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Lawrence Lessig – Keynote Address @ Al Jazeera’s 3rd Annual Media Forum April 12, 2007

Posted by Muhammad in ajforum07, Al Jazeera, Media Forum.

Lawrence Lessig started out by covering the advertising currently aired regarding the current US Presidential Race where the democrats were using Apple’s famous 1984 ad to make a point.
He then went on to talk about “Democratising media” and how what’s currently happening in the world is an emergence of Broadcast democracy, Blog democracy and a Bottom Up democracy. Using media to say things differently, making us remember our ideals.

Creating a Read-Write(RW) culture, where people participate in the creation and re-creation of their culture instead of a Read Only(RO) culture, where culture was consumed but the consumer did not create… and hence, creativity was displaced.

The 20th century was the gateway to the RO culture and the RO democracy which gave the “Image of the quiet” masses listening to the message of the Big Brother. In the 21st Century moving from RO to RW and Blogs are on the leading edge of what we should look at as RW culture.

There are, however, three threats to this form of speech (1) Is it any good? (2) Does it help? (3) Is it “Truth” that it speaks to power? Truth and Fairness are not becoming a part of the new culture of media – Internet. Truth, fairness and accuracy are lost in this democratised media.

IP Wars, Copyright wars – corporations fighting against new forms of media and technology to stop piracy. The “Terrorists” in this war are basically the children who use this new technology. “Piracy” is the term used when they want to stop the use of shows without the consent of the creator. The effect of stopping this media is a form of censorship.

The technology can’t scan and see if the content is used fairly… therefore “fair use” gets thrown out the window as well. An example… Greenwald was making a movie in 2004 called “The Whole Truth about the Iraq War” where he required the use of a one minute clip about the Presidents reasons to go to war. ( About one minute in total) and NBC said no because it was “Not very flattering to the president”.

Networks want to keep control over their content. Slow changes in the structure of the internet pushed by government and commerce. Most innovative inventions and creations are done by kids and non-Americans! (Google, Hotmail, etc.)

We need to reject both extremes – between perfect control and anarchy. The ultimate test of the ideal “freedom of speech” is that your perspective is allowed in my country (America). You (addressing Al Jazeera) need to be better at embracing these ideals than we are. Provide some free content for commercial and non-commercial use – spread the culture. Right now we have RW culture, RW politics, RW democracy. These aspects can be lost again… and we should fear this reversion because RW culture is not in the interest of those in power.

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