It's somewhat old news that that Cory Doctorow was named the first holder of USC's Canada-U.S. Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Public Diplomacy, but this week it became official in a signing ceremony and talk, available as an MP3. Cory is a creature of the Live Web, which both informs his fiction and helps chart his course (even if it does preclude him from coming up with a succinct description of his "profession"). In the wind up to Cory's remarks, his colleagues point out that the United States Congress had to approve Cory's involvement in the Fulbright program (I assume that's true of all candidates, but not all candidates carry a metal card emblazoned with the Bill of Rights, "sure to spark conversation at the next security checkpoint!"), and that Cory had been in his new position for only a few days before taking his host university to task for its "bizarre, non-legal copyright policy." I bring it up both to congratulate Cory and to recommend the talk, which provides good historical context for intellectual property disputes arising today, and touches on many issues critical to online activities:
This has become an issue in media studies, as scholars ask how it's possible to create new media using new tools, when the copyright law reflects only the old media and the old tools. It's generally true that copyright protects an industry and not a culture, and an industry can be defined as what happens when art meets technology. A non-industrial form of art can't be an industry, almost by definition. But the problem is that the people who have the industry today view what's being done tomorrow as merely derivative.