Saturday, November 06, 2004

Intellectual Property Threats, chaired by Lawrence Lessig

[Still at BloggerCon III. A few notes]

Lessig: "The law is not your friend."

Lessig's fundamental goal here is the goal of his Creative Commons web site: to cause blogging and Podcasting to progress and flower over time in ways that will make it impossible for lawyers to shut it down. It uses an RSS format that embeds the Creative Commons License in the RSS feed itself. That way the reader of the feed can see tell immediately that it's remixable.

Lessig began by putting up a grid showing which forms of artistic expression (sound recordings, choreography, 8 others) are under copyright control for each of six sorts of distribution: copy, derivative, distribution, performance, display, digital performance.

Intermediaries don't care about fair use -- they only care about whether they might face a lawsuit -- so often web sites and so forth will impose on their users rules more restrictive than copyright.

Discussion of the v. LA Times battle.

One hope here is that as millions of people get involved in the creative process there will be lots of entertainment product that isn't owned by people like record companies.

Audience-member: We have the first glimmering of an alliance around the electronics guys, the ISPs, etc, against the Hollywood guys. Just a glimmering.

"Breaking the knee-caps of the intenet" is the way to save Intellectual Property.

A lobbiest points out that we have to get the geekPac and iPac into the top 20 lobbying organizations -- we need to put money into this.

If we thought about furniture like we think about intellectual property: if you wanted to use your dining room table as a desk in your study, you'd have to call and ask permission. "Can I put an apple computer on it?" "No no, we have an exclusive deal with Microsoft."

What does the blog community offer? Support Creative Commons. Give money to iPac. Trackback is a great way of exposing the richness of content, the fact that all content borrows from other content. The RIAA would have you think that "Hit me Baby one more time" is one monolithic thing. A great way for the blog community to help iis to create lots of great content that sucks all the eyeballs out of copyright-protected content.

Microsoft is bad (as usual): Steve Ballmer says "The most popular format on the iPod is stolen." Microsoft is the one who led Orin Hatch to believe the Induce Act could be passed. The heroes in stopping this included Intel. It will be back in the lame duck session. This all is a growing problem because Microsoft is now in the content busines and wants to make money by selling software that plays data in IP-protecting formats.

People need to talk more about the bands -- e.g. Pearl Jam -- that are doing really well financially with a model where they give stuff away. Indie labels etc. The creators of South Park are behind fan distribution. Note that this is important politically because it creates a set of people who are successful in an alternative system. You need to be able to hold that up so that our lawmakers can see an alternative to the Hollywood system. Lessig then points out that if you can get all these people to unite behind a very clear position, e.g. Creative Commons, their presence would be more powerful.

Cory Doctorow book released on creative commons: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (

Lobbiest: I give $150 to EFF, $150 to ACLU because I don't think these rights are only part of the on-line world, $150 to legal defense funds for specific IP issues (there are many started from year to year, case by case)

Lobbiest: AIPAC, the Israeli's, spend only $13 million, is the 2nd-most effective lobbying organization.

Roe v. Wade is the case that put in privacy. If it's overturned, this is very worrisome for IP. It may increase their ability to snoop around in my ISP's records on me.


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