Love him or hate him, you have to admire Lawrence Lessig for constantly pushing at what's next and how to make it better. Case in point, his recent speech to a room full of hackers. In the Berlin presentation, he makes the case for a way to reform the current copyright system in order to better maximize the creativity and commerce that is enabled by new technologies. (Naturally, many of those in the audience would simply want to do away with copyright).
You can see the hour-plus presentation here. Some rough notes on it after the jump -- including Lessig's claim that any "progressive" legislation is a lost cause for the next 20 years.....
Lessig makes the case to reform the copyright system, but says first what won't enable change. Namely (and in his words):
1) Illegal Hacking. Redoubled effort by hackers to break the system and to break DRM won't help. Not because DRM is good. But, because we need to remember the drastic actions of the other side. Resistence via outright destruction won't work.
2) Progressive legislation won't work in the next 20 years. In IP regulation, the Democrats are just as insane as anyone else in the US. The most extreme pro-Hollywood member of Congress was elected to the committee in charge of IP rules (ed: Lessig is referring to Howard Berman -- who he recently took on in his blog). But, activists did nothing about preventing Berman's ascent, because we take for granted that even our friends are our enemies. The idea that we can go through Congress and change this insanity of regulation is just not going to happen.
3) Lawsuits. We liberal law professors love the idea that whenever there is a wrong in America, we can rush to a court and fix them. But, the courts don't understand these issues, either. Court strategies are long term losers.
We don't need to convince a handful of judges we need to convince 100 million people.
What do we do?
Once upon a time, there was radio broadcasters in America that were held hostage by a publishers society (ASCAP). After ASCAP said that they would double fees in 1940, a lawyer created a competing publishers society called BMI.
BMI made arrangements of public domain music to affiliates for free. When ASCAP raised rates, stations went to BMI's "second best" content. The result: By 1941, ASCAP rates went down to their 1937 level.
Now, what can we do with the model of BMI?
Now, with average copyright of 85 years, it isn't possible to use public
Part of the solution comes with Creative Commons to create a hybrid strategy.
Sharing Economy: If used for non-commercial, than there is a way distribute, but if commercial, there is no way to compensate.
You can create alternative licensing structures.
You must add a technology that facilitates crossover from the sharing economy to commercial
To use this we will build the interoperability between licensees and integrate into the infrastructure of where creativity gets built, so entrepreneurs can leverage the extraordinary creativity that has been built on the Net.
There are many people who question this. Including many people who think we have compromised the free ethos in our licensing structure.
I don't want copyright to die, I want it to be reformed.
There are many people who disagree, who only want to make things free....
And, then Lessig lost me with a long discussion on software licensing and other acronym-heavy side-bars.
For a more sober (but not necessarily negative) perspective on Creative Commons as a copyright savior, see IPCentral's "commons" thread.