When I was experimenting with the lessig style of presentation a few months ago, I couldn’t imagine that I would have the opportunity to experience the Stanford’s professor performing live in front of me, or even taking photos with him, while yet in Athens.
The whole event took place due to the official launch of the
greek version of Creative Commons licenses and Lawrence Lessig gave a fascinating one-hour talk, which I’ ll try to outline hereafter.
Lessig tried to build his whole speech on the paradigm of awakenings, a true story of people awakened (‘unlocked’) after decades of catatonic state (‘locked’), due to a new drug, L-Dopa, but couldn’t but return to their older immovable state (‘relocked’), no matter how the dosage was increased.
Lessig tracked this pattern (locked-unlocked-relocked) in three different cases, typography, radio and the internet:
1) back in 1790, the cost of typing and publishing a book was just $2k, while one century later the cost was rocketed to $2.5M, mainly due to copyright costs. As a result, the initial boost for freedom of speech that typography offered has been nearly vanished.
2) the prevalence of manifold radio stations in 20s was halted in 40s, by strict regulations placed by federal US government; as a result, the motley crowd of voices broadcasting was replaced by just CBS and NBC.
3) the same pattern was repeated just recently, regarding internet radio stations; RIAA restrictions aimed at putting barriers on free speech, and they seem to succeed.
Lessig tried to outline from all these stories the L-Dopa effect of new technologies, that unlock a Read-Only media to a Read-Write one.
However, this very effect of freedom is doomed to failure, as the ‘catatonia’ strikes back with new laws and regulations, ‘copyright wars on piracy’ and so on. Our only hope to save our latest conquests, Web 2.0 and the new media, added professor Lessig, is to fight them at home, by creating and widely using a new legal context that is intrinsically compatible with distribution and sharing; that is Creative Commons.
I could just add that “We’ re not pirates; you ‘re the parasites. And we have to win this time.”.