remix

by Lawrence Lessig, 2008.

Is creating a mix CD for a friend an act of creativity, or a criminal offence? When you shoot a home video of your child which has a TV on in the background, is there really any need for lawsuits? What business do federal laws have in trying to regulate this sort of activity anyway?

For those, like me, who view modern copyright law as a morass of intractable problems, irreconcilable interests, overreaching government intervention and profoundly unfair restrictions on personal freedoms, Professor Lessig’s words are a welcome infusion of clarity, pragmatism and respect for all interested parties.

With an engaging and accessible style, he describes exactly what is wrong with modern copyright, with clarity and impartiality, and why this is a deep and pervasive problem that cuts to the heart of all that we value in human culture. He describes how fixing this would benefit each of us, from individual consumers and amateur producers, through professional writers, musicians and copyright holders. Then, in a surprisingly constructive final section, he outlines five simple changes to copyright law that would, at a stroke, fix all the major problems, vastly simplify the situation, eliminate the ambiguity over the legality of our everyday actions, and all without apparently causing any harm or loss to any interested party.

Rating:

10/10 If you have any interest in the forces that are reshaping our society and turning industries upside-down within the space of years.

0/10 If you dislike freedom or free markets, or are a big fan of overbearing government regulation and monopolies.