Prohibition 2.0

Sunday's installment of To the Best of Our Knowledge features an interview with Larry Lessig, back at least briefly it seems, on the Re/Mix wars. One of his main themes in that interview was quite apropos of a comment on my post about the mom suing Universal over take-down notices.

Sunday's installment of To the Best of Our Knowledge features an interview with Larry Lessig, back at least briefly it seems, on the Re/Mix wars. One of his main themes in that interview was quite apropos of a comment on my post about the mom suing Universal over take-down notices.

The MPAA/RIAA is so obsessed with their companies, that they're doing what ever they can to make their customers, crimminals. It's getting to the point, that no matter what you do, your a criminal. What do we do then? Jail everyone? Sue everyone? It's to the point in which; what does it matter? What ever you do, your going to be labled a chriminal, so why do you have to be good or do the right thing? Can't do drugs, or smoke. Now can't even post a vid of your kid because they *happen* to get one of a big company's precious song in the background?

Lessig's point was that today's copyright laws are effectively Prohibition 2.0. Read the above comment substituting "drinking" for "using copyright material." Just as in prohibition, we have outlawed basic behavior -- the urge for a drink, the urge to comment on some aspect of our culture. And the effect, he warns, may be the same. In the 1930s, society saw their basic desires criminalized and they further saw rife corruption, taking advantae of the legal status of alcohol. Everybody obtained booze: everybody was a criminal. The sheriffs and g-men were criminals too; they took their "piece of the action." It was a nation of outlaws and criminals -- violent criminals -- were heralded as heroes (that's Pretty Boy Floyd above.) Government agents were seen as the enemy. The risk, Lessig says, is that we are doing the same today: creating at least one generation of people who accept that what they do is criminal, do it anyway, and are enfused with a deep cynicism about the law. That is what Hollywood's violent expansion of intellectual property laws will have sowed and is the answer to the question, 'why is remix an important issue, when we have so many more pressing issues?'

It's through this world I rambled I seen lots of funny men Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen.
- Woody Guthrie, "Pretty Boy Floyd"

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