Following Peter’s rebuttal, we’ll provide a short response, and then the floor is open up in the remarks. At the chance of seeming to be allied with the antichrist, I would like to indicate that you will be missing a big part of Lessig’s point. And one part from it is undeniable – laws have not caught up with changing technology and social practice.
If you have never seen it, you will need to watch RIP – A Remix Manifesto. It’s openly on the interwebs. It creates a convincing debate that copyright regulation is broken pretty. I don’t trust all of it, but I really do agree with some of it. It’s clear that copyright laws has been written for the large copyright aggregator, not the self-employed creator. The US registration scheme is definitely written to protect the interests of big press although it works against the self-employed creator. I think that one of the difficulties we’ve is that photographers have cast their lot with big media, and our passions do not coincide.
As a rule, we don’t have the legal firepower nor the long-term desire for IP security to warrant support of the same procedures. By taking the comparative part of copyright aggregators, we tell the world, yeah, we are privately of the assholes (as many folks understand them). But we aren’t Warner music – collecting royalties on “Happy Birthday” 100 years later. We have an different set of realities entirely, needs and priorities.
Pretending that our passions coincide with those of big corporate and business copyright aggregators will not be effective for all of us, in the long term. I’m not at all saying that appropriation from the unbiased artist without payment is okay. I don’t think Lessig is saying that either. I think he is discussing big press – remixing works which have become part of the cultural fabric, and also have already gained a generous return.
Of course this is a tough line for us to walk. I don’t want to say any appropriation is simply okay. 400,000 fine for downloading it a small number of MP3 documents from Napster? I, personally, don’t think that’s a reasonable consequence for the same as shoplifting a CD from Walmart. You are able to say “it’s the law”, however the law didn’t make it happen by itself. It got because big press made it happen there.
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And they pushed for that laws instead of one which would really be good for the independent originator – such as the right to sue for copyright infringement in small promises court, rather than federal court. I believe what Lessig says is that laws have never caught up with the truth of the digital age. The deficiency of those laws gets much more apparent once you take your perspective overseas.
A licensing scheme that seems plausible in america is laughably unrealistic in the majority of all of those other world. I recently spoke with a software company consultant who acknowledged that there is hardly any way that they could mass market in India or China. The value proposition is broken.
I have observed this myself in Africa. I certainly don’t possess the answers (in many cases, there simply are no good answers at this time). And I don’t think Lessig has all the answers either. But until we accept some of the complexities and nuances of the whole situation, we won’t even start down the road to a solution that works for the 3rd party creator.
As I said earlier, I suggest looking at Brett Gaylor’s film RIP. The laws against the fraud of intellectual property should be up to date to permit for better enforcement, compensation and tracking. So, in the mean time, people should be encouraged to steal photographs from photographers, and photographers should be encouraged to dispose of their IP or even to allow unauthorized and objectionable uses of their creations? Anyone can go to your website, take photographs, utilize them, “remix” them, and do so without your knowledge or permission. Please post your comments by clicking the hyperlink below. If you questions, please present them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.