A Boing Boing reader writes, "Bruce Lehman, the architect of the DMCA and the WIPO Internet Treaties, appeared at a conference in Montreal today and made a series of admissions that are obvious to everyone but still remarkable given the source."
The most interesting – and surprising – presentation came from Bruce Lehman, who now heads the International Intellectual Property Institute. Lehman explained the U.S. perspective in the early 1990s that led to the DMCA (ie. greater control though TPMs), yet when reflecting on the success of the DMCA acknowledged that "our Clinton administration policies didn't work out very well" and "our attempts at copyright control have not been successful" (presentation starts around 11:00). Moreover, Lehman says that we are entering the "post-copyright" era for music, suggesting that a new form of patronage will emerge with support coming from industries that require music (webcasters, satellite radio) and government funding. While he says that teens have lost respect for copyright, he lays much of the blame at the feet of the recording industry for their failure to adapt to the online marketplace in the mid-1990s.
In a later afternoon discussion, Lehman went further, urging Canada to think outside the box on future copyright reform. While emphasizing the need to adhere to international copyright law (ie. Berne), he suggested that Canada was well placed to experiment with new approaches. He was not impressed with Bill C-60, seemingly because he does not believe that it went far enough in reshaping digital copyright issues. Given ongoing pressure from the U.S., I'm skeptical about Canada's ability to chart a new course on copyright, yet if the architect of the DMCA is willing to admit that change is needed, then surely our elected officials should take notice.
I think that Lehman is still out of it. Patronage? Has he missed the fact that there are tons of new, copy-friendly artists who are making a good living from touring (using free copies to bring people to gigs), from direct sales of MP3s, from merch, and so on? Sure, these people aren't supporting a label that takes $0.92 out from every buck they earn, but should the law concern itself with full, permanent employment for middlemen? If they add value, they'll survive. If the market doesn't support them, they'll go broke. The point of copyright is to support creativity, not Fortune 100 entertainment giants.
This Slashdot article also includes a link to some video of the event, with Lehman's talk at 11:00. In the video, Lehman reportedly blames the DMCA's failure on the record industry (McGill University's crazy media player won't play the video in my browser for some reason, and they don't have a direct download link — someone rip/post this and send me the URL?)
Update: Here's the Windows stream — still won't play for me, but maybe someone can transcode it to something less brain-damaged. — Thanks, Whiteg!
Update 2: Thanks to Jason Turgeon for ripping this video to something easier to see. Here's the whole thing, and here's Bruce Lehman's bit.
Carl Malamud has made the whole video available on the Internet Archive.