Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity
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Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,617 ratings  ·  153 reviews
Lawrence Lessig, “the most important thinker on intellectual property in the Internet era” (The New Yorker), masterfully argues that never before in human history has the power to control creative progress been so concentrated in the hands of the powerful few, the so-called Big Media. Never before have the cultural powers- that-be been able to exert such control over what...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 22nd 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 2004)
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Alfaniel Aldavan
Free Culture, as in Free Speech (not as in "free beer").

I have received an answer from GoodReads, on my objections to its removals of "not original" content.

Hi Alfaniel,

Thanks for the response. We didn't mean to suggest that you were plagiarizing another review - our apologies! We should have clarified that we try to avoid users posting duplicate reviews to the point that it’s difficult for other members to find different perspectives about the book. When a book page is barraged with copy-pasted
Aug 24, 2007 Melissa rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: proponents of civil disobedience and DVD pirates
I really got wrapped up in Lessig's ideas while reading this book, in fact getting so passionate about fighint gour crappy copyright legislation that I made myself a nuisance in a librarian training session and picked a fight with my husband. So, Lessig, I'm behind you all the way, but your book is a homewrecker. (This review is Creative Commons licensed share-and-share-alike.)
I've long admired Lessig's work to make copyright work (e.g., his work establishing the Creative Commons licensing scheme). While Lessig calls himself a liberal, and frames his argument principally on a value usually championed by liberals—the effect that copyright has on culture—he ably illustrates why aspects of the current copyright law should be seen as extreme, even if one subscribes to a more libertarian point of view. The most interesting part of the book describes Lessig's role in arguin...more
Lawrence Lessig, “the most important thinker on intellectual property in the Internet era” (The New Yorker), masterfully argues that never before in human history has the power to control creative progress been so concentrated in the hands of the powerful few, the so-called Big Media. Never before have the cultural powers- that-be been able to exert such control over what we can and can't do with the culture around us. Our society defends free markets and free speech; why then does it permit suc...more
Jun 17, 2008 Katy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Katy by: Vaughn
My good friend was thanked in the credits of this book - but that aside - I love the author of this book. So basically, I'm totally biased and don't have anything objective to say about "free culture" if you are interested in Patent/copyright law or the future of ideas, it is a must read
Robin Hartanto
Belum lama ini, dunia maya diramaikan dengan berbagai protes dari situs-situs mainstream seperti Google, Wikipedia, Mozilla, hingga Flickr terhadap Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) dan PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). Mereka menyerukan bahwa SOPA dan PIPA akan membatasi kebebasan dan kreativitas. Rupanya, perang terhadap kebebasan ini sebenarnya bukanlah barang baru.

Tahun 2004, Lawrence Lessig, salah seorang pencetus Creative Common yang juga seorang pakar hukum, telah menyerukannya. Melalui buku Budaya Beba...more
Carly McKenna
Most of us assume that copyright law exists, first and foremost, to protect the intellectual property of creators. Free Culture, however, asks us to reconsider this assumption. Whose interests does copyright law serve, how has this changed throughout history and what implications does this have for our creative culture? These are the fundamental questions that this book takes up.

Free Culture contextualises the contemporary debates about p2p file-sharing by tracing the inconsistent history of cop...more
For a book that’s first and foremost about law and legislation, this is a very entertaining read. And not only that: It’s important.
Like the internet changed our culture the changes in copyright law have a potential to change our culture as we understand it today in favour of industries that made use of free culture in their beginnings . Creativity has for centuries had the freedom to fall back on “free culture”, themes and inspiration that could be used to built on. The recent development in co...more
I read this book through, and it was fairly well suited to the instalment format. Came across as a series of small essays, instead of a continuous thought.

Lessig was a decently pleasant narrator, although he relied a little too heavily on case studies and analogies for my preferences. I'd prefer broader descriptions of ideas and ideals, followed by case studies instead of introduced by them.

Near the end was a paragraph which crystallized my understanding of why I think the free cult...more
Fantastic look at the evolution of copyright in America over the last century and how technology (especially the Internet) is affecting it. Despite being eight years old, it is still relevant w/r/t the Internet, though I would be curious to see more updated numbers on estimated file-sharing and discussion of more recent issues such as Netflix/Hulu vs. the cable distributors. This book discusses how radically the conversation about media rights and the assumptions we previously held have shifted...more
Witty, well researched, amazingly well written treatise on the nature of copyright law in a digital culture. As little legal nonsense as possible, as much discussion about the nature of creativity as being inherently collaborative within a culture, and how creativity is not a luxury but a necessity to maintain a vibrant free democratic culture. I heart Lawrence Lessig.
I can't give this book a high enough rating; it should be required reading for everyone. A vital survey of what's wrong with copyright law, and the destructive anti-technology crusades of corporate interests like the RIAA and MPAA.
Not often I read non-fiction for fun. Okay, that may be a lie. But I found this book fascinating, and the answers to many questions I have asked myself and others over the years were found in these pages.
Lessig does a good job of showing how the intellectual property regime has closed in on us over the last 100 years. He also shows who has benefited (big business)and he offers some suggestions of what could be done - given the current system and power structure.

The problem is that he doesn't seem capable of thinking outside of the power structure. He spends so much time telling us over and over that he isn't an anarchist. He would have better used that time thinking about the forces that distort...more
Narri Subrati
Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture Book Review

In Free Culture, Lawrence Lessig focuses on piracy and how copyright law and copyright problems have expanded in today’s media. There is definitely growing awareness of copyright infringement especially since technology continues to advance and more people are participants in its public domain. Lessig points to a diminishment of the public domain of ideas because of the harsh copyright laws that exist today. He believes that they invoke long-term damage...more
Obviously written by a lawyer, this is not a book but an essay. A pity, because I liked the message but was bored by the author's voice.


Regarding pharmaceutical patents:"So uncritically do we accept the idea of property in ideas that we don't even notice how monstrous it is to deny ideas to a people who are dying without them."

"Copyright law has not been a rock of Gibraltar. It's not a set of constant commitments that, for some mysterious reason, teenagers and geeks now flout. Instead,...more
Basically, the book argues for the validity and continued existence of public domain in copyrights, which has been shrinking rapidly due to the efforts of big media and copyright holders to lock down the Internet. Lessig provides a brief history of copyright law in the US (and most notably points out how each one of the big media arenas - music, movies, TV, and radio - each violated the copyright system in their respective infancies as the new business models that grew from the seeds of the old)...more
"A free culture is not a culture without property, just as a free market is not a market in which everything is free. The opposite of a free culture is a 'permission culture' -- a culture in which creators get to create only with the permission of the powerful, or of creators from the past." (xiv)

"Four modalities of regulation": law, market, architecture, and norms. (121)

"This is the future of copyright law: not so much copyright law as copyright code. The controls over access to content will no...more
Chad Perrin
Given all the hype over this book, including the comments I've heard from several people with whom I'm acquainted to the effect that this book changed people's lives or how they thought about things, it is rather disappointing to finish reading it with the same opinion I had after reading the first chapter:

It's pretty damned mediocre.

Lessig appears to have written this book after he read Peter Draghos' text Information Feudalism, which makes the disappointment even sharper, given that the greate...more
Saya pertama mengetahui buku ini sekitar 2006 melalui ulasan sebuah majalah bawah tanah lokal. Terpengaruh review yang mengatakan isinya sangat penting - dan karena iming-iming gratis - saya segera mengunduh buku ini, untuk kemudian menelantarkan fail pdfnya selama bertahun-tahun tanpa sempat membacanya. Terimakasih kepada kemampuan bahasa inggris saya yang cukup minimum.

Terimakasih sesungguhnya saya ucapkan kepada KUNCI, sebuah pusat kajian budaya berbasis di Jogjakarta yang kemudian menterjema...more
Dec 28, 2008 melydia rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: people who share content on the internet
Recommended to melydia by: xkcd
Copyright law! That's right, folks, I read a book about copyright law. And a fascinating book, at that. Lessig takes us through the ins and outs of these ever-changing rules, sprinkled liberally with relevant examples. Should students be sued for their life savings for sharing music files? Should copyright automatically be renewed, even if the original holder is disinterested or even dead? Are fanart and fanfic actually a threat to creators of the content on which they are based? How does the in...more
Aug 05, 2008 Robb rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008
I saw this gentleman speak at the Conference For Media Reform in Minneapolis, and he was just inspirational.

So naturally, I wanted to read everything the dude has written. I started here.

This is an important book for people to have read. I think it does a terrific job of illustrating what real danger we are in regarding copyright laws, intellectual property, and all that nonsense.

The thing I like so much about this guy, aside the fact that he's just awesome, is that he writes and speaks in a w...more
This 2004 book centres on the struggle between two ideas of "piracy" and "property" (i.e. intellectual property) in the age of the Internet.

As Lessig asserts, "Rather than understanding the changes the Internet might permit, and rather than taking time to let "common sense" resolve how best to respond, we are allowing those most threatened by the changes to use their power to change the law - and more importantly, to use their power to change something fundamental about who we have always been....more
Mike Ehlers
A fundamental read if at all interested in issues of technology and intellectual property. Things have changed quickly in the few years since this was written, but the book is still important and a great place to start on the subject. Helps you define and understand the issues involved. Great examples and clear explanations of what's at stake, without totally dismissing the need for some IP structure. Included are ideas on what you can do to bring about change in the law, as well as steps others...more
Jami Dwyer
Available to listen to -- free -- in mp3 format:

The illustrative stories that begin every chapter are fascinating. Anyone who understands analogies and cares about our culture will be puzzled about the new expansions of copyright until decades after an creator's death, apparently because of the influence of a few lobbyists, like Sonny Bono's suddenly bereaved and very sympathetic widow and the apparently "charming" Jack Valenti.

But even more frustrating than...more
I really enjoyed this book, although I admit I did get a little lost in some of the legalese.

Lawrence Lessig paints a picture of how the law could be if we would scrap our antiquated systems and re-write them based on fairness and common sense. What if law weren't so polarized? What if we had pliable laws that were subject to case-by-case interpretation? What if we didn't stifle creativity in the name of corporate profit? It would be great but the more I read this wonderfully sensible book, the...more
If there is any book that seeks to challenge our conception of copyrights, this would be my personal bet. To explain parts of it would give out spoilers, so for the uninitiated I will claim that he puts a lot of effort into introducing his ideas and showing various cases in history where some of these ideas (or public reaction to change) have succeeded or, in several cases, failed.

The title gives away the primary thesis, though, that culture in and of itself has been 'free' in a sense. He is ca...more
Ok, so I'm biased because the issues that the book discusses are some of the things that made me want to go to law school in the first place and Lessig's work has pretty much informed my academic thinking while in school. But this shit is riveting. I know it doesn't seem like it would be, but it is, and it's of immense importance to anyone who consumes contemporary music (and culture) or has an interest in how art gets commodified. Which is basically all of you people.

Also, even if you don't thi...more
Martin Rose
I feel like if you had to pass a test in order to access and interact with the internet, this book would be required reading. It should be required reading. And I think the importance of this book is going to grow, in light of Aaron Swartz's suicide and the ugly events that precipitated it, and in light of the massive increase in copyright control being exerted today; as of this review, I got wind of a school whose board of education desired to copyright the intellectual property of all its stud...more
Jim Good
Discussion of the intellectual property and the public domain. Makes the case for limiting time on copyright protection saying that it is killing the public domain. References how past generations liberally borrowed from expired copyrights to build culture upon. Argues that current companies who profit from distribution are trying to lock down intellectual property to ensure continuing monopoly on distribution. They do this by arguing for extended copyright protection, but also by ensuring that...more
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Lawrence "Larry" Lessig (born June 3, 1961) is an American academic and political activist. He is best known as a proponent of reduced legal restrictions on copyright, trademark, and radio frequency spectrum, particularly in technology applications.
He is a director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a professor of law at Harvard Law School. Prior to rejoi...more
More about Lawrence Lessig...
Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World Code: Version 2.0 One Way Forward: The Outsider's Guide to Fixing the Republic

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“If “piracy means using the creative property of others without their permission- if “if value, then right” is true- then the history of the content industry is a history of piracy. Every important sector of “big media” today- film, records, radio, and cable TV-was born of a kind of piracy so defined. The consistent story is how last generation’s pirates join this generation’s country club-until now.” 5 likes
“Every generation welcomes the pirates from the last.” 4 likes
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