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Finding the Balance Between File Sharing and $$$$

Here's an argument in favor of piracy by Lawrence Lessig. He teaches at Stanford, and writes this "blawg", which is really more about him than anything else. But, it's an interesting perspective. Here's the real blog.

In his article, he impliedly, if not outrightly, argues that since most of the major industries associated with piracy, such as cable, radio film and even music, were all started through some form of piracy, it's OK (or at least understandable) to file share between computers. Admittedly, it's been a long time since I took on a professor, but this doesn't make sense to me.

Now, I'm all for listening to music. And I recognize, and even acknowledge, that Professor Lessig is right about the formation of these various industries. But, if you follow the logic, then we will have to wait until we colonize Mars to really be able to rip DVDs and music with impunity. His argument is basically that breaking the law is OK, as long as there's no one around to catch you.

Does that mean the artists don't get hurt if they don't know about it? It is, admittedly, more than a philosophical discussion. But, we've all gone through these arguments before. What new spin is Lessig offering? A historical perspective as justification, as I read it.

It used to be done that way, so it's OK to do it that way again. I won't belittle the argument with analogies to numerous other things we used to do as a justification to do it the same way now, but use your imagination here.

To his credit, the Professor offers this observation and conclusion: "the question we should be asking about file-sharing is how best to preserve its benefits while minimizing (to the extent possible) the wrongful harm it causes artists. The question is one of balance, weighing the protection of the law against the strong public interest in continued innovation. The law should seek that balance, and that balance will be found only with time."

But what are we seeking to balance? Free file sharing against someone else's copyright without payment?

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, March 08, 2004 at 09:57 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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