Conference Information

The Digital Cultures Project of the University of California is staging a conference, which is open to public, on a matter of urgent concern.


Time: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 6-8, 2003


Location: The University of California Washington Center and, for Saturday only, the Washington College of Law of American University.

The UC Washington Center is located at 1608 Rhode Island Avenue, NW (202.974.6200). It is approximately three blocks north up 17th street from the Farragut North Metro station (about a ten minute walk) and approximately 3 blocks southeast down Massachusetts Avenue from the Dupont Circle Metro station (about a fifteen minute walk). Both stations are on the Metro system's Red line. (Directions to UC Washington Center; Local Street Map by Yahoo Maps)

The Washington College of Law of American University is located at 4801 Massachusetts Ave., N.W. (WCL Home Page) The conference will be held in Room 603.


Brief Rationale: The networked computer has thrown copyright into crisis, but the defense of copyright threatens the networked computer. Because the computer is a universal copying machine, and because the networked computer can transmit copies across the global network, the networked computer threatens to render copyright a dead letter. But, copyright is fundamental to the media ecology of the modern world: the legal protections of copyright have justified the investments of time, energy and money necessary for the invention and institution of the feature film, radio, television, and the networked computer. However, if, following the injunctions of the big media companies, the networked computer's software and hardware is restructured to protect copyright, the computer could lose its virtues as a technology of inscription, and the Internet could lose its valuably open character. For example, a user could find it impossible to invoke simple computer commands like "save, save as, cut, copy and paste and reveal source code;” it could become impossible to remix content or make it available to other users on the network. At the same time, purchasers of copyrighted content could lose customary rights enjoyed in an analog medium (like the printed book): to reread, lend, and resell; to make archival copies; to exercise fair use for the purposes of teaching, criticism, parody, and art.

The battle about the future of copyright and the networked computer has been joined, but, so far, only the largest economic stakeholders have had an effective voice. Large media companies have proposed legal measures to change the networked computer so as to protect their copyrights (e.g. the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-de-encryption provision; the Hollings Bill draconian controls on all digital devices); hardware and software companies have resisted those measures that would foreclose on the future of the networked computer (e.g. the temporary set back to the Hollings Bill). Media and software companies are legitimate stakeholders and should be part of this debate and Stakeholders' Congress. But so should others.

Our previous conferences:
April 2003: Preservation, Archiving and Dissemination of Electronic Literature
March 2002: Interfacing Knowledge: New Paradigms for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
June 2001: Database Design for Online Collaboration
November 2000: The UC Digital Cultures Research Conference
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