The Birmingham Salon Debate: Have we got copyright wrong?

Gordon Bowker, a biographer of James Joyce, recently went public on the restrictions and even legal threats he’s suffered from Stephen Joyce, grandson and controller of the literary estate of James Joyce. Under copyright, creators of original works are granted exclusive rights, for a limited time (in the UK until 70 years have passed since the author’s death), protecting their works, and by implication revenues, generated from them.

So what do we make of the current copyright regime? Is it, as Cory Doctorow and others argue, a principle that is impossible to maintain in the modern world where reproduction is almost effortless? Should we take his pragmatic line and formulate alternative licensing and business models that are adaptive to the new realities of the digital age? Or should we, as Brendan O’Neill argues, make a stand against the devaluation of works of art and entertainment as freebies, and defend the notion of social creations deserving of reward and accreditation? And as the British government prepares to make publicly available scientific research for everyone to read for free, are there separate principles involved in research literature on the one hand and artistic works on the other?

The debate will be introduced by Simon Leach, a leading photographer and President of The Association of Photographers, the founding organisation of Copyright for Clients and also features Rob Styles, an internet technologist who has worked on large data projects for the USA and UK governments. A published technology writer and unpublished sci-fi author, he is a strong proponent of open sharing principles and co-author of the Open Data Commons Public Domain Licence.

Conme along and join in the debate, everyone welcome.

£5 on the door (waged) or a donation of your choice if you’re not.

7.30pm Thursday 13th September at The Ropewalk, 15-20 St. Paul’s Square, Birmingham B3 1QU