[Cc-hk] Does Current Copyright Law Hinder Innovation?
charlespmok at gmail.com
Thu Jan 22 14:41:46 EST 2009
Does Current Copyright Law Hinder Innovation?
January 9, 2009
In his book Remix, Stanford"s Lawrence Lessig argues for a new approach.
article & permissions<http://sloanreview.mit.edu/the-magazine/articles/2009/winter/50203/does-current-copyright-law-hinder-innovation/?purchase=yes/>
For the past decade, Lawrence Lessig, a professor of law at Stanford Law
School, has been best known as an iconoclastic, inventive voice for
copyright reform. In his new book *Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in
the Hybrid Economy* (New York: Penguin, October 2008), Lessig argues that
copyright law has not kept up with innovation and is in fact holding it
back. Remix is of a piece with Lessig's previous work, but it's in the
Internet arena, the focus of Remix, that he makes his most powerful
arguments yet for revising copyright to enable innovation and create new
markets. The Internet-enabled world of mashups and remixes — an intertwining
of art that people create and art that people appropriate — has led us,
Lessig argues, to a new "read/write culture."
- Lessig"s site <http://lessig.org/>
- Lessig"s talk at the TED2007
- Creative Commons <http://creativecommons.org/>
More than just an observer, Lessig has been involved in developing new
approaches to copyright. He's a founder of Creative Commons, a San
Francisco-based nonprofit that helps many companies and individuals navigate
the uncharted areas between full copyright, where all rights are reserved,
and public domain, where none are. Creative Commons licenses are intended to
help producers retain copyright, yet at the same time allow the copyrighted
work to be remixed or repurposed. Creative Commons licenses let the creators
of a work of art (or software, etc.) control what others can do with the
material they created. Some Creative Commons licenses permit anything,
others permit some changes in some circumstances and still others have
different rules for for-profit and not-for-profit remixing.
The Creative Commons licenses Lessig advocates are quite timely in this age
of Internet mashups — brand-new creations that emerge from the combination
of multiple sources — but the friction between innovation, both technical
and artistic, and rights holders is not new. Onstage at the TED2007
conference in Monterey, California, Lessig kicked off a rapid-fire talk by
noting how John Philip Sousa, the master of American march music, was
concerned a century ago about the invention of the phonograph because he
feared it would end entertainment as a form in which amateurs could be
stars. The phonograph limited choices, Sousa fretted — an argument one could
make about large media companies today.
During the rest of his tour de force presentation at TED, Lessig galloped
through a century of the battle between rights holders and innovators,
inexorably bringing us to the present ascent of user-generated content,
thanks to which — a century later — Sousa's dream of amateurs getting heard
has returned. Lessig made a point worth noting: The technology may be
different and the money in question may be larger, but the current battles
between rights holders and innovators mirror earlier ones that were played
out over at least the past century.
Despite his concerns, Lessig thinks there is potential for copyright law to
evolve in response to 21st-century technologies. "There's a lot of crying
and screaming at any moment of significant technical change," he said in a
recent interview. "Those who are flourishing and prospering from the current
technology are the loudest screamers. But the market quickly figures out how
to profit in the context of the new technology, and pretty soon into the
battle, the competitive system drives people to focus on how to make money
rather than how to try to stop progress. That's what's beginning to happen
There are plenty of pre-Web 2.0 examples of rights holders benefiting from
the work of subsequent innovators. Under U.S. copyright law, for example,
compulsory licenses require rights holders for songs to let others use their
work, so long as there's adequate compensation. As a result, in the music
industry, there have long been cover versions in which a performer
re-imagines the original version of a piece of music. Lessig advocates
something similar for today's mashup makers. "These artists mix together a
whole bunch of different bits of creativity and create something new out of
it. What we need for them is what people who do cover versions have the
right to: nondiscriminatory access to the bits of culture that might be put
together to produce something interesting or new and compelling."
— Jimmy Guterman
Happy New Year!
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Cc-hk