Lessig » creative commons http://www.lessig.org Blog, news, books Sat, 12 Nov 2016 16:31:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.2 fabulously cool: iFixit’s teardown platform http://www.lessig.org/2009/06/fabulously-cool-ifixits-teardo/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/06/fabulously-cool-ifixits-teardo/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2009 13:57:48 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/06/fabulously_cool_ifixits_teardo.html iFixit has built a teardown platform. I've used the site many times to take apart Mac's I've needed to fix. But those instructions were iFixit prepared. They've now enabled anyone to build a teardown ("the act or process of disassembling") spec for any product. The site offers the structure and advice for building great teardowns. It then hosts and supports feedback. It is a fantastic example of a "hybrid," as REMIX defines the term -- and all submissions are CC-BY-NC-SA. ]]> This is fabulously cool: iFixit has built a teardown platform. I’ve used the site many times to take apart Mac’s I’ve needed to fix. But those instructions were iFixit prepared. They’ve now enabled anyone to build a teardown (“the act or process of disassembling”) spec for any product. The site offers the structure and advice for building great teardowns. It then hosts and supports feedback. It is a fantastic example of a “hybrid,” as REMIX defines the term — and all submissions are CC-BY-NC-SA.

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The Solipsist and the Internet (a review of Helprin’s Digital Barbarism) http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comments Wed, 20 May 2009 13:04:21 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html Exactly two years ago today, the New York Times published an op-ed about copyright by a novelist. The piece caused something of a digital riot. As we learn now from his book, Digital Barbarism (HarperCollins 2009) (note: if you buy from that link, Creative Commons gets the referral fee), Mark Helprin was at the time completely ignorant about the hornet’s nest he was about to kick. For him, the op-ed was a professional rapprochement with the New York Times, a chance to make things right once again (though why they were then wrong is a story left mysteriously (and thankfully) out of the book).

(Read the rest of this insanely long review in the extended entry. You can download a better formatted PDF here.)

Helprin’s thesis is simple and familiar to any intelligent sort who first comes to think about the way the law regulates creative work: that there’s something fundamentally unjust about the law of copyright. While the law protects ordinary property forever — your car, or the land on which your house might sit — the law of copyright protects creative work for a limited time only. At the end of that limited time, the author’s “exclusive right” (as the Constitution puts it) expires, and the work passes into the public domain. Anyone is then free to copy the work, publish the work, translate the work, make a film based upon the work, or publicly perform the work without permission from the original copyright owner.

This difference is odd. As the famous copyright scholar Melville Nimmer put it, “If I may own Blackacre in perpetuity, why not also Black Beauty?” But, as Helprin acknowledged, puzzles notwithstanding, the Constitution seems clear enough. The power Congress has is to “secure” this “exclusive right” “for limited Times” only. Perpetual terms were thus ruled out.

But like an overly precocious child who has figured a way around his father’s injunction “you may take just one cookie” — take one cookie, but five times! — Helprin’s op-ed offered a simple solution to this obvious injustice:

The genius of the framers in making this provision is that it allows for infinite adjustment. Congress is free to extend at will the term of copyright. It last did so in 1998, and should do so again, as far as it can throw. Would it not be just and fair for those who try to extract a living from the uncertain arts of writing and composing to be freed from a form of confiscation not visited upon anyone else? The answer is obvious, and transcends even justice. No good case exists for the inequality of real and intellectual property, because no good case can exist for treating with special disfavor the work of the spirit and the mind.

To a certain bizarrely diverse community that has developed over the past decade, Helprin’s evasion was simple incitement. It was not even five years since the Supreme Court had upheld Congress’s power to extend the terms of existing copyrights, so long as each extension was “limited.” (A pattern American University Professor Peter Jaszi famously called “perpetual copyright on the installment plan.”) And it was just shy of a decade since Congress had last extended the term of existing copyrights — its 11th such extension in forty years. This was a community that was enormously frustrated by the refusal of Congress to permit the Framers’ bargain — that an author gets an “exclusive right” for some number of years, and then the work enters the public domain — to be executed. The idea that here again someone was calling for yet another term extension was a red cape in front of a bull.

I first read Helprin’s essay while waiting to board a plane from Boston to Frankfurt. At first I wasn’t sure whether he was serious (indeed, a colleague and friend, and strong copyright supporter tells me he routinely reads sections of the op-ed to audiences to see if they can tell whether he’s serious or not). But after becoming convinced that Helprin had simply tripped into this mine field unawares, I posted a suggestion to my blog. As I wrote:

So I’ve gotten (literally) scores of emails about this piece by Mark Helprin promoting perpetual copyright terms. “Write a reply!” is the demand. But why don’t you write the reply instead. Here’s a page on wiki.lessig.org. Please write an argument that puts this argument in its proper place.

Eight hours later, a bit bleary eyed from the relatively sleepless flight, I checked my email. At the top of the list was one that said, “Wow! Pretty amazing wiki article.” I quickly turned to the wiki, and sat astonished to see just what this community had done. Literally hundreds had contributed to pages and pages in reply to Helprin’s op-ed. Some of it was silly. Some of it was great. But in the main, it was a powerful and comprehensive account of the many reasons for this apparent “inequality” at the core of our Constitution.

To be fair to Helprin — and 99% of Americans if they could be brought to think about the matter — there really is something apparently weird about the Constitution’s design. Given the way we regulate ordinary property, it is completely understandable to be ignorant about the justification behind this weirdness. I spent the first five years as a constitutional law professor with no clue about the justifications for this “obvious inconsistency,” as I once described it to my students. “A bit of Karl Marx slipped into an otherwise conservative text,” was how it was described to me.

So I could well understand the intuition that drove Helprin to write as he did, and can even empathize with how he must have felt to see his breezy reflection on copyright policy explode on the New York Times website, and elsewhere. Helprin was ignorant. But it was an understandable, and forgivable, ignorance. The sort all of us have about most things save those few things we spend time trying to understand.

What is not understandable, however, and certainly not forgivable, is everything that has happened since. For in the months since triggering his digital riot, Helprin has been busy penning a book about his digital putdown. And while the ignorance of the essay may be forgiven, the ignorance of the book cannot. There is no excuse for the careless and uninformed screed that Digital Barbarism is.

I don’t know what this is a story about. It might simply be a story about a single author — angry, self-righteous, and oblivious in his solipsism. It might be a story about bad friends. Friends don’t let friends publish books like this.

(The work is filled with passages like: “This is not surprising to me, in that I’ve always run fastest in my oldest shoes.” (211); “At risk of straying too far, I must relate the story of how a long time ago a great friend and I, alighting from a freight train in northern Virginia, proceeded to Crystal City, where we insolently skated in our shoes across an empty ice rink while a Zamboni machine was grooming it, leading to our detention by a security guard with the physique of a whale.” (163); “Not born to be rich, by 1981 I had nonetheless begun to use a PC that required for its operation the absorption of several hundred pages of protocols and the placement of very large floppy disks in the freezer to fix frequent crashes.” (153) (A freezer to fix crashes? Who was the geek who fooled Helprin into that one? No wonder he hates you guys.); “Approaching a buoy where I would make a turn and head back, I looked to my left and saw, on the bank, an idiot was mocking the ancient and unassuming motions of rowing. Evidently unfamiliar with the kind of racing shell that Eakins portrayed and that is a thing of beauty, and perhaps amused that it didn’t have a motor, he was aping my motions and laughing maliciously. After all, how stupid can you be to row five miles in the heat when you might never move a muscle, eat cupcakes and pork rinds all day, smoke like a volcano, and sit in your bass boat hooked up to an oxygen bottle.” (142); “When the MBAs collapse and reorder the structures of the large controlling corporations, people are thrown from them in Dantesque fashion. Some find another publishing boat into which to climb, some go into other fields, some retire, some drink and some die.” (55) (actually, I would think that most die, but that’s just a nit); “Not long ago, on one of those Virginia days that relieves potters of the necessity of firing their kilns, I was rowing on glassy water down the Rivanna River.” (142) (remember, this is a book about copyright policy); “When I was on a team, if we won I would be very quiet on the drive home. This had nothing to do with wisdom, which though I am old I still think I’m too young to claim (and certainly could not have had at age fourteen), but with temperament, because, if you keep your eyes open, the light of triumph is always strong enough briefly to illuminate the darkness that lies ahead and at the end of which is death.” (135); “I have to confess that I have so rarely experienced triumph that I cannot claim to know it well enough to judge, but it seems to be at best a momentary joy followed instantly by sadness, and, then, of necessity, by wariness.” (135); “Were I to write the great American novel tomorrow (again?)…” (28); “I have been fighting over commas all my life.” (59); and this my favorite: “Though beset with nuclear anxiety, the nation was at once pre-eminent and at peace, the long chain of proxy wars that would unfold across the century’s second half had just begun, and we were eight years old.” (21).)

Or maybe most troublingly, it is a story about the state of the publishing industry. HarperCollins is no lightweight. Yet this book is riddled with the most basic errors of fact. It would be an embarrassment were it an essay by a first year law student, let alone a major work by (at least what was thought to be) one of America’s greatest novelists. So what exactly does a publisher do anymore? Are there no editors? Is there no one with the power to say to a raving author, “Mr. Helprin, sir, what you’ve said is actually just not correct.”

Like another favorite book of mine (see Andrew Keen’s, The Cult of the Amateur (2007)), this book teases the reader with the delicious hint that possibly it is really just a self-parody. Like Keen, Helprin is railing against the “machine revolution.” (216). The machine is the Internet. Feeding this machine are “armies of blogging-ants steeped in self-righteous anger.” (202)

(The book is filled with this sort of hate: The people Helprin criticizes are “gullible idiots” (66); they represent “a vast reservoir of hostile inanity” (88); they write “subliterate blogs” (127) — unless it is a wiki that they write, in which case they “write the way Popeye speaks, though with less polish” (65); they come from a culture that produces “mouth-breathing morons in backwards baseball caps” (57); they are “basically stupid [people] with an advanced degree” (44); they “cannot read, which may mean also that they do not read” (41) (logical enough, that); they are “not sensible people” (41); “quick, massive, muscular, untiring and stupid” (35); “nudniks” (31); appropriately likened to the Unabomber (31); or to “shoplifters” (160). Helprin doesn’t reserve his insults for the nameless “blogging-ants,” either. He says of Duke Professor James Boyle: “Rather than wit, what is apparent here is a desire to appear almost English, an embarrassing phase some insecure colonials enter never to exit.” (107) Actually, Boyle is from Scotland. I’m sure Scotland would not consider itself a colony of England. About a third of the way through this tirade, Helprin actually writes: “I don’t believe in ad hominem attacks unless … the target is the holder of collective or coercive power…” (76) God protect us from the “blogging-ants”!)

The product of this feeding, Helprin suggests, is just so much trash. The work of the Internet is an intellectual waste. No serious reader, or especially writer, should pay any attention to this waste.

But then here’s the astonishing fact about Digital Barbarism: Though the Internet is a waste, though blogs are “subliterate” and wiki’s are written “the way Popeye speaks,” Helprin draws exclusively upon the Internet to form the knowledge he needs to launch his attack. He cites no book, or scholarly article, that might help explain the copyright puzzle that started him on his odyssey. Literally everything he points to to explain the weirdness that is copyright is either a blog, or a wiki, or an essay in an Internet publication.

Now I like the Internet as much as the next guy, and I guess I had never really had to think about the question before. But Helprin has convinced me that you can’t understand the subject of copyright law by simply reading blog posts. To get it, or at least to get it well enough to write a frakking book about it, you’re going to need to read something other than techdirt.com.

You might well wonder, though, at least if you’re not in the center of this debate, how many books about this subject there could actually be? How many scholarly articles? How much attention has been devoted to this relatively obscure clause in the Framers’ Constitution?

The answer is lots, and more interestingly, lots from a wide range of perspectives and political positions. Liberal economists (Kenneth Arrow), and conservative/libertarian economists (Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek). Strongly pro-IP scholars (Paul Goldstein, Melville and David Nimmer), strongly pro-balance IP scholars (Pam Samuelson, Jessica Litman, Neil Netanal). Scholars from the past (Benjamin Kaplan, Lyman Ray Patterson). Scholars from the present (William Fisher, Yochai Benkler). Judges from the left (Justice Stevens), from the middle (Justice Breyer), and from the right (Judge Richard Posner). There is an endless list of sources that one might have consulted in trying to understand the odd “unfair exception” in the structure of copyright law. No doubt, some of this material is not available on the Internet. One might have to — God forbid — go to a library, and check out a book. But anyone who cares to could come to understand why the law is as it is, and why the way the law is is neither inconsistency nor injustice.

Most of course won’t ever do this. The number of Americans who will actually read a book about copyright this year is just rounding error on the population of New York. But among those Americans who read at least one book about copyright should certainly be any American who is writing a book about copyright. I’m not sure what the proper proportion is — 10 books in to get one book out? 100 books in to get one book out? Whatever the ideal number, it is greater than zero. Yet zero is the number of books this romantic defender of books has apparently read about copyright before he wrote this book that he would like you now to buy (and his great grandchildren to earn royalties from).

“Maybe,” you say, charitable reader that you are, “he read the books, but just didn’t cite them.” And true enough: Helprin has this weird thing against citation. He quotes me criticizing him (on my blog): “Helprin barely cites anyone …. [He] doesn’t bother with what others have written….” (164) but then defends his practice: “It’s one thing to learn from others, but another to copy them.” (164). True enough. But then it is a third thing to acknowledge a point you have drawn from another — assuming, of course, pace solipsism, you believe that there are other people in the world, and they might possibly have something to say. At another part of the book, he mocks students who “support their assertions with crushing citations.” (162) A sin, perhaps, but nothing as compared to an author who supports his assertions with no citations at all.

But if he actually read any of these books, he didn’t take notes. The structure of his book is sprinkles of promises to make an argument, mixed with the most self-indulgent reflections upon his own life. And when Helprin actually gets around to argument, the arguments are a series of questions. (For example: “Where do they get the idea that copyright is a drag on artistic production? Are they suggesting that Pasternak could not write because Yeats had beaten him to the punch, that Tolstoy didn’t write War and Peace because Moby Dick was copyrighted?” (140); or “What magic influence comes into play to convert a condition that does not hinder publication or however many years of commercial availability into a condition that then has the opposite effect?” (77); “Is the argument that books that go into print while copyrighted and stay in print for twenty years while copyrighted go out of print because they are copyrighted?” (77)) None of these questions are profound or new. None of them would be unanswered if the author had spent two weeks researching before he wrote. But Helprin apparently didn’t have time to research. And who does these days? We’re living in Internet time. It’s work enough simply to keep up with the blogs!

Helprin’s argument (to the extent there is one in these 232 pages) begins with an objection similar to the objection I’ve launched against him: his critics, Helprin insists, didn’t read his op-ed carefully. He did not argue, he maintains, for perpetual copyrights (as many who criticized his piece, including I, summarized his position to be). He had instead explicitly stated that the Framers’ limits had to be respected. Sure, he was arguing that Congress should extend the copyright term again. But there’s a difference, he insists, between “infinite adjustment” and “infinite extension.” (44) (“That your Barcalounger may be infinitely adjustable does not mean that it will take you into other universes.” (44)) The extent of proper protection, Helprin tells us, is a “question … of degree.” (30) It must be a balance, and of course, nothing he said was meant, Helprin insists, to be unbalanced. “I don’t know how this could have been misunderstood,” he rages, “unless one reads my further comment that ‘the genius of the Framers in stating this provision is that it allows for infinite adjustment.’” (44)

You don’t know how this could have been misunderstood, Mr. Helprin? Let’s look again at what you wrote:

The genius of the framers in making this provision is that it allows for infinite adjustment. Congress is free to extend at will the term of copyright. It last did so in 1998, and should do so again, as far as it can throw. Would it not be just and fair for those who try to extract a living from the uncertain arts of writing and composing to be freed from a form of confiscation not visited upon anyone else? The answer is obvious, and transcends even justice. No good case exists for the inequality of real and intellectual property, because no good case can exist for treating with special disfavor the work of the spirit and the mind.

“Would it not be just and fair for those who try to extract a living from the uncertain arts of writing and composing to be freed from a form of confiscation not visited upon any one else?” But such “confiscation” continues so long as copyright terms are limited at all. So where in the sentence is the suggestion that you want just a little confiscation? Or: “The answer is obvious, and transcends even justice. No good case exists for the inequality of real and intellectual property.” Do you see what you wrote, Mr. Helprin? “No good case exists for the inequality.” So if “no good case exists,” where is your case for the resulting “inequality” that would exist if Congress extended terms but stopped before the term was (effectively) infinite? How long are you arguing for? “Infinite adjustment” may well be different from “infinite extension,” but the question for you is where in your essay do you suggest that the adjustments that Congress should make are to be anything short of forever? Sure, Congress would have to give us (again quoting Jaszi) perpetual terms on the installment plan. But what in what you wrote suggests that you don’t want perpetual terms? Or to remix a bit the argument you use to suggest that I and others are “against copyright” (and more on this argument below): You say: “[i]f, as they assert, copyright stifles culture and intellectual advancement, if it is a tax, a monopoly injurious to the public good … why would they be for it?” (33-34); we might say in return: If the difference in treatment is an “inequality,” why permit it at all? What justice loving people would ever not extend an expiring term, so as again to eliminate that “inequality.”

Actual copyright scholarship has long answered this question of “inequality,” and the charge of “confiscation.” Both answers follow from the same logic that the law applies to property generally. The bias of the law is libertarian. It says don’t intervene — don’t regulate — unless there’s a public reason to do so. A “public reason” means a reason that benefits the public generally, not particular people individually. Legislation that “takes from A and gives to B,” or “takes from the public and gives to B” (at least without any public benefit) is not law. It is, from this traditional perspective, injustice.
When you apply that principle to different kinds of property, the particular mix of protections granted by the state differs. This difference isn’t “inequality.” It is instead a principle of justice applied to different contexts. Helprin gets this difference when it helps him argue against a property tax being imposed upon copyrighted property, like other forms of property. As he writes “the fact that [copyright] is not taxed does not prove that it is not property, and the fact that it is property does not require that it be taxed.” (86) Exactly right. But then the same point can be made about copyright terms: “the fact that copyright is not perpetual does not prove that it is not property, and the fact that it is property does not require that its term be perpetual.” In both cases — indeed, in all cases in any sensible property system — the metes and bounds (so to speak) of this state secured right are determined by the public benefit that would be gained by any particular mix of rights. The law of real property says if you don’t properly register the property, you can lose it. Not so with copyright. The law of New York says that if you don’t keep a bank informed about your address, after 5 years, your savings account can be forfeit. Not so with copyright. These differences in these property systems are not “inequities.” They are systems that treat different things differently.

Indeed, the point about taxation goes a long way to showing why limited terms are not some sort of unjust “confiscation.” Unlike real property, copyrights are not taxed. (I’m talking about the property, not income earned from the property.) This difference is an enormous benefit to copyright owners. If you could choose between (a) having your property taxed during the full life of the property, and (b) enjoying an immunity from tax for, say, 95 years (which is the term of copyright for works “made for hire” and roughly the average term for individuals), but then forfeiting the work after 95 years, as counter-intuitive as this may seem, you would be better off choosing option (b). That’s because taxation is a kind of confiscation. And the significance of 95 years of small confiscations (even just 1.5%, assuming a discount rate at 5% or more) is greater than the significance of a complete confiscation 95 years from now. (Thus the logic of the Faustian bargain.) From this perspective, copyright owners are not worse off than, say, farmers. They are indeed better off. And the law is justified in making this distinction because it is impossibly difficult to measure accurately what the current “value” of a copyright is. So rather than taxing a percentage of an uncertain value, the law’s tax is complete confiscation after a (very long) term.

Again, Helprin would not have missed this obvious point had he spent two weeks in the stacks. Nor would he have missed the real argument that has been made against the proposal that he advanced in the New York Times (to extend terms). The public benefit of the regulation we call copyright is the world of fantastic creative work that will be inspired by the state backed offer of an exclusive right. So a government might well be justified in expanding the scope or duration of that exclusive right, but only if it inspires great new work. And here then is the rub with extending the term of existing copyrights (just what Helprin’s essay argued for): by definition, it is a right given in exchange for no new work. It is an extended right for existing work, alien to the logic that justifies this exclusive right granted by the state, because this exclusive right produces no incentives. It is a simple transfer from the public to a private party.

It was that basic illogic that animated the “blogging-ants” as Helprin describes them, to respond to Helprin’s essay as they did. Like so much from Washington over the past decade, his was yet another proposal that private interests get the government to give them a benefit without any regard to whether that government backed monopoly produced any public benefit.

(Helprin objects to calling copyright a “monopoly” because, as he argues, the term “monopoly” is reserved to “commodit[ies].” (115) How does he know that? Well, it says so in black and white in the Oxford English Dictionary. (115). Too bad the lawyers at AT&T didn’t read the OED when Reagan’s Justice Department intervened to break up its monopoly in “telephone service.” I can hear Attorney Helprin now: “Your honor, excuse me, but the government has no case here. AT&T is not a monopoly, because AT&T sells no ‘commodity.’ A commodity is a ‘thing,’ your honor. All we sell is telephone service.” But Helprin forgets that it was the Framers who spoke of an “exclusive right,” and in its original sense of the term, an “exclusive right” granted by the state is precisely what a monopoly is. Helprin confuses this definitional question — Is a copyright a monopoly? Obviously so. — with the policy question — Does a monopoly copyright give one monopoly power in any relevant market? Ordinarily not.)

Almost the same criticism can be made about extending the term of future copyrights as well. No doubt, extending a term does increase the present incentive. But equally certain, at some point the term is so long that the marginal additional incentive is tiny. Helprin quotes Macaulay making the same point:

We all know how faintly we are affected by the prospect of very distant advantages, even when they are advantages which we may reasonably hope that we shall ourselves enjoy. But an advantage that is to be enjoyed more than half a century after we are dead, by somebody, we know not by whom, perhaps by somebody unborn, by somebody utterly unconnected with us, is really no motive at all to action. (109)

Economists have formalized Macaulay’s point in the idea of discounted present value. Assume that if I promised you $100 today to read Helprin’s book, you would read it, but if I promised you only $40, you would not. If so, would you (rationally) read Helprin’s book today if I promised to give you $100 in 20 years? Macaulay (and hundreds of years of economics) would say no, because $100 in 20 years is worth the same amount as $37.69 today (less than $40), since if you put your $37.69 in the bank today at 5% (go ahead, dream a little) in 20 years it would be worth $100.

Helprin has no patience for such reasoning. He instead tells us that Macaulay was “blind to economics.” (112). Rather, Helprin asks “What of someone who reduces his ‘carbon footprint’ in the belief that it will benefit people with no connection to him whatsoever, hundreds of years from now? How ‘faintly’ is he ‘affected by the prospect of very distant advantages?’” (109).

But Helprin has confused an externality with an incentive. One should want to reduce his “carbon footprint” because carbon is an externality, a cost imposed upon others, just as oil spilled in the ocean, or mercury spewed from coal fired power plants, is a cost imposed on others. The “incentive” here is simply not to impose (at least unbargained for) costs on others, not any future benefit. Of course, one could not give a frakk about costs imposed on others, but if one did, then avoiding such a cost is a benefit today, not in the future. Again, not a difficult point for anyone who cares to read before he writes.

Helprin’s book, however, is not just a response to the Internet’s response to his ill-conceived op-ed. It was a bigger cause that led him to fell these forests. To hear Helprin tell it, there is an extraordinarily powerful anti-property, anti-copyright movement (or “anti-copyrightists” (160)) sweeping across the Internet, and bleeding into real space as well. This movement wants “to abolish all forms of intellectual property” (160); it represents the “rejection of or attack upon intellectual property” (53); it seeks the “disappearance of copyright” (83); the “absence of copyright” (83); it would “abolish copyright” (82); “abolished” (39); “the heart of their cause is to abolish it” (33); “abolish [it] for the sake of an ill-defined collectivist ideology” (58); a “shared passion in attacking copyright” (33). I am named as a leader of this quasi-communistic front. (I am also likened to Idi Amin. (76)) An organization I helped found, Creative Commons, is placed at its helm. People like me, and Creative Commons, have a simple and utterly transparent objective: To destroy copyright.

That’s a serious charge. Yet again, Helprin cites not a single source to back it up. And that’s not just because he hasn’t actually read anything that I, or James Boyle, or any of the many others who would be included on this list, have written. It is instead because none of us are anti-copyright. Not one of the scholars attacked in Helprin’s book (as he describes us, “little professors in glasses” leading “a bunch of wacked-out muppets” (18); “legalists” who “are incompetent and wrong” (128)) opposes copyright. All of us believe copyright is an essential part to a rich and diverse culture. All of us are pro-copyright — in the strict sense of arguing that a copyright system is necessary, and should be supported. No doubt, all of us argue for changes in how the law of copyright regulates culture today. Some argue that the term of copyright should be shorter. Some argue it should be restructured more broadly. But to say that someone is “anti-copyright” because they argue for a more “limited” term is as fallacious as arguing that someone is in favor of a perpetual term merely because he argues the term should be longer. (An injustice that Helprin insists has been visited upon him.)

I know my own work here best. Nothing in what I’ve written is against copyright. Indeed, to the contrary, I have repeatedly argued that copyright is essential for certain kinds of important creative work. Moreover, nothing in what I’ve written supports what the industry calls “piracy.” My book Free Culture explicitly calls such illegal use “wrong” at least 9 times. See Free Culture 10, 18, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 139, 255 (2004). So too does my latest book, Remix. Helprin’s slander is just that. But the offense is not the harm he does me; the offense is to the reader who has paid $24.99 for a book that purports to be nonfiction, but is instead Helprin’s worst novel (yet).

Closely tied to his false claim that “the movement” is “against copyright” is the book’s almost constant Red-baiting. He tells us “the choice is between the preeminence of the individual or the collective” (217); he accuses his opponents of “blithely recommend[ing] expropriation as a means of ‘economic justice.’” (180); he says “they have already decided … against property, competition and the free market. … Their arguments are mainly a subspecies of the greater and more consequential battle between those who favor a world that is planned, controlled, decided, entirely cooperative, and conducive of predetermined outcomes, and those who favor and tolerate market based systems that admit and honor chance, competition, unexpected developments, peril and reward.” (169) “There is to be sure,” he warns us, “a diffuse, watered-down echo of Marxist and other utopian objections to the idea of property….” (161) He characterizes the freedom the movement wants as “a bloody nightmare …. Infinitely worse than being in a hippie commune in which anyone who wants to can use your toothbrush–or your diaphragm.” (62) (Really?! “Infinitely worse” than sharing a diaphragm? Wow.) Impatient with the ignorance of the movement he attacks, he writes “those who now call themselves progressives would substitute the state for the king and once again make the individual a subservient means to an abstract end.” (61)

Yet it is in this extreme of Red-baiting that one can see the mushiness of Helprin’s brain: Let’s say he were attacking a bunch of scholars who believed copyright should be as robust as the Framers of our Constitution had it. That was a regime that secured copyrights only to those who registered their work. And not just any work, but only “maps, charts, book or books” (music, for example, was excluded). Imagine the term of the protection was again just as the Framers made it — 14 years, renewable by the author, if living, for another 14 years (but again, only if he registered the renewal). And imagine finally that the rights granted were forfeit if the author failed to deposit the copyrighted work with the government, or if he failed to mark the work with the appropriate sign. Such a reform would certainly be radical. It is wildly more radical than anything any of the scholars Helprin attacks would recommend.

But here’s the question: would one who so recommended be a “collectivist”? Were our Framers “collectivists”? Obviously not. Because the consequence of a limited copyright is not that the collective gets to control who does what. The consequence of a limited copyright is that the work is in the public domain, and anyone has the liberty to do anything he or she wants with the work. The state or the “collective” is not privileged over the individual. The individual is privileged over the state or “collective.” And so strong is that privilege in America that a Court of Appeals in Colorado recently held that the government can’t remove work from the public domain unless it satisfies a strict First Amendment test first.

The confusion that haunts Helprin is that he (still) hasn’t come to understand why the contours of copyright are different from other ordinary rights. And so like many of us, he ignores what he doesn’t understand. The best example of this is a particularly self-righteous chapter which tries to establish the sanctity of copyright by analogy to property generally. Helprin begins the chapter with a story of a younger, less property respectful Mark Helprin, traveling across country by bike at the age of 14. Helprin stops by a corn field “as dense as a Vietnamese bamboo forest,” (166) picks an ear of corn, shucks it, and begins to eat it. A farmer approaches him and asks, “Where’d you get that corn.” (166) Helprin confesses he had taken it from the field. The farmer continues, “That’s my corn. You have no right to take it. You stole it from me.” (166) What follows is a pathetic argument between the adolescent Helprin and the farmer, by the end of which Helprin comes to see the justice in the farmer’s view. The chapter ends with an extraordinary bit of Ayn-Rand-wannabe prose:

Property is to be defended proudly rather than disavowed with shame. Even if for some it is only a matter of luck or birth, for the vast majority it is the store of sacrifice, time, effort, and even, sometimes, love. It is, despite the privileged inexperience of some who do not understand, an all-too-accurate index of liberty and life. To trifle with it is to trifle with someone’s existence, and as anyone who tries will find out, this is not so easy. Nor has it ever been. Nor should it ever be. (181)

So should Helprin have been ashamed that he stole the farmer’s food. Of course he should be! What kind of confused mind would think it right to take another person’s property? There are a million reasons Helprin’s juvenile behavior was wrong, not the least that it would deprive the farmer of a chance to profit from the food he was growing. Helprin’s taking that ear of corn meant that the farmer couldn’t sell it. It is inconceivable that this should even have been a question for him.

But what’s less clear is what Helprin thinks follows from this moral tale. Does he think that it shows that one can’t “take” another person’s words? That when, for example, I quote a sentence from Helprin’s book in this review, I am doing the same thing he was doing when he stole some corn?

If Helprin says “yes” — that my using his words in this review is just like his taking an ear of corn from the farmer — then it is clear he is not defending “the copyright system that has been with us, in one form or another, for three hundred years….” (202-203) For my use of Helprin’s words are plainly “fair use,” and as the Supreme Court said in Eldred v. Ashcroft, “fair use” is one of the “traditional contours of copyright protection,” so fundamental that removing it would raise First Amendment questions.

But if Helprin says I am allowed to “take” his words in this review, then what’s the point of the story? None of the people Helprin attacks by name endorse people violating other people’s rights. Again, I have explicitly called such behavior “wrong,” and explicitly condemned those who use technology to violate other people’s rights. The moral tale is just a fantasy to fire-up self-righteousness. It has nothing to do with any real argument anyone serious is having about the scope or reach of copyright.

Helprin’s errors are not limited to the stuff he should have learned from books. He even messes up his Internet research. The organization that I helped found, Creative Commons, is named by Helprin as the leading anti-copyright organization. Here is how he explains to his readers what Creative Commons is:

Creative Commons is the self-congratulatory name of a self-congratulatory movement. Somewhat like kibbutz on the internet, the idea is to write programs–”free ware”–and distribute them without charge. While presumably striking a blow at corporate giants like Microsoft, this demonstrates the generosity and selflessness of the programmer, musician, writer, or scholar who donates his work to the common weal. And it becomes in turn a premise that is promiscuously extended to those works the authors of which do not want to give them away, of whom the presumption, becomes that they are not generous. Therefore, they are selfish. Therefore, they should be brought around, one way or another, to the ideal–for the public good and to save their souls. (51)

The reader of Digital Barbarism might then be surprised to read (as is stated directly on the Creative Commons site): “Creative Commons licenses should not be used for software.” She might be puzzled as well to read an op-ed by Helprin in the Wall Street Journal, where he explains that Creative Commons is “richly financed by … Microsoft….” Those silly people at Microsoft, “richly financ[ing]” a movement aimed at “striking a blow at … Microsoft.”

More fundamentally, a reader of Helprin’s description might be surprised to see that no where on the Creative Commons site does the organization purport to say what authors or musicians “ought” to or “should” do. Creative Commons gives away legal tools to enable authors to exercise their rights as they wish. There’s no effort to guilt or shame anyone into anything.

Likewise, Helprin writes:

A movement that, whatever its ideological origins, finds its most congenial home and support in the geek city states of Silicon Valley, has successfully channeled and combined the parochial interests both of giant corporations and legions of resentful adolescents who believe that they have a natural right to whatever they want. It is known informally as the “Creative Commons,” and the charitable mask it presents, selfless people contributing their work–software, music, writing–to the common weal, is merely the cover (not much bigger than a postage stamp) for a well organized effort to cut away at intellectual property rights until they disappear. (xii-xiii)

Though I was working two jobs in Boston’s hottest summer ever, I had neither envy nor a quarrel, until I saw a bumper sticker on their van that said, “Eat the Rich.” These were the predecessors of the Creative Commons movement, which suffers the illusion that if ownership is abolished, everything will be free, when the opposite is true; and thinks that in opposition to copyright it is the ally of the little man, even as it fights the battle in behalf of the great combines and business powers of the imminent future. (180)

Yet again, a careful reader would be puzzled by these descriptions. There is not a single statement anywhere on the Creative Commons site calling for “ownership” to be “abolished.” Indeed, there is absolutely nothing on the site calling for “intellectual property rights” to be “cut away” or changed at all. That’s because Creative Commons is not a movement aimed at reforming copyright law. It is a nonprofit established to give copyright owners free tools to exercise their copyrights as they wish. The project thus depends upon copyright. Without copyright, none of the objectives of authors or creators to assure that their work was shared consistent with their preferences could ever work. To say such a system is against copyright is like saying Intuit is against the income tax because it sells products that help you find tax deductions.

Helprin expresses only scorn for any creator who would use a Creative Commons license to waive any of his rights. He tells us, echoing Johnson, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” (108) (Did Einstein write for money? Or was he just a “blockhead”?) Elsewhere he describes creators who use Creative Commons licenses:

Either they have made their mark and have so much already that whatever they do in this regard will serve as an exercise of public relations that will generate more revenue; or, despairing of ever publishing a word or collecting a dime, they have nothing to lose; or they are at points in their careers where they need to look “good” or generate attention; or they are simply cowards who succumb to pressure and coercion. (67)

We are not told anything about the basis upon which he draws his conclusions about who uses Creative Commons licenses and why. Or about the basis for his right to tell anyone how they should use the rights the law gives them. As he lectures us elsewhere, “a willing contribution to the ‘Creative Commons’ does not bestow upon the contributor or observers the moral authority to compel others to do the same.” (52) Of course it doesn’t. But why does the refusal to grant any rights to anyone except a publisher give Helprin the moral authority to heap scorn or insult on those who do?

There are many other lesser errors in this book as well. Helprin writes: “Previously, a copyright assigned to a publisher or a studio would remain there for all the days of its life. Now, and thanks to Sonny Bono, if it is not a work for hire (which nothing should or need be), a licensee can keep it for only thirty-five years, after which the rights return to the author, the composer, the artist, or the heir.” (127). Wrong. The Sonny Bono Act didn’t create the termination right. It merely extended it.

He writes: “It would be one thing if such a revolution produced Mozarts, Einsteins, or Raphaels, but it doesn’t.” (57) Helprin apparently didn’t notice that none of those creators enjoyed anything like the “copyright” of today. One might as well say the world of non-copyright gave us Mozart, Bach and Beethoven, while the world of copyright gave us Britney Spears. That too would be a bad argument, but just sort of argument that is at home in this book.

He gives extreme obeisance to the Constitution (“I so revere the Constitution and the Declaration, which is the conscience and fire of the Constitution” (44)), but his claims about the Constitution are simply made up. He writes, “because the Constitution unambiguously instructs that the period of copyright protection be limited, and because the record of constitutional deliberations clearly supports this….” (45). In fact, had Helprin read even one text about the Constitution and the Progress Clause, he would have learned that we have no record at all about the “constitutional deliberations” about this clause. There is a single reference in the Federalist Papers:

The utility of this power will scarcely be questioned. The copyright of authors has been solemnly adjudged, in Great Britain, to be a right of common law. … The public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals. The States cannot separately make effectual provisions for either of the cases, and most of them have anticipated the decision of this point, by laws passed at the instance of Congress. (Federalist, No. 43).

This says zero about “limited Times.” Zero can’t “clearly support” anything.

He tries to mark himself as more reasonable than the IP-maximalist Mark Twain, who he asserts proposed a term of “a million years.” I’ve never seen that claim attributed to Samuel Clemens, and of course, Helprin doesn’t cite anything. But Twain did testify that he didn’t believe copyright should extend to his grandchildren. “They could take care of themselves,” Clemens said. See Joseph A. Lavigne, For Limited Times? Making Rich Kids Richer Via the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1996, 73 U. Det. Mercy Law Rev. 311 (1996). Helprin thinks to the contrary, for his purpose in extending the term beyond life plus 70 years is to benefit his grandchildren.

While he is respectful of “the Wikipedia” (64), he scorns wikis more generally. As he writes,

Where the wiki concept fails most disturbingly, however, even with the most careful oversight, is in the attribute of fixedness, for no matter what the precautions or purity of motivation, the wikis are like the Great Soviet Encyclopedia on speed. Instead of an office in the Kremlin sending out new paragraphs and doctored photographs to be inserted in a row of heavy books, a process that took weeks or months and was detectable as the paste wrinkled the page, it is done seamlessly, instantly, anonymously, and without cease. Revision as used by the Soviets was a tool to disorient and disempower the plasticized masses. Revision in the wikis is an escapable attribute that eliminates the fixedness of fact. (65)

Wrong. Unlike Soviet revision, every change on a wiki is recorded, and always visible for anyone to review. Click the “history” tab and you’ll see who made what change and when. Research what you’re writing about before you write, and you won’t make these sorts of mistakes again.

Mark Helprin is an angry man. His book rages against the machine. It rages against modern education. (“[M]odern education promotes collectivism verses what it perceives as destructive, self-promoting individualism.” (53); “Intense ‘communitarianism’ is continued through elementary and secondary education, and then nailed firmly into the wood by experts, ideologues, and lunatics in the university.” (54)). It scorns collaboration. (“Collaboration, collective punishment, and group responsibility are now the watchwords of the classroom. As the chairman of the Oxford History Faculty Board, Christopher Haig, recently put it: ‘Historians used once to work alone, reading in archives and writing in college rooms. History is now a more collaborative exercise.’” (53)) It hates just about everyone it describes. It practices an arrogance that assures ignorance. It teaches absolutely nothing about the hard and important questions of copyright.

That’s too bad. There are difficult questions about how we regulate culture that we desperately need to address. The digital age has done much harm as well as much good. Craigslist is amazing, but it has created enormous pressure on journalism. The “generative” Net, as Zittrain describes it, is extraordinary, but it has also generated a host of destructive “malware” that threatens much more than the comment section on your favorite blog. These are not copyright questions. But they are questions fairly raised by the spread of digital technologies. And likewise are the fair and legitimate questions Helprin raises about the need to “slow” “tranquility” (16), and about “the atomization of attention spans” (209). It would be good for these questions to be addressed by someone not so identified with Internet cheerleaderism (for example, me). It is always good that a different generation provides perspective on the new.

But progress on these questions will not happen without understanding. Mark Helprin has demonstrated no understanding in this book. And between a copyright system that fails to give royalties to grandchildren, and a culture of publishing that spreads the sort of ignorant raving that this book is, I should think we should be more concerned about the latter rather than the former. After all, all of American literature through 1976 survived on a copyright system that gave authors at most 56 years of protection. But I don’t think we’ve yet tried HarperCollins-as-vanity-blog. Helprin’s book gives us very little reason to be sanguine about this development.

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Creative Commons needs a coder http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/creative-commons-needs-a-coder/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/creative-commons-needs-a-coder/#comments Fri, 01 May 2009 19:02:18 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/creative_commons_needs_a_coder.html Creative Commons is hiring a software engineer after the amazing Asheesh Laroia is moving on to some very cool (and maybe secret so I won't say more) project out East. If you can code for good, we pay some. More information here. ]]> Creative Commons is hiring a software engineer after the amazing Asheesh Laroia is moving on to some very cool (and maybe secret so I won’t say more) project out East. If you can code for good, we pay some. More information here.

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Fiction as policy in the New York Times (the book version) http://www.lessig.org/2009/04/fiction-as-policy-in-the-new-y/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/04/fiction-as-policy-in-the-new-y/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2009 13:29:44 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/04/fiction_as_policy_in_the_new_y.html published an oped in the New York Times praising, as Peter Jaszi put it, perpetual copyright terms "on the installment plan." (Helprin insists he doesn't support perpetual terms; he just likes extending terms now to assure that grandchildren get the benefit of an authors work.) At the time, I invited the lessig-wiki community to pen a response. And amazing even to me, an extraordinary response they penned. NPR retells the story today because apparently Helprin has a book which will be released on the 28th -- "Digital Barbarism: A Writer's Manifesto." (Note: if you buy Helprin's book from that link, Creative Commons will get the money.) The NPR page includes an interview with me (in my flu-ridden, 102 degree fever state, I'm terrified to listen to it again). But I am eager to read the book, and even more eager to read the review on the wiki. ]]> Looks like novelist Mark Helprin is back. You might remember that in 1997, Helprin published an oped in the New York Times praising, as Peter Jaszi put it, perpetual copyright terms “on the installment plan.” (Helprin insists he doesn’t support perpetual terms; he just likes extending terms now to assure that grandchildren get the benefit of an authors work.) At the time, I invited the lessig-wiki community to pen a response. And amazing even to me, an extraordinary response they penned.

NPR retells the story today because apparently Helprin has a book which will be released on the 28th — “Digital Barbarism: A Writer’s Manifesto.” (Note: if you buy Helprin’s book from that link, Creative Commons will get the money.) The NPR page includes an interview with me (in my flu-ridden, 102 degree fever state, I’m terrified to listen to it again). But I am eager to read the book, and even more eager to read the review on the wiki.

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Al Jazeera gets free culture http://www.lessig.org/2009/01/al-jazeera-gets-free-culture/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/01/al-jazeera-gets-free-culture/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2009 16:43:55 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/01/al_jazeera_gets_free_culture.html

Fred Benenson, January 13th, 2009

Al Jazeera Creative Commons RepositoryAl Jazeera is releasing 12 broadcast quality videos today shot in Gaza under Creative Commons’ least restrictive Attribution license. Each professionally recorded video has a detailed information page and is hosted on blip.tv allowing for easy downloads of the original files and integration into Miro. The value of this footage is best described by an International Herald Tribune/New York Times article describing the release:
In a conflict where the Western news media have been largely prevented from reporting from Gaza because of restrictions imposed by the Israeli military, Al Jazeera has had a distinct advantage. It was already there.
More importantly, the permissive CC-BY license means that the footage can be used by anyone including, rival broadcasters, documentary makers, and bloggers, so long as Al Jazeera is credited. There’s more information over at Al Jazeera’s CC repository, and in our press release. You can also add the Al Jazeera repository to your Miro feeds by clicking here.]]>
Freeing the source, for others to build upon. Read about Al Jazeera’s decision in Fred’s post for the CC blog:

Fred Benenson, January 13th, 2009

Al Jazeera Creative Commons RepositoryAl Jazeera is releasing 12 broadcast quality videos today shot in Gaza under Creative Commons’ least restrictive Attribution license. Each professionally recorded video has a detailed information page and is hosted on blip.tv allowing for easy downloads of the original files and integration into Miro. The value of this footage is best described by an International Herald Tribune/New York Times article describing the release:

In a conflict where the Western news media have been largely prevented from reporting from Gaza because of restrictions imposed by the Israeli military, Al Jazeera has had a distinct advantage. It was already there.

More importantly, the permissive CC-BY license means that the footage can be used by anyone including, rival broadcasters, documentary makers, and bloggers, so long as Al Jazeera is credited.
There’s more information over at Al Jazeera’s CC repository, and in our press release. You can also add the Al Jazeera repository to your Miro feeds by clicking here.

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let the remixes continue http://www.lessig.org/2009/01/let-the-remixes-continue/ http://www.lessig.org/2009/01/let-the-remixes-continue/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2009 12:15:44 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/01/let_the_remixes_continue.html my first blog entry about the show. Then ccMixter -- Creative Commons fantastic remix site, that allows you to track who remixed what -- launched a remix thread. You can see those here. Then this morning I saw the link to the IndabaMusic site, which is running a contest around the clip. There are now about 20 remixes available, and more than 100 in the works. You can see those here. All of the remixes in the ccMixter/IndabaMusic domains are CC licensed. The source, again, is my segment (the portion of the Colbert Report in which I am a joint copyright owner.) As that is CC-BY, anyone is free for any purpose (save endorsement purposes) to use it as you wish. ]]> So here’s an update on the Remix COLBERT/lessig project.

As I first reported, after the event, I was sent some very cool remixes. They’re available in my first blog entry about the show.

Then ccMixter — Creative Commons fantastic remix site, that allows you to track who remixed what — launched a remix thread. You can see those here.

Then this morning I saw the link to the IndabaMusic site, which is running a contest around the clip. There are now about 20 remixes available, and more than 100 in the works. You can see those here.

All of the remixes in the ccMixter/IndabaMusic domains are CC licensed. The source, again, is my segment (the portion of the Colbert Report in which I am a joint copyright owner.) As that is CC-BY, anyone is free for any purpose (save endorsement purposes) to use it as you wish.

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Free Souls: Joi’s New Book http://www.lessig.org/2008/12/free-souls-jois-new-book/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/12/free-souls-jois-new-book/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2008 19:39:33 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/12/free_souls_jois_new_book.html joi-book.jpg Joi Ito's new book is now available, Free Souls. The book is an amazingly beautiful (since Joi's the artist) and smart (since Joi knows the subjects) collection of photographs of many souls in the worlds Joi knows. All of the images are freely licensed (CC-BY) and all have signed model releases. So these are souls Joi has set free. As Joi's site puts it, "A celebration of all the people who are willing to share." Still time to order for Christmas...]]> joi-book.jpg

Joi Ito’s new book is now available, Free Souls. The book is an amazingly beautiful (since Joi’s the artist) and smart (since Joi knows the subjects) collection of photographs of many souls in the worlds Joi knows. All of the images are freely licensed (CC-BY) and all have signed model releases. So these are souls Joi has set free. As Joi’s site puts it, “A celebration of all the people who are willing to share.”

Still time to order for Christmas

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Andy Oram on supporting Creative Commons http://www.lessig.org/2008/12/andy-oram-on-supporting-creati/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/12/andy-oram-on-supporting-creati/#comments Sun, 14 Dec 2008 17:05:29 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/12/andy_oram_on_supporting_creati.html fantastically compelling piece about why it is important to support Creative Commons.
Let's keep the momentum going, and [make] sure they can continue to lay the groundwork for a public domain that becomes increasingly important for innovation in a tight economy and for political engagement in a newly aroused community-minded public.
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Andy Oram has a fantastically compelling piece about why it is important to support Creative Commons.
Let’s keep the momentum going, and [make] sure they can continue to lay the groundwork for a public domain that becomes increasingly important for innovation in a tight economy and for political engagement in a newly aroused community-minded public.

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Jesse Dylan made (another) video for us http://www.lessig.org/2008/12/jesse-dylan-made-another-video/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/12/jesse-dylan-made-another-video/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2008 22:03:20 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/12/jesse_dylan_made_another_video.html Jesse Dylan, creator of the will.i.am "Yes We Can" video, has created his second video for the Creative Commons project -- this time for Science Commons. Enjoy, share, be inspired, help us. (Here's his first.) ]]>

Jesse Dylan, creator of the will.i.amYes We Can” video, has created his second video for the Creative Commons project — this time for Science Commons. Enjoy, share, be inspired, help us. (Here’s his first.)

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HELP: Please take the CC “noncommercial” survey http://www.lessig.org/2008/12/help-please-take-the-cc-noncom/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/12/help-please-take-the-cc-noncom/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2008 18:38:21 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/12/help_please_take_the_cc_noncom.html As previously announced, we’re running a questionnaire on understanding “NonCommercial” use. The questionnaire runs through December 7. It takes 15-25 minutes to complete. Click here to start the questionnaire.

Your input is greatly appreciated. CC CEO Joi Ito explains:
“The study has direct relevance to Creative Commons’ mission of providing free, flexible copyright licenses that are easy to understand and simple to use,” said Creative Commons CEO Joi Ito. “The NC term is a popular option for creators choosing a Creative Commons license, and that tells us the term meets a need. However, as exponentially increasing numbers of works are made available under CC licenses, we want to provide additional information for creators about the contexts in which the NC term may further or impede their intentions with respect to the works they choose to share, and we want to make sure that users clearly understand those intentions. We expect the study findings will help us do a better job of explaining the licenses and to improve them, where possible. We also hope the findings, which will be made publicly available, will contribute to better understanding of some of the complexities of digital distribution of content.”
You can also help by sending your friends and colleagues to the questionnaire.]]>
From the Creative Commons blog:
As previously announced, we’re running a questionnaire on understanding “NonCommercial” use. The questionnaire runs through December 7. It takes 15-25 minutes to complete.

Click here to start the questionnaire.

Your input is greatly appreciated. CC CEO Joi Ito explains:

“The study has direct relevance to Creative Commons’ mission of providing free, flexible copyright licenses that are easy to understand and simple to use,” said Creative Commons CEO Joi Ito. “The NC term is a popular option for creators choosing a Creative Commons license, and that tells us the term meets a need. However, as exponentially increasing numbers of works are made available under CC licenses, we want to provide additional information for creators about the contexts in which the NC term may further or impede their intentions with respect to the works they choose to share, and we want to make sure that users clearly understand those intentions. We expect the study findings will help us do a better job of explaining the licenses and to improve them, where possible. We also hope the findings, which will be made publicly available, will contribute to better understanding of some of the complexities of digital distribution of content.”

You can also help by sending your friends and colleagues to the questionnaire.

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from the “what a fantastic idea” department http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/from-the-what-a-fantastic-idea/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/from-the-what-a-fantastic-idea/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2008 09:20:50 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/11/from_the_what_a_fantastic_idea.html fantastic post about YouTube and Creative Commons. As it is CC licensed, I've reproduced it here:

Why YouTube should support Creative Commons now

YouTube should support Creative Commons I was in Miami last week to meet with my fellow screeners from the Knight News Challenge and Jay Dedman and Ryanne Hodson, two vlogger friends whom I met through coworking, started talking about content licensing, specifically as related to President-Elect Barack Obama’s weekly address, which, if things go according to plan, will continue to be broadcast on YouTube. The question came up: what license should Barack Obama use for his content? This, in turn, revealed a more fundamental question: why doesn’t YouTube let you pick a license for the work that you upload (and must, given the terms of the site, own the rights to in the first place)? And if this omission isn’t intentional (that is, no one decided against such a feature, it just hasn’t bubbled up in the priority queue yet), then what can be done to facilitate the adoption of Creative Commons on the site? To date, few video sharing sites, save Blip.tv and Flickr (even if they only deal with long photos), have actually embraced Creative Commons to any appreciable degree. Ironically, of all sites, YouTube seems the most likely candidate to adopt Creative Commons, given its rampant remix and republish culture (a culture which continues to vex major movie studies and other fastidious copyright owners). One might make the argument that, considering the history of illegally shared copyrighted material on YouTube, enabling Creative Commons would simply lead to people mislicensing work that they don’t own… but I think that’s a strawman argument that falls down in practice for a number of reasons:
  • First of all, all sites that enable the use of CC licenses offer the scheme as opt-in, defaulting to the traditional all rights reserved use of copyright. Enabling the choice of Creative Commons wouldn’t necessarily affect this default.
  • Second, unauthorized sharing of content or digital media under any license is still illegal, whether the relicensed work is licensed under Creative Commons or copyright.
  • Third, YouTube, and any other media sharing site, bears some responsibility for the content published on their site, and, regardless of license, reserves the right to remove any material that fails to comply completely with its Terms of Service.
  • Fourth, the choice of a Creative Commons license is usually a deliberate act (going back to my first point) intended to convey an intention. The value of this intention — specifically, to enable the lawful reuse and republishing of content or media by others without prior per-instance consent — is a net positive to the health of a social ecosystem insomuch as this choice enables a specific form of freedom: that is, the freedom to give away one’s work under certain, less-restrictive stipulations than the law allows, to aid in establishing a positive culture of sharing and creativity (as we’ve seen on , SoundCloud and CC Mixter).
Preventing people from choosing a more liberal license conceivably restricts expression, insomuch as it restricts an “efficient, content-enriching value chain” from forming within a legal framework. Or, because all material is currently licensed under the most restrictive regime on YouTube, every re-use of a portion of media must therefore be licensed on a per-instance basis, considerably impeding the legal reuse of other people’s work. Now, I want to point out something interesting here… as specifically related to both this moment in time and about government ownership of media. A recently released report from the GAO on Energy Efficiency carried with it the following statement on copyright:
This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately.
Though it can’t simply put this work into the public domain because of the potential copyrighted materials embedded therein, this statement is about as close as you can get for an assembled work produced by the government. Now consider that Obama’s weekly “radio address” is self-contained media, not contingent upon the use or reuse of any other copyrighted work. It bears considering what license (if any) should apply (keeping in mind that the government is funded by tax-payer dollars). If not the public domain, under what license should Obama’s weekly addresses be shared? Certainly not all rights reserved! — unfortunately, YouTube offers no other option and thus, regardless of what Obama or the Change.gov folks would prefer, they’re stuck with a single, monolithic licensing scheme. Interestingly, Google, YouTube’s owner, has supported Creative Commons in the past, notably with their collaboration with Radiohead on the House of Cards open source initiative and with the licensing of the Summer of Code documentation (Yahoo has a similar project with Flickr’s hosting of the Library of Congress’ photo archive under a liberal license). I think that it’s critical for YouTube to adopt the Creative Commons licensing scheme now, as Barack Obama begins to use the site for his weekly address, because of the powerful signal it would send, in the context of what I imagine will be a steady increase and importance of the use of social media and web video by government agencies. Don Norman recently wrote an essay on the importance of social signifiers, and I think it underscores my point as to why this issue is pressing now. In contrast to the popular concept of “affordances” in design and design thinking, Norman writes:
A “signifier” is some sort of indicator, some signal in the physical or social world that can be interpreted meaningfully. Signifiers signify critical information, even if the signifier itself is an accidental byproduct of the world. Social signifiers are those that are relevant to social usages. Some social indicators simply are the unintended but informative result of the behavior of others. . . . I call any physically perceivable cue a signifier, whether it is incidental or deliberate. A social signifier is one that is either created or interpreted by people or society, signifying social activity or appropriate social behavior.
The “appropriate social behavior”, or behavior that I think Obama should model in his weekly podcasts is that of open and free licensing, introducing the world of YouTube viewers to an alternative form of licensing, that would enable them to better understand and signal to others their intent and desire to share, and to have their creative works reused, without the need to ask for permission first. For Obama media to be offered under a CC license (with the licensed embedded in the media itself) would signal his seriousness about embracing openness, transparency and the nature of discourse on the web. It would also signify a shift towards the type of collaboration typified by Web 2.0 social sites, enabling a modern dialectic relationship between the citizenry and its government. I believe that now is the time for this change to happen, and for YouTube to prioritize the choice of Creative Commons licensing for the entire YouTube community.
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Chris Messina’s got a fantastic post about YouTube and Creative Commons. As it is CC licensed, I’ve reproduced it here:

Why YouTube should support Creative Commons now

YouTube should support Creative Commons

I was in Miami last week to meet with my fellow screeners from the Knight News Challenge and Jay Dedman and Ryanne Hodson, two vlogger friends whom I met through coworking, started talking about content licensing, specifically as related to President-Elect Barack Obama’s weekly address, which, if things go according to plan, will continue to be broadcast on YouTube.

The question came up: what license should Barack Obama use for his content? This, in turn, revealed a more fundamental question: why doesn’t YouTube let you pick a license for the work that you upload (and must, given the terms of the site, own the rights to in the first place)? And if this omission isn’t intentional (that is, no one decided against such a feature, it just hasn’t bubbled up in the priority queue yet), then what can be done to facilitate the adoption of Creative Commons on the site?

To date, few video sharing sites, save Blip.tv and Flickr (even if they only deal with long photos), have actually embraced Creative Commons to any appreciable degree. Ironically, of all sites, YouTube seems the most likely candidate to adopt Creative Commons, given its rampant remix and republish culture (a culture which continues to vex major movie studies and other fastidious copyright owners).

One might make the argument that, considering the history of illegally shared copyrighted material on YouTube, enabling Creative Commons would simply lead to people mislicensing work that they don’t own… but I think that’s a strawman argument that falls down in practice for a number of reasons:

  • First of all, all sites that enable the use of CC licenses offer the scheme as opt-in, defaulting to the traditional all rights reserved use of copyright. Enabling the choice of Creative Commons wouldn’t necessarily affect this default.
  • Second, unauthorized sharing of content or digital media under any license is still illegal, whether the relicensed work is licensed under Creative Commons or copyright.
  • Third, YouTube, and any other media sharing site, bears some responsibility for the content published on their site, and, regardless of license, reserves the right to remove any material that fails to comply completely with its Terms of Service.
  • Fourth, the choice of a Creative Commons license is usually a deliberate act (going back to my first point) intended to convey an intention. The value of this intention — specifically, to enable the lawful reuse and republishing of content or media by others without prior per-instance consent — is a net positive to the health of a social ecosystem insomuch as this choice enables a specific form of freedom: that is, the freedom to give away one’s work under certain, less-restrictive stipulations than the law allows, to aid in establishing a positive culture of sharing and creativity (as we’ve seen on , SoundCloud and CC Mixter).

Preventing people from choosing a more liberal license conceivably restricts expression, insomuch as it restricts an “efficient, content-enriching value chain” from forming within a legal framework. Or, because all material is currently licensed under the most restrictive regime on YouTube, every re-use of a portion of media must therefore be licensed on a per-instance basis, considerably impeding the legal reuse of other people’s work.

Now, I want to point out something interesting here… as specifically related to both this moment in time and about government ownership of media. A recently released report from the GAO on Energy Efficiency carried with it the following statement on copyright:

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately.

Though it can’t simply put this work into the public domain because of the potential copyrighted materials embedded therein, this statement is about as close as you can get for an assembled work produced by the government.

Now consider that Obama’s weekly “radio address” is self-contained media, not contingent upon the use or reuse of any other copyrighted work. It bears considering what license (if any) should apply (keeping in mind that the government is funded by tax-payer dollars). If not the public domain, under what license should Obama’s weekly addresses be shared? Certainly not all rights reserved! — unfortunately, YouTube offers no other option and thus, regardless of what Obama or the Change.gov folks would prefer, they’re stuck with a single, monolithic licensing scheme.

Interestingly, Google, YouTube’s owner, has supported Creative Commons in the past, notably with their collaboration with Radiohead on the House of Cards open source initiative and with the licensing of the Summer of Code documentation (Yahoo has a similar project with Flickr’s hosting of the Library of Congress’ photo archive under a liberal license).

I think that it’s critical for YouTube to adopt the Creative Commons licensing scheme now, as Barack Obama begins to use the site for his weekly address, because of the powerful signal it would send, in the context of what I imagine will be a steady increase and importance of the use of social media and web video by government agencies.

Don Norman recently wrote an essay on the importance of social signifiers, and I think it underscores my point as to why this issue is pressing now. In contrast to the popular concept of “affordances” in design and design thinking, Norman writes:

A “signifier” is some sort of indicator, some signal in the physical or social world that can be interpreted meaningfully. Signifiers signify critical information, even if the signifier itself is an accidental byproduct of the world. Social signifiers are those that are relevant to social usages. Some social indicators simply are the unintended but informative result of the behavior of others. . . . I call any physically perceivable cue a signifier, whether it is incidental or deliberate. A social signifier is one that is either created or interpreted by people or society, signifying social activity or appropriate social behavior.

The “appropriate social behavior”, or behavior that I think Obama should model in his weekly podcasts is that of open and free licensing, introducing the world of YouTube viewers to an alternative form of licensing, that would enable them to better understand and signal to others their intent and desire to share, and to have their creative works reused, without the need to ask for permission first.

For Obama media to be offered under a CC license (with the licensed embedded in the media itself) would signal his seriousness about embracing openness, transparency and the nature of discourse on the web. It would also signify a shift towards the type of collaboration typified by Web 2.0 social sites, enabling a modern dialectic relationship between the citizenry and its government.

I believe that now is the time for this change to happen, and for YouTube to prioritize the choice of Creative Commons licensing for the entire YouTube community.

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Jonathan Coulton on CC http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/jonathan-coulton-on-cc/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/jonathan-coulton-on-cc/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2008 21:29:57 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/11/jonathan_coulton_on_cc.html Mega Green Flashdrive The ever innovative Brooklyn-based singer songwriter Jonathan Coulton has teamed up with Creative Commons to release his greatest hits compilation “JoCo Looks Back” on a 1gb custom Creative Commons jump drive to help support our 2008 campaign. If that weren’t enough, JoCo and CC have also included all of the unmixed audio tracks for every song on the drive. That’s over 700mb of JoCo thing-a-week goodness. Since all of JoCo’s music is released under our Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, this is an incredible opportunity for the public to remix and reuse his fantastic music. Song files are in 320kbps MP3 and unmixed audio tracks are in 256 VBR MP3. We’ll be offering the drives exclusively at our $50 dollar donation level (and above) until December 31st. Also included are a CreativeCommons.net account, an OpenID identity, and a 2008 campaign sticker. Jonathan also wrote a wonderful commoner letter speaking on how he, as a musician, uses Creative Commons to support himself and his career. Read it here. The letter is just about the most moving CC writing I've seen. ]]> From the CC Blog:
Mega Green Flashdrive The ever innovative Brooklyn-based singer songwriter Jonathan Coulton has teamed up with Creative Commons to release his greatest hits compilation “JoCo Looks Back” on a 1gb custom Creative Commons jump drive to help support our 2008 campaign. If that weren’t enough, JoCo and CC have also included all of the unmixed audio tracks for every song on the drive. That’s over 700mb of JoCo thing-a-week goodness. Since all of JoCo’s music is released under our Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, this is an incredible opportunity for the public to remix and reuse his fantastic music. Song files are in 320kbps MP3 and unmixed audio tracks are in 256 VBR MP3.

We’ll be offering the drives exclusively at our $50 dollar donation level (and above) until December 31st. Also included are a CreativeCommons.net account, an OpenID identity, and a 2008 campaign sticker.

Jonathan also wrote a wonderful commoner letter speaking on how he, as a musician, uses Creative Commons to support himself and his career. Read it here.

The letter is just about the most moving CC writing I’ve seen.

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Enormously important news from the Free Software Foundation http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/enormously-important-news-from/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/11/enormously-important-news-from/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2008 21:24:46 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/11/enormously_important_news_from.html Free Software Foundation has released the GNU Free Document License version 1.3. Section 11 of that license now (essentially) permits certain wikis to be relicensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (v3.0) license, so long as the relicensing is completed by August 1, 2009. That means, the Wikipedia community now has the choice to relicense Wikipedia under a Creative Commons license. (Here's the FAQ for the amendment.) It would be hard to overstate the importance of this change to the Free Culture community. A fundamental flaw in the Free Culture Movement to date is that its most important element -- Wikipedia -- is licensed in a way that makes it incompatible with an enormous range of other content in the Free Culture Movement. One solution to this, of course, would be for everything to move to the FDL. But that license was crafted initially for manuals, and there were a number of technical reasons why it would not work well (and in some cases, at all) for certain important kinds of culture. This change would now permit interoperability among Free Culture projects, just as the dominance of the GNU GPL enables interoperability among Free Software projects. It thus eliminates an unnecessary and unproductive hinderance to the spread and growth of Free Culture. Richard Stallman deserves enormous credit for enabling this change to occur. There were some who said RMS would never permit Wikipedia to be relicensed, as it is one of the crown jewels in his movement for freedom. And so it is: like the GNU/Linux operation system, which his movement made possible, Wikipedia was made possible by the architecture of freedom the FDL enabled. One could well understand a lesser man finding any number of excuses for blocking the change. But here's what Richard said in 2002 in a different context:
"If we don’t want to live in a jungle, we must change our attitudes. We must start sending the message that a good citizen is one who cooperates when appropriate...."
Add "good citizen" to the list of praise for this founder of contemporary freedom.]]>
The Free Software Foundation has released the GNU Free Document License version 1.3. Section 11 of that license now (essentially) permits certain wikis to be relicensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (v3.0) license, so long as the relicensing is completed by August 1, 2009. That means, the Wikipedia community now has the choice to relicense Wikipedia under a Creative Commons license. (Here’s the FAQ for the amendment.)

It would be hard to overstate the importance of this change to the Free Culture community. A fundamental flaw in the Free Culture Movement to date is that its most important element — Wikipedia — is licensed in a way that makes it incompatible with an enormous range of other content in the Free Culture Movement. One solution to this, of course, would be for everything to move to the FDL. But that license was crafted initially for manuals, and there were a number of technical reasons why it would not work well (and in some cases, at all) for certain important kinds of culture.

This change would now permit interoperability among Free Culture projects, just as the dominance of the GNU GPL enables interoperability among Free Software projects. It thus eliminates an unnecessary and unproductive hinderance to the spread and growth of Free Culture.

Richard Stallman deserves enormous credit for enabling this change to occur. There were some who said RMS would never permit Wikipedia to be relicensed, as it is one of the crown jewels in his movement for freedom. And so it is: like the GNU/Linux operation system, which his movement made possible, Wikipedia was made possible by the architecture of freedom the FDL enabled. One could well understand a lesser man finding any number of excuses for blocking the change.

But here’s what Richard said in 2002 in a different context:

“If we don’t want to live in a jungle, we must change our attitudes. We must start sending the message that a good citizen is one who cooperates when appropriate….”

Add “good citizen” to the list of praise for this founder of contemporary freedom.

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A new favorite: Jesse Dylan makes a film for CC http://www.lessig.org/2008/10/a-new-favorite-jesse-dylan-mak/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/10/a-new-favorite-jesse-dylan-mak/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2008 17:12:28 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/10/a_new_favorite_jesse_dylan_mak.html Jesse Dylan (director of the extraordinary "Yes We Can" video) has made a film about Creative Commons. It is released today, the first day of our annual campaign. ]]>

Jesse Dylan (director of the extraordinary “Yes We Can” video) has made a film about Creative Commons. It is released today, the first day of our annual campaign.

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Fantastic new (cc) book — Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters http://www.lessig.org/2008/09/fantastic-new-cc-book-trust-re/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/09/fantastic-new-cc-book-trust-re/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2008 05:29:17 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/09/fantastic_new_cc_book_trust_re.html Trust: Reaching The 100 Million Missing Voters, originally released in 2004 as a collection of essays, has been re-released online under a CC BY-NC license, by (my friend) the author, Farai Chideya, is credited and it is for non-commercial purposes. You can download the first chapters here, with more to follow as the election continues. ]]> Trust: Reaching The 100 Million Missing Voters, originally released in 2004 as a collection of essays, has been re-released online under a CC BY-NC license, by (my friend) the author, Farai Chideya, is credited and it is for non-commercial purposes.

You can download the first chapters here, with more to follow as the election continues.

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Picasa Web Albums goes CC http://www.lessig.org/2008/09/picasa-web-albums-goes-cc/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/09/picasa-web-albums-goes-cc/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2008 19:34:58 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/09/picasa_web_albums_goes_cc.html picasa.jpg Very cool news this morning: the latest version of Picasa Web Albums now, like Flickr, supports Creative Commons licenses. ]]>
picasa.jpg

Very cool news this morning: the latest version of Picasa Web Albums now, like Flickr, supports Creative Commons licenses.

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vCool CC news — Caterina Fake joins Creative Commons board http://www.lessig.org/2008/08/vcool-cc-news-caterina-fake-jo/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/08/vcool-cc-news-caterina-fake-jo/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2008 10:19:58 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/08/vcool_cc_news_caterina_fake_jo.html 2767721641_653321bfaa.jpg

A FreeSoul by Joi

Creative Commons License Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr, has joined the Creative Commons board. News at CC. ]]>

2767721641_653321bfaa.jpg

A FreeSoul by Joi

Creative Commons License

Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr, has joined the Creative Commons board. News at CC.

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huge and important news: free licenses upheld http://www.lessig.org/2008/08/huge-and-important-news-free-l/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/08/huge-and-important-news-free-l/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2008 22:28:48 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/08/huge_and_important_news_free_l.html upheld a free (ok, they call them "open source") copyright license, explicitly pointing to the work of Creative Commons and others. (The specific license at issue was the Artistic License.) This is a very important victory, and I am very very happy that the Stanford Center for Internet and Society played a key role in securing it. Congratulations especially to Chris Ridder and Anthony Falzone at the Center. In non-technical terms, the Court has held that free licenses such as the CC licenses set conditions (rather than covenants) on the use of copyrighted work. When you violate the condition, the license disappears, meaning you're simply a copyright infringer. This is the theory of the GPL and all CC licenses. Put precisely, whether or not they are also contracts, they are copyright licenses which expire if you fail to abide by the terms of the license. Important clarity and certainty by a critically important US Court. ]]> So for non-lawgeeks, this won’t seem important. But trust me, this is huge.

I am very proud to report today that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (THE “IP” court in the US) has upheld a free (ok, they call them “open source”) copyright license, explicitly pointing to the work of Creative Commons and others. (The specific license at issue was the Artistic License.) This is a very important victory, and I am very very happy that the Stanford Center for Internet and Society played a key role in securing it. Congratulations especially to Chris Ridder and Anthony Falzone at the Center.

In non-technical terms, the Court has held that free licenses such as the CC licenses set conditions (rather than covenants) on the use of copyrighted work. When you violate the condition, the license disappears, meaning you’re simply a copyright infringer. This is the theory of the GPL and all CC licenses. Put precisely, whether or not they are also contracts, they are copyright licenses which expire if you fail to abide by the terms of the license.

Important clarity and certainty by a critically important US Court.

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Early Creative Commons history, my version http://www.lessig.org/2008/08/early-creative-commons-history/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/08/early-creative-commons-history/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2008 21:43:32 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/08/early_creative_commons_history.html Here's a talk I gave at the iCommons Summit in Sapporo Japan on July 30, 2008. Nothing new to readers here, but reframed a bit for the context. ]]>

Here’s a talk I gave at the iCommons Summit in Sapporo Japan on July 30, 2008. Nothing new to readers here, but reframed a bit for the context.

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Gilberto Gil on DemocracyNow (on lots of stuff including Creative Commons) http://www.lessig.org/2008/06/gilberto-gil-on-democracynow-o/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/06/gilberto-gil-on-democracynow-o/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2008 03:39:26 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/06/gilberto_gil_on_democracynow_o.html interview by Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman of Gilberto Gil. ]]> A great interview by Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman of Gilberto Gil.

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CC Newsletter — this is really beautiful http://www.lessig.org/2008/04/cc-newsletter-this-is-really-b/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/04/cc-newsletter-this-is-really-b/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2008 02:54:58 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/04/cc_newsletter_this_is_really_b.html Here's the latest CC newsletter. It is extraordinarily beautiful and well done. ]]> Here‘s the latest CC newsletter. It is extraordinarily beautiful and well done.

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ccKorea http://www.lessig.org/2008/03/cckorea-1/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/03/cckorea-1/#comments Sun, 16 Mar 2008 07:44:53 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/03/cckorea_1.html 2043829127_db9b810bf9.jpg

A favorite ccKorea photo, by ph1337 at Flickr

Creative Commons License
Just returning (actually, late for the plane) from ccKorea's "1st International Conference." The trip was an extraordinary rush of the happiest and saddest thoughts. Happiest: to see how this local organization has grown. This conference was 100% locally funded and organized. There were hundreds who showed up to listen to talks about local CC artists, and talk about CC in education and in business. The key organizing of the event came from an army of CC volunteers -- ranging from high schoolers to professors in local universities. And the organization has been led and inspired by key members of the Korean bar, as well as a Korean judge. Korea is the perfect example of how CC can flourish on its own internationally. And it is rare that I get so inspired that I agree to go embarrass myself at karaoke, but that's in fact what the ccKorea team did (and no, there are no recordings). Saddest: It finally hit me last night as Karaoke was winding down that I was in fact moving on from all this. I've spent much of the last 5 years flinging myself to over 40 countries to celebrate the launch of CC locally, and to other CC International events. My new work will mean I can't do this as much. My new focus is right for me, and for CC. But not having the chance to watch this kid grow as closely as I have so far is a big and sad loss. Thank you, ccKorea, for making this sad recognition as happy as it could be. (And thank you for sparing the world a recording of the karaoke). ]]>

2043829127_db9b810bf9.jpg

A favorite ccKorea photo, by ph1337 at Flickr

Creative Commons License

Just returning (actually, late for the plane) from ccKorea’s “1st International Conference.” The trip was an extraordinary rush of the happiest and saddest thoughts.

Happiest: to see how this local organization has grown. This conference was 100% locally funded and organized. There were hundreds who showed up to listen to talks about local CC artists, and talk about CC in education and in business. The key organizing of the event came from an army of CC volunteers — ranging from high schoolers to professors in local universities. And the organization has been led and inspired by key members of the Korean bar, as well as a Korean judge. Korea is the perfect example of how CC can flourish on its own internationally. And it is rare that I get so inspired that I agree to go embarrass myself at karaoke, but that’s in fact what the ccKorea team did (and no, there are no recordings).

Saddest: It finally hit me last night as Karaoke was winding down that I was in fact moving on from all this. I’ve spent much of the last 5 years flinging myself to over 40 countries to celebrate the launch of CC locally, and to other CC International events. My new work will mean I can’t do this as much. My new focus is right for me, and for CC. But not having the chance to watch this kid grow as closely as I have so far is a big and sad loss.

Thank you, ccKorea, for making this sad recognition as happy as it could be. (And thank you for sparing the world a recording of the karaoke).

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iSummit Sapporo — call for submmissions http://www.lessig.org/2008/03/isummit-sapporo-call-for-submm/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/03/isummit-sapporo-call-for-submm/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2008 20:52:22 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/03/isummit_sapporo_call_for_submm.html
isummit08_logo_crop.jpg
The iCommons iSummit in iSopporo is accepting submissions for ideas for panels, etc. ]]>
isummit08_logo_crop.jpg

The iCommons iSummit in iSopporo is accepting submissions for ideas for panels, etc.

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NIN goes CC http://www.lessig.org/2008/03/nin-goes-cc/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/03/nin-goes-cc/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2008 09:12:55 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/03/nin_goes_cc.html latest album has been released under a Creative Commons license. ]]> Amazingly great CC news: Nine Inch Nails’ latest album has been released under a Creative Commons license.

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The Future of Ideas is now Free http://www.lessig.org/2008/01/the-future-of-ideas-is-now-fre-1/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/01/the-future-of-ideas-is-now-fre-1/#comments Tue, 15 Jan 2008 23:42:59 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/01/the_future_of_ideas_is_now_fre_1.html the future of ideasthe future of ideasthe future of ideas After a productive and valuable conversation with my publisher, Random House, they've agreed to permit The Future of Ideas to be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license. You can download the book for free here, or above. This means all four of my books are now CC licensed. Code (v1) was licensed under a BY-SA license; so too, Code (v2). And Free Culture and now The Future of Ideas are licensed under BY-NC licenses. I am particularly glad that The Future of Ideas is now freely licensed. That book hit the stores 2 weeks after September 11. I'm glad it now has a chance to flow a bit more freely. Thanks to Random House (and Basic Books, and Penguin) for being open to this experiment. I hope we'll have some useful data to report about its effect.]]>

the future of ideasthe future of ideasthe future of ideas

After a productive and valuable conversation with my publisher, Random House, they’ve agreed to permit The Future of Ideas to be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license. You can download the book for free here, or above.

This means all four of my books are now CC licensed. Code (v1) was licensed under a BY-SA license; so too, Code (v2). And Free Culture and now The Future of Ideas are licensed under BY-NC licenses.

I am particularly glad that The Future of Ideas is now freely licensed. That book hit the stores 2 weeks after September 11. I’m glad it now has a chance to flow a bit more freely.

Thanks to Random House (and Basic Books, and Penguin) for being open to this experiment. I hope we’ll have some useful data to report about its effect.

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