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September 19, 2005
Future of the Digital Commons - MIT Communications Forum
Thursday, September 22, 2005
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
32-155 (Stata Center) (see http://whereis.mit.edu for how to find places at MIT)
Nancy Kranish, former President, American Library Assn
Ann Wolpert, Director, MIT Libraries
Respondent: Steven Pinker, Harvard University
Arguments and legal confrontations over the control of music, writing and visual materials have become a permanent feature of contemporary life and will almost certainly enlarge and intensify in future years. As corporate producers and distributors - including some universities and private libraries - move aggressively to claim ownership of digital content of all kinds and as some industries lobby for building surveillance principles into the operating systems of computers, others defend an alternative vision. This alternative embraces ideals of sharing and civic community and warns that recent extensions of copyright threaten creativity and the free exchange of ideas. Is there a future for this idea of a digital commons? Is the American tradition of free public libraries a valuable precedent for the digital age? Is the commercialization of cyberspace already a problem for those seeking reliable information? Are there features or tendencies inherent in digital technology that will always challenge and even undermine efforts to control information or charge a fee for accessing it?
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