Lawrence Lessig (AKA Larry) is the author of “The Future of Ideas: the fate of the commons in a connected world;” it is one of several books he has written about copyrights and related subjects. He has written extensively about how copyrights are being misused to control information, music, movies etc., for the benefit of those that control it, mainly the Mass Media and other major corporations, at the expense of the vast majority of the public. This is supposed to provide incentives for those that create new books, art, educational material etc. Unfortunately it is no longer doing that instead it is being used to control our culture and educational material.Lawrence Lessig has written about how most ideas in the past were built by building on the work of those that came before them; this is why copyrights are supposed to be for limited time and they’re supposed to allow fair use so that people can build on these ideas and come up with a steadily improving culture of music, literature, movies, art, and education. He has put his emphasis somewhat equally on the different uses for copyrights, which is fine; however I believe that the educational aspect should be the top priority as I have indicated on past blogs on this subject including Copyright violators are thought criminals and Copyright Bureaucracy.The reason for this is that in a sincere democracy the public needs a good education to understand how the system works and how to participate in it. Copyrights are making it harder for most people in the lower and middle class to get a quality education due to the added costs and the fact that by controlling the distribution of an enormous amount of educational material it makes it much more difficult to access it especially in the internet age when dramatic improvements in the education system are possible but they’re not being realized due to copyright laws.
The Mass Media is using lawsuits to infringe on the rights of many countries around the world to make their own laws about copyrights. In one case they sued people in Canada for doing things that are legal in Canada but not in the USA. The reason the laws are so extreme in the USA is because they have corrupted the political system here and now they trying to use their power to suppress rights abroad as well as at home. They have used the threat of law suits to prevent scrutiny of things that are being censored. They’re using copyrights to make it much harder to do research on how the Mass Media is becoming a much more effective propaganda machine. We now have the technology to enable many members of the public to review a large amount of news that dates back decades and check on how the media has been reporting on global affairs and how the government has been changing their story on a regular basis; however copyright laws prevent us from making the best of this.
The one thing that I disagree with Lawrence Lessig on is whether or not the system of copyrights is the best way to finance academic work and other educational material. As indicated in my previous blog about copyright bureaucracy I think we should find a better way to finance this work, presumably through grants or something similar. I previously indicated that I would be coming up with more ideas on this, and was looking for suggestion, which is still true. The advantage of this would be enormous; it would mean that new research would be available to everyone immediately not just the privileged and well educated that can afford it. In a sincere democracy rights and education shouldn’t be reserved for the upper class. I may not get to this for a few more weeks or even months but I will get back to it. I don’t consider music and movies quite as important since they are essentially luxuries and if they’re handled reasonably they aren’t urgent. We already have enough music literature and movies that could be available if the copyright length was reduced to a reasonable time. The owners of these copyrights should get no additional compensation for losing excessive copyrights that they never should have had in the first place. If these suggestions do work and they apply well to music and other entertainment as well I certainly wouldn’t object.
Lawrence Lessig has indicated that he believes that we should be able to exchange ideas more freely and build on them and he backed this up by making most of his materials available free to anyone who wants to use it for non commercial purposes as long as they cite the source. This enables people like me to cite extensive excerpts from his books, even though he doesn’t realize it. The following are excerpts from his book. If you think his work is worthwhile, you think it is worth providing some sales for someone who has made this available free, and you think it should be available to larger percentage of the public check your local library and consider donating a hard copy if they don’t have one. Thank You
To read Lessig’s old blog posts, buy his books or download his free E-books see the following: