If I may add an observation regarding the article “Ease of Downloading Raises New Copyright Issues,” it has come to my attention that there are sites on the Internet that share information with researchers for free. It is presumed that content will be used for research only, and the goal is to facilitate the free flow of ideas. That is good news for scientific exchange worldwide. Researchers can read and interact with content that would otherwise be available only to those with paid subscriptions, which are sometimes unavailable to universities overseas.
However, as the number of paid subscriptions increases, the amount of research being published for free exchange only declines. When scholars accrue profits from the sale of their articles, content becomes less identifiable as research and more like commercial speech. Therefore, a fair use theory, especially for copyrighted research content, is contestable or at least controversial. Legally, the content owner who permits use of his/her content for free research exclusively can sue for copyright infringement if content finds its way to be used as commercial speech. This commodification of research is an obstacle to researchers from developing countries. Joy Howard’s article has sparked my reflections on these issues a bit more.
In regard to the use of Internet content, I’ve adopted the policy of letting my quoted sources know that I will quote them and asking their permission to use their research content for my articles.
Ph.D. 07 candidate at Macquarie University – Sydney
Lane Cove, Australia