August 29, 2007 · Lessig
Film schools are in the business of creating filmmakers — artists with film. Their job is to teach both the skill and the ethic of an artist. The skill in making film; the ethic of creating art.
So what lesson do film schools teach their students about copyright? Unfortunately, in some at least, the most striking lesson is on how best to become an artistic-sharecropper.
That at least seems to be the lesson being taught at the University of Hawai’i's Academy of Creative Media. All film students must sign a copyright agreement that either renders their work “work for hire” or assigns completely all copyright in their creative work to the ACM. (After two years, the student gets a nonexclusive license to the work, but the copyright remains with ACM). ACM becomes the black hole for these rights. What they do with them is not clear.
But what is clear is the lesson ACM is teaching: That you, the creator, deserve no creative- or copy-right for your creativity. That right should be owned by the man. And while (at least so long as you’re good) the man might grant you a nonexclusive license to your creativity, don’t even think about the idea that what you create is yours to control. Copyright at ACM at least is not a right grant to “authors,” it is a right taken from the authors by the University.
Is there anything illegal in this? No. Is there anything immoral in this? Probably not. But I should think that at least some film students will decide where they want to learn how to be film makers by thinking a bit about the values of the school they attend. IMHO, these are precisely the opposite of the values we ought to be teaching creators.