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Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity Paperback – Feb 22 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
From Stanford law professor Lessig (Code; The Future of Ideas) comes this expertly argued, alarming and surprisingly entertaining look at the current copyright wars. Copyright law in the digital age has become a hot topic, thanks to millions of music downloaders and the controversial, high-profile legal efforts of the music industry to stop them. Here Lessig argues that copyright as designed by the Framers has become dangerously unbalanced, favoring the interests of corporate giants over the interests of citizens and would-be innovators. In clear, well-paced prose, Lessig illustrates how corporations attempt to stifle innovations, from FM radio and the instant camera to peer-to-peer technology. He debunks the myth that draconian new copyright enforcement is needed to combat the entertainment industry's expanded definition of piracy, and chillingly assesses the direct and collateral damage of the copyright war. Information technology student Jesse Jordan, for example, was forced to hand over his life savings to settle a lawsuit brought by the music industryfor merely fixing a glitch in an Internet search engine. Lessig also offers a very personal look into his failed Supreme Court bid to overturn the Copyright Term Extension Act, a law that added 20 years to copyright protections largely to protect Mickey Mouse from the public domain. In addition to offering a brilliant argument, Lessig also suggests a few solutions, including the Creative Commons licensing venture (an online licensing venture that streamlines the rights process for creators), as well as legislative solutions. This is an important book. "Free Cultures are cultures that leave a great deal open for others to build upon," he writes. "Ours was a free culture. It is becoming less so."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Lessig looks at the disturbing legal and commercial trends that threaten to curb the incredible creative potential of the Internet. All innovations are derived from a certain amount of "piracy" of preceding innovations, Lessig argues, and he presents a catalog of technological breakthroughs in film, music, and television as illustrations. Drawing on distinctions between piracy that benefits a single user and harms the owner and piracy that is useful in advancing new content or new ways of doing business, Lessig strongly argues for a balance between the interests of the owner and broader society so that we can continue a "free culture" that encourages innovation rather than a "permission culture" that does not. He reviews an array of legal actions, including the restrictions on peer-to-peer sharing made famous by Napster, and the threat they represent to the kind of openness the law has traditionally allowed and from which the marketplace has benefited. This is a highly accessible and enlightening look at the intersection of commerce, the law, and cyberspace. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Disney's great creativity was built on the work of others. In 1928 the average term of copyright was thirty years. Today public domain is presumptive only for work created before the Great Depression. In the world free culture has been broadly exploited. Japan has a huge market of knock off comics and does not have many lawyers.
We celebrate property but there is plenty of value not subject to the strictures of property law. George Eastman created roll film and the upshot was the era of mass photography. The real significance was not economic but social. Now the internet allows creations to be shared, web logs, blogs, have grown dramatically. Blogs are a virtual public meeting. They are unchoreographed public discourse. Bloggers are amateur journalists.
John Seely Brown of Xerox believes we learn by tinkering. Recording music, radio, cable TV all were technologies involving forms of piracy. The piracy problems were solved by legislation. Peer to peer sharing was made famous by Napster. It is not clear that the file sharing has caused the decline in the sale of CDs.
In 1710 the British parliament adopted the first copyright act. In the last three hundred years the concept of copyright has been applied ever more broadly. The copyright law was a limitation on the power of book sellers. A decision in 1774 in the House of Lords held the limitation in the Copyright Act set forth the notion of a Public Domain.Read more ›
If you care about the future of creativity on this planet you must read this book!
Lessig provides a very readable overview of the issues and history surrounding copyright, including an inside look at his efforts to have the Supreme Court rule Congress' continual copyright extensions unconstitutional (Eldred v. Ashcroft). The strength of Free Culture is the anecdotes it presents, from 18th century publishers trying to keep Shakespeare out of the public domain to a modern corporation trying to keep Mickey Mouse out of the public domain, with minimal bias but the clear message that things are going wrong.
Lessig falters when proposing solutions to the current crisis, which are weak and/or underdeveloped. He also occasionally displays his loony-left politics with misplaced analogies; I found his references to gun control and the war on drugs especially out of place, even misleading.
While Free Culture is weak in spots, it may well change the way you think about intellectual property.
You can even download the book for free!
Lessig does a formidable job of making the issue come alive for both experts and laymen with his use of anecdotes that clearly illustrate how the ever-growing term and scope of copyright have stifled creativity and shrunken the portion of our culture in the public domain. He shows how the content industry is trying to redefine IP as the equivalent of tangible property, when it is not and has never been, and how that industry has manipulated Congress and the Courts to get closer to its goal.
If you followed the Eldred v. Ashcroft case (like I did; I was lucky to be at oral argument before the Supremes), you'll want to pick up this book for Lessig's inside account. Most of it is a mea culpa for not realizing that the Court didn't want a constitutional argument, but a consequentialist one. I'm not sure this would have made a difference. The Court's right, who, like Lessig, I thought would chime in for a strict reading of what is clear language of "limited times" in the Copyright Clause, must have had some special reason for turning their backs on their originalist rhetoric and I doubt that a political argument would have changed their minds. I still can't understand what that reason might be, and I refuse to believe it's just the dead hand of stare decisis that gave Scalia pause.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
If you care that your rights as creators and comsumers of art are being taken away by multinational corporations this is the book to readPublished on June 22 2004 by Stephen Kraisler
About halfway through "Free Culture" author Lawrence Lessig offers his most arresting example among many to illustrate his main arguments. Read morePublished on June 4 2004 by Jesse Steven Hargrave
I don't know how anyone can take Lessig seriously. He's leading the counter-culture movement with books like this, but if you buy that ideology then he's selling you out by... Read morePublished on May 9 2004
There are few new ideas or concepts in this book; I would recommend getting the paperback versions (or using your library) to get his earlier books. Read morePublished on May 5 2004 by Dana
"Free Culture" is an amazing look at the battle over both creativity and culture in America today. Read morePublished on April 11 2004 by missed
Crearly and engagingly written, this book not only illustrates how existing media companies fight innovation to keep themselves in control, but also inspires with the possibilities... Read morePublished on April 8 2004 by V. Volkov
This book is very very good, laying out where our rights to media in the internet age are jepoardized by media conglomerates and corrupt government. Read morePublished on March 29 2004
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