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October 24, 2003

Lessig v. Rosen

I really wish I could have seen the Lawrence Lessig and Hillary Rosen debate in person. There is a review of it at the Daily Trojan though. From the sounds of the Trojan article it was a good set of debates (two separate nights). From reading the Trojan article a few things stood out for me.

Hillary Rosen is part right when she said “What I think has happened is not really that people support piracy, but people are pretty much just pissed off about the entertainment industry being so slow to embrace technology.” Not only are people upset about how long it’s taken RIAA et. al. to embrace the technology, but at the same time the cost of a hit song has continued to rise significantly while the cost of manufacturing and distributing has decreased. Many consumers are pissed at the industry’s hostility towards consumers evidenced through lack of selection, rising consumer costs of music, accusations of thievery and, of course, the latest rounds of lawsuits.

Hillary also acknowledged the benefit’s Lessig’s “rip, mix and burn” theory for creating new art, but she argued that the issue was not about transforming art but stealing it. Unfortunately with the laws as they are the two issues are intimately intertwined and there is no easy way to effectively separate them. Rosen agreed the copyright system was “antiquated,” she stressed the need to protect the creative work of musicians. This is a marked change for Rosen, but the stress should be placed on establishing and preserving a balance between the public domain and protection of artists–not one over the other.

Rosen also expressed that the industry would like a “do-over” regarding the rising costs of music, she said the industry would like a chance to reconcile with consumers. Unfortunately Rosen is no longer the head of RIAA, and RIAA is not currently expressing any strong desire to reconcile, even Universals recent price cuts are really limited and are mostly cuts in the end resellers available mark-up–not Universal’s.

The Trojan quoted one attending student “I was surprised by Ms. Rosen’s comment that art has no value until you like it.” I wish I could see the context of the original Rosen statement. It seems an extremely narrow-minded greed-motivated viewpoint, it shouldn’t surprise me to see it, yet it still does. I just hope it is a case of being quoted out of context and not how she (or any of her colleagues and successors in the Industry) really feels about art. If it is, I fear this issue will never be resolved until they (RIAA, MPAA et. al.) have complete and utter control over every consumer right even loosely associated with art and entertainment.

Posted by Eric at October 24, 2003 02:48 PM | TrackBack
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