LAWRENCE LESSIG’S 5-POINT COPYRIGHT LAW PLAN
Lawrence Lessig has a new book coming out this week entitled Remix, published by Penguin Press. It’s excerpted/adapted in the Wall Street Journal today; in the piece, Lessig argues that current copyright law is outdated and counterproduction, stifling both creativity and economic progress.
The return of this “remix” culture could drive extraordinary economic growth, if encouraged, and properly balanced. It could return our culture to a practice that has marked every culture in human history — save a few in the developed world for much of the 20th century — where many create as well as consume. And it could inspire a deeper, much more meaningful practice of learning for a generation that has no time to read a book, but spends scores of hours each week listening, or watching or creating, “media.”
Yet our attention is not focused on these creators. It is focused instead upon “the pirates.” We wage war against these “pirates”; we deploy extraordinary social and legal resources in the absolutely failed effort to get them to stop “sharing.”
This war must end. It is time we recognize that we can’t kill this creativity. We can only criminalize it. We can’t stop our kids from using these tools to create, or make them passive. We can only drive it underground, or make them “pirates.” And the question we as a society must focus on is whether this is any good. Our kids live in an age of prohibition, where more and more of what seems to them to be ordinary behavior is against the law. They recognize it as against the law. They see themselves as “criminals.” They begin to get used to the idea.
That recognition is corrosive. It is corrupting of the very idea of the rule of law. And when we reckon the cost of this corruption, any losses of the content industry pale in comparison.
What follows are five recommendations for changing copyright law.