[NetBehaviour] In Defense of Piracy.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Oct 13 12:54:31 CEST 2008

In Defense of Piracy.

"The Wall Street Journal is running an essay from Lawrence Lessig about 
the fair use of copyrighted material on the Internet. He makes the case 
that companies who go to extreme lengths to squash minor videos, such as 
Universal, are stifling creativity in the modern era. Lessig makes 
specific reference to a YouTube video that was hit by a DMCA takedown 
notice, in which a 13-month-old child is dancing to a nearly inaudible 
soundtrack of Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy.' Lawrence Lessig is a board 
member for the Electronic Frontier Foundation." Slashdot.org

Digital technology has made it easy to create new works from existing 
art, but copyright law has yet to catch up.

This sort of thing happens all the time today. Companies like YouTube 
are deluged with demands to remove material from their systems. No doubt 
a significant portion of those demands are fair and justified. 
Universal's demand, however, was not. The quality of the recording was 
terrible. No one would download Ms. Lenz's video to avoid paying Prince 
for his music. There was no plausible way in which Prince or Universal 
was being harmed by Holden Lenz.

YouTube sent Ms. Lenz a notice that it was removing her video. She 
wondered, "Why?" What had she done wrong? She pressed that question 
through a number of channels until it found its way to the Electronic 
Frontier Foundation (on whose board I sat until the beginning of 2008). 
The foundation's lawyers thought this was a straightforward case of fair 
use. Ms. Lenz consulted with the EFF and filed a "counter-notice" to 
YouTube, arguing that no rights of Universal were violated by Holden's 


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