‘Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.’
(Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote)
UNESCO organizes World Book and Copyright Day around the world to promote reading, for example a Cervantes readathon in Spain organized yearly on April 23th, but how do you exactly promote the protection of intellectual property through copyright in a “holy copy” culture, and how holy is this matrimony between books and copyright?
This is an age that has raised fervent file-sharers, Kopimis who believe that all information should be freely distributed and unrestricted in motion, and what is sacred for them is – communication. Such belief is being accepted in Sweden as a legitimate religion since January, and the movement echoes far throughout the world that is now looking up to the sky to see servers that can fly in the air. If internet once knew not of national boundaries, now it can not recognize boundaries between what is real and virtual space. Yet, never has a more blatant attempt to exercise control over communication been tried, with acts such as ACTA, SOPA, PIPA etc., that have been fought against by activists, as well as citizens. The heart of a new war for Internet between order and disorder, may lie in – intellectual property.
We are still, however, trying to move the concept of boundaries from the physical plane to the internet, insisting on the idea that protecting a physical property, such as a book, bound in covers, is the same as protecting intellectual property, while we realize that “intellectual products by their nature are copied and shared freely and it is on the whole good for society that they be so [Lessig Wiki].”
If we create books today differently from what was once done by Cervantes and his contemporaries, if this creation resembles more a communication between readers and authors, then imposing limits to its access or trying to translate it into something printable means simply distorting our perception like Don Quixote did. Promoting the 18th century copyright standards in an environment determined by endless copies of a non-static text, is nothing but a fool’s errand, and to think this will succeed, is to mistake a fool for a brave knight of old.
For promoting the awareness of the idea that the issue of copyright has surpassed the quibble between authors and publishers, and is now the question of economic growth and knowledge advancement, a reading on its need to adapt to the digital era is suggested. You should also get yourself familiar with the usage of Creative Commons licenses that work not against copyright, but aim to improve it and set a global standard for the new sharing culture.
Other than that, choosing from our collection of more than 1,600 open access books, all free of copyright, should be a fine way to celebrate this day.