Monday, October 27, 2003

I've been thinking about using a different video for activity 1 of T182 Law the Internet and Society based on Larry Lessig's book, The Future of Ideas. Whilst digging out Lessig's Inaugural Meredith and Kip Frey Lecture in Intellectual Property, in March 23, 2001, at Duke University, I came across a terrific session with James Boyle:

Private Censorship and Perfect Choice: The Future of the Internet? Second Annual Duke Magazine Forum, featuring Duke Law Professor James Boyle in conversation with UNC Law Professor Adrienne Davis.

Articulate, entertaining and informative as ever, Jamie also gets put on the spot in relation to his perspective of the Napster case and explains the issues in the case in a way you just don't get in the usual polemics (both for and against). Although there were sound legal arguments in favour of Napster, the music industry also had a case and hence he did not sign up to the amicus brief supporting Napster. One example in Napster's favour was that intellectual property had never really concerned itself with private acts because it was really a form of industrial regulation. Also the Sony Betamax argument - Napster hadn't done anything itself any more than Sony with their video recorders, in relation to infringing copyright. Nevertheless, neither did he sign up to the specific overreaching arguments made by the music industry in the case because they would have effectively entailed making the open architecture of the Internet illegal. But in the end he came to the decision of not directly supporting Napster through asking the question: is this technology really going to encourage innovation in the long term or is this not-sanctioned use threatening innovation in the long term. Although the music industry's argument was questionable they did have a point. His friends said they should be allowed to engage in the kind of tactics that the music industry used. Jamie thinks that there is a serious issue in terms of making supported properly researched sensible and scholarly arguments in favour of real balance in the area of intellectual property. (As well as acting as activists supporting balance). We have to get away from the polemic dichotomy and emotive soundbites on both sides, if we are really going to make any progress towards that goal.

Couldn't agree more. Jamie still finds the Napster case hard and although Larry Lessig has eloquently made the argument about Naspter as a celestial jukebox, the public debate never really got a handle on precisely the kinds of difficulties with the case Jamie articulates. It's a real pity we live in such a soundbite culture where if you have can't get an idea across in three seconds you automatically lose the argument. It undermines the real world possibility of getting to a satisfactory resolution of difficult problems, like balance in intellectual property in a digital age.

The Naspter discussion happens about 47 minutes into the recording, just in case you're thinking of fast forwarding to that bit. Jamie, unlike his namesake of the Kellner (Turner Broadcasting) variety, doesn't believe that fast forwarding is theft.

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