Lawrence Lessig has some interesting perspectives and ideas about copyright. He's recently written a book - Remix, where he is arguing that it's ok to remix copyright content and not pay the original owners, or allow them to preclude the remix if the copyright owner doesn't like how their work is represented.
In the piece below, Colbert takes Lessig to task - as only Colbert can, on this subject:
Two interesting notes:
1) In the piece, Colbert modifies the title, and ads a graphic to the front page (i.e. a drawing of Snoopy). The exchange goes thusly (in part):
Colbert: OK, so, I could take your book, right here, and just change the "Remix" into "Memix"Here is where Lessig misses the point - in order to ADD that value, you have to first purchase a copy of the book in order to rename it and add a Snoopy drawing. I suspect Lessig's perspective would be difference if someone re-typed the entire book (or got a copy of the electronic file), added a caricature or two, and renamed it and gave it away for free, or published it themselves for a profit.
Lessig: That's Cool.
Colbert: Ok, and, and then, change it to Stephen Colbert at the bottom, add some value, like, uh, I do a pretty good Snoopy, ok. I'll do that, ok, there's my Snoopy. Ok, so now, my book my work of art. You're cool with that?
Lessig: Ok, put this on ebay, you think this is going to get more than it is on Amazon, right now or less?
Colbert: Oh much more.
Lessig: That's exactly my point. Exactly my point. You have added value to that. Bravo. My praise to you.
2) They, in part, continue:
Colbert: I will be very angry, and possibly litigious, if anyone out there takes this right here, this interview, right here, and remixes it with some great dance beat, and it starts showing up in clubs across america.Now, I'm pretty familiar with model releases, and personal appearance releases, and they're pretty clear: in exchange for the appearance, Viacom/Comedy Central owns the piece, and Lessig grants all rights to them to do with it what they want. Unless Lessig has re-written the standard Viacom release to allow for his joint ownership of the Copyright to the broadcast, he is mis-informed, and is advising viewers to break the law with incorrect assertions about ownership of the broadcast. The likelihood that Lessig, when talking to the Production Assistant was able to make binding changes to the appearance release, and get it signed off on by Viacom legal, is highly unlikely.
Lessig: Actually, we're joint copyright owners, so I'm ok with that. You can totally remix this, I'm fine with it.
Colbert: I do not give you permission.
Lessig: I give you permission.
Colbert: To bad, you've got a lawsuit on your hands, buddy.
Lessig: No, you got a lawsuit.
Colbert: copyright is eternal.
Lessig: copyright is joint for us, its ours together, we're in this together stephen.
Colbert: I want a divorce, I'm remixing this relationship.
I do agree with Lessig on one thing for certain - Copyright is changing, and we need to evolve, just not in many of the ways Lessig is espousing.
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