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Does Digital File Sharing Render Copyright Obsolete?

Publication Date: 
June 03, 2007
International Herald Tribune
Victoria Shannon

Professor Lawrence Lessig is quoted in the International Herald Tribune on the issue of file sharing:

That makes people like David Ferguson, head of the British Academy of Composers and Authors, nervous about how art will be sustained in the future. And it is giving people like Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons, an opening to promote alternatives to the world's increasingly maligned copyright systems.

"There are an extraordinary number of people who are creating on their own and doing so for a different reason than money," Lessig, a lawyer who allies himself with Google in copyright positions, said during an interview. "Somehow we've got to find a system that ratifies both kinds of creativity and doesn't try to destroy one in order to preserve the other."

Lessig, whose Creative Commons alternative licenses have been almost as abhorrent as online music theft to the societies, has nevertheless gained a grass-roots following as well as limited adoption by companies like Microsoft and the BBC. The licenses let the author determine whether to apply commercial rights and how much. They are available in 34 countries and were applied an estimated 145 million times last year.

Many collecting societies in Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Taiwan and the Netherlands manage authors' rights for them, so individuals cannot apply a Creative Commons license. Lessig, a Stanford University law professor who is on a teaching fellowship at the American University in Berlin, said he hoped to announce a breakthrough agreement with a collecting society at the time of a Creative Commons conference in Croatia on June 15.