Studied Blindness

Sometimes I go back to Lessig’s Free Culture book for a citation and I am blown away by certain passages. Here’s the most recent:

But fair use in America simply means the right to hire a lawyer to defend your right to create. And as lawyers love to forget, our system for defending rights such as fair use is astonishingly badin practically every context, but especially here. It costs too much, it delivers too slowly, and what it delivers often has little connection to the justice underlying the claim. The legal system may be tolerable for the very rich. For everyone else, it is an embarrassment to a tradition that prides itself on the rule of law. Judges and lawyers can tell themselves that fair use provides adequate “breathing room” between regulation by the law and the access
the law should allow. But it is a measure of how out of touch our legal system has become that anyone actually believes this. The rules that publishers impose upon writers, the rules that film distributors impose upon filmmakers, the rules that newspapers impose upon journalists
these are the real laws governing creativity. And these rules have little relationship to the “law” with which judges comfort themselves. For in a world that threatens $150,000 for a single willful infringement of a copyright, and which demands tens of thousands of dollars to even defend against a copyright infringement claim, and which would never return to the wrongfully accused defendant anything of the costs she suffered to defend her right to speakin that world, the astonishingly broad regulations that pass under the name “copyright” silence speech and creativity. And in that world, it takes a studied blindness for people to continue to believe they live in a culture that is free.