To: David Foster Wallace Literary Trust

David Foster Wallace Literary Trust: Please let the world see "This Is Water"!

Please allow the video "This Is Water," based on David Foster Wallace's 2005 speech, to be made available once again to the public.

Why is this important?

The short film "This Is Water," adapted from David Foster Wallace's 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College, was a beautiful, moving, even life-changing illumination of a profound piece of writing. And it has personal meaning to me: an excerpt from that speech was read at my friend Aaron Swartz's memorial service. The video, and the speech it draws upon, articulated a way of looking at the world—fully present, generous with imaginative empathy—that I aspire to live by.

But an hour and a half ago, the video was removed from YouTube and Vimeo because of an alleged copyright infringement, at the request of the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust.

This video has already inspired millions of people. And in the decades to come, it could—should—inspire millions more. It's a video I've imagined showing to my own son, now a baby, once he's old enough to understand it. There is no public interest served in removing it from the Internet. I can't even think of an interest that this could serve for the DFW Literary Trust: the video is making more people aware of his work, drawing people to his legacy.

And at a personal level, there's a particular irony for me. Aaron fought against the abuse of copyright law. He and Larry Lessig argued that everyone benefits when pieces of culture can be remixed into new works of art—this video; Aaron's own eulogy. Now, one of those works of art has been removed from public view, based on the very laws Aaron sought to change.

Please sign on this petition and help spread the word. We can hope that the DFW Literary Trust will change its mind. If it doesn't, let's change the law.

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Reasons for signing

  • I use this video regularly for adolescents and college students in therapy to help them begin to process through some of their automatic thinking - it is SOOOO helpful! Please allow it to be put back on YouTube or provide another way for free access. Thank you!
  • Don't be terrible people. It's not that hard. Release the video.
  • Please release this video. The message is better received by young adolescents when accompanied with the visualization.