The Future of Intellectual Property on the Internet: A Debate
October 1, 2000 - In the ideological war being fought over rights to digital content in the age of the global Internet, Motion Picture Association of America [ http://www.mpaa.com/ ] head Jack Valenti [ http://www.mpaa.org/about/jack/index.htm ] and renowned cyberlaw expert Lawrence Lessig [ http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/lessig.html ] represent its most powerful conflicting forces. On October 1, 2000 at 7pm EDT, the Berkman Center presented a debate between Valenti and Lessig on the future of intellectual property online—the subject of increasing controversy in the wake of emerging technologies that allow for the easy sharing of digital content among consumers, and recent decisions in judicial cases testing the propriety of such technologies. Free and open to the public, the debate took place in the historic Ames Courtroom in Austin Hall on the Harvard Law School campus [ http://map.harvard.edu/ ], and was webcast live to an international audience.
Jack Valenti [ http://www.mpaa.org/about/jack/index.htm ] has served as head of the MPAA since 1966. He made headlines this year speaking out on behalf of the established film and music industries against those who, in his view, use the Internet to steal others' intellectual property. Valenti has called the defense of such property key to America's continuing economic prosperity, and the MPAA has joined other publishers in an aggressive legal battle to protect (and some would say, extend) intellectual property rights in this era of digital media and Internet technology. The list of industry targets—Napster, iCraveTV, 2600 News Magazine in the New York DeCSS case, RecordTV.com and Scour—is growing, as is the roster of recent legislation intended to enhance the control of copyright owners over their works in new media.
Berkman Center advisory board head Lawrence Lessig [ http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/lessig.html ], a Stanford University law professor and author of the highly-acclaimed Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace [ http://code-is-law.org/ ], offers a different perspective on possibilities for the digital environment, leading a movement to restore the public interest in our popular, legal, and technical conceptions of intellectual property. Lessig urges us to treat the Constitution's copyright clause as striking a balance between private intellectual property and a public intellectual commons, warning that should the balance tilt too far in favor of copyright holders, the public will risk losing its constitutionally-mandated right to a vibrant public domain.
Valenti and Lessig have most recently clashed in the pages of the Industry Standard [ http://www.thestandard.com/ ], expressing divergent views of how the Internet should evolve, and what the balance of control should be between publishers and readers on- and off-line.
RealVideo archives of the debate [ http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/futureofip/archive.asp ]The Pol and the Professor Debate How Free the Internet Should Be [ http://www.inside.com/story/Story_Cached/0,2770,10302_13_30_1,00.html ], Inside.com, October 2, 2000.
Related Sites and Readings:
The Motion Picture Association of America [ http://www.mpaa.org/ ]
Jack Valenti [ http://www.mpaa.org/about/jack/index.htm ]
Lawrence Lessig [ http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/lessig.html ]
The MPAA in court [ http://www.mpaa.org/Press/ ]
Lessig on copyright [ http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,16071,00.html ]
Lessig on Valenti [ http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,10885,00.html ]
Valenti on Lessig [ http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,13227,00.html ] (scroll down to "MPAA: Oh, Behave!")
More about DeCSS [ http://eon.law.harvard.edu/openlaw/DVD/ ]
Valenti's DeCSS deposition [ http://eon.law.harvard.edu/openlaw/DVD/NY/depositions/valenti.html ]
Ames Courtroom, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA [ http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/events/ames ]
Webcast Archive Now Available [ http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/futureofip/archive.asp ]