Today I am tired. Last night I watched live proceedings from the House of Commons with increasing disillusionment, as the Digital Economy Bill was ‘washed-up’ with unseemly haste before the dissolution of parliament. There are many reasons – political, ideological, personal, professional – why I am so dismayed by the passing of this deeply flawed piece of legislation. Archivally, the biggest disappointment is actually the government’s withdrawal of Clause 43, which would have permitted re-use of ‘orphan’ works (where no author or copyright owner can be traced). But the potential repercussions upon collaborative creativity are even wider.
Clearly there will be some specific implications for user collaboration in archives contexts, but I need more time and a clearer head to consider them, away from the enraged, polarised rhetoric which has characterised many reactions to yesterday’s Commons debacle. Commentaries which draw deliberate parallels with China are not helpful, but I am grateful to this blog post about the bill for drawing my attention to a great lecture by Larry Lessig about user generated content, the potential for the revival of what Lessig characterises as ‘read-write culture’, and the need to develop a new consensus over business models which will support such a culture of creativity. Enjoy!