January 12, 2009  ·  Lessig

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.

October 15, 2008  ·  Lessig

Chris Soghoian of Berkman has a nice post about McCain/Palin’s call on YouTube to review takedowns from campaigns before taking them down. He criticizes it as “special rules.”

True enough, it is a special rule. But isn’t it appropriate? For here’s the new game for politics in the YouTube age: complain enough to get an account shut down (according to YouTube testimony, 3 complaints gets an account shut down (pg 17 near the bottom), and ideally, do it at the critical time just before an election.

Of course, no one should be subject to this arbitrary game. But especially a campaign. Let’s start here and begin to build out from a clear example of bad incentives.

October 13, 2008  ·  Lessig


The McCain/Palin campaign has written a fantastic letter to YouTube demanding that they start getting real about the response they’re giving to notice and take-down demands of material that “are clearly privileged under the fair use doctrine.” Here is the letter. Bravo to the campaign.

October 7, 2008  ·  Lessig

Ikeda-san reports two bits of very good news from Japan:

On Sep. 18, the Council of Culture gave up the extension of copyright from 50 years after the death of the author to 70 years. Two years ago, the Council proposed the extension to follow the “global standard”, but many people on the Web objected against the legislation.

Last week the Council of Information and Communication decided to scrap the B-CAS, the notorious conditional access system for free broadcasting. Due to this change, “Dubbing Ten”, which forbids copying the programs of digital broadcasting more than ten times, would be abolished, because it is enforced by the encryption of B-CAS.

Read more on his blog.

October 1, 2008  ·  Lessig

The American Editorial Cartoonists are a bit premature in their confidence about the death of the “Orphan Works Act.” I wish they weren’t. As I’ve argued, this is a terrible solution to an important problem. The Senate has passed the bill. The House has now not. But until the end of this Congress, this insanely bad idea will not die.

September 30, 2008  ·  Lessig

Ben Jones has a piece about my book, Free Culture, being made available on Kindle, a platform that uses DRM.

In my view, the “free culture” test for a work is whether it is available freely — not whether it is also available not freely. “Free Culture” is available freely — meaning, it is licensed freely here. One can put that freely licensed version on a Kindle, freely. I hadn’t known my publisher was going to make Free Culture available on the Kindle, but now that they have, I’d be very keen to have a version I can make freely available on the “Free Culture” remix page.

“But shouldn’t,” one could well argue, “you not support DRM technologies at all?” That’s a valid position taken by many I respect. My view, however, is that one supports the campaign to avoid debilitating DRM by making culture freely available. New technologies will try all sorts of new deals to make things competitive. So long as free, open format versions are available to compete with that, I am not concerned about the DRM’d version existing as well.

Ben’s post claims that one would violate “the DMCA by circumventing the DRM, it is hard to put the pdf version of the book on the Kindle.” I don’t get this. There’s no violating of the DMCA when one adapts the format of a work as permitted by the copyright holder. Indeed, I should think the DMCA is violated by any effort to restrict the rights granted by a license — including the CC license rights. So any problem here is not the user’s — it is Kindle’s.

Anyway, I may be wrong about this. And I’ll be listening to see.

September 29, 2008  ·  Lessig

From Students for Free Culture:

Free Culture 2008 Conference
October 11-12, 2008
Chevron Auditorium, International House
2299 Piedmont Ave, Berkeley CA


What’s Free Culture?
Free Culture is a movement focused on creativity and innovation, communication and free expression, public access to knowledge and civil liberties. Students for Free Culture at Berkeley is proudly hosting the Free Culture 2008 Conference over Columbus Day weekend.

Conference Details
The conference will be held October 11th at the Chevron Auditorium at UC Berkeley. Anyone interested in politics, tech policy, art, and culture will find something to like—we’ll be featuring keynote presentations from Pam Samuelson of Boalt Hall, Lawrence Lessig of Stanford Law, and Mozilla Corporation CEO John Lilly. We are also convening panels on transparent politics, remix culture, copyright reform, and open access to knowledge and medicine. Richard Rinehart of Berkeley Art Museum will present the groundbreaking OpenMuseum project and Berkeley’s OKAPI group will demonstrate its virtual recreation of Çatalhöyük island for the Open Archaeology project. Filmmaker Nina Paley will be present for a screening of her groundbreaking film Sita Sings the Blues. And on October 12th, SFC will present a slate of intimate “unconference” style workshops on the Berkeley campus. Join guests from Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and others!

We’re asking attendees to donate what they think the conference is worth, whether that’s $1 or $100. Register today at http://conference.freeculture.org/register/!

As advertised, I’m speaking. I’ll introduce my new book, Remix, which will be released that week. (And fear not, there’s a very cool Creative Commons surprise to be announced then (iow: please don’t sweat copyright pages)).

September 22, 2008  ·  Lessig

Russ Gooberman wrote to tell a happy story about Major League Baseball.

A month ago, I created a mashup clip of some MLB’s All-Star Game Home Run Derby. Specifically, I wanted to feature the record-breaking home run streak of Texas Rangers youngster, Josh Hamilton. So, I cut up some YouTube footage of his longest homerun of the contest, and set it to the audio of the final homerun sequence of the movie, The Natural. The next day, the mashup was featured on SportsIllustrated.com as their “Video of the Day.” Here’s My Mashup.

The following day, MLB Advanced Media sent a trademark claim to YouTube, and had the video taken down. I was sent this notice from YouTube:

“This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by MLB Advanced Media claiming that this material is infringing:”

Using the YouTube notification process, I sent a counter-notification to MLB Advanced Media, which read as follows:

“Under established Fair Use principles, if a work is considered transformative, it does not represent an infringement. This video in particular, is extremely transformative. First of all, it takes less than a minute of footage out of an over three hour exhibition. Secondly, the footage is edited differently than the original telecast. Thirdly, the entire soundtrack has been removed and replaced. Fourthly, the footage itself has been altered, added to, subtracted from, and has had the meaning changed altogether.

The work shows ONE of over thirty home runs Mr. Hamilton hit in the contest. Clearly, this cannot be any kind of substitution for the actual footage of the event. It is provided as symbolic footage to give historical context. As such, it specifically helps the interests of Major League Baseball in publicizing the significence of this event.

The purpose of this transformative piece was to provide commentary on the event itself, and to compare the event to a historically important moment in baseball history. This quality of providing commentary to further public discourse, is another specific component of Fair Use doctrine, that allows for the use of copyrighted material.

This piece is fully non-commercial. The website behind the creation of this piece takes in zero revenue, and is a free entertainment service. Non-commercial use is another standard by which copyrighted material is allowable for re-use.

The historical recording and capturing of Hamilton’s Derby performance belongs to Major League Baseball. The event, in itself, does not. The interpretation of such an event in the public discourse is not for Major League Baseball to determine or influence. These events that affect our perceptions of our national pastime cannot be copyrighted. The discussion and dissemination of ideas relating to them cannot be censored.

There are countless cases of MLB pursuing copyright infringements that go beyond their rights as copyright holders. Evidence of overzealous prosecution has been abundant. This Sisyphean struggle to stop any and all interpretations of MLB material will eventually fail.

In the past, Major League Baseball has been a pioneering force in American progressive social movements (see Jackie Robinson’ s breaking of the color barrier, or Curt Flood’s resistance changing the face of American labor movements). It is a shame that Major League Baseball has chosen to drag its feet and has failed to encourage a more open dissemination of information in this matter.”

Within one day, not only had MLB Advanced Media relinquished its claim on the video, but had gone out of its way to feature the mashup on the official MLB entertainment blog.

So, I guess the moral of the story is that if you take the time to use the proper channels, and let the giant media conglomerates know you’re willing to put up a fight, they may decide that you’re not worth their time. Hopefully we can use these tactics to forward the cause of fair use and creative commons-owned properties.

Happy news indeed.