June 4, 2007  ·  Lessig

After my debate last week at CISAC (at Google Video here), The Register published a piece (archived) about the event. I’ve received a bunch of angry email about what was reported in that piece. The relevant quotes offered in the Register’s article, however, are not correct.

First, The Register writes that I said: “I have two lives,” he said. “One is in Creative Commons…the other is in litigation against authors.”

In fact, I said: “I have two lives in this. One is leading Creative Commons. And the other [is leading] litigation which is , I’m sure, in conflict with the views of many people about copyright.” Listen to the clip here: mp3, ogg.

Second, The Register also wrote that I said: “No one at Creative Commons has attacked authors.” That’s certainly true. No one working at Creative Commons has ever “attacked authors.” However true, the quote is not what I said.

In fact, I said: “Nobody who works for Creative Commons has ever attacked collecting rights societies in the way you described.” Listen to the clip here: mp3, ogg.

Third, The Register wrote that I said: “I assert that there is no fundamental disagreement between the objectives of the societies and the objectives of Creative Commons.” This caused many from the “movement” to complain that in fact there were important conflicts between Creative Commons and Collecting Rights Societies.

In fact, what I said was: “I assert that there is no fundamental disagreement between the objectives of the Collecting Rights Societies, as you’ve described them and the objectives of what Creative Commons is trying to do.” The qualification is important, because Brett Cottle had described compromises that Collecting Rights Societies were making to fit with the digital age. While I don’t believe it’s accurate that all Collecting Rights Societies have been as progressive as Mr. Cottle suggests, I do believe that if they were, there would be “no fundamental disagreement” between them and our objectives. Listen to the clip here: mp3, ogg.

Fourth, some complained that I had referred to the work of creators who don’t intend their creative work to be licensed commercially as “a secondary class of creators.” Actually, of you read The Register’s piece carefully, you’ll see that the first time that quote is used it states “a second class of creators.” The second time it appears “second” has morphed into “secondary.”

All I meant to do was to distinguish one class of creators — professionals, who create for money — from a second class of creators — those who create for the love of creating, and not for the money. I did not say that these creators were of a second class. Indeed, my whole point was that these creators too deserved “respect.” That point is conveyed quite accurately by the International Herald Tribune piece about the same debate.

Finally, The Register wrote something that has led at least one blogger to believe that I am employed by Google. I don’t think a charitable interpretation of what The Register wrote could support that reading. But to the extent it does, let me state clearly that I am not employed by Google. Nor do I represent them. The suggestion of a conflict in The Register’s piece has, however, led me to craft a disclosure statement that I should have published (ala Dave Weinberger and Ethan Zuckerman and Dana Boyd) long ago. I will post that statement tomorrow.

  • http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk Crosbie Fitch

    It’s become pretty clear to me that you are a champion of the copyright holder, and perhaps keen to swing the balance of power back to the copyright holding author.

    Understandably, traditional incumbents for whom the weapon of copyright was originally forged, may feel frustrated at the new reticence of the authors you’ve emboldened to unquestioningly hand their copyrights over to their publishing godfathers who will ‘look out for them’.

    However, in the new context of cultural liberty, some people are confusing you as a free culturalist – on both sides of the pro/anti-copyright debate. For these people who don’t understand your pro-copyright stance, it appears hypocritical to prosecute those who would take liberties with their own culture.

    The Free Culture Principle:

    • Seek culture, but not at the expense of liberty
    • Seek liberty, but not at the expense of truth
    • Seek truth, but not at the expense of privacy
    • Seek privacy, but not at the expense of life
    • Seek life, and enjoy free culture
  • http://davidgerard.co.uk/notes/ David Gerard

    You will not shake my confidence in the writing of Andrew Orlowski. I am of absolute certaintly that he will continue to report on Creative Commons as accurately as he does on Wikipedia, and with at least as much applied creativity.

  • http://postgeographic.wordpress.com Padraic

    You deserve a lot of credit for going up against that crowd. Well done, you are a great debater.

  • http://www.stefanhayden.com Stefan Hayden

    I would have had steam coming out of my ears by the end of that. Good job!

  • http://n8o.r30.net/ Nato Welch

    I instantly had a hunch.

    Wouldn’t you know – the byline is Andrew Orlowski.

    He’s the reason I don’t read the Reg anymore.

  • http://sleepyhead.org Judson Dunn

    Good old Andrew, always on the prowl for the most sensationalist “news”… I showed this to a friend of mine, whom I first had to explain that in fact the Register was not a satire site like the Onion before he got why anyone cared.

  • http://www.digitalrightsmanifesto.com Michael Walsh

    Having attended the conference, I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that The Register article got it wrong and so, unfortunately, did 99% of the audience.

    It doesn’t come across in the video of the event, but the audience had a very negative preconception and nothing said was going to move them from it.

    The supposed “moderator” did not help with his snide comments.

    It’s a shame, because the collection societies really do need to modernise – and even if they don’t agree with the CC ethos they would do well to recognise that it has allowed creativity to flourish. There may be a lesson there for them – if only they are willing to listen.