Freedom And Mediocrity

[Adapted from a response on Lessig’s blog comments pages to another poster.]

Talent should no more be a requirement for freedom of speech than gender should be a requirement for freedom of association or wealth should be a requirement for freedom of contract.

What was it that Voltaire said? “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it as long as I think it’s any good.” Or something.

JK Rowling was taken to court in the US by an author who had written a story about a boy wizard and “muggles” a few years before.

Larry Potter and The Muggles

White Wolf Games and Nancy Collins sued Sony Pictures for copyright infringement over a vampire film that Sony made.

Underworld Lawsuit

And in music even my local bus driver knows that George Harrison lost a copyright case in the 1970s over plagiarism despite protesting that the rhythms in question were public domain.

My Sweet Lord

In each of these cases the defendants are generally regarded as very creative. In each of these cases they either didn’t know about the original material or it was woefully unoriginal anyway. But neither genius nor ignorance are defences against lawsuits that take thousands of dollars and several years to defend. And George Harrison lost.

If you don’t have millions of dollars or several years to spend on this kind of thing, a DMCA takedown notice will suffice.

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Posted in Free Culture