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Invention, Copyright, and Digital Writing

Martine Courant Rife

Publication Year: 2013

This is the first empirical, mixed-methods study of copyright issues that speaks to writing specialists and legal scholars about the complicated intersections of rhetoric, technology, copyright law, and writing for the Internet. Martine Courant Rife opens up new conversations about how invention and copyright work together in the composing process for  digital writers and how this relationship is central to contemporary issues in composition pedagogy and curriculum.

In this era of digital writing and publishing, composition and legal scholars have identified various problems with writers’ processes and the law’s construction of textual ownership, such as issues of appropriation, infringement, and fair use within academic and online contexts. Invention, Copyright, and Digital Writing unpacks digital writers’ complex perceptions of copyright, revealing how it influences what they choose to write and how it complicates their work. Rife uses quantitative and qualitative approaches and focuses on writing as a tool and a technology-mediated activity, arguing the copyright problem is about not law but invention and the attendant issues of authorship.

Looking at copyright and writing through a rhetorical lens, Rife leverages the tools and history of rhetoric to offer insights into how some of our most ancient concepts inform our understanding of the problems copyright law creates for writers. In this innovative study that will be of interest to professional and technical writers, scholars and students of writing and rhetoric, and legal professionals, Rife offers possibilities for future research, teaching, curriculum design, and public advocacy in regard to composition and changing copyright laws.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4


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pp. 5-7


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-11

William Hart-Davidson deserves extra-special thanks for all of his professional advice and mentoring over the last several years. I could not have conducted the study or written this book without his time and attention. Dr. Hart-Davidson provided the intellectual framework for many of my ideas; his ideas, which he so generously shared, are peppered throughout these pages...

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1. Copyright and Composing: Invention and Digital Writing

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pp. 1-22

Copyright law and the issues around it increasingly intersect the interests of academics, and for that reason educators are not hesitating to participate in public forums where legal policy is made. An example of this participation is the recent letter submitted by the CCCC (Conference on College Composition...

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2. The Meaning of Misunderstanding among Digital Writers

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pp. 23-43

In this chapter, I analyze the survey data gathered in the first phase of the study by examining the presence of certain variables such as number of students, teachers, and other participants; levels of copyright knowledge among the population; and levels of chilled speech. In the next chapter, I continue the discussion I start here and examine possible differences between the presences of certain variables in particular populations, such as ...

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3. The Rhetoric of Truth

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pp. 44-60

This chapter takes a rhetorical view of the survey findings and methodology. I spend time elaborating on this rhetorical view because a survey is typically seen as a quantitative method—it permits counting and objectification of the data it elicits. Because there has been controversy about the need for and legitimacy of quantitative methods and those research methods that rely on numbers and counting in rhetoric and composi-...

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4. Seven Digital Writer Multimedia Vignettes

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pp. 61-91

Once I administered the large-scale digital survey examining respon-dents’ knowledge of, attitudes toward, and behavior involving copyright and digital writing, I moved on to the interviews. Using criterion-based sampling, I selected seven survey respondents for participation in discourse-based interviews. All interviewees were students who had taken the survey; all were from one university (but spanned a broad range of ...

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5. A Remixed Theory of (Digital) Authorship

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pp. 92-117

A s part of the mixed-methods approach, in the next couple of chapters, I integrate and synthesize the data from the surveys and the inter-views. First, I discuss a framework, a digital-context, remediated theory of Foucault’s “author-function” mixed with ANT, a theory of authorship reaching beyond the traditional “literary author” and deriving in part from my empirical work with “live” digital writers and their texts. Next, ...

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6. Toward a Metatheory of Rhetorical Invention in Digital Environments

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pp. 118-138

...problem. . . . Then began the faint call for the reinstatement of the lost art of invention—the art of discovering “what to say,” In this chapter I offer an inventional heuristic that takes into account the theory of authorship I developed in chapter 5. The inventional heuristic I offer in this chapter better situates the seven rhetorical topics (probability, copyright, fair use, ethics, design, culture, and employer requirements) ...

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7. Implications for the Future

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pp. 139-166

A theory of rhetorical invention is important to have when conducting research, teaching, or even trying to change the law. In this chapter, I’m going to try to outline ways that this study and its accompanying ideas can be useful as we move forward. First, I examine implications for future research. I next discuss curriculum issues and implications, outlining ways to use Section E of the survey as a portable teaching tool—including some ...

Appendix 1. Institutions with Confirmed Participation (N = 64)

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pp. 167-168

Appendix 2. Digital Survey

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pp. 169-179

Appendix 3. Answer Key for Survey Section E: Knowledge and Understanding of Fair Use

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pp. 180-186

Appendix 4. Interview Protocols: Sample Interview Questions

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pp. 187-188


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pp. 189-196


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pp. 197-214


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pp. 215-232

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Author Biography

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p. 233-233

Martine Courant Rife is a professor at Lansing Community College, where she teaches writing. Her work has most recently appeared in Technical Communication, Computers and Composition, Kairos, Teaching English in the Two-Year College, and E-learning and Digital Media. Rife is the 2007 recipient of the Frank R. Smith Outstanding Journal Article Award ...

Back Cover

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p. 234-234

E-ISBN-13: 9780809330980
E-ISBN-10: 0809330989
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809330966
Print-ISBN-10: 0809330962

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 17
Publication Year: 2013