We blog for all kinds of reasons, of course, but a couple of recent posts by colleagues reinforce the particular reason that I enjoy it. I learn things.
Over at Sivacracy, Siva Vaidhyanathan includes the text of his conversation with a commenter about a copyright holder’s refusal to allow the performance of the stage version of Huckleberry Finn, with a black actor playing Huck and a white actor playing Jim. Larry Lessig offers a long, regretful post about a recent talk in Norway, during and after which he and his audience just weren’t on the same wavelength.
Siva and Larry express the merits of their positions far better than I could. What I enjoy about the posts is how, in different ways, they reflect a personal dialogue about the public policy of intellectual property and information law that is too often missing when most practicing lawyers, for example, get down to cases. I’ve had the good fortune to have these kinds of conversations myself. After I posted below on the Toney case, for example, I heard from June Toney’s lawyer and had a very interesting email exchange about the scope of the right of publicity tort. The other day, I got an email from C.E. Petit at Scrivener’s Error prompting a conversation about the recent Hyperion decision in England. Practicing lawyers who think critically about IP policy at the same time that they think about their clients are a rare breed, I think, though their numbers are increasing. Even when I disagree with them, I like to hear what they have to say. I blog to provoke the occasional thoughtful response, because I learn something.
Meanwhile, I hope to have something to say shortly about Hyperion, and I have a post in the works on my view of why some people have chips on their shoulders about Creative Commons. On Huckleberry Finn, the refusal to license in this particular context seems unwise, but as the law now stands, my gut reaction is that the copyright owner is within its rights. Perhaps the school should advertise that it’s producing a parody version of “Roger Miller’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” with reverse racial casting. That, I think, would be fair use.