I will be at Notre Dame on Friday, April 12, to give a lunchtime talk to the Working Group on Computational Methods in the Humanities and Sciences on copyright, text analysis, and the legal issues involved in digital humanities research. I’ll be speaking at an event organized by Assistant Professor Matthew Wilkens who works on contemporary fiction, literary theory, digital humanities, and social studies of science.
Copyright law is based on a set of rules developed in the 18th Century to regulate the printing press. Today’s copyright law still carriers with it the legacy of print-era assumptions that have been profoundly disturbed by the digital economy. My talk will focus on the impact of successive waves of technology on copyright law and explain why the non-expressive use of copyrighted works by copy-reliant technologies presents a profoundly new issue for copyright law.
My interest in the digital humanities grew out of earlier work on Internet search engines and plagiarism detection software. Text mining software and other copy-reliant technologies do not read, understand, or enjoy copyrighted works, nor do they deliver these works directly to the public. They do, however, necessarily copy them in order to process them as grist for the mill, raw materials that feed various algorithms and indices.