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Where Do Artists Draw the Line with Copyright Law?

Complete video at: Shepard Fairey, Steven Johnson, and Lawrence Lessig weigh the pros and cons of artistic freedom, fair use, and copyright law. ----- What is the future for art and ideas in an age when practically anything can be copied, pasted, downloaded, sampled, and re-imagined? LIVE from the NYPL and WIRED Magazine kick off the Spring 2009 season with a spirited discussion of the emerging remix culture. Our guides through this new world--who will take us from Jefferson's Bible to Andre the Giant to Wikipedia--will be Lawrence Lessig, author of Remix, founder of Creative Commons, and one of the leading legal scholars on intellectual property issues in the Internet age; acclaimed street artist Shepard Fairey, whose iconic Obama "HOPE" poster was recently acquired by the National Portrait Gallery; and cultural historian Steven Johnson, whose new book, The Invention of Air, argues that remix culture has deep roots in the Enlightenment and among the American founding fathers. Shepard Fairey shot to national fame as the graphic artist behind a 2008 iconic poster of Barack Obama, a portrait labeled simply "HOPE" and in a style that could be described as Andy Warhol meets Socialist Realism. Fairey, who graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1992, was already well known among graffiti artists and fans, thanks to one of Fairey's early works of "guerilla" art, an impromptu stencil design based on an ad for Andre the Giant, a professional wrestler. Lawrence Lessig is a professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of the school's Center for Internet and Society. He teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law, contracts, and the law of cyberspace. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty, he was Berkman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a professor at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and for Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. For much of his career, he has focused on law and technology, especially as it affects copyright. Recognized for arguing against interpretations of copyright that could stifle innovation and discourse online, he is CEO of the Creative Commons project, and he has been a columnist for Wired, Red Herring, and The Industry Standard. Steven Johnson is the author of the US bestsellers Mind Wide Open and Emergence. His most recent book is The Invention of Air. Johnson's writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Guardian, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He also writes for Discover magazine and, and was co-founder of the award-winning websites FEED and He teaches at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program and also hosts a weblog at
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