David Weinberger, author of the brilliant and seminal Small Pieces Loosely Joined, has posted a draft of a great speech on copyright that he's giving at the World Economic Forum in NYC tomorrow:
[F]or one moment, I'd like you to perform an exercise in selective attention. Forget every other consideration – even though they're fair and important considerations – and see if you can acknowledge that a world in which everyone has free access to every work of creativity in the world is a better world. Imagine your children could listen to any song ever created anywhere. What a blessing that would be!
…We publish stuff that gets its meaning and its reality by being read, viewed or heard. An unpublished novel is about as meaningful and real as an imaginary novel. It needs its readers to be. But readers aren't passive consumers. We reimagine the book, we complete the vision of the book. Readers appropriate works, make them their own. Listeners and viewers, too. In making a work public, artists enter into partnership with their audience. The work succeeds insofar as the audience makes it their own, takes it up, understands it within their own unpredictable circumstances. It leaves the artist's hands and enters our lives. And that's not a betrayal of the work. That's its success. It succeeds insofar as we hum it, quote it, appropriate it so thoroughly that we no longer remember where the phrase came from. That's artistic success, although it's a branding failure.