Lessig is so Wrong on Classics Act He Should Retire

After yesterday’s epic piece on Lessig, I’m surprised to find myself blogging about him today. But the self described “copyright expert” clearly doesn’t understand copyright and the compulsory licenses so here I am again.  In a piece published in Wired magazine we find Lessig fear mongering about the proposed Classics Act:

Archives with recordings of music from the 1930s or 1940s would now have to clear permission before streaming their music content even if the underlying work was in the public domain.  Yet there is no registry anywhere.

Actually no. For non-interactive streaming there exists a compulsory blanket license for post 1972 sound recordings.  Non-interactive streaming services essentially notify the copyright office that they are going into the non-interactive streaming business and pay royalties through the federally established SoundExchange.  SoundExchange has a database it maintains.  ONCE CLASSICS passes user pre-1972 will be brought under this post 1972 compulsory licensing scheme.

Currently because pre-1972 recordings are in most cases protected by state copyright and state common law.  Federal copyright rules do not apply.  The compulsory blanket license for post -1972 recording is not available. Without the CLASSICS ACT a streaming service currently must go state by state and song by song to obtain a license.  And currently in some cases state copyright is perpetual, something that Lessig should really hate.

Lessig has the whole thing backwards. The Classics Act addresses and fixes the things he is complaining about.

Did he not bother to read the act?

There is so much more he doesn’t understand or incorrectly asserts in this article. Most of it seems to be the result of him not understanding that pre-1972 works are covered by a patchwork of State and common law. Harmonizing the rules under a single federal statute is actually a good thing for his beloved archives. You got to wonder if he just looked at someone’s twitter feed to get his “facts” about the Classics then wrote an article in Wired.

So sad.  The guy needs to retire.



One thought on “Lessig is so Wrong on Classics Act He Should Retire

  1. I’ve lost a lot of respect for Lessig over the MMA. His arguments against it are, at best, disingenuous and, at worst, deliberately false. But what I don’t get is WHY? This act addresses a lot of things that I think of as low-hanging fruit and common ground for those in the copyright debates. EVERYONE agrees pre-1972 sound recordings are a mess and this act is trying to fix it.

    Why would you fight so hard to stifle even unilaterally agreed upon progress?

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