Permission Culture versus Free Culture

Lawrence Lessig's remarks at Web 2.0 in San Francisco

Earlier this afternoon, Stanford Law Professor Larry Lessig delivered an eloquent plea for the need to rethink our notions of content copyrights. He observes that digital technology has made the 'remix' a viable activity for the many. Using examples of network television audio and video creatively repurposed to form political satire, Lessig makes the case that remixing is a way of expressing important ideas and not simply theft as our current laws imply. He draws a parallel to the text media type, where writers must be free to quote others and create variations on phrases in order to convey and advance ideas. What some consider a battle against piracy in the name of property, Lessig redefines as a campaign for liberty in the name of human progress. In so doing, he extends into new realms the lessons of the Open Source movement and Richard Stahlman's defense of "Free Software".

Lessig's ovation-worthy talk was part of a reinvigorating O'Reilly Conference called Web 2.0.

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