Hybrid isn’t just for cars
An impassioned Lawrence Lessig was on the Colbert Report tonight, promoting his new book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. The basic premise is that current copyright laws criminalize young people and creative types. Lessig believes we need to establish a new “hybrid economy” in which commercial entities leverage value from each other’s products instead of trying to stop the incoming tide.
By coincidence, I had just finished watching a documentary on Cream’s Disraeli Gears that was part of the Classic Albums TV series. The three legendary band members – guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, and drummer Ginger Baker – share anecdotes about which blues songs they reinterpreted and which riffs were adapted from the Byrds and the Lovin’ Spoonful. The album cover was by Australian artist Martin Sharp, who in the documentary talks about which photos and images he appropriated for the collage which he then painted over using day-glo colors.
I doubt that I need to spell out the point I’m making here, but I will. The need to reform copyright laws goes much further than simply making it legal to rip CDs for iPod listening or to copy a DVD so the kids can leave it in the car’s backseat player. Those goals are important, but so is the need to decriminalize artistic expression.