By Lawrence Lessig
Federal law regulates creativity. That regulation is insanely complex. Indeed, the law is more complex today than at any point in our history. It seems the more the lawyers work on the law, the less useable the law becomes.
For the first time in our history, this complex regulation of creativity effectively regulates consumers, or users, as well as the businesses that support creativity. For the first time, its regulation reaches far beyond commercial creativity, and instead burdens noncommercial, or amateur creativity (where “amateur” means not second rate, or inferior creativity, but instead creativity done for the love of creating and not for the money). And that regulation now threatens one of the most important new venues for citizen speech - podcasting.
This Guide is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to figure out how best to follow the law. It is also an outstanding recommendation for the non-profit I run, Creative Commons, for as you will see as you work through the insanity that copyright law has become, Creative Commons is a simple alternative to this complex mess.
But my hope for this Guide (which in addition to copyright addresses publicity rights and trademark law) is that it will begin to make obvious what digital creators have been saying for some time - that it is time we update copyright law to the digital age. Something fantastic has changed: technology now invites the widest range of citizens to become speakers and creators. It is time that the law remove the unnecessary burdens that it imposes on this creativity.
“Copyright law” is essential in a digital age. But it ought to be a copyright law made for a digital age. Ours is not. And this fantastic Guide for those wanting to obey the rules should be evidence enough to convince anyone of that fact.