An interesting argument was put forth at this week’s UC College of Law Federalist Society meeting. Professor Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern Law gave a talk on the “The Quasi-Legality of Israel’s Annexation of the Golan Heights and Occupation of the West Bank”. As an aside he stated the US Government is the result of a coup. Prof. Kontorovich made this argument to support his view that at some point the facts on the ground must be acknowledged:
- The Constitutional Convention was called to amend the Articles of Confederation.
- The Articles of Confederation required a unanimous vote of all member states.
- The current US Constitution was adopted by the state without a vote on the Articles of Confederation.
This syllogism is tempting but the ratification of the Constitution by each state that was party to the Articles of Confederation is in implicit unanimous amendment to the Articles replacing them with the Constitution.
This is not to say that the facts on the ground need not be acknowledged. In general the longer a situation persists the more acceptable it becomes—eventually to the point that it becomes accepted.
TED, an annual conference that brings together people from technology, entertainment, and design, just posted a video of a March 2007 talk by the patron saint of progressive copyright thinkers—Lawrence Lessig. Like all TED talks it is less than twenty minutes.
For those familiar with Lessig’s talks or recent books the first 1/3-1/2 of talk is the same stories he frequently uses to illustrate the history and evolution of technology, law and copyright—i.e., John Sousa’s congressional testimony, airplanes, and BMI vs. ASCAP.
Lessig next provides a primer on remixing media, showing the “old people” how “young people” enjoy/use their media. He analogize it to the singing of songs in the time of Sousa.
In the last part of the talk Lessig offers something new, at least to me—a more refined vision of and justifications for content that is more free of restriction on its use. He connects the current prohibitions on the use of content and the stigmas created by the prohibitions to the mental and social health of young people. It is an argument that I have made to my friends and family— a legal framework that 40+ million Americans violate everyday is not viable nor democratic.
As a bonus TED has bookmarked the chapters of the talk. UPDATE: the chapters are only available if you watch the video on TED’s site.
This article written in plain language explains how to get a license for showing movies to a group or association.