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Podcast: How creativity is being strangled by the law

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Podcast length: 18 minutes 56 Seconds

Podcast Description

This cast from TED 2007, takes a look at how dart laying down of new laws and lobbying victories are twisting that which was designed to foster innovation, into a cage to prevent new innovation.

Presenter Biographies

Larry Lessig

No expert has brought as much fresh thinking to the field of contemporary copyright law as has Lawrence Lessig. A Stanford professor and founder of the school’s Center for Internet and Society, this fiery believer foresaw the response a threatened content industry would have to digital technology -- and he came to the aid of the citizenry.

As corporate interests have sought to rein in the forces of Napster and YouTube, Lessig has fought back with argument -- take his recent appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court, fighting the extension of copyright protection from 50 to 70 years -- and with solutions: He chairs Creative Commons, a nuanced, free licensing scheme for individual creators.

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61.4 MB

Podcast viewing notes

The podcast kicks off with a strong discussion of user generated content. The presenter Larry Lessig, does this by means of several stories, meant to show how user content can be opened up for business use.

The first was on the development of 'talking machines' or radios way back in the mists of time - which at the time the US govt thought to be a very bad idea, as they would stifle creativity. Culture would move from read-write for the masses, to read-only, where culture is beamed down from on high and the masses follow it.

As the presenter makes a point of, that is precisely what happened in most of the 20th century. Fads would come through TV or radio, and the masses would adopt them.

A second story shows the original laws governing land, whereby land ownership for thousands of years, gave you right to everything that was under the land, and everything above it. That law was challenged when the airplane came into mass usage.

A third looks at how open-source, independent musical broadcasting from BMI in the 1940s, shattered the monopoly cartel that governed all music broadcast rights in the states at that time, simply by being free, and not needing to charge exorbitant rates to any business that came along.

Finally the talk moves on to put those examples into perspective, and how the Internet in modern times is reviving the read-write culture of the world, by giving everyone the chance to contribute culture to everyone else.

The use of other people's work in new compilations is a major focus, with examples of anime repurposed to fit music tracks, and even Jesus Christ singing "I will survive" - taking original clips from anime and films, then remixing them to a new soundtrack.

The talk goes on to reiterate that remixing is not piracy. It is not taking another's work and selling it for personal profit; it is taking many ideas, mixing them together, and creating something all together new.

The law, he says, has not used common sense in dealing with this kind of content, as copyright laws have deemed that every use of work, even to create new works based on it, is a trespasser, in the same way as a plane flying 3000 feet over a farmer's field, is a trespasser upon that land.

Additional Research Links

Stanford Center for Internet and Society

Creative Commons

Staff Comments


Untitled Document .