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Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back
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Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  224 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
How did the newspaper, music, and film industries go from raking in big bucks to scooping up digital dimes? Their customers were lured away by the free ride of technology. Now, business journalist Robert Levine shows how they can get back on track.

On the Internet, “information wants to be free.” This memorable phrase shaped the online business model, but it is now driving
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2011)
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Feb 02, 2012 Adam rated it did not like it
I really tried. I really tried to give this book a fair shake, to read it with an open mind and to try to understand the author's perspective. I read the whole thing in order to be able to review it completely and not just form an opinion on the first two or three chapters.

This book is beyond awful. The writing is terrible. It might as well be a summary (maybe concatenation) of file sharing, media technology, and copyright writing from 1999 - 2010, annotated with snarky (and unsubstantiated) co
Feb 08, 2012 Ben added it
There is a myth going around that the Internet is free. That the Internet embodies freedom of speech. That the Internet strengthens democracy and not the other way around. With the recent outcry over proposed legislation to curb Internet piracy (the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act), conflicts over the meaning of the Internet have come to a head, faded from the public mind (now that the legislation has ...more
Jan 23, 2012 Adelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting. I picked it up at the library because I saw it there the same day the anti-SOPA [Stop Online Piracy Act} protest went viral. The author makes a compelling case that Google and other tech companies push for doing away with copyright laws because the tech companies are selling technology...and cheap or free use of content benefits them. But, the author argues, the true cost of content isn't the delivery's the creativity and research and work that goes into writing songs or ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Kelsey rated it really liked it
The author did an interesting job of talking about the history of anti-priacy measures and the various interest groups that have been involved in the lobbying effort. Unfortunately, the author was exteremely biased toward copyright protection interests, to the point that he seemed to ignore various oportunities for moving forward that he didn't view as ideal as the past. Furthermore, this bias came accross in a whiney and bitter tone, which made the book very tedious to read.

The author's last fe
Chris Aylott
Dec 29, 2011 Chris Aylott rated it liked it
Magazine writer and editor Robert Levine musters useful facts about media businesses here, facts that should be taken into account in any discussion of how piracy affects the media. That said, I think the conclusions he draws are debatable at best.

Levine's viewpoint is that creators should get paid for their work, which I heartily agree with. However, he seems to see piracy as an attack on media businesses enabled by greedy technology companies (who benefit from the availability of pirated cont
David Jedeikin
Apr 03, 2013 David Jedeikin rated it really liked it
Made me renew my cable membership!

Well, okay, not quite... but it does paint an interesting, if Hollywood-centric and somewhat scold-y, picture of the dynamic between the entertainment industry and the Internet/technology business. I think it's a bit much to claim that most, if not all, of the Internet (and Apple's) success has to do with people pirating media, but it does make a compelling case for some kind of better oversight and organization of how people consume media. Not discussed: the ne
Koen Verbrugge
Jul 18, 2012 Koen Verbrugge rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: society
Een goed boek als je de voorgeschiedenis van de copyfights goed wilt kennen, inclusief de huidige worstelingen. Er is echter geen oplossing in zicht en dat komt grotendeels uit de stellingname van de schrijver.

Aggregators zijn des duivels, maar dat veel kranten aggregators zijn an sich komt niet aan bod. Tevens onaangeroerd zijn de voordelen van cocreatie, open standaarden voor data, veranderende rollen van merken enz.

Al bij al een waardevol boek dat goed geresearched werd en op zijn minst één
Bebe (Sarah) Brechner
Jun 23, 2012 Bebe (Sarah) Brechner rated it really liked it
Shockingly good account of the content creators' side of the current controversy over SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). Comprehensive coverage of the music, book, and film industry's positions against piracy and the push for free access to content. While this book is decidedly in favor of copyright and piracy protections, the author exposes the fact that free access favors the business of Google and other interests and is not a neutral position. I think everyone should read this book before ...more
K.V. Johansen
Very thought-provoking. Everyone trying to make a living in the arts these days should read this. So should all the people who think that those trying to make a living from the arts are supposed to work for free for their entertainment. (And that includes librarians and teachers, yes.)
Steven Farmer
Nov 29, 2011 Steven Farmer rated it it was amazing
Clear and concise. A great read!
Aug 30, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La utopía digital de una información y una cultura libres, gratuitas e inmediatamente accesibles para todos, sufre, tras años de reinado, los primeros cuestionamientos de rigor. Hasta ahora, los críticos de la llamada cultura libre señalaban a la piratería, a la desaparición de industrias enteras y al derecho de los creadores a vivir de su trabajo. Pero su discurso no era ni tan sistemático ni tan popular ni, por supuesto, tan militante como el de quienes defendían en las redes que las ideas no ...more
Este libro, llamado "Parásitos" en español, me pareció intelectualmente deshonesto. Si bien el autor intenta hacer un análisis algo objetivo de la historia y situación actual de lo que llama las "industrias de contenido" (editoriales, sellos musicales, estudios cinematográficos, canales de TV y cable), detrás de ello existe una narrativa que intenta plantear la idea de que los principales culpables del derrumbe de los modelos de negocios pre-Internet de estas industrias son los ISPs y las ...more
Feb 12, 2012 Gábor rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The Internet has been and is changing business models. The author who is able to reside both in NYC and Berlin and cover "culture business", seems to be an actual beneficiary of these changes. With changing business models, there are losers and there are winners. It happens to be that the old guard of middle man in news, music, movie, book businesses were not ready to "cannibalize" their existing revenue streams, and hence nurtured a new generation of middle man, Apple for music, Amazon for ...more
An interesting book - covers the history of the internet and the struggles between corporations and pirates over control of content,

Levine is no complete stooge - he offers criticisms of current methods - excessive litigation is alienating, DRC is cumbersome, and collective licensing also seems to be working well in Europe - although he doubts it will in the US. Why not? The same corporations which Levine says are victims are actively lobbying against it.

He also advice: there are a variety of se
There's a problem with using pirated content. It's not just that people could feel entitled to this material, but it is also that the material exists there in the first place and that sites that have content have not been taken down. Why can't everything be free? Well, if that would be the case who could afford to produce the material and pay the artists? Why has this material been allowed to be pirated? Not enough laws in place? Is it that Internet provider such as Google paying research ...more
Ravi Warrier
Aug 13, 2016 Ravi Warrier rated it really liked it
I really liked this book as after reading this book, I have a better understanding of how media copyrights, media industries and the internet based sharing/piracy works. Not that it's changed my mind. :)
But, it seems there are solutions that are being considered that would be win-win for everyone from artists to art lovers.
My only problem is with the sub-title. The book should have been more aptly named "Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture B
Douglas Perry
Jun 14, 2012 Douglas Perry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Levine provides a cogently argued, well-researched narrative on how and why the Internet grew the way it did, and how the U.S.' media companies stumbled at almost every stage. I give the book only two stars because the second half of the subtitle -- "How the Culture Business Can fight Back" -- is a tease with no payoff. Levine offers no real prescriptions for fighting back. "Free Ride" starts with doom and gloom, and it ends with more of the same.
Sep 16, 2012 Holly rated it did not like it
Shelves: don-t-read
I picked this book on "digital parasites...destroying the culture business" and not realizing that the author is arguing for tougher copyright laws...which sounds like it helps the artist. I believe the opposite though. I believe that these copyright laws puts the artists in the hands of corporations with money to make them sign over their rights.
I should have focused on the term 'culture business'. Robert Levine probably has lots of lawyer friends.
Jun 05, 2012 Matthew rated it liked it
For a musician, this book tackles the main dilemma of our times--if the culture treats creative work as a commodity, how is it possible to go on creating when one has to provide for oneself and one's family? Levine's book doesn't answer that question (there may be no single answer), but he does an excellent job of showing how we got where we are today.
Jack Palmer
Oct 28, 2014 Jack Palmer rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books
I expected not to like Free Ride. I am certainly interested in the subject matter (I did want to read the book, after all) but in the fight between the pro-tech/anti-tech sides I tend to favor the pro. However, Levine makes a very good argument, which is only let down by an overly dry style and a lack of balance.

Sylvia McNicoll
Aug 19, 2012 Sylvia McNicoll rated it really liked it
Read this to understand how technology companies have eroded the creative careers in order to get cheap and free content for the constantly evolving guizmos they sell. Corporations like to have patents for their programs and equipment, just not for music, books, articles and photos. Governments seem to side with big business. Easy to get depressed and throw your Ipad across the room.
Daniel Vidal
Muy buen título... aunque ajeno a lo en el libro expuesto. Visión parcial, bien documentada pero algo desactualizada e injusta de los momentos de conflicto entre música, cine, libros e Internet. Aporta muy poco/nada en este tema. Y sabe mal haber gastado tiempo y dinero en su lectura.
Jun 24, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it
Helped clarify some issues for me. My buying habits as a consumer are completely dissonant from my preferences as a writer.
Apr 14, 2012 Lynn rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Terrible writing and a spurious argument. What more do I need for permission to move on to the next book on my long list?
I'm still gathering my thoughts on this one, and have a lunch meeting with the author, Rob Levine, planned for tomorrow. I'll write something up after!
May 11, 2015 Nathanael rated it did not like it
The book was well-researched, but unfortunately let down by the author having an axe to grind. He spent far too much of the book in diatribes, which made it a rather tiresome read.
Nico Macdonald
Financial Times review by James Crabtree:
Tom McMeekin
Tom McMeekin rated it did not like it
Jan 06, 2013
ZZalgern0n rated it it was amazing
Jan 21, 2016
Doubleday  Books
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