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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Konomark - A New Way to Be Friendly with Your Intellectual Property

Konomark_logo_175Would you be willing to share your PowerPoint presentations, class handouts, review problems, and other teaching materials with your fellow professors? Most of us probably would.

Yet, how comfortable would you be with e-mailing a colleague you’ve never met and asking if you could use some of their materials? Slightly uncomfortable? I’m guessing that many of us might ask more often if our fellow professors actually invited us to make the request.

What would be useful is some way of marking material we would generously share. Some signal – a word, a symbol – placed on our websites could serve as an invitation to colleagues and others to ask.

As an experiment, I’ve come up with a symbol, a name, and some guidelines for a system to encourage people to communicate their willingness to share copyrighted works. The symbol I’ve drawn is inset. I have no formal training in illustration, but my two-year-old, Joe, immediately recognized it as a pineapple. The pineapple has been a traditional symbol of hospitality. And the name I’ve come up with is “konomark.” The Hawaiian word “kono” means to invite, prompt, or ask in.

I’ve konomarked my website at eejlaw.com, by which I mean to signal to everyone my willingness to share my teaching materials, including mindmaps, slide shows, case abridgments, and old exams. Soon, I will be posting photos that illustrate legal concepts, which I also intend to share.

I invite you to consider doing konomarking your own teaching materials as well. Marking your website with the konomark will not have any legal effect. It does not surrender certain rights like a Creative Commons license does, for instance. The konomark is simply an invitation that says, “I’m generally willing to share my copyrighted material, often for free. So go ahead and ask.”

I’ve also posted a webpage, konomark.org, that explains the konomark experiment in greater detail. The material on the webpage is written, for now, as an FAQ for an audience of non-lawyers. At some point, I'd like to explain a little bit more of the theoretical and policy underpinnings to the idea. For now, I'll just say that I am a big fan of public sharing licenses – such as those from Creative Commons and the free-software movement – but they are not right for all circumstances. There is no doubt that, with regimes like Creative Commons, there is a great benefit gained in not needing to ask permission before you use something. But there may be a benefit, as well, to going through the process of asking permission, especially if a sign has been hung out on the porch, so to speak, that invites such requests. By having a two-party communication regarding permission, a connection is established. These connections may lead to friendships and feelings of community - the kinds of values that Richard Stallman, open-source-software pioneer, talked about when he wrote his manifesto.

And, at any rate, when it comes to law-school teaching materials, adoption of Creative Commons licenses by professors seems to be somewhat limited. So to encourage even more sharing, I think konomark might be a helpful idea.

There are some technological and operational subtleties I would like to work up at some point, but I think konomark.org is a good start. Please let me know what you think. I would be very grateful for your comments and suggestions.

Posted by Eric E. Johnson on April 8, 2008 at 06:00 PM in Information and Technology, Intellectual Property, Teaching Law | Permalink


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» Konomark and the extension of Aloha Jurisprudence from PropertyProf Blog
Via Eric Johnson over at prawfsblawg, I've just learned about konomark--a pineapple inside a circle. It's a symbol that that lets visitors to your website know that you are generally willing to share your copyrighted content, such as photos, educational [Read More]

Tracked on May 31, 2008 12:35:23 PM


Love the idea, and I've posted a description and link-back on the Legal Writing Prof Blog, http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2008/04/konomarketing.html.

Posted by: Coleen Barger | Apr 14, 2008 3:43:12 PM

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