Yes, this is a little late in coming, but I wanted to blog about it for my friends and colleagues in the MCDM community anyways. It seemed especially fitting to send this out to the gang because not only does the subject cover a multitude of issues we’ve discussed and continue to study relative to the Digital Media program, but it’s got Stephen Colbert, too. And as far as I’m concerned, anything with Stephen Colbert is required viewing.
So, a couple of weeks ago Lawrence Lessig from Stanford appeared on The Colbert Report to discuss how copyright law is complicating things for everybody in the digital era, especially for kids, who are, unfortunately, being turned into criminals by institutions like the RIAA. Here’s the interview:
Of course, near the end Colbert pretty much invites the world to take his material, even this interview, and “remix” it however they want. Three cheers for encouraging the Colbert Nation to steal Viacom’s intellectual property! And, of course, it was only a matter of time before the Interwebs would be all over this challenge.
In an ensuing episode, Colbert actually talks about it and shows us one of the remixes of the Lessig/Colbert interview:
You gotta love it! Lessig is spot on about copyright laws being outdated. They stultify, marginalize, and criminalize consumers who want to engage intellectual material on their own terms – which NEVER implicitly means they don’t want to pay fair value for what they’ve recieved (but the media conglomerates hardly believe that!). Plus, there’s really no such thing as control; we’ve learned in Kathy Gill’s course this quarter (Evolutions and Trends in Digital Media) directly from Lessig’s book “Code” that cyberspace is a medium where regulation doesn’t work very well. Perhaps the very conceit behind traditional copyright itself is no longer viable in the age of social media. Creative Commons and the EFF are working to change things in this regard. Anyway, at the end of the day does all this copytheft mean that The Colbert Report is going to lose viewers and disappear from the airwaves? Hardly. If anything, this kind of commoditization, encouraged by a production that understands the importance of cultivating a relationship with its viewers, will keep more eyeballs on the Colbert franchise. Maybe the old guard could learn a lesson or two from that.