ArtMob Exploring Intellectual Property in Canada

artmob logo

Last week I was invited, wearing my hat of law librarian, to participate in a round table discussion on art, the Internet and intellectual property with the group ArtMob. ArtMob is a group of artists, scholars and other stakeholders interested in the intersection between Canadian culture and copyright and intellectual property law, and how it comes into play with the Web.

Core participants in the project who attended the day I was there include:

  • Rosemary Coombe, a Tier One Canada Research Chair in Law, Communication and Cultural Studies at York University in Toronto who is cross-appointed to Osgoode Law
  • Darren Wershler-Henry, former senior editor at Coach House Books, Darren Wershler-Henry is the author or co-author of five books about technology and culture, and Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Bill Kennedy, Project Director for ArtMob and owner of Stop14 Media, a web development company and consultancy that specializes in the arts, publishing and not-for-profit sectors.

We explored a range of subjects during the discussion which I hope to discuss in future Slaw posts. At the centre of discussions was the first sample website created by Kennedy and Wershler-Henry, the online archive of Canadian poet/artist bp Nichol – Currently available in beta, this site sits on the open source platform Drupal. More features are planned to make the site increasingly interactive. For now, this pulls together a lot of digital content that would have been sitting in private collections.

Creating a collection of this type raises all types of questions:

  • Who owns the content?
  • What happens when content is reused and repurposed out on the web?
  • Can other collections like this be created for other artists and groups?
  • What other groups will have an interest in this?
  • How best to make this available to other groups?

    We explored how a site like this might be used in an educational (high school) setting and how libraries might help to make this content available to researchers.

    We didn’t have all the answers, but I was impressed with how they have developed their thinking, how wide-ranging it is, and how open they are to new ideas. If you are interested in Canadian culture and intellectual property, this is a group to watch.


  1. Connie this sounds really fascinating. It will be interesting to see if governments are able to keep up with the pace of change (not that they have a great track record with copyright in the first place).

    Is this the death-knell of copyright?

  2. Our government has been playing the tune of big (American) corporations. That does not necessarily meet the needs of Canadians and to preserve/promote Canadian culture. If we continue to listen to them, our best cultural material will remain tied up in copyright or in people’s shoeboxes.

    There indeed has to be a balance so that our culture can remain alive, and this group is looking to explore that side of things.