Had an interesting breakfast discussion with David Weinberger and a few others about copyright. I seem to be having more and more heated debates about copyright these days and the more I become familiar with the arguments of old-school copyright guys, the more frustrated I become. As Lessig often says, we're not saying that there shouldn't be copyright or that artists should not be paid. The issue is that the current copyright framework and more importantly, the corporations who are currently entrusted with the task of managing these copyrights are dysfunctional. We need to fundamentally restructure the business of creating and being paid for creating artistic works and it's likely that this business doesn't involve record companies.
The Internet has the potential to greatly enhance and enrich our culture, but old-school copyright people are trying to make their controls even stronger than the real world. The important point is to talk about the commons and the public, not about protecting the "rights" of the custodians of the "files". At one level, we're all conduits passing inspiration and knowledge from the past to the future by re-mixing, rendering and editing things that inspire us in ways that will inspire others. Talking about copyright is talking about the files. We should be talking about how to increase the commons and enrich culture. THAT's not about the files, it's about the the commons.
Inspired by David's blog entry.