I was reading an old favourite of mine last night (A Home at the End of the World – Michael Cunningham) and was struck by a list at the back of the book which listed all of the poems and songs quoted in the book, cited the copyright owner and expressed that permission had been granted for their use. I’m no expert on copyright, but I assume that this was done to prevent claims that the book was commercially benefiting from someone else’s rights. It seems slightly over the top for the snippets of lyrics and lines that were used in the book, but it did get me thinking some rambling thoughts about identity.
Cunningham’s books are all about how the culture we live in affects our identity – particularly music, films and the influence of friends – and also how we reject the identity of our parents by rejected their cultural references. As such, the lyrics and poems cited are as much a part of the identity of the protagonists as the creator of the work. There is an implied sense of joint ownership here, which has very little to do with the transactional world of rights management.
I think the way in which we use social media has allowed us to find new ways of expressing this sense of joint ownership and how it links to how we express our identity. The ‘like’ button on Facebook is a very crude example of this, but it builds up a very rich net of who we are through our cultural references.
We have also perhaps become more relaxed about copyright within this social media, without the intent of law breaking or denying anyone’s rights. It is almost expected that when referencing a film or tv clip, it will be available on youtube and easy to link to a blog piece – as I have often done. Different rights holders take different approaches to this from take down demands to the acceptance of the fact that this usage provides new opportunities. By allowing people to link to a clip, by expressing their ‘like’ for this and by allowing that clip to become part of the identity of the author, potential new audiences are opened up for the original work.
This touches on a whole bunch of areas that are of interest to JISC but that I’m not directly involved in – the importance of Creative Commons, linked data, open access, open educational resources.
I’m thinking of spending some time looking at sense of identity within these spaces, the context of ownership within social media, how identity flows through these resources and what we can learn about this to support programmes across JISC. I’ll probably start with looking at the concept of a static resource with metadata within a repository such as Jorum and then look at the more nebulous life of the resource as it is repurposed but also reconceptualised in terms of relationship to individuals as we clatter our digital footprints all over it. I guess I’m interested in how we gain the most benefit from this digital story as our resource becomes more promiscuous outside the contained information of the repository. I’d be interested in your thoughts….