‘Copyright is Essential’ – Lawrence Lessig talking @ UNESCO

CCUK contributor, June 29th, 2012

Lawrence @Lessig spoke recently at the UNESCO 2012 World Open Educational Resources Congress in Paris.

Lawrence Lessig.  Photo by Harry Metcaffe

Lawrence Lessig. Photo by Harry Metcaffe

The talk emphasised the importance of copyright. Some key quotes from the talk include:

Copyright is essential for its purpose.I am against abolitionism… I think copyright is essential.

Prof. Lessig makes a distinction between authors/creators who are in a ‘privileged position’ such as scientists who do not have to rely on the publication and availability of their writings as other creators may, as scientists are paid in other ways, (he calls these people ‘privileged authors’). He goes on to say that:

being a privileged author carries an obligation to enable access to their work.

He also makes a distinction between ‘knowledge elites,’ in which he includes himself as a Harvard Professor, who have access to journals and other sources of knowledge to which elite universities in developed countries pay hefty subscriptions and says:

 knowledge elites have free access; the rest of the world not so

He recalls an example of when his new born baby was ill, he as a concerned parent, carried out online research about her medical condition. He calculated that the cost of accessing the journals that he managed to access to find out as much as he could about the medical condition would have been $435, had he not been one of the ‘knowledge elite’ who had access by virtue of being a Harvard Professor.

This is the video of the presentation Prof Lessig delivered in Paris 20 June 2012 UNESCO World OER Congress:

 

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