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Internet Exchange

March 12, 2008

Internet Exchange[1]

 

Lessig draws upon the events leading to the technology developed in the Camera by Eastman and the events of evolution of the Internet in an effort to compare these two phenomena.  He wants to establish that the invention of Eastman was a social break through that had profound impact on all society.  Not only was family, but news, media and advertising to mention a few were changed by photography using the new film process.  He does a good job of illustrating the U.S. Supreme court analysis in justifying photography as a “non-taking” and he reflects that the court held that photographs for the mainstream of Americans did not require “permission” by the subject.  The thought simply put was that taking a photo of someone was theft of their likeness.  Each person has only one unique likeness and to take it is wrong unless permission is established.  Actually the Court said that the photo was a taking, but a “legal presumption” was established in law that the subject gives their “permission” for the photo, at least if taken in a public place.  Public figures were exempted because their image is a commercial item used in advertising, movies, record labels etc.  We could interface an argument of power and capitalism at this point!

 

What is interesting is his analogy to Napster and the Internet in general in providing a platform of exchange of intellect and mental product (Lessig, 2004, p. 34).  As the ability to efficiently and cost effectively produce pictures were in the late 1800’s so to Lessig says is the use of the Internet to burn, rip and record media.  To Lessig the photo became a part of American life and allowed new dimensions of exchange and recording of memories, information, knowledge, etc, so the Internet serves a function in helping segments of society become well versed in communicating with others.  His analysis of kids that do not read or write well becoming involved in media and thereby coming to the realization that being able to read and write are critical to communication is well taken (Lessig, 2004, p. 39).  He states: “For like Kodak, the Internet enables people to capture images.  And like in a movie by a student on the “Just Think!” bus, the visual images could be mixed with sound, or text” (Lessig, 2004, p. 40). 


[1] Lessig, L. (2004). Free Culture. (Creative Commons Edition). New York: Random House.

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