Is copyright corroding our society?

That’s what Stanford professor Larry Lessig says in this lecture (it takes about 19 minutes and it’s well worth watching the whole thing — but in any case be sure not to miss the mash-up about 9:30 in). Dan Blank summarizes:

He concludes that copyright laws remain antiquated with regards to how our kids are using media online – via mashups, downloads, and original content creation using pieces of existing copyrighted works.

The end result is that our children are growing up knowingly breaking the law in their daily lives. They “live life knowing they live it against the law.” He calls this corrosive and corrupting to a democracy.

← Previous post

Next post →


  1. Thank you for this most interesting video. Such amazing thinking on a subject that needs urgent resolution. Words simply elude me to describe what can be achieved if one follows through on the suggestion made. Any initiatives any where?

  2. Interesting post and particularly relevant to me right now. I put a piece on Kiefer on a group blog where I write. I happen to really like his work and have a huge “dump” file of things that I’ve found about him. Well, apparently, I inadvertently quoted an art critic without attribution and got dinged for it on line. I took the whole thing down and felt like an idiot! I Googled the critic’s name and found that I had inadvertently used something from a piece written in the 1980’s. I had no idea that a blog written by artists and read by a few friends would come under such scrutiny.

  3. More thoughts on copyright – I “belong” – in terms of appreciation – to a very lose group of fan fiction writers, vidders, collage artists, etc. who use commercial content and characters to create their works. The issue of “copyright infringement” is not only relevant to kids but to a whole group of not-kids who use these works to create something far beyond – and often totally subverting – the original content. I know that within the fan community there is a fierce debate about how “open” to be as they (we) are very aware that what we create is subject to the restrictions of copyright. I used to do collage pieces from images found in magazines, etc. but I don’t any more for fear that I will be sued for using an image that is “copyrighted. ” Now, I still do collage but it’s from torn up pieces of my old work so that I can avoid any legal problems. And most of us make no money from what we create; we create, write, paint, make vids, etc. because we love to. But we also see a continual attempt to shut down anything that does not make money for the (usually) huge corporation involved. A lot of on-line fan sites (Buffy, X Files) got shut down for that reason and I remember reading that even a small independent film got sued by the Stones for using a 30-second blip of one of their songs.

  4. My favorite was when the Beatles’ Apple Music sued (or threatened to sue?) Sesame Street for having one of the muppets sing “Letter B.”