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Two Questions for Lessig

A PBS newshour discussion about copyright generated a Slashdot discussion. . Here are two questions I posed.

For Mr. Oppenheim:

The value that the entertainment industry has traditionally brought to the artist has been production and marketing. But costs of producing artistic works has plummeted, and many would say that “viral marketing”(through the sanctioning of alternative/free distribution channels) is cheaper and more effective anyway. Given the ever-shrinking royalty percentages and restrictive nature of entertainment contracts, why does it still make economic sense for artists to sign up with major media companies?

For Mr. Lessig:

Nobody ever put a gun to an artist’s head to sign an unfair contract with the entertainment company. These contracts are freely entered into because both parties believe it in their respective self-interests. Why then is legislative tampering necessary? Isn’t the problem self-correcting? If enough artists get screwed or perceive themselves as getting screwed by signing up, they won’t sign up, or they will insist on more favorable terms. Why then should Congress hamstring the ability of artists and companies to enter into contracts? To justify legislative intervention, it seems to me that you would need to demonstrate that entertainment contracts are instrinsically predatory and exploitative.

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