‘Wireside’ Chat Brings High Profile Speaker to UI

‘Wireside’ Chat Brings High Profile Speaker to UI

The internationally known advocate for free culture and copyright reform, Lawrence Lessig, gave a speech in the conference room on the second floor of the Main Library.

Lessig, professor of Law at Harvard and founder of Creative Commons and Change Congress, wasn’t actually in Iowa City though. He was in Cambridge, Massachusetts speaking through an Open Video Alliance platform to viewers in ten countries on four continents.

In the “wireside chat”, he talked about the need for copyright reform to allow remixing and the return of a read-write culture, which he said disappeared in the twentieth century with the technicalization, centralization, and professionalization of culture.

As of approximately 2004, Lessig said our culture was becoming read-write again with the democratization of the same technology that created consumers who were not creators. But these new creators are also often classified as criminals according to current copyright policies.
In his presentation and the following question and answer session, Lessig addressed the need to apply copyright to protect authors but not to protect unlimited extensions that protect monopolies like the ones Disney has.
“[The Sonny Bonny Copyright Term Extension Act] makes everyone unable to do to Disney what Disney did to the Brothers Grimm,” Lessig said, referencing that basic elements of many classic Disney movies were taken from fairy tales in the public domain.
He referenced a few economic studies that say a necessary term for copyright to encourage creation might be 14-21 years instead of 75+.
Several SLIS students were in attendance as Lessig also promoted his new initiative to fight against corruption in the U.S. Congress.