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  • I want to talk about

  • what we learn from conservatives.

  • And I'm at a stage in life where I'm yearning for my old days,

  • so I want to confess to you

  • that when I was a kid,

  • indeed, I was a conservative.

  • I was a Young Republican, a Teenage Republican,

  • a leader in the Teenage Republicans.

  • Indeed, I was the youngest member

  • of any delegation

  • in the 1980 convention that elected Ronald Reagan

  • to be the Republican nominee for president.

  • Now, I know what you're thinking.

  • (Laughter)

  • You're thinking, "That's not what the Internets say."

  • You're thinking, "Wikipedia doesn't say this fact."

  • And indeed, this is just one of the examples

  • of the junk that flows across the tubes

  • in these Internets here.

  • Wikipedia reports that this guy,

  • this former congressman from Erie, Pennsylvania

  • was, at the age of 20, one of the youngest people

  • at the Republican National Convention,

  • but it's just not true.

  • (Laughter)

  • Indeed, it drives me so nuts, let me just change this little fact here.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • All right. Okay, so ... perfect.

  • Perfect.

  • (Laughter)

  • Okay, speaker Lawrence Lessig, right.

  • Okay.

  • Finally, truth will be brought here.

  • Okay, see? It's done. It's almost done. Here we go.

  • "... Youngest Republican," okay, we're finished.

  • That's it. Please save this.

  • Great, here we go.

  • And ... Wikipedia is fixed, finally.

  • Okay, but no, this is really besides the point.

  • (Applause)

  • But the thing I want you to think about when we think about conservatives --

  • not so much this issue of the 1980 convention --

  • the thing to think about is this:

  • They go to church.

  • Now, you know, I mean, a lot of people go to church.

  • I'm not talking about that only conservatives go to church.

  • And I'm not talking about the God thing.

  • I don't want to get into that, you know; that's not my point.

  • They go to church, by which I mean,

  • they do lots of things for free for each other.

  • They hold potluck dinners.

  • Indeed, they sell books about potluck dinners.

  • They serve food to poor people.

  • They share, they give,

  • they give away for free.

  • And it's the very same people

  • leading Wall Street firms

  • who, on Sundays, show up

  • and share.

  • And not only food, right.

  • These very same people

  • are strong believers, in lots of contexts,

  • in the limits on the markets.

  • They are in many important places

  • against markets.

  • Indeed, they, like all of us, celebrate this kind of relationship.

  • But they're very keen that we don't

  • let money drop into that relationship,

  • else it turns into something like this.

  • They want to regulate us, those conservatives,

  • to stop us from allowing the market to spread in those places.

  • Because they understand:

  • There are places for the market

  • and places where the market should not exist,

  • where we should be free

  • to enjoy the fellowship of others.

  • They recognize: Both of these things have to live together.

  • And the second great thing about conservatives:

  • they get ecology.

  • Right, it was the first great Republican president of the 20th century

  • who taught us about

  • environmental thinking -- Teddy Roosevelt.

  • They first taught us about ecology

  • in the context of natural resources.

  • And then they began to teach us in the context of

  • innovation, economics.

  • They understand, in that context,

  • "free." They understand "free" is an important

  • essential part of the

  • cultural ecology as well.

  • That's the thing I want you to think about them.

  • Now, I know

  • you don't believe me, really, here.

  • So here's exhibit number one.

  • I want to share with you my latest hero, Julian Sanchez,

  • a libertarian who works at the, for many people,

  • "evil" Cato Institute.

  • Okay, so Julian made this video.

  • He's a terrible producer of videos,

  • but it's great content, so I'm going to give you a little bit of it.

  • So here he is beginning.

  • Julian Sanchez: I'm going to make an observation about the way

  • remix culture seems to be evolving ...

  • Larry Lessig: So what he does is he begins to tell us

  • about these three videos.

  • This is this fantastic Brat Pack remix

  • set to Lisztomania.

  • Which, of course, spread virally.

  • Hugely successful.

  • (Music)

  • And then some people from Brooklyn saw it.

  • They decided they wanted to do the same.

  • (Music)

  • And then, of course, people from San Fransisco saw it.

  • And San Franciscans thought they had to do the same as well.

  • (Music)

  • And so they're beautiful, but this libertarian

  • has some important lessons he wants us to learn from this.

  • Here's lesson number one.

  • JS: There's obviously also something really deeply great about this.

  • They are acting in the sense that they're

  • emulating the original mashup.

  • And the guy who shot it obviously has a strong eye

  • and some experience with video editing.

  • But this is also basically just a group of friends

  • having an authentic social moment

  • and screwing around together.

  • It should feel familiar and kind of resonate

  • for anyone who's had a sing-a-long or a dance party

  • with a group of good friends.

  • LL: Or ...

  • JS: So that's importantly different from the earlier videos we looked at

  • because here, remix isn't just about

  • an individual doing something alone in his basement;

  • it becomes an act of social creativity.

  • And it's not just that it yields

  • a different kind of product at the end,

  • it's that potentially it changes the way that we relate to each other.

  • All of our normal social interactions

  • become a kind of invitation

  • to this sort of collective expression.

  • It's our real social lives themselves

  • that are transmuted into art.

  • LL: And so then, what this libertarian draws from these two points ...

  • JS: One remix is about

  • individuals using our shared culture

  • as a kind of language to communicate something to an audience.

  • Stage two, social remix,

  • is really about using it to mediate

  • people's relationships to each other.

  • First, within each video,

  • the Brat Pack characters are used as a kind of template

  • for performing the social reality of each group.

  • But there's also a dialogue between the videos,

  • where, once the basic structure is established,

  • it becomes a kind of platform

  • for articulating the similarities and differences

  • between the groups' social and physical worlds.

  • LL: And then, here's for me,

  • the critical key to what

  • Julian has to say ...

  • JS: Copyright policy isn't just about

  • how to incentivize the production

  • of a certain kind of artistic commodity;

  • it's about what level of control

  • we're going to permit to be exercised

  • over our social realities --

  • social realities that are now inevitably

  • permeated by pop culture.

  • I think it's important that we

  • keep these two different kinds of public goods in mind.

  • If we're only focused on how to maximize

  • the supply of one,

  • I think we risk suppressing

  • this different and richer

  • and, in some ways, maybe even more important one.

  • LL: Right. Bingo. Point.

  • Freedom needs this opportunity

  • to both have the commercial success

  • of the great commercial works

  • and the opportunity

  • to build this different kind of culture.

  • And for that to happen, you need

  • ideas like fair use to be central and protected,

  • to enable this kind of innovation,

  • as this libertarian tells us,

  • between these two creative cultures,

  • a commercial and a sharing culture.

  • The point is they, he, here,

  • gets that culture.

  • Now, my concern is, we Dems,

  • too often, not so much.

  • All right, take for example this great company.

  • In the good old days when this Republican ran that company,

  • their greatest work was work that built on the past, right.

  • All of the great Disney works

  • were works that took works that

  • were in the public domain and remixed them,

  • or waited until they entered the public domain to remix them,

  • to celebrate this add-on remix creativity.

  • Indeed, Mickey Mouse himself, of course,

  • as "Steamboat Willie,"

  • is a remix of the then, very dominant,

  • very popular "Steamboat Bill"

  • by Buster Keaton.

  • This man was a remixer extraordinaire.

  • He is the celebration and ideal

  • of exactly this kind of creativity.

  • But then the company passes

  • through this dark stage

  • to this Democrat.

  • Wildly different.

  • This is the mastermind behind

  • the eventual passage of what we call

  • the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act,

  • extending the term of existing copyrights

  • by 20 years,

  • so that no one could do to Disney

  • what Disney did to the Brothers Grimm.

  • Now, when we tried to challenge this,

  • going to the Supreme Court, getting the Supreme Court, the bunch of conservatives there --

  • if we could get them to wake up to this -- to strike it down,

  • we had the assistance of Nobel Prize winners

  • including this right-wing

  • Nobel Prize winner, Milton Friedman,

  • who said he would join our brief

  • only if the word "no brainer"

  • was in the brief somewhere.

  • (Laughter)

  • But apparently, no brains

  • existed in this place

  • when Democrats passed and signed

  • this bill into law.

  • Now, tiny little quibble of a footnote:

  • Sonny Bono, you might say, was a Republican,

  • but I don't buy it.

  • This guy is no Republican.

  • Okay, for a second example,

  • think about this cultural hero,

  • icon on the Left,

  • creator of this character.

  • Look at the site that he built: "Star Wars" MashUps,

  • inviting people to come and use their creative energy

  • to produce a new generation of attention

  • towards this extraordinarily important cultural icon.

  • Read the license.

  • The license for these remixers

  • assigns all of the rights

  • to the remix back to Lucas.

  • The mashup is owned by Lucas.

  • Indeed, anything you add to the mashup,

  • music you might add,

  • Lucas has a worldwide perpetual right

  • to exploit that for free.

  • There is no creator here to be recognized.

  • The creator doesn't have any rights.

  • The creator is a sharecropper in this story.

  • And we should remember

  • who employed the sharecroppers:

  • the Democrats, right?

  • So the point is the Republicans here

  • recognize that there's a certain need