Copyright and the erosion of our culture

There's a terrific article by Lawrence Lessig in The New Republic on the dire consequences of current copyright law. It includes a section on the Google books settlement. Lessig concludes, refreshingly:

I have no clear view. I only know that the two extremes that are
before us would, each of them, if operating alone, be awful for our
culture. The one extreme, pushed by copyright abolitionists, that
forces free access on every form of culture, would shrink the range and
the diversity of culture. I am against abolitionism. And I see no
reason to support the other extreme either–pushed by the content
industry–that seeks to license every single use of culture, in
whatever context. That extreme would radically shrink access to our
past.

Instead we need an approach that recognizes the errors in both
extremes, and that crafts the balance that any culture needs:
incentives to support a diverse range of creativity, with an assurance
that the creativity inspired remains for generations to access and
understand. This may be too much to ask. The idea of balanced public
policy in this area will strike many as oxymoronic. It is thus no
wonder, perhaps, that the likes of Google sought progress not through
better legislation, but through a clever kludge, enabled by genius
technologists. But this is too important a matter to be left to private
enterprises and private deals. Private deals and outdated law are what
got us into this mess. Whether or not a sensible public policy is
possible, it is urgently needed.

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