We're living through a period of unprecedented cultural vitality — one that uneasily coexists with a state of acute precarity. Video and audio uploads routinely disappear or are muted, becoming victim to clunky audio-detection algorithms deployed in deference to an overreaching and outmoded copyright regime. At the same time, digital tools make copying so easy that the practice is utterly commonplace. Cut-and-paste creativity is so second-nature that several SOPA supporters in Congress were caught using infringing photos on their Twitter profiles. When so many simple, everyday acts of creation and communication are putatively illegal, something is clearly out of whack. If we keep throwing out the creative babies with the pirate bathwater, we might start to wonder where all the life went. ^
A faculty associate at Harvard's Berkman Center, Wayne Marshall is a musicologist who teaches at at Brandeis and blogs at wayneandwax.com.Follow him on Twitter @wayneandwax.