Copyright enforcement as the New Prohibition: Andy Baio's speech on fair use

Andy Baio's "The New Prohibition" is a speech given at a Creative Mornings/Portland event, expanding on his must-read "No Copyright Intended" post, about the way that the complexity of copyright and fair use effectively criminalizes a whole generation of creators. Baio documents his own experience of being bullied into giving $35K to a photographer rather than spend a decade and hundreds of thousands of dollars proving that his limited-run, 8-bit remix of a photo was fair use, and makes some practical suggestions for what a modern fair use should look like, if it is to preserve the new, networked creativity.

The New Prohibition


  1. Has anyone else noticed the remarkable frequency with which geeky people in geeky legal trouble who are written up by Boing Boing fold in court, either paying a settlement in civil court or taking a plea bargain in criminal court? Or is this “remarkable frequency” just observer bias on my part? I’m ready to change my mind if reliable data shows I’m just being unfoundedly cynical.

    1. People mostly “fold” in life. Have you noticed how many marriages involve settling?

      1. Sure. But how often do we see an example here of someone standing up as a matter of principle and fighting it out to victory or to the bitter end*? I realize people don’t mostly do that in life, either, but you’d think the exceptions–the eventual victories, in particular–would be disproportionately represented here. (I hope they aren’t!)

        *out here with the rest of us meatbots, not in a comment thread

        1. Great in principle. The problem is not many people who have millions of dollars are generally willing to help out.

          Not that many people are willing to put forward the time and energy to something even if the lawyers are pro-bono to dedicate themselves to fight this system.

        2. You’re disappointed that more people aren’t willing to destitute themselves and ruin the rest of their lives in order to try and win one marginal battle against a massive corporation that, due to its size, cannot be punished by the protracted legal process that crushes the other side, win or lose?

          Please, sir, if you really feel like a lack of hopeless martyrdom exists in this world, step to the front of the line.

          1. People have done it. For instance, there is a long history of publishers, mostly smallish, taking on the US government in obscenity and censorship cases, some winning and some losing. But hopeless is the new black.

        1. Except when that is used as a club to fleece people for money. Then the troll wins. You… walk away with a few bruises and shredded dignity.

  2. Apparently copyright law does promote creativity…just not in the sciences or useful arts.  We are, however, now in the Golden Age of Litigious Creativity.

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