January 9, 2003 · Lessig
I’ve been hiding away in Japan working on a book that’s tentatively titled “Free Culture”–”free” as in the verb. I’d be grateful for any help with two questions that are continued below.
(1) Seeking an analogy: I’d love to find an example from popular culture (e.g., at TV show, or famous movie, or cartoon) that would be a useful analogy for an idea that is hard to get across. Here’s the hard-to-get-across version: I’m trying to give people a sense of how the reach of copyright has changed for totally unintended reasons. Because the internet is a digital network, every action on the network is a copy; because copyright law gets triggered whenever there is a copy, it follows that every action on the network is potentially subject to copyright law.
The analogy would be to a story where some slight technical change happens, and it has a radical change for some unrelated feature. I’ve a vague sense of a batman episode, where the villain drops a chemical into the water and the world changes dramatically. Something like that. I tried an analogy in my last book which is good but old: the framers of the constitution gave Congress power over “interstate commerce,” intending that to leave lots of exclusive legislative jurisdiction to the states; but because the economy has changed, and the range of commerce “in or affecting” interstate commerce has increased, the scope of exclusive jurisdiction in the states has shrunk.
I’d love a sexier example of the same form: technology changes, and the very nature of some unrelated feature changes radically.
(2) copyright law’s effect on weblog space:
I’ve got some nice examples of how copyright law has interacted (to good and bad ends both) with weblog space. But I’d be grateful for any examples of weblog content being restricted or supported by copyright law.
Thanks in advance. You can email me or post below.