Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Lady or the Tiger

This talk by Lawrence Lessig at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society covers some of the questions raised about the Google books settlement. Although he argues that he is just replaying "what Siva said," Lessig's concerns are less with the "Googlization of Everything" and the issues that Siva Vaidhyanathan raises than with what it means for long hoped for orphaned works legislation and the precedent that it sets for digital archives and practices around fair use. Lessig argues that the Google settlement follows the model of video rights rather than those governing print media, and that this perpetuation of what he calls "permission culture" will undermine access to this potentially very large part of the cultural commons. Of course, by implicitly comparing Google's ilk to a baby tiger, Lessig is making a respectful argument against one of Lessig's protégés who negotiated the Google books settlement, even if he claims that the registry concept isn't necessarily bad.

It is worth noting that the Guggenheim documentary about Robert Kennedy at the center of one of Lessig's anecdotes is now available on DVD, because the rights have finally been cleared forty years later.

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