Copyright and Other Fairy Tales

Copyright and Other Fairy Tales

Hans Christian Andersen and the Commodification of Creativity

Edited by Helle Porsdam

The present state of copyright law and the way in which it threatens the remix of culture and creativity is a shared concern of the contributors to this unique book. Whether or not to remain within the underlying regime of intellectual property law, and what sort of reforms are needed if we do decide to remain within this regime, are fundamental questions that form the subtext for their discussions.

Chapter 1: (Re)creativity: How Creativity Lives

Lawrence Lessig

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law


Lawrence Lessig I come from California, the land of the technology-obsessed. It’s also the land of Hollywood, where the people are Hollywood-obsessed. But in this chapter, I would like to ask you to forget about technology and to forget about Hollywood, and to focus instead upon culture. In particular, upon how culture gets created and how culture gets spread, and about the relationship between authors and readers. My aim is to remind us about the importance of both at a time when the importance of one has been forgotten. In 1865, Lewis Carroll published the extraordinary work, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Sometime in the twentieth century (it depends upon where you are), the Carroll’s copyright expired, and the work passed into the public domain. In 2001, as a demonstration of its new E-Book Reader technology, Adobe created an e-book version of this public domain text. The ebook was produced from a text created by the Gutenberg Project, a project designed to make works in the public domain available for free on the Internet. But when Alice’s Adventures got translated into its Adobe E-Book version, the freedoms of the public domain had mysteriously disappeared. There was a button on the very first page that listed the ‘permissions’ that ran with the book. If you clicked on that button, you were given a list of ‘permissions’ that were in fact restrictions on the uses you could make of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. So, for example, the permission reported that ‘no text selections...

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