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Monday, October 13, 2008 

Copyright law needs fixing

Ever thought about the fundamental problem with copyright law at the digital age? I mean, can it be that our kids are pirates or maybe we, the old fashioned adults, refuse to change our habits and instead declare their actions illegal?

A fascinating article by professor Lawrence Lessig answers this question and suggest how it can be fixed. Here is a quote that captures the essence:

Copyright law is triggered every time there is a copy. In the digital age, where every use of a creative work produces a "copy," that makes as much sense as regulating breathing. The law should also give up its obsession with "the copy," and focus instead on uses -- like public distributions of copyrighted work -- that connect directly to the economic incentive copyright law was intended to foster.

Looks like we, the adults, are caught up in regulating our kids breathing. Who is the criminal now?

Great article. Doesn't defend 'piracy' as it's title suggests, but rather highlights how copyright law currently makes pirates of anyone who dares use any form of copy of commercial work. Cites good examples and makes some good proposals. Thanks for the link.

Ronen, I'm intrigued, have you thought any more about the music tax idea? Still think it's a bad idea? I promise I won't deliver any more sermons (I think I've made all the points I have to make now!), I'm just genuinely intrigued to hear if you still oppose the idea, especially since, post-credit-slump, a small tax to make all music legitimately available to everyone might help avoid music from dying altogether(!) and keep people sane in these difficult times!

Interesting article ! the digital age is a tough one to get you head around , so many laws of what you can download and what you can't.
Now most households own one or more portable storage devices(mp3 players , laptops , mobile phones and memory/flash cards) something has to change , we all make back ups , transfer music from one device to another and now a new spanner in the works .....vod(video on demand) opens a whole new can of worms as to what is legal to copy and store for personal enjoyment ??

as for tax on music ??? p2p will take over the music scene if music is taxed and the inland revenue will be chasing you for tax evasion so it looks like plenty of new jobs opening in the tax office !!!!

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@The Noble Emperor

I just to confirm that music will never die.

Ask Mozart.

One thing I think was missed here that is quite important. People dont want to pay, and they shouldnt have to. Originally Commercial Music (Radio) and Commercial Television were broadcast FREE and received FREE. They were paid for by watching/listening to commercials which advertisers paid for.

Cable, Satellite, and other media presenters changed this by dipping their fingers in the pockets of the consumers as well as the advertisers. This is what will fix this problem, and hopefully what will win out again! I see a great comback with this in companies like Hulu going back to this where their service is free, but ads are embedded, and as a result their profit is resonable and the consumer isnt tied to a $100 a month bill. Just my 2 cents.

"So she did what any citizen of the 21st century would do: She uploaded the file to YouTube"

Then 'any citizen' needs to clue up: everyone can see youtube (when the transcoding hasn't raped away the quality unlike blip.tv).

There are plenty of ways to have hosted the video for limited / privately shared viewing.


"A spokeswoman for YouTube declined to comment."

Wait until wave... then there will be 'enough presence' to communicate 'correctly'.


"This sort of thing happens all the time today."

So does shoplifting, promoted youth fornication, and crack snorting.


"There was no plausible way in which Prince or Universal was being harmed by Holden Lenz."

This is a clear infringement on Universal's new fascist powers under DMCA.

"Yet Universal's lawyers insist to this day that sharing this home movie is willful copyright infringement under the laws of the United States"

Naturally.. how else are they to fill their respective hourly quotas?


"What is it that allows these lawyers and executives to take a case like this seriously"

Direct deposit feature on one's checking account.


"some important social or corporate reason"

protecting profit is evil. quit your job to experience the reality of it.


"We could craft copyright law to encourage a wide range of both professional and amateur creativity"

Glory based? That'll take hold as soon as my ISP will accept it as payment for bandwidth use.

"Because their creativity captures or includes the creativity of others, the owners of the original creation are increasingly invoking copyright to stop the spread of this unauthorized speech."

Now substitute "use" for "speech" in that last sentence for a mild shift in perspective.


"This new work builds upon the old by in effect "quoting" the old."

This WSJ author might not fall into the 'well educated' column.


"Instead, the lawyers insist permission is required to include the protected work in anything new."

'Life, liberty, and'

The last phrase was iotas from properly 'property ownership'

Does that help make sense of this sheer craziness?

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