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In a speech given at the Italian parliament earlier this month titled “Internet is Freedom”, Lawrence Lessig prominently addressed issues recently discussed in this blog: as argued in “Reflections on Abolitionism: Copyright and Beyond“, he painted the picture of fighting extremists – abolitionists on the one, copyright zealots on the other hand -, thereby presenting himself as the sensible moderate seeking a middle course. So far, so business as usual.

What struck me was the particular compromise Lessig suggested: referencing the book “Promises to Keep” (2004) from his Harvard Berkman Center colleague William Fisher III and the German Green Party, he advocated for introducing a “Cultural Flat-rate” (see “Extending Private Copying Levies: Approaching a Culture Flat-rate?“).

While the short clip above delivers those 6 minutes of Lessig’s half an hour long speech that deal with abolitionism, copyright zealots and the Cultural flat-rate, I can only recommend watching the whole speech at blip.tv.

(leonhard)

While conventional discourse on global governance in general and copyright regulation in particular mainly discusses complementary or conflicting ways of regulation, abolitionist positions are only rarely mentioned. This blog is no exception to this rule, at least it was not until now.

The following reflection on the role – the potential virtues and deficiencies – of abolitionist reasoning is inspired by a recent blog post by Stephan Kinsella. In his article the self-described “Austro-Anarchist Libertarian” and author of the book “Against Intellectual Property” (2008, Mises Institute, PDF) features works by the cartoonist Nina Paley (see her video “All Creative Work Is Derivative” below). In an email to Kinsella, Paley describes herself as follows:

“I’m now artist-in-residence at QuestionCopyright.org, and do what I can to promote alternatives to copyright. (Actually I’m a copyright abolitionist, but many find that identification unpalatable.)”

Why is being a copyright abolitionist so “unpalatable” that even outspokenly critical individuals such as Paley feel the need to hide it? Is it the threat they embody by proposing such a seemingly radical position? Or is it rather the lacking connectivity for further debate, which leads to awkward moments and the self-perception of being unpalatable in the eyes of others? Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
December 2019
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