Larry Lessig On How To Save Remix Culture
from the good-luck-with-that dept
Larry Lessig has a fantastic op-ed essay in the Wall Street Journal that tries to defend “remix culture” from draconian copyright laws that have made it illegal to build new creative works on the works of others. Not surprisingly, he makes some important points:
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.
Copyright law must be changed.
It’s definitely worth reading, and then considering the five suggestions he puts forth for how copyright can be fixed, though I disagree with him on whether or not his suggestions would actually work. I think they would significantly improve things from the way they are today, but Lessig still seems to think that there’s a way to “thread the needle” by distinguishing between commercial works and non-commercial works. The more I look, the less possible I think it is to distinguish between the two in any meaningful way.
Furthermore, Lessig’s solutions are focused very much on trying to “balance” the rights of amateur creative types with professional creative types. However, I think if you look at the economics and historical record, there’s no need to create “balance.” If content creators started adapting new business models, both can succeed tremendously, without having to worry about any kind of balance. A true solution suits both sides perfectly, benefiting both, without either side having to “balance” with the other.