Saturday, November 27, 2021

Lawrence Lessig On Fair Use and Political Speech

Here’s a bit of Lessig’s op-ed piece in today’s NY Times:

Copyright law has become a political weapon because of a statute passed a decade ago: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That law tells carriers like YouTube that unless they quickly remove material posted by users that is alleged to infringe copyright, they themselves could be liable for the infringement.

The digital copyright act gives the alleged infringer an opportunity to demand that the content be restored. But in the height of a political campaign, even a few hours of downtime can be the difference between effective and ineffective. The law thus creates a perfect mechanism to censor political speech during the only time it could matter. Recognizing this, campaigns and their allies are beginning to exploit this weapon.

Lessig concludes:

It would be far better if copyright law were narrowed to those contexts in which it serves its essential creative function — encouraging innovation and ensuring that artists get paid for their work — and left alone the battles of what criticisms candidates for office, and their supporters, are allowed to make.


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