Arnold Kling

Competing with Government

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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Lawrence Lessig thinks that copyright law is too rigid, so he plans to create a competing service, called Creative Commons (, under construction), according to this story in SF Gate.

An artist might, for example, agree to give away a work as long as no one is making money on it but include a provision requiring payments on a sliding scale if it's sold...

an MP3 song or a document or any other intellectual property would contain a special machine-readable tag that specifies the exact licensing terms approved by its creator.

I am not a lawyer, but this appears to me to be an attempt to replace a generic copyright with a contractual license. Negotiating such licenses on a case-by-case basis would consume too many resources. Lessig's idea, as I understand it, is to create licenses that are generic enough to be interpreted by a computer. However, these licenses also would be flexible enough to encourage re-use of creative work, rather than constituting the barrier to re-use that current copyright law provides.

To me, this sounds like an attempt to create a private-sector alternative to compete with a government function. If it works, it could start a very interesting trend.

Discussion Question. Would these contracts be particularly difficult to enforce when the parties live in different countries?

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