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Is the law strangling creativity? April 1, 2009

Posted by handspiker in Uncategorized.
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With some free time tonight, though I should be marking, I explored some of the video links that Alec has posted on the EC&I 831 wiki and came across one that really spoke to me. In Larry Lessig’s “Is the law strangling creativity?”, there are a few points that jumped out at me.

I enjoyed his beginning talk about ownership and the idea of trespassing. I think it speaks to some of the more basic characteristics of humanity and the idea of greed. Wanting to have everything and control over it. A similar thought to what Alec was talking about in his presentation tonight on Elluminate as schools are stuck in a rut of controlling information. I do hope that an open source movement or copyleft movement could relax some of the control that seams to permeate today’s society as people become protectionist over various domains.

Two cases in point came to mind as legal issues stifling creativity. The first was another Masters student, Jim, who posted a YouTube video about himself with music in the background. He showed someone his video one day and noticed the soundtrack was off. As he explored he found a note on the page citing copyright infringement. He was shocked and dismayed that this happened. When there is so many pirated music out there, and he gets targeted on YouTube. The second was my purchase of my favorite show from the 70’s, WKRP. This show set at a radio station in Cincinnatti showcased some of the best music of the 70s. In its DVD release a couple of years ago the music was replaced with generic muzak. This simple changed destroyed the show for me and I couldn’t watch all the episodes. Here greed again, for money, stifled the creativity and popularity of the show.

The idea of stifling creativity is becoming more obvious. The various remixes are generous. The idea of taking various media and mixing them in new unique ways is simply entrepreneurial. The videos of anime with the Muppet Show music were remarkable and funny. Jesus mixed in with the “I will survive” song was amusing as well. If artists did not let those people use that material we would be devoid of this entertainment. Weird Al makes a living doing this and his songs at times I find more interesting and entertaining than the originals. I sincerely think it is a form of flattery. I do see a point if someone is getting rich of it someone else’s work, but for sheer creativity standpoint copy left is essential, just against our human nature.

The last point that Larry brings up is the idea of a new literacy developing among today’s generation. Today’s generation thinks, writes, acts differently than fifteen or twenty years ago. The way today’s generation learns is different as well. Add in their awareness of media, texting, movies, etc., and their ability to create new exciting ways of looking at the world is endless. If only we could adapt to it to harness that creativity. Many teachers seem to be afraid to give up control to this new way of thinking, but I see it as a challenge to try and learn about it, adapt it and maybe grow with it. This is not a barrier to be overcome; it is a challenge to be welcomed.



1. megan gerwing - April 3, 2009

I will have to take a look at Larry Lessig’s video. Trevor also blogged about it. I can’t believe that Jim’s soundtrack was omitted on YouTube. I also hear what you are saying about Muzak…it really does ruin the mood.

2. Trevor gerwing - April 6, 2009

Good post Todd – I also watched the video and posted on it. I found Lessig to be fascinating. He has a solid understanding of the motivations behind the creation of copyright laws. His assertion that the Americans miscalculated when they fundamentally alterred their economy is poignant and accurate.

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