While watching a Charlie Rose interview of Lawrence Lessig I was particularly struck by the description of our uneven legal / ethical handling of copyrighted text content vs digital media.
Essentially Lessig questions why we treat the use of digital media differently from text. We freely and frequently quote (aka copy) text from copyrighted sources yet “throw the book” at anyone who uses digital media in the same manner. In Lessig’s view this treatment stifles ideas and creativity, inhibiting our individual and collective contributions to culture.
Call me a twit for saying it, but this has profound implications for screencasting. In fact, I used Jing to “quote” the section of Charlie’s interview with Larry you see above. Is this legal? Is it ethical? A small citation would seemingly fall under fair use guidelines, but there’s been so much FUD that its hard to ascertain how the copyright owners and their lawyers would perceive my use.
In fact, Charlie Rose seems to be open to non-commercial “remixes” of his old content and they make the clips available for embedding / download. They’ve even gone so far as to encourage it in a curious off site manner.
This however doesn’t clear up what I’ve done. I intentionally “copied” a portion of the video with Jing, uploaded it to my server and embedded it on my personal blog. It’s important to note there are legitimate reasons why I wanted to do this. First, I wanted point to just the relevant portion of the video. If I was citing text, I wouldn’t hand you a chapter with a highlighted passage and hope against hope you had the patience to find it. Second, I’m making another one of Lessig’s points. Today’s technology is enormously powerful and highly fluid. It took me longer to find the Lessig quote than it did to record and share the piece on my site (writing this post is another story). It’s absolutely mind blowing to think about combining video literacy / picture superiority effect with instant sharing across the globe. Lawyers and politicians just aren’t prepared to grok the information flow, empowerment and, dare I say, “culture” of it all.
If you haven’t seen it before check out Lessig’s free culture pitch:
Or just watch the entire interview. As always, there’s plenty to chew on. ;-)