The Wall Street Journal has published an excerpt provocatively named In Defense of Piracy from Lessig’s new book Remix (out tomorrow). It seems like Lessig is still very much involved in the copyfight, highlighting the almost farcical story of Holden Lenz and Prince.
One could be forgiven for thinking that the copyfight has been relegated to a chapter in intellectual property textbooks. The music industry seems to have stopped suing its customers, and there has been a bit of an impasse with the attack on intermediaries and the three-strikes proposals. However, the copyfight is alive and well in countries that are updating their intellectual property legislation. Chile for example has been in the middle of drafting a new IP law, and it seems like there is a good old struggle going on down under. The government brought together a number of stakeholders to attempt to achieve a good balance between user and artist interests. However, the goverment completely undermined it by signing an agreement with the local collective society (SCD), and have sent forward a draft Ley de Propiedad Intelectual that makes the DMCA look like The Pet Goat.
Claudio Ruiz has written a post on the most worrying aspects of the draft law, which pretty much eliminates fair use, enhances liability for intermediaries, eliminates most educational exceptions, creates a virtual monopoly by the SCD, and most worryingly includes language that prohibits the renunciation of rights, making Creative Commons licences ineffective. After all, if you cannot renounce your rights, you cannot draft a “some rights reserved” licence! Christian Leal was interviewed on TV about the new law, and I found his explanations very well made. The Chilean blogosphere is up in arms about the turns of events (and the Facebook group against the law has now more than four thousand members!)
So the copyfight is alive and well. In the new digital economy, and with financial systems collapsing all around us, intellectual property is gaining more traction as a viable support for national economies, certainly more sustainable than ficticious credit instruments. We can therefore expect renewed interest in trying to squeeze the last penny out of intellectual creations.