Home > Information Literacy, Reference, Technology > PVAAL Fall 2009 Meeting

PVAAL Fall 2009 Meeting

A copy of Kembrew McLeod’s official certification from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office for the phrase “freedom of expression”.  Kembrew patented the phrase to illustrate the lack of safeguards in the existing process.

It rained November 13th, but that did not dampen our spirits as the members of PVAAL gathered together once again for our fall meeting at Springfield College.  This was my first meeting as President so I was a little more anxious then I normally would have been, but everyone’s hard work paid off and the night was a complete success.  Many thanks to the PVAAL board, ARAMARK our catering service, and Babson Library for their efforts and support.

Instead of having a speaker as we usually do, we decided to watch Freedom of Expression: Resistance and Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property – an amazing documentary based on Kembrew’s McLeod’s book of the same name.  Although the documentary brought up many important points, I think the one that struck me the most was the idea that we, as a society, are sacrificing our the future richness of our culture for short term financial gain.  I’m oversimplifying the argument, but the basic idea is that culture is built upon the songs, movies, books, ideas, etc. that come before it.  Many of Disney’s fairly tales, for example, are adaptations of stories that have been around for centuries.  We use the old to build the new, but now with companies (such as Disney) locking up their creative content for increasingly longer and longer periods of time, future artists will not be able to borrow and adapt to create new works.  Does this mean that our culture will be poorer?  Some intellectual property experts fear it will.

As academic librarians, we sometimes take a narrow view of copyright.  It usually centers around teaching students both why it’s important to cite material and how to do it.  This documentary, however, made many of us realize that we need to take a more long range view as well.  We did not come up with any brilliant ideas to save ourselves from the mess that we find ourselves in, but many of us left that evening with a sense that we must do something.  Freedom of expression (with all apologies to Prof. McLeod – I didn’t get copyright permission to use his phrase) is too important a freedom to lose.

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