According to the UNESCO website; 'by celebrating this Day throughout the world, UNESCO seeks to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.'

In his annual message on the occasion of the World Book and Copyright day, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura highlighted the need to encourage diversity of languages in publishing, stating that the book should 'be regarded more than ever before as a vehicle of vitality and language recognition.'

Alek Tarkowski, project leader of Creative Commons Poland, too believes that translations of books would allow for greater diversity. He said, 'There's a lot of important knowledge and experience to be shared between different places and parts of the world. And translation is always a necessary step that might seem mundane and demanding, even boring - but should be supported and facilitated as much as possible.'

Matsuura continued in his message by stating that '23 April 2006 must also be a milestone day for copyright now that so many debates point to the need to preserve and promote it in the interest of both authors and the readership for which the works are intended. It is not in fact a separate subject, but merely another aspect of the same approach taken to promote cultural and linguistic diversity.'

In an interview with iCommons, Tarkowski offered an alternative solution to protecting copyright while encouraging linguistic diversity - a solution which will both encourage innovation and make translation of texts legally friendlier and more simply executable.

He said, 'Creative Commons licenses as well as other open licensing schemes make it easier to translate materials from other languages. Volunteers who are willing to translate a given work with the goal of publishing the translation online can then do this at no cost whatsoever. In particular, there are no copyright licenses to be paid and these usually are quite high.'

It is appropriate then, that this day also commemorates the death of William Shakespeare, the famous English poet and playwright, whose work has been translated into every major language in the world. Many believe that one of the reasons why Shakespeare is so well-known is because of the fact that his works have now entered the public domain and are available to all to freely copy, share and perform.

Giving a more modern example, Tarkowski explained the success of Lawrence Lessig's book, 'Free Culture', which was translated into Polish and made available online under the same CC license as the original, only to have a publisher display interest in printing it in Poland. While the book sold about 2 000 copies, 'the online version has been downloaded in the past year tens of thousands of times - which is a wonderful result, if you think about the spreading of knowledge,' he continued.

'So with open licensing, we can more easily translate for the Polish reader important foreign books and make them available for free - without competing with the book market,' Tarkowski concluded.

So the question must be asked ' while Shakespeare's success has peaked almost 400 years after his death, what would Creative Commons licensing and online publishing have done to explode his fame and the rate of translation of his poetry and plays, had Shakespeare been alive, and writing today?

tags: poland culture

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