Larry Lessig : You can’t kill the instincts our technology produce

While we have these endless conversations about the new law which is currently debated in the french parlement, it sometimes helps to look what other people say on the subject. Larry Lessig, a founding board member of Creative Commons offers a great speech on the subject at TED last year.

His proposal (not surprinsingly) is to apply Creative Commons licensing schemes to artistic content. The history and examples are quite telling and that may be a god route to go. Just curious about how artists in my country would feel with their work treated like software. Some transcript included.

We’re growing extremism between both sides in response to conflict between law and use of technology.

On one side builds new technologies to remove any content that has any copyright content in it, whether or not there’s a judgement of fair use to be applied to the use of that content.

On the other side : our kids grow a copyright abolitionism. This is a generation that rejects any notion of what copyright is supposed to do. They reject copyright and believe that the law is nothing more than an ass that has to be ignored and to be fought at every opportunity.

Extremism on one side beget extremism on the other. A fact we should have learnt many many times over.

Both extremes in that debate are just wrong. It is the balance I try to fight for. I, as any good liberal, first looked at the government (a total mistake). First to the court and legislator to change the system to make it make more sense.  It fails partly because the court is too passive and partly because the legislator is corrupted (I don’t mean bribery here but rather economical influences). They will not understand it until it’s too late to fix this.

We need a different kind of solution. It’s a private solution which consists in legalizing to be young again. We need two things :

  1. artists and creator embrace the idea that their work be made available more freely. Example : made free for amateur type of use but not for commercial type of use.
  2. Business building out that culture to embrace the opportunity expressly, to enable it so that this psychology of free content grow on a neutral platform.

You can’t kill the instinct our technology produce, you can only criminalize it. You can’t stop them from using it, only force them to go underground.

We can’t make them passive, we can only make them pirates : we make our kids out of the law. We live in this weird age of prohibition with many areas of our lived life is constantly against the law. That’s what we are doing to our kids. That’s realization is extraoridinary corrosive. In a democracy we
ought to be able to do better at least for them if not for opening for business.

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