Lessig on balance at WIPO.
Lessig wrote an article for Wired last month on Wilco's attitude to the copyright wars and thinks he may now see the light at the end of the tunnel. He reckons that sensible people, like Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, ignoring moral outrage on all sides and producing and distributing good music with the aid of the new technologies, will ultimately make the current copyright wars redundant.
"I got a chance to ask Tweedy about all this before a concert in Oakland, California (that's the weird thing about law professors hanging around Wired - you get to go to the back of the bus). What struck me most was his clarity. He was a man called to a war that he couldn't believe had to be fought. Yet it isn't ideology that drives him. It's common sense.
"Music," he explained, "is different" from other intellectual property. Not Karl Marx different - this isn't latent communism. But neither is it just "a piece of plastic or a loaf of bread." The artist controls just part of the music-making process; the audience adds the rest. Fans' imagination makes it real. Their participation makes it live. "We are just troubadours," Tweedy told me. "The audience is our collaborator. We should be encouraging their collaboration, not treating them like thieves."
He uttered this with the passion of a teacher explaining the most fundamental truths. Words echo in this poet's mind many times before they are spoken. These words had echoed many times before. But when I asked him to explain the extremism in this war, passion faded and disbelief took its place. Commenting on a court decision to ban all music sampling without a license, he said one word: racism. And he seemed genuinely confounded by those who use the courts to punish their fans. "If Metallica still needs money," he almost whispered, "then there's something really, really wrong." He would protest this extremism, he explained, by living a different life. By inviting, by creating, by inspiring music, and by ignoring wars about plastic."
It's worth repeating the last couple of sentences there:
"He would protest this extremism, he explained, by living a different life. By inviting, by creating, by inspiring music, and by ignoring wars about plastic."