Law School professor addressed the topic "Is the culture of the
public domain a good idea?" and gave an immediate answer (see
photo right) in the speech on Wednesday evening.
He said the culture of the public domain, as proposed by
professors such as Larry Lessig, was "spreading like a virus"
in United States academia, and was likely to reach other
countries. It was inspired by digital technology, and
privileged users and derivative creators at the expense of
original creators, said Hansen.
He added that it has undue influence in US copyright cases,
for example in the Second Circuit, thanks to the role played by
law clerks, who have often been taught by copyright atheists or
Referring to the evolution of US copyright law since the
Constitution's ratification, Hansen noted that 12 out of the 13
colonies already had copyright protection in 1787.
He stressed that the philosophy of copyright was not about
providing a balance but providing and exclusive right. It was
also not specifically about incentivising creation.
Instead, said Hansen, copyright was intended to be a
property right and was a natural right in many state laws.
He also criticised the public domain, saying it was a drag
on new artists and commercial works and did not benefit
consumers: "It produces derivative works, self-absorption,
instant gratification, a culture where taking something created
by someone else is good. It is a bad moral lesson."
But he acknowledged that "copyright owners are part of the
problem" as they are bad at making arguments and debating on
social media. Specifically, he criticised attempts to seek
royalties for mobile-phone ringtones and also accused the
Authors Guild of "destroying copyright" in its legal battle
with Google Books.