Three stories and an argument...
umadoshi shared this link, and I wanted to pass it on. It's a lecture and slide show presentation by Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig. Aside from giving an entertaining presentation that includes a clip from an AMV as an example of user-generated remixing of content, he makes an interesting argument about how current copyright law stifles creativity (and he does so without condoning piracy). Good stuff, and well worth the 20 minutes of your time it will take to watch.
I found it especially interesting watching this after having read several posts this evening (including the multi-part series by praetorianguard) about the case JKR is bringing against the publisher of Steve Vander Ark's book (see TLC's article for details). I don't quite feel comfortable arguing that what Lessig says about user-generated remixing in his lecture exactly applies to this situation, but I do know that while I believe JKR probably has a solid case—and I don’t deny her right to pursue it—I can't help feeling more sympathy for Vander Ark in this case. I believe his compilation of the online Lexicon constitutes an act of creativity, and that it ought to be encouraged. Of course there’s the issue of putting it up for free on the web vs. selling it for profit in print form. Of course there’s the issue of possibly including content written by other contributors without their consent. And of course there’s the issue of how incredibly foolish some of the representatives of his publisher have been. I’m not going to get into all of that. All I’m saying is that my gut feeling is to sympathize with Vander Ark, and that I appreciate his work on the Lexicon as a creative act.
If it were up to me—and I know this could probably be classified as an “unpopular fandom opinion”—I’d say that Vander Ark would probably be a great choice to edit/compile JKR’s official HP encyclopedia, as long as it included additional content from her notes, and her touch and flair in the writing itself. That’s what would happen in my perfect world. For while I think very highly of JKR as a storyteller, she doesn’t really strike me as the sort of detail-oriented person who can take and catalogue loads of trivial information in the way that I think would make the most appealing Harry Potter reference book. That’s JMHO. PLZ don’t flame or refer F_W to this post, mmkay?
Anyway, I wish there were some way for JKR and SVA to resolve the problem that would mollify and benefit both of them—and fans, too!—but I doubt it’s possible at this point. :(
My hopes for the future of what Lessig calls a “read-write” culture, however, are a lot higher. What do you think?