“Code is Law,” Lawrence Lessig stated. What do we need lawyers for, then, in the digital age? “Let’s kill all the lawyers,” Shakespeare would suggest. Why don’t we and why internet does – that is the question that will be attempted at answering. The reader will be asked to reach the verdict in the court that will be created in his mind while Shakespeare and Lessig will be waiting on him to end with the lawyer’s head.
What’s Inside His Head?
The idea of copyright was well justified at the beginning. So was the print. Actually, it was revolutionary. However, petabytes of data that run through cables of today’s internet machine changed the rules. Lawyers changed them, too. By the renewed law of copyright as of 1980s, they forbid anything to fall into public domain per se. But the public domain clothed in virtual coat of the internet era does not need to be dressed by corporate giants any longer. They can keep all rights reserved to themselves, as long as authors who choose to leave something to the public – can actually do it. Confirming that software has the effect of the law, Creative Commons organization released its first set of copyright licenses in 2002. The licenses allow authors to pick from a set of conditions to apply to their work. So, whose law is now more focused on community? And how is it that community became so important.
Internet Killed the Copyright Star
By taking one look at the social network or trying a single search at Google.com, you are pretty sure that the future of research is collaborative. A forlorn smart head locked in a dark cellar with chemicals vaporizing from the holes in the wall will not get very far any longer. Much the less does he need a lawyer to protect him. The idea is to – share. This solely can gain respect for the scientist, since data loaded world won’t allow for duplications. The scientist which makes his work openly accessible encourages community to re-use his results in any way, but the credits will be acknowledged to him and not to some lone law-protected ranger, if the results prove meaningful. We need the results to prove meaningful today, more than ever. Data scientists of the future must realize that to give free access to their research benefits both them and the world. This, and that data will build their career and not the law firm.
In Through the Public Domain
A lawyer would look much like Alice if he was found in the Public Domain. What would his size be? What would a “rights reserved” head do in the world of “no rights reserved”? Which door to lock, where to put his seal, where to deny access, where to build a barrier? The world fights nowadays for this sort of Wonderland for the lawyer. We would like to see him lost in his papers and hurrying to his queen worried that his head may be chopped off. Why do we then still fear for our heads? The open access model is disruptive, but also slow. The public domain day is awaited “every new year since the first copyrights expired, back around 1724” as mentioned on Gutenberg ( http://www.gutenbergnews.org/20101127/public-domain-day-2011/ ). What will make it into the new list, what will make it into the next year’s list? Following the dramatic growth of open access, the public domain can only grow fat itself. The bigger the public domain, the lesser the number of lawyers. Perhaps, some day, a world will be empty of lawyers – just like Shakespeare imagined it.