|Water on the rocks - Lake Superior. Photo by Curt Isakson|
First of all, the TED Talk video: ReMix Culture by Larry Lessig, was a great way to end this week’s video barrage. It put the whole copyright lesson into a capsule that made the most sense to me. And, I will definitely use the video as one of the closing elements of the Mass Media class I currently teach. It just ties all that we are reading and studying about together.
I agree that there needs to be a meeting of the minds on both sides of this issue, as some compromise needs to be agreed upon. If not, creativity will be stifled, or worse than that, become illegal. I can’t help but think of Fahrenheit 451, the great Ray Bradbury novel, and the use of firemen and book burning to control our existence, or even George Orwell’s classic 1984, with Big Brother watching our every move and Thought Police punishing thought crime.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for protecting what is mine, and everyone deserves that right as well. However, if we were not allowed to take what already exists and make it better, where would we be now? Our technology advances can be traced back many generations of creations, all taking it one step further in order to make something new. Sending electricity through wires led to sending controlled impulses (telegraph) through wires, which led to adding sound (telephone), and then taking the wires away (radio), first without sound and then with voice, and then adding pictures (television) and so on. Yes, I know there were copyright and patent battles and agreements throughout the process, but the creativity was not stifled.
We have provided our current generation with the greatest technology at an affordable price. We need to let them take this material and stretch the limits of what that technology can do. Whether it is through an organization like Creative Commons, taking the legal high road, or through “subversive” unauthorized experimentation, isn’t the idea that our children are exercising their minds and learning new things what is really important? As Larry Lessig said in his closing of the aforementioned TED Talk video, [our kids] “live life knowing they live it against the law…in a democracy, we ought to be able do better at least for them…”