Lessig and Copyright

It was a pleasure to start reading this book. I thought it was well-written and very easy to read. The ideas expressed it in resonated within me. But the more I read the more jaded I became. Lessig’s ideas seemed to be repetitive and also not clear. He seemed to be advocating something that he found fascinating but had not quite managed to grasp. His thoughts became problematic and I honestly could not understand where he thought boundaries between piracy and sharing should be drawn. Based on these feelings and analysis, my questions are:

  1. Lessig says that he is against piracy but supports sharing. He claims that amateurs should be encouraged to fiddle with original work and create their own versions of it. He advocates creativity and fair use of original work. The basis for this seems to be economics. As long as the person altering the work isn’t making a profit then it is fair use. This then becomes problematic. Lessig also in the same book seems to be praising Google and other big media conglomerates for being able to use free use to their advantage. So then how is that different from piracy? If sharing entails a community and being able to access creativity for free and the greater good. Then how when it is abused by a media conglomerate is it still okay? With this argument, then video piracy is also advantageous to the original media workers as it promotes their songs/movies possibly to places that would have otherwise never had access to it. So it is a win-win. If big companies such as Google, Facebook et all can do it why can’t a pirate?
  2. If Lessig’s argument is that it is okay for Google to do it because they came up with the innovations through which to make people volunteering information be profitable. Then would it not also be okay to praise the innovations of p2p file sharing? If p2p was able to come up with a way where a little information shared under fair use could be complied by a machine to create the whole, then how can you persecute each person for being willing to share that little bit. If a bunch of my friends gave me a piece of the puzzle and I created the whole.. would that make me a pirate?
  3. Also if the point of sharing is just for inspiration and creativity. Then wouldn’t RO culture also permit that? If a person watched a Madonna vidoe and was inspired by her to create similar music is that not creativity? Why is there a need to be able to take her music and chop it up and claim it as their own? Or is RW technology best for the purposes of satire, humor and fandom? Or then alternately if someone made a mash-up and profited from that is that wrong?

Lessig seems to promote free culture but at the same time complicates it. He does not draw lines but rather seems to be saying it is a continuous process. If that is the case then a criminal today may not be one tomorrow. I do hope we can get more into the nuances of why big media companies using free software, information, videos by fans is  considered technical innovation but the use of it by others is considered piracy. Should it then be that any venture that makes a profit should pay? Would that be a better solution. Use if but if you make money then share the wealth too.


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