Saturday, April 05, 2008

Weekend fun - copyright edition

OK campers, since the weekend is upon us (and especially for those who aren't interested in the Final Four) let's consider the question:

Is Copyright Cool?

Good question Dave, I can hear you thinking, nodding your head in approval.

So what's the answer?

Not to be coy, but the truth is -- I'm not sure.

I think it is, but I'm not sure it's crossed over to the mainstream yet. But it is getting closer to doing just that.

If you've got the time, I'm going to point you to a couple of videos of speeches by two very smart people - one American and one Canadian - talking about copyright issues in the US and here in Canada.

Larry Lessig

The first is by Larry Lessig, a professor at Stanford, credited with creating the Creative Commons license and a well-known advocate for copyright reform. (Although he's now turned his attention to corruption in US politics.)

He spoke at the TED conference in Monterey, California last March. Lessig is a terrific presenter, as this blurb from the TED website attests:
Larry Lessig gets TEDsters to their feet, whooping and whistling, following this elegant presentation of three stories and an argument. The Net's most adored lawyer brings together John Philip Sousa, celestial copyrights, and the "ASCAP cartel" to build a case for creative freedom. He pins down the key shortcomings of our dusty, pre-digital intellectual property laws, and reveals how bad laws beget bad code. Then, in an homage to cutting-edge artistry, he throws in some of the most hilarious remixes you've ever seen.

Watch the video here.

Michael Geist

The second video is by Michael Geist of the University of Ottawa, who is probably Canada's best-known advocate of copyright reform. He's been waging a very public campaign to highlight some of the threats posed by possible changes to Canada's existing copyright rules.

He spoke at Toronto's Osgood Hall law school and they've posted a video of his presentation, which you can watch here.

While these two perspectives on copyright law may not answer the question of whether the issue is cool or not, they are definitely worth watching. They might even inspire you to consider getting more involved with the issue - or at least consider the implications of some of your own habits or those around you.

The issue of intellectual property rights, and their distribution and usage is critical to the future of our "information age." We should all be aware of what's going on so we can decide whether what is happening is correct.

These two guys are worth listening to.

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