Listening to Lessig

Stanford Law professor and copyright law expert, Lawrence Lessig, appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross on Monday to promote his new book, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy.
It’s a 37-minute segment with lots of interesting information. At 17:19 in, Lessig says, “The question is whether copyright is creating an incentive to produce something new. That’s what copyright is about. It’s about a monopoly granted by the government in exchange for the incentive to create something.” Gross practically chokes on that particular interpretation of the idea.
Later in the piece the subject of newspapers comes up. Lessig mentions Craigslist and blogs, two commonly perceived threats to newspapers. Then Terry Gross says she doesn’t want to take anything away from bloggers who hold people’s feet to the fire (via investigative journalism), but she’s worried about newspapers.
Lessig says, “We need to keep some historical perspective. The First Amendment was enacted to protect bloggers. The freedom of the press that’s spoken of in the First Amendment–the framers had no conception of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. That was not in their head. When they protected the freedom of the press, they we’re protecting the pamphlet press. The pamphlet press if you read Jefferson and you read all these people about what pamphlets were like, the pamphelt press was awful. It was biased, it was ill informed, it was screed, it was irresponsible, it was everywhere. Anybody could get access to a printer to print the pamphelt press. But that’s exactly the press they were protecting with a clause that specifically said ‘freedom of the press’ not just freedom of speech. They did that because they believed that the dynamic of free access and free opportunity to speak was the only way to get to the truth.”
His point is to be open to the opportunities that change brings.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.