Sunday, June 22, 2008

common sense copyright

When you work in a creative industry like we do, copyright is a major issue – it's what allows us to make a living. In a video posted on the TED website, internet lawyer Larry Lessing makes a very compelling argument – one of the most eloquent and reasonable I've seen – for reevaluating our current copyright laws. The way legislation is now, a large majority of average, law-abiding citizens are breaking those laws on a daily basis. Specifically speaking of mashups and similar forms of creativity, Lessing points out that these are forms of literacy, of how "kids" come to understand digital technologies and its relationship to themselves. But...
"The architecture of copyright law and the architecture of digital technologies as they interact have produced the presumption that these activities are illegal. Because if copyright law at its core regulates something called copies, then in the digital world the one fact we can't escape is that every single use of culture produces a copy. Every single use, therefore, requires permission. Without permission you are a trespasser. ... Common sense, though, has not yet revolted."

With Minister of Industry Jim Prentice's Bill C-61 (see CBC and Michael Geist), it's obvious common sense is not winning. I haven't figured out yet how all this affects our line of work, but I think it's definitely something to pay attention to.

Here's the full video. (Filmed Mar. 2007. Approx. 20 min.)

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