Book pages 223 through 228.
Copyrights for Laurel and Hardy films are owned by Hal Roach Studios for which Michael Agee is the chairman. Despite directly benefiting from the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), Agee opposes the legislation. Even though Roach sells thousands of DVDs and video cassettes of these films, few of what they own still has any commercial value. The works sit in a vault, and even though what doesn't presently have value could be deemed valuable by the owners of the vault, the commercial benefits from the works must surpass the costs of making the work available for distribution in order for this to happen.
We cannot know the benefits described above, but we can know the costs. Today, film restoration, which used to cost thousands of dollars, can be done for hundreds. This leaves most costs to the hiring of lawyers, who are presently necessary in order to find and secure rights from the many copyright owners of a film. Thus the process of restoration for the preservation of film is time consuming and costly, and unfortunately it can be argued that the benefits do not outweigh the costs. Therefore we wait until the copyrights expire to restore them, but because these old films were produced on nitrate-based stock, by the time the term expires, the stock will have dissolved and there will be nothing left to restore.
This death of old film and creative works is the death of future works. Even is someone chooses to wait until the end of a copyright term to create a derivative work, the original work from which the person wishes to derive will no longer physically exist, making the creation of the derivative work quite difficult. Today we have digital copies of work with a much longer lifespan; however, if big media companies continue to push for term extensions such as the CTEA, works may never pass into the public domain and new works with potentially high commercial value as well as creativity will never be produced.
Book pages 184 through 199.
In these two sections, Lessig argues that copyright laws constrain people from creating and innovating. By mentioning and discussing the conceptions of all different types of artists, including painters, film makers, and musical artists, Lessig shows how the laws originally meant to protect these authors are now hurting them by constricting their abilities. As Lessig states towards the end of this section of his book, "If innovation is constantly checked by this uncertain and unlimited liability, we will have much less vibrant innovation and much less creativity."
The argument of fair use of course comes up in these sections, but Lessig puts it this time in a different and interesting way, claiming that "fair use in America simply means the right to hire a lawyer to defend your right to create." It's all about money and the market, and those who don't have the former can't hope to have their works distributed in the latter. One simple infringement such as illegally downloading a song could cost a person millions of dollars in this country; however, a doctor, thanks to malpractice insurance, cannot be liable for more than $250,000, regardless of the damage to his patient.
Lessig also makes particular note of the internet and how it has increased the quantity of work out there and the speed and efficiency with which it can be shared. Unfortunately, this should-be miracle is not utilized to its full potential because those creators and innovators that cannot afford to clear copyrights are too scared to make their work available on the internet for fear that it might be seen by someone who could sue them.
This money driven, lawyer infested problem is stunting our culture and preventing our growth and expansion because no one wants to risk their life to put something creative and new out there. And when the possible repercussions of taking such a risk include losing millions of dollars and consequently a livelihood, creativity and innovation suddenly begin to dwindle.
This source solidly supports my argument that copyright law is killing creativity rather than doing what it's meant to and protecting it. It directly relates to my thesis and contributes to my claim.
Book pages 95 through 107.
In consecutive chapters of Lessig's book, the making of two documentaries is described. In both of these instances, the filmmakers had problems clearing copyrights and struggled with the concept of fair use. These examples clearly demonstrate the difficulties encountered by independent filmmakers with regards to production and distribution of copyrighted material, as well as amplify the restrain that excessive copyright puts on the creativity of the filmmaker. The chapters tie in the role of independent films in the "copyright kills creativity" argument.
Chapter seven illustrates the plights of Jon Else who, when working on a documentary about the stagehands at the San Francisco Opera, encountered a copyright issue. In the background of a shot of the stagehands was a television on which was playing an episode of The Simpsons. Despite the fact that the clip was merely four-and-a-half seconds and clearly fair use, Else still thought it smart to clear the copyrights. He contacted Matt Groening, who referred him to Gracie Films, who referred him to Fox, who demanded ten thousand dollars for the licensing fee. This sum of money was not something Else could afford, and he therefore ended up digitally replacing the clip which he felt was valuable to the effect of the scene.
In the proceeding chapter, the story of Alex Alben, a lawyer for Starwave, Inc. is told. Alben wanted to create a project using the new technology of CD-ROM to showcase the career of Clint Eastwood through interviews, posters, script, and film clips. The problem arose when it came to clearing the rights of each and every person involved in the making of each individual film clip, including actors, directors, and composers. Alben needed to compensate each person, which took an entire year given his vast fiscal resources. The amount of time it would have taken the average person is unimaginable, that is if they could even do it.
As these two examples show, the monetary means as well as the time necessary to create such products are inaccessible to the average person, thus killing the output of creative material.
In Chapter 5 of Free Culture, Lawrence Lessig lays out anecdotes and archetypes of all manner of piracy. The duplication of copyrighted CDs and DVDs in foreign markets is touched upon, but one of the main salient points is his defense of Peer-to-Peer file sharing networks, the groundbreaking networks and servers which made Section 512 absolutely necessary and the rulings on which still protect YouTube from harm.
One of Lessig’s major talking points is his attribution of the four archetypal uses of P2P networking: stealing music, sampling music before buying, access to abandonware or other copyrighted content that is no longer available by traditional means, and those who search for content that has no copyright or a Creative Commons license and is meant to be shared.
This is a highly utopian view of both P2P networking and the internet, but at the very least interesting to consider. Lessig goes on to discuss drops in CD sales and later Jack Valenti’s ridiculous claims about VCRs as “tapeworms,” just waiting to drive the industry down. If anything, the VCR and file-sharing networks both paved the way for the kind of content generation and also server networks that my final project will use and draw attention to.