What is Public Interest Authorship?

Hello, World! Welcome to the Public Interest Authorship blog, where we will discuss policy, news, events, tools, and resources related to the furtherance of authorship and publication in the public interest.

What is public interest authorship?

People create — that is, people author — for any number of reasons (self-expression, communication, and even fame and fortune come to mind). For many authors, and particularly for academic authors, spreading knowledge is a leading motivation. In the jargon of American copyright law, this advancement of knowledge is “the Progress of Science” for which our copyright law was designed. The public interest in enabling authors to broadly distribute their works is the “public interest” in “public interest authorship.”

What’s there to blog about?

While the digital age allows for the unprecedented dissemination of creative works, authors seeking to make their works available to the broadest possible audience are nonetheless confronted with any number of obstacles. These barriers may arise from within copyright law itself, from the economics of authorship and publication, or as a result of the information overload that can occur in the absence of curation.

Accepting that it is in our collective interest to encourage the wide dissemination of information that authors wish to share, the Public Interest Authorship blog will track and comment on developments in law and litigation, in publishing, and in information organization that further, prejudice, or otherwise affect authors in their role as distributors of information.

Stick around!

Now is an exciting and challenging time for public interest authorship — the Authors Guild litigation against HathiTrust and Google Books continues as the important fair use rulings in those cases are challenged on appeal; academic publishing giant Elsevier is taking down authors’ postings of their own articles in academic fora; wheels are spinning toward “Next Great Copyright Act“; and on top of everything else, we happen to be in the middle of Copyright Week. So stay tuned — we’ve got lots coming.