Friday, April 13, 2007

Free Culture - Lawrence Lessig Keynote from OSCON 2002

Lawrence Lessig - Free Culture

It was a parody, a take-off; it was built upon Steamboat Bill. Steamboat Bill was produced in 1928, no [waiting] 14 years--just take it, rip, mix, and burn, as he did [laughter] to produce the Disney empire. This was his character. Walt always parroted feature-length mainstream films to produce the Disney empire, and we see the product of this. This is the Disney Corporation: taking works in the public domain, and not even in the public domain, and turning them into vastly greater, new creativity. They took the works of this guy, these guys, the Brothers Grimm, who you think are probably great authors on their own. They produce these horrible stories, these fairy tales, which anybody should keep their children far from because they're utterly bloody and moralistic stories, and are not the sort of thing that children should see, but they were retold for us by the Disney Corporation. Now the Disney Corporation could do this because that culture lived in a commons, an intellectual commons, a cultural commons, where people could freely take and build. It was a lawyer-free zone.

Let's talk about software patents. There's a guy, Mr. Gates, who's brilliant, right? He's brilliant. A brilliant business man; he has some insights, he is even a brilliant policy maker. Here's what he wrote about software patents: "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today." Here's the first thing I'm sure you've read of Bill Gates that you all 100 percent agree with. Gates is right. He is absolutely right. Then we shift into the genius business man: "The solution is patenting as much as we can. A future startup with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high. Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors." Excluding future competitors.


yogijp said...

yogijp said...

yogijp said...

yogijp said...


Its unfortunate, but the average hourly-paid/salaried "joe" does not fully grasp and understand the principles involved around copyright of something intangible. Thats because an hourly paid or salaried employee's pay is not directly based on what kind of results they bring in for their employer. In my world, we call these people getting paid "from the neck down". They show up to work, push some papers arond, and they get paid for having their warm butt in their chair for 8 hours. A dog with a note in his mouth could do the same job some of these people do.

Now the people who understand what Scott is saying, these people would have to be people who get paid "from the neck up". Getting paid "from the neck up" means you get paid for your brain and your pay is based on your performance from the brain power. An artist or musician can spend hours, days, months, sometimes years trying to create something. They only get paid when they create something, no matter how much time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears they put into it. They don't get paid for the time spent creating. They have to create it first and then hopefully it will pay off. And it only pays off if people like it and buy it. And if lots of people like it, then its a big payoff for the creator.

Agents, syndicates, labels, etal, are a necessary evil for the creators. They help pay some creators to pay the rent in between creations. They also do the admin and distribution work for the creator. That would be so hard if every creator had to not only create but had to figure distribution etc.