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Introducing NCTE-CCCC's Intellectual Property Committee and Intellectual Property Caucus

With deep gratitude to editor Martine Courant Rife, I welcome you to a new feature: IP Reports. These monthly articles are being sponsored jointly by the Intellectual Property Committee and Intellectual Property Caucus to keep you updated on the latest developments and research.

What, then, is "intellectual property," and why are two groups interested in it? Intellectual property issues have been vexed ever since laws were enacted in Great Britain (and then the United States) during the 1700s that treated products of the mind as tangible goods. In the centuries that have followed, "intellectual property" has come to include copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. For the NCTE/CCCC community, copyright issues are perhaps the most familiar.

Copyright laws define concepts such as "fair use"; copyright contracts manage our publications and instructional materials; and copyright holders must often be consulted to acquire permissions to reproduce images or other materials. In recent years, traditional understandings of copyright have been challenged by digital media, particularly with the advent of concepts such as the Creative Commons license, open source, and open access. Similarly, current social mores and research have reshaped our understandings of all aspects of intellectual property:  authorship, plagiarism, the public domain, a university's capacity to hold patents, institutional repositories for preprint and postprint work, students' rights to their own texts, the effects of institutional branding and trademarks, the conflict of interests between dissertation research and proprietary data, and so on.

To keep pace with these changes, the CCCC Intellectual Property Committee was established in 1996. The IP Committee is composed of nine members who represent different constituencies among the NCTE/CCCC memberships. The Committee is part of the official governing structure of the CCCC and reports directly to the Executive Committee. Its primary charge is "to keep the CCCC and NCTE memberships informed about intellectual property developments." The IP Committee also proposes policy statements on a variety of issues to be considered by the Executive Committee and NCTE/CCCC memberships.

The IP Committee emerged from the work of like-minded scholars who came together in 1994 to establish the IP Caucus. The IP Caucus regularly sponsors its own events at the annual CCCC Convention. Caucus members undertake projects to devise new instructional materials; articles, books, and websites; policy statements; conference plans; and so on to support research, publication, and action on IP issues. The IP Caucus and the IP Committee are separate entities, but they coordinate. In some cases, the Caucus acts as a task force for the Committee; at other times, the Caucus proposes actions to be considered by the Committee. 

The most recent work of the IP Caucus and the IP Committee can be found online.  The IP Caucus maintains a resource website at http://ccccip.org/.  Meanwhile, the IP Committee sponsors The Top Intellectual Property Developments of the Year, reports that can be accessed through the NCTE website at http://www.ncte.org/cccc/committees/ip.  As you will find, individual members of both IP groups are constantly engaged in new research and activist projects. The monthly IP Reports will enable you to stay informed on the latest progress. 

Karen Lunsford, Chair, Intellectual Property Committee

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