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Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity

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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 such top-down control? To lose our long tradition of free culture, Lawrence Lessig shows us, is to lose our freedom to create, our freedom to build, and, ultimately, our freedom to imagine.

368 pages, Paperback

First published May 10, 2004

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About the author

Lawrence Lessig

64 books463 followers
Lawrence "Larry" Lessig 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 rejoining Harvard, he was a professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of its Center for Internet and Society.

Lessig is a founding board member of Creative Commons, a board member of the Software Freedom Law Center and a former board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 219 reviews
Profile Image for Alfaniel Aldavan.
49 reviews32 followers
October 28, 2013
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 duplicates of a particular review, it can become disrespectful to other members.

If you have any further questions, please let us know.

The Goodreads Team

First, I thank GoodReads for answering at all. Frankly, I absolutely didn't expect an answer any longer. My email was sent over two-three weeks ago.

GoodReads would have a point there, if it wouldn't have removed mark's reviews. My reviews were the first Hydra copy of mark's monday's REMOVED reviews.

"Barrage" with a deleted, non-existent, review?

GoodReads only had to revoke the new policy and its enforcement, and civil disobedience may calm. Though I'm not so sure about trust.

Then, our netizens won't have to salvage them and spread them in response.

Unfortunately, I don't believe GoodReads (or Amazon) is ready to do that.

Past overview

My objections to GoodReads are here:
And then there came the time for non-original reviews.
In short, the phrasing of the review rules implies that they need "original" content from us, because otherwise "it means" plagiarized or using copyrighted material without permission.

The phrasing is bad, the implication false, and the consequences relevant. It's the copyright misconceptions, yielded by corporations to insinuate against free sharing, that are wrong, chilling, and concerning.

Thank you for the apology, but it's misdirected. I just don't think that it's me you should apologize to. It's this lively, well read and opinionated community of readers, from whom you asked for all rights over their work, until you used that power, to strike down free speech, and chill it in this place probably for ever.

Free Culture is about Free Speech.

Reviewing is a creative activity. Reviews are creative work. And creativity lives and breaths only in a free speech environment.

Strike down the essential freedom of the act of writing, and people will revolt, will go in the background, will go elsewhere, but essentially, they will resist you. They're the authors of their expressions of ideas, GoodReads. It's only up to them and their peers to read, to write, to review and to judge. To figure out a way to communicate their thoughts in a socially acceptable norm of a sub-community, yes; but up to them.

Not to corporate power.

Creative Commons

This book is the book of a revolution, in the history and philosophy of intellectual property. Apart from writing well, Lawrence Lessig is a lawyer, but I will forgive him for that.

This book is about many things, internet, copyright, sharing, creativity, money, peer-to-peer, piracy, publishing, community. It's The Dispossessed in intellectual property, but, it keeps copyright and respects authorship. I don't remember all the things that this book is really about. I've read it and I've internalized it years ago, and I live in its world.

That's just me, though. Lets look at GoodReads.

GoodReads is today a 20+ million members site focused on readers, writers, books. Its mission was to be a "site for readers", a site where people were free to write reviews for books or to use the book as a starting point for their own thoughts, freely flowing.

When the iron fist stroke down, many people objected. But things went as you'd expect: first they came after YA reviewers, as BirdBrian remarked at the time. Then, in only a few weeks, they came after "off topic" reviews, after reviews on GoodReads/Amazon, reviews on pull to published books. And "not original" reviews.

The Hydra movement kept the content online.

What does that have to do with Creative Commons?

Manny's Hydra initial review and comments essentially amounts to a license to reshare the content freely. It's not drafted as one; but it is one. This wide permission to reshare the content freely, is what made possible for us, otherwise careful not to infringe or simply to upset, to keep the content online.

It gave the necessary rights to reshare the content to the community. And they kept it, when the original copy was struck down. In the commons of the creative work.

I heard someone recently say that GR is wrong to delete because "it destroys the creative work". Mmm, yes, indeed, but only if the creative work is under copyright restrictions. Only then, if the unique copy is destroyed, it may mean the work is lost, destroyed, something essential taken from it. Otherwise, it's just a copy; the original, yes, but just a digital copy, which is so easy today to make. A click and save and upload under another site or account.

Copyright restriction on sharing is the default (in copyright law), and is the heaven of corporations. They like it that way. We have not.

It enables their control through controlling access to that unique copy (or almost unique) we offered them for free. But if the work belongs to the community commons instead, if the community has the rights to share it at their will, then when the corporation censors, someone else can keep it alive.

If only they care about that content, they'll do it. And GR community cares.

Creative Commons, part 2

Creative Commons licenses were drafted by Lawrence Lessig and other founders of the organization with the same name. The licenses work on the copyright law: you keep your copyright over your work, your legal and moral right to be always recognized as author of your work, and you allow a limited right to share the content, to everyone, under certain conditions.

Creative Commons licenses are the Hydra in legalese. Only, Hydra is also a call for help. To which people answered.

People here are intelligent, GoodReads. They don't need rules to tell them what they are "allowed to" post, from the corporate power. You could stop striking down reviews not of your liking, and ask nicely instead. I bet no one wants duplicates in normal circumstances on the book page, but who cares; we all know that justification is just smoke, to fog the protests.

Talk about the author behavior
(I'm trying to help, GR)

Lessig is a radical, on copyright law and its philosophy. I don't think I am; I don't really want to change copyright law itself, but its interpretation in public perception. The problem, to me, is not that much what corporations can do (in law), is what we fear they can do. But the issue is twofold: law is not set in stone (in particular in legal systems based on jurisprudence). It matters what is the overall perception or understanding on a situation. It matters if we care and speak up. Or take it for granted and live with it. In other words: if we let ourselves convinced that they have a "right", they might get it.

This is why I've spoken up against "non original reviews", and the bad phrasing.

In a discussion on a public mailing list, a lawyer explained their take on possibly over-reaching terms: in their job, they had to decide which is the safest route for their employer. And sometimes, the safest route was to accept tacitly that the (not wanted) terms might have a chance. Like when you know that your neighbor put their garden wall a meter in your yard, but we let them, to avoid a fight. The problem is that in time, everyone will get used to it, and it will become theirs.

That image stuck with me. This is my concern with the bad phrasing. And with the chilling effect of the assumptions and indifference.

That's why I spoke up on that one. Yet, GR answered me in private, but did not fix their review guidelines. But that was a small thing.

I said this will be about author behavior. Here's a better one: the past years he left copyright work and Creative Commons, and entered politics. How boring is that. But he seemed to believe that for the law to change, he has to fight the corruption in politics first. He may be right.

"Freedom works best at a point of a bayonet" (Amazon)

I read something fun:
Record Label picks a fight over copyright with the wrong guy.

This record label sent take down notices and threats for a short fragment used by Lessig in a video, "without their permission". Of course it should be fair use, and it didn't need written permission.

The problem is the fear, uncertainty and doubt, created by over-reaching claims on their apparent rights. They just didn't realize they did it to an intellectual property expert!

Now, lets take a look at this Amazon job ad.
We like to think of our forums as a Free-Speech Zone. And freedom works best at the point of a bayonet – or a “Delete Post” button

Very telling.

You may know we're working to put together the book documenting the GoodReads community protests, The Goodreads Censorship Debacle, take 2. We're working on and collecting existing reviews for it.

I thought about writing a critique of this ad, and reproduction of the whole text for it, in a review (maybe for the book, maybe only on my blog, same thing). However, people wonder, can it be reproduced as fair use, or will it infringe Amazon's copyright?

There are only two paragraphs of text; the first is only three lines. The text is not exactly "original" like a poetry or actual artistic expression. We don't aim for actual profit from the book.

I'm no lawyer. I read US copyright law and the Berne convention, but I don't know what lawyers can make of it. I *think* reproduction of both paragraphs, in a critical context, should qualify as fair use.
But, I'm John Doe, a dog on the internet. Can I have Amazon lawyers all over, pissed off by the very freedom to share that critique; with infringement claims, even if it's not infringing?

I'm sorry. I will not make any submission that criticizes both paragraphs of the Amazon ad. Not this one, and not this time.

But, @Lessig: kick those guys butt. And welcome back!
It's getting chilling down here, at the point of a bayonet.

Power through copyright

Copyright accumulation is power. Monopoly kind. GR/Amazon has the rights to do with your content what none of the members of the community possibly can. That's a position of power.

To summarize, GoodReads/Amazon owns your work, by holding almost all sub-rights of copyright over all members creative content and library work, and, more importantly, under no conditions for them to respect. Not even recognize your authorship.

The GR ToU is a unilaterally drafted agreement, where they say "all your rights are belong to us; we only leave you copyright itself [actually I don't think they can hold copyright in lack of a *signed* agreement, but they're not telling you that!]. We can sell, copy partially or fully, edit, remove, make derivatives of your work in any medium, we can publish it, sublicense it to anyone we please, and we don't even have to attribute you in exchange. We can also change our terms at any time, and it's your responsibility to dream *cough* find out about it, otherwise zap".

There are thousands and thousands of edits to the book database contributed by the community, which we have no right to use elsewhere, because GoodReads forbids our own access to it. They call it "GoodReads data", and keep it under very restricted walls, their API terms of use. The book database has been built almost like wikipedia, except that the work has been added to GoodReads' "property", and not open licensed.
The library of all books of the planet should be like wikipedia. Built by the community, but also freely shared with the community. It's not here.

Copyright accumulation is power, and it's an unnecessary power. Companies could live and make profit with much more limited rights on intellectual property, and thereby less power to chill creativity and fairness. They could make money by providing a good service, by being best at what they offer, in a level playing field competition environment. Instead, they entertain the illusion that they need to build themselves a monopoly (of which copyright is central), from your work for free.

A level playing field, however, is only there where everyone starts off with rights over their own work. Not over someone else's, 20+ million others, given for free. That's a monopoly using free labor.

It doesn't have to be this way.

My choice

When a site becomes a *controlled* source, and you cut the dissenter from "the" source, the dissenter has no voice to be heard.

Centralize, then cut. The world will hear the speech that passes the filter of corporate interest.

When I share a review from GoodReads, I empower GoodReads. A grain in the sea, a dot over nothing, if you will, but it's there. They gather those grains from everyone.

In time, what happens is that freedom to express oneself becomes a commodity, it will be received for free, or bought, and sold to the bigger one.

What I can do, is ignore the problem, boycott them, or share to everyone, not only one. Empower the community instead.

Open Source and Creative Commons

Nothing is [only] yours. It is to use. It is to share. If you will not share it, you cannot use it.
(Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed)

A software or content commons is not exactly Le Guin's anarchy, but it is realistic today and necessary. It's the community-based answer to monopolies. On intellectual property, free/open sharing is a middle ground between "all rights reserved" and "give up all rights": "Some rights reserved" . You keep your copyright, and you allow others to share your work perpetually, subject to certain conditions, such as, to attribute you fairly, to share alike at their turn, to use or not use your work in the commercial field.

Free Culture has been the answer of the GoodReads community to corporate enforcement. Because free culture is about Freedom, about Free Speech, first and foremost, and only additionally it's also free as in beer.

I believe that there is no way any longer, to break or stop the GoodReads/Amazon monopoly. I can use and do use anything short/medium term, but none owned by a company, no BookLikes or the like, is the answer on long term. They can be bought out.

We have to answer it by creating a new place on the internet for this community, a place where software and content belong to it from the start. A place no one can take away from us.

We have to base it on the principles of freedom, and recognition, and sharing. There are great software libraries out there to help, there are open protocols drafted and implemented. There are already thousands and thousands of people and projects, in community based environments, who work to take internet back from corporations. Book lovers do not have one. Not one both social based and book based, as GoodReads seemed to have been. But we can do it, and, I believe, we must.

The internet was for sharing, until it became private yard.

We have to bring back to people. It may take an year, it may take three. But, I believe, we have to be on our watch for control through copyright. Any commercial venue may be part of it or benefit from the project, except those who try to use copyright to turn our commons itself, software, content, books data, into an "owned property".

I believe it's possible, and I believe people can do it. I know I do. It has to use only free and open licensing for code, open protocols and standards for communication and APIs, decentralized architecture, creative commons for content around the project, perhaps non-commercial so that authors can commercialize it through other venues. For content, it seems ok to me. For software, I would not involve with any but free/open licensed work. With any of them, but only them.

My preferred license, as a software developer, is one I've seen drafted in a software hub by a lawyer (!), copyleft-next. It's in the works, drafted with copyright control in mind. It strikes it down, it kills its incentives for the commons. It plays nice with any open license and yet, it uses the history of open licensing to detect the real loophole and close it, in the best way possible under the current copyright law: the commons can't be bought out.

Seriously. By killing the way to copyright control. It's a simple and easy going license on other issues, but the commons of the work contributed for free belongs to the community and stays that way.
On the other hand, in my opinion, the real loophole... is more a mentality matter than a legal matter, and it stems from fear, uncertainty and doubt, spread by big media corporations, that enables ownership over the commons to insinuate. But I digress again. That's for another review, off-topic as usual on GoodReads, and it's just my preference; any open license works.

Free as in Freedom

Lawyers. You'd say, who needs them. Well, actually we do. We need those dedicated lawyers who have given their time to draft good licenses, documentation and legal frameworks, who counsel and draft and put themselves in line, for our projects fighting to rebuild the freedom on the internet.

Lawyers dedicated to freedom, as in free speech, and free culture, and free software. Not always as in free beer, but I'll drink one now for them.

Now, it's up to us. I'm in.

Creative Commons License
This work by Alfaniel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Profile Image for Carly.
48 reviews6 followers
March 3, 2013
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 copyright law. Using some fascinating (and very clever) examples, Lessig reveals the way in which many of our current media industries were established through what we would now call "piracy". He draws our attention not only to a history of "borrowing", but also to a legal tradition that endorsed it because of the cultural benefits.

Why, then, are today's technological innovators the target of such harsh infringement penalties? Lessig eloquently argues that copyright law protects our existing media industries from potential competitors. Ultimately, copyright has come to serve the interests of powerful industries at the expense of our creative culture. This stifling of creativity, as a result of vested interests, is Lessig's fundamental concern- and it should be ours.

Free Culture is not anti-copyright, nor does it advocate a "no rights reserved" culture. It does, however, make a compelling case for reform that cuts unnecessarily long and restrictive copyright terms. Lessig ultimately proposes a balance that recognises the rights of yesterday's creators without restricting the creative freedom of today's innovators.

This book was thoroughly engaging and incredibly informative. But most significantly, it encouraged me to re-evaluate assumptions about intellectual property that I had taken for granted and accepted as fact.
Profile Image for Melissa.
802 reviews
June 5, 2017
I really got wrapped up in Lessig's ideas while reading this book, in fact getting so passionate about fighting our 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.)
Profile Image for Emily.
44 reviews16 followers
February 9, 2022
a solid take + insight into early 2000s ~ internet ~ thinking, and not to be that "there's always a crypto angle" person, but I definitely see some parallels:
- striving for a free culture that supports and protects creators and innovators, as opposed to a permission culture (IP in the 2000s vs. tech platforms now?)
- piracy of the tangible (stealing CDs) vs. piracy of the intangible (using p2p sharing for media files) reminds me of the creation of digital artificial scarcity in crypto; treating all digital assets as property
- argument for formalities, but alongside a system that incentivizes the minimization of the burden of these formalities (marking copyrighted work, registering copyrights, renewing the claim to c copyright)
- the question isn't how to regulate the internet to eliminate file sharing, because the internet will evolve that problem away (true). the real question is how to ensure that artists get paid, as we transition from 20th century business models -> 21st century technologies (like, everything about the Creator Economy™ lol)

I did feel like there was too much of an individual focus, e.g. "if I argued the case better in front of the Supreme Court then maybe we would have won," instead of analysis of the larger political systems that led to this in the first place. but good time capsule into the 2000s regardless! technological progress is wild
Profile Image for Chad.
273 reviews18 followers
December 1, 2020
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 Drahos' text Information Feudalism, which makes the disappointment even sharper, given that the greatest value of Free Culture seems to be his recounting of examples and observations of the problems of an "intellectual property" restrictive culture gone wildly out of control. That's basically the same thing as roughly half the primary value of Information Feudalism but, even with that earlier book to inspire and guide him, Lessig's treatment of that subject matter falls well short of the bar set by Drahos' book.

My favorite way to define cynic is "an idealist who learns from experience", which I think describes me pretty well. Lessig appears to be an idealist who does not learn from experience, whose biases stand in the way of really examining where he stands and what he thinks in a meaningful manner, and finding new insights. Even his direct explanation of his experience taking a case to the US Supreme Court, and learning important lessons from his failure there, does not really seem to indicate he learned anything worthwhile. He seems to have only learned new ways to make excuses for the naive ideological biases he carries with him about the law, the common platitudes about the relationship between copyright and starving artists, and other inanities. He's a lawyer, of course, and a law professor, and probably cannot continue working in that field as he does now without adhering to those unquestioned biases of his -- but that is not an acceptable excuse for his willful ignorance when he then tries to indoctrinate others with the same notions.

Throughout the book, he spends a great deal of time explaining how our restrictive copyright culture in the US is destroying pretty much all the rest of our culture, and touches on similar problems in other parts of the world in passing. He stresses his desire to take a "middle path" between the "copyright warriors" (those who support locking down our culture as a set of properties controlled by a tiny minority of corporate interests) and the "anarchists" (those who wish to abolish copyright altogether). His entire argument seems to rest on tradition and some hand-wavy notions about how the law is all about "balance". He manages to subtly miscast the state of "copyright" before there was copyright as we would recognize it today, suggesting that before the beginnings of the current copyright regime all the world of culture was somehow owned in perpetuity with no way for anyone to expand upon what came before, which is patently ludicrous nonsense, though I don't think he does this maliciously.

In the process of portraying the controversy over the state of copyright as a war between extremes, both of which are (he claims) horribly wrong, he manages to make the copyright abolitionists look like cackling villains who would reduce all the world to dust, rot, and stagnation, a blasted post-apocalyptic wasteland in the realm of culture, by saying almost nothing about them apart from his strident claims he is not among them. He even goes so far as to say that if the only choice was between the extremes he describes he would choose the route of absolute, perpetual, multinational corporate control of all culture.

In the midst of all this, he utterly fails to make any meaningful argument at all that copyright abolition, or even a less restrictive copyright regime than he proposes, would cause any actual harm at all. He states that great harm would be caused, several times, especially when he makes sudden (and strangely inappropriate) apologies for having the temerity to oppose corporate market domination even a little, but the statements come with precisely zero supporting argument. In fact, by implication, many of his examples of how to improve things by reducing the autocratic control of culture would serve exceedingly well to strongly support copyright abolition.

You may believe you have strong arguments supporting his view, or even the view of the corporate monopolists, and that's fine. If you do, you should share them. If you believe that Lessig arrives at the correct conclusions, you should support his causes. None of that, however, should blind you to the fact that his efforts to make his case are woefully inadequate in at least some areas, to the fact that his ability to construct a coherent justification is terribly deficient and in some ways even counterproductive, or to the fact that he is a naively biased ideologue with the apparent rationality of a typical Jerry Springer guest, if this book is the sole indication of such characteristics.

If copyright abolition is zero on the scale of positions in this controversial area, Lessig's position is three, and absolute, perpetual, universal corporate monopoly is five, I could construct a stronger argument for any position between zero and five -- including Lessig's own position -- in terms of underlying justifications, consistency, coherence, and logical validity, in probably about three thousand words, than Lessig did in more than three hundred pages.

Don't make the mistake I made, if you must read Free Culture: don't pay for this book or get someone else to buy it for you as a birthday or Christmas gift. Download it for free. It is available under a Creative Commons license for free download and distribution. That way you don't waste paper, money, or space on a book that may generously be described as barely rising to the level of mediocrity.

note: I find it ironic, having read this book, that Lessig expresses awareness of the burdens of intricate, finicky, and often unpredictable copyright law as one of the biggest problems facing creative people today, then goes on to (co-)author and champion a bunch of licenses (the Creative Commons licenses) that -- apart from the CC0 license -- impose significant legal compliance burdens on licensees. Even the CC-BY (attribution) license, supposedly requiring nothing more than giving attribution to the copyright holder when modifying, deriving from, displaying/performing, and/or distributing a work, contains complex legalities that create shadowy little nooks and crannies that can trip up a licensee as well as a plague of license incompatibilities, and even contains some little-known restrictions that are not represented in the "human readable summary" of the license propagated by the Creative Commons organization (such as the technology restriction clause). Lessig manages to contradict himself or undermine his own arguments at every turn, and often develops supposed solutions that create many of the same problems he purports to solve.
136 reviews
June 5, 2012
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 arguing the Eldred case (copyright term extension) before the Supreme Court. I agree with Lessig that the case was wrongly decided—the Copyright Term Extension Act is not only bad policy, but unconstitutional as well. (I acknowledge that plausible arguments can be made to the contrary regarding the constitutional issue, but I don't find them convincing). Overall, central message is that powerful and narrow interest groups have purchased today's copyright law and that we should be angry about it. I agree.
Profile Image for Jarrodtrainque.
62 reviews2 followers
September 12, 2007
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 such top-down control? To lose our long tradition of free culture, Lawrence Lessig shows us, is to lose our freedom to create, our freedom to build, and, ultimately, our freedom to imagine.
Profile Image for Andrew.
2,024 reviews727 followers
May 20, 2008
I can imagine this being far more helpful to an older person. Being part of a generation that was still pretty young when the Internet came into its own, I found that Lessig's arguments were often so intuitive that I wondered why I was reading. Furthermore, the book lacks any kind of theoretical approach, relying heavily on anecdotal evidence. And the theoretical basis there is is often predicated on a grim free-market approach. However, this might prove informative to someone a bit older, and I think that the ends that Lessig proposes are ultimately valuable.
Profile Image for Hubert.
704 reviews41 followers
July 12, 2022
Strong advocate for enriching and enlarging the public domain of creative works. Lessig feels that the pendulum has swung to far towards property rights, in particular those that favor content and media companies with lots of money to lobby Washington and hire lawyers. Also contains a nice overview of the history of property rights that dates back to medieval England. Presents examples that make the more theoretical legal arguments more tangible for non-legal specialists. A bit dated (pre-music-streaming era) but quality of legal thinking still effective and relevant.
Profile Image for Ahmed Omer.
227 reviews58 followers
September 10, 2016
A fantastic book, could hardly put it down, Lawrence Lessig describes the tension that exists between the concepts of piracy and property and shows us how some companies use the law to protect themselves against the competition, he argues that we are fast becoming a permissions culture.
A very fun book about a wide range of issues in intellectual property and copyrights
67 reviews1 follower
June 17, 2008
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
Profile Image for Peter.
171 reviews
July 9, 2017
So the copy in the possession of this reviewer has 345 pages. It is owned previously and comes with highlights and annotations, so there might be a bit more to say than usual.

Hang on, I might be able to spot a core difficulty before reaching the end of the first full page of printed text on p xiii.

Quoth Prof Lessig on pxiv: "A free culture supports and protects creators and innovators." and the previous owner continues with the highlighter pen "It does this directly by granting intellectual property rights. But it does so indirectly by limiting the reach of those rights, to guarantee that follow-on creators and innovators remain as free as possible from control of the past." [italics quoted].

It may be worth formalising what it is that innovators do that requires the protection of what is described as a free culture which the reader is given to understand further down the same page as being the opposite of permission culture in inverted commas. To the extent that the development and growth of culture requires the consent of a third-party to be bestowed or withheld, to what extent does the conversation about culture turn into one about the nature of privilege? To the extent that intellectual property rights are given as a result of the outcome of these processes, what would their purpose be and what are the responsibilities and duties that may be anticipated to be accompanied by them? To the extent that the culture of the past in Western Civilisation may make reference to facts of history, the complete works of Shakespeare and-or the King James Bible, what are the rights, responsibilities and duties of creators and innovators that may follow on from that? On the same page in text which is not highlighted, what is the significance of the we in general in inverted commas, and how would that relate in particular to the you in inverted commas? What else appears to be relevant in this context, including over on to pxv the concerns and requirements of groups and individuals understood to have particularly pronounced differences of point of view in inverted commas?

Further on pxv, the reader is offered "Indeed, as I reread Stallman's own work, especially the essays in Free Software, Free Society I realize that all of the theoretical insights I develop here are insights Stallman described decades ago." and taking account of three instances of I in the same sentence (there's another one on p242, and there are nine instances of I on p245 and seventeen on p244), to what extent do the we have a material concern (or at least a rhyme and metre conundrum) with this conclusion? Further, "The work of a lawyer is always derivative, and I mean to do nothing more in this book than to remind a culture about a tradition that has always been its own." appears to beg the question or two, to include the extent to which such a comment might induce Philippe Sands to reach for the sensodyne. The reviewer struggles with Prof Lessig's use of queer as verb (e.g. pxvi), and the character of instances of extremism need to be elaborated and understood so that they are not interpreted as meaning maximum-volume-screaming-not-like-me-ism.

The beginning of the introduction considers the difficulties that have presented interpreting rights based on the land extending upwards into the sky, indefinitely. There appears to be a basic weakness in a part of the argument in a part of a judgement offered on p2. The Causbys wanted to complain about low-flying military aircraft whose characteristics the reader understands have harmed their livestock, whereas the judgement appears to make a more general statement about aircraft flying at 36,000 ft which presumably would not induce such damage. Common sense revolts at the idea is placed in inverted commas on pages two and three, and so, what are the difficulties associated with arguments that travel from gut to mouth, by-passing brain and ignoring the interests of the other one(s), over there? The conversations about the handling of matters ob scena need to take place in an appropriate setting at the earliest opportunity. The footnote in the references cites the supreme court judgment, and includes a taking aphid, as well making reference to (via a link which appears to be not one, as the reader is informed that the author had been suggested) Keith Aoki - "(Intellectual) Property and Sovereignty: Notes Toward a Cultural Geography of Authorship" Stanford Law Review 48 1996 pp1293-1355.

It seems from this reviewer's point of view at the moment, that there appears to be a compressed difficulty about the connection between culture and privilege and there appears to be an associated difficulty with the nature of entitlements. On p229 of code version 2.0 , Prof Lessig points out "If you have a resource protected by a liability rule, then I can take that resource as long as I pay a state-determined price. That price may be more or less than you value it. But the point is, I have the right to take that resource, regardless." A basic problem here appears to be the impression is being made that if an individual relatively speaking is very wealthy, or otherwise very well-connected in the social sense, that individual has an entitlement to steal what he or she wants as long as the state puts its value on what is taken. (To what extent is this argument made good at the top of p251, at least to those that relate to the activities of state agents, and how should the activities of non-state agents best be handled and addressed?)

The Aoki paper reviews the contemporary legal difficulties associated with property rights attached to content distributed across cyberspace. It includes reference to a number of relatively thin concepts, e.g. "property", "sovereignty", "intellectual property", "authorship", "globalization", "unbundled", "hardening", "literary works", "private", "public", "map", "representation", "space", "international", "cyberspace" etc., and it may be desirable to attach such markers to suitable buckets into which various instances can be deposited for an assessment of quality, value and the merits of alternative claims, and to support proper rendering processes. From this reviewer's perspective, the basic issue at the beginning and the end of the paper appears to be one of poor availability of decent anchoring processes, and once those can be defined, then the others in between may become easier to handle and address.

Returning now to page three, the previous owner of the book isn't very impressed with 'Their "private interest" would not be allowed to defeat an obvious public gain.' in connection with an implied argument that the Causbys prior use of the land should not take priority over the use of the air over it subsequently by the military jets. The impression being created is that the case was only considering damage to the livestock and not the people of the household: were anchoring arrangements better in this instance, perhaps with a little foresight, there might have been some opportunity to purchase the Causby's property in advance and relocate their farm to a quieter site? The previous owner of the book asks: 'So what about now where the "Disneys" of our generation with their limitless pockets are defeating the public's property?' I shall wish upon a star and think about that one carefully.

On page 7, the reader is informed that Free Culture is not about the internet, but it is about an effect of the internet beyond the internet, namely an effect of how culture is made. The reviewer is on the look out for which effect the author has in mind, and to the extent that the effect is significant, what would be the corresponding principal cause and pathway to the effect Prof Lessig considers. The we is(/are) able, apparently, to distinguish between commercial culture on the one hand, and non-commercial culture on the other: an example of the latter being instances of old men sitting on park benches or street corners telling kids and others stories. The reviewer is mindful of just how fast time seems to fly and is old enough to have been able to read books in the twentieth century. The reviewer is currently separated from his copy of No Logo and isn't sure what Naomi Klein would make of all of this.

Considering commercial culture, which effect makes commercial culture, and to the extent that the primary driver of this process is an institutional requirement to book revenue (see p97, p127), just how much of what sells easily and its opposite should the law deem to be sufficient, who are the principal beneficiaries of these allocations and what are the external goods and bads; why would the we, understood in this context to be those not charged with drafting legislation, wish to map the law? Considering non-commercial culture, there still appears to be a narrative thread missing that connects privileges, duties and entitlements.

To what extent are there structural similarities between culture making and market making? (and making lawyers?! - p304) In the public space, Mr Blankfein points out "I would say that the obligations of the market maker are to make sure your clients are suitable and to make sure they understand it." In this context, what is the it, the thing over there, that je ne sais quoi , that tempting little twitchy-itchy? (and similarly on p146 in 'My point here is to map the change...'?) And would it be possible to elaborate the origins, purposes, and terms of Goldman's licence to make markets? (the issues on p109 need to be handled carefully - to what extent does this answer provide assistance with the handling of theologically non-compliant earlier cases?). Concerning the arguments at the end of p233, the conversations (separate to those relating to copyright) around the extent to which cultural bads provide enabling cover to facilitate third-party mischief need to take place at,in an appropriate time,setting.

On page 8: "At the beginning of our history, and for just about the whole of our tradition, noncommercial culture was essentially unregulated." What assumptions are made here, and for each, to what extent is this statement strictly accurate? And on the same page "The focus of the law was on commercial creativity. At first slightly, then quite extensively, the law protected the incentives of creators by granting them exclusive rights to their creative work, so that they could sell those exclusive rights in a commercial marketplace." Here, the previous owner of the book takes issue "I'm not sure if I agree that the primary purpose of the law was to protect the creators." which seems like fair comment. In the attached footnote, the author points out that the copyright law afforded privacy rights to the copyright holder to prevent the distribution of facts about the holder to third parties, and, at this point, the author references Warren and Brandeis' The Right to Privacy Harv Law Rev 4(5) 1890 pp193-220. The reviewer would wish to highlight:-

"It remains to consider what are the limitations of this right to privacy, and what remedies may be granted for the enforcement of the right. To determine in advance of experience the exact line at which the dignity and convenience of the individual must yield to the demands of the public welfare or of private justice would be a difficult task; but the more general rules are furnished by the legal analogies already developed in the law of slander and libel, and in the law of literary and artistic property.
I. The right to privacy does not prohibit any publication of matter which is of public or general interest."

and to suggest that these issues seem available to go through at,in an appropriate setting (as well as those presenting in Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big to Fail on pp220, 402, 512, 528-9, 541.). The model illustrated at the bottom of p132 appears to be leaning towards a comply or explain framework, and on p135, are there any concerns around regulatory arbitrage? What else may be relevant in this context?

Considering the argument at the end of page 8, and onto page 9, what would the implied entitlements be of culture-forming businesses and artists engaged in them, and what might this imply for modifications sought to trust, competition, labo(u)r and finance law? What else may be relevant in this context (to inc the arguments on pp60-1)?

#aphids - p10, p11, p12, p13, p17, p18, p19, p20, p23, p24, p25, p26, p27, p33, p34, p35, p53, p59, p61, p62, p64, p65, p66, p67, p68, p69, p73, p74, p75, p76, p77, p78, p83, p84, p85, p86, p87, p88, p90, p91, p94, p97, p98, p106, p108, p111, p112, p115, p117, p118, p119, p120, p122, p130, p131, p135, p136, p137, p138, p139, p140, p141, p142, p143, p144, p145, p146, p148, p151, p152, p153, p154, p155, p165, p166, p167, p168, p172, p177, p178, p179, p181, p182, p183, p184, p185, p186, p187, p192, p193, p195, p201, p202, p203, p204, p205, p206, p207, p215, p216, p217, p218, p219, p220, p221, p230, p232, p233, p234, p235, p236, p237, p243, p246, p250, p252, p253, p254, p255, p256, p276, p277, p278, p280, p283, p284, p285, p288, p290, p293, p294, p295, p298, p299, p301, p302, p303, p304

On p11, to what extent is it clear in "[The story that follows] is instead an effort to understand a hopelessly destructive war inspired by the technologies of the Internet but reaching far beyond its code." who the (sponsors of the) belligerent parties are and what their issues, arguments and claims would be?

On p12, "I believe it was right for common sense to revolt against the extremism of the Causbys." appears to be a convoluted declaration.

On p19, to what extent is it clear what the good is in "in our tradition, intellectual property is an instrument. It sets the groundwork for a richly creative society but remains subservient to the value of creativity. The current debate has this turned around. We have become so concerned with protecting the instrument that we are losing the sight of the value."? Once deconvoluted, to what extent does the issue boil down to arguments around the nature of privileges, duties and entitlements? On p24, to what extent might it be feasible to deconvolute creativity into those parts concerned with the presentation of cultural goods in the public domain from the shadow components that would need to be dis-aggregated, handled, addressed and resolved appropriately and properly?

The arguments on pp24-8 appear to contain a rich palette of convoluted symmetries playing the euphemisms at the entangled metaphors: it may be decent to reserve a space to consider Prof Lessig's taste in literature? On p29, concerning "Does anyone believe Shakespeare would be better spread within our culture if there were a central Shakespeare rights clearinghouse that all productions of Shakespeare must appeal to first?", to what extent are the rights to perform Shakepeare as well as the performance itself considered in certain quarters to be commodities? What else appears to be particularly relevant in this context? The issues and arguments on pp36-8, p99, p11o, p117-9, pp122-4, pp124-30, p139 should be addressed in, at an appropriate time/setting; perhaps a dictionary definition of Lessigian is required to describe those on p204.

:-o p85, p88
Profile Image for Artsalnov.
226 reviews3 followers
January 30, 2020
Юристов, написавших книги по правовым вопросам на доступном языке, если честно, давно не встречал.
Лессигом разобра��а масса занятных вопросов о современном состоянии прав на интеллектуальную собственность.
Не сразу было понятно, что автор хочет сказать. Отказаться от авторских прав как таковых?
Что за безумный профессор по конституционному праву может такое предлагать? Что за охреневший теоретик такое может обосновать.
Короче, по началу Лессиг показался каким-то анархистом от юриспруденции. Ан нет! Просто в англо-саксонской системе и континентальной совсем разное понимание копирайта как такового и того, с чем его едят!
В итоге он достаточно стройно выстроил основную идею ограниченного срока действия интеллектуальных прав (типа как это было заложено в тексте конституции отцами-основателями). В целом очень здравый подход, примеры, приведенные с Диснеем, FM-диапазоном радиовещания и самолетами, пролетающими над туевой хучей частных земельных участков зацепили, да.
Про статут Анны и дальнейшую правовую коллизию с книгоиздателями и основной пассаж конституции США на фоне статута Анны вообще прям откровением стало. Занятно.
Наверно, даже стоит рекомендовать сей труд для ознакомления.
Profile Image for Satdeep Gill.
84 reviews5 followers
December 24, 2020
I really like how Lessig has told a history of copyright, with a focus on USA, with the help of interesting stories around it. Like when the planes were built, should it be required for them to require permission before flying over someone's land?
20 reviews
April 30, 2019
Very good book. Does a great job of laying out the issue. Although at some points it went a little off topic and was a kind of unclear, most of the book conveyed the issues in a clear manner. Lessig bring up all the ideas and debates and explains both sides and allows the reader to make the final decision. A fair warning is this is the type of book that will be outdated quickly. It is worth a read
Profile Image for Robin Hartanto.
39 reviews4 followers
March 17, 2012
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 Bebas, ia telah membukakan fakta penting bahwa kebebasan masyarakat dunia sedang terancam. Penemuan teknologi-teknologi baru, terutama internet, merupakan pemicunya. Kemampuan internet untuk memberikan berbagai kemudahan dalam memperoleh dan menyebarluaskan konten di sisi lain telah mendorong para pencetus kebijakan untuk membatasi gerak gagasan di ranah publik, dengan beragam motivasi di baliknya.

Obyek utama yang menjadi sumber pertentangan adalah masalah hak cipta. Pembatasan gerak tersebut sebenarnya bermaksud melindungi karya-karya kreatif terhadap pembajakan ilegal. Namun, Lessig berpendapat bahwa penyebaran karya-karya kreatif yang legal disebarkan di ranah publik turut terkena dampaknya karena yang diserang adalah teknologinya. Lessig menganggapnya sebagai sebuah kekonyolan dengan sebuah argumen sederhana, bahwa pistol tidak dilarang untuk diproduksi dan digunakan walaupun memiliki kemampuan untuk membunuh orang, karena di sisi lain ia berfungsi untuk melindungi diri.

Buku ini menceritakan berbagai kisah-kisah perlawanan terhadap pengekangan kebebasan, yang seringkali berujung pada kekalahan mereka. Dari seorang anak berumur 12 tahun yang tidak berdaya menyerahkan seluruh uangnya karena dituntut melanggar hak cipta, seorang siswa yang juga dituntut karena berinovasi dengan membuat sistem jaringan berbagi di sekolahnya, juga Lessig sendiri yang kalah dalam pengadilan melawan wewenang Kongres untuk memperpanjang hak cipta.

Dan yang terpenting dalam buku ini, Lessig memberikan argumen-argumen mengapa kita harus melawan pembatasan gerak tersebut, yang memiliki dampak berbahaya bagi kreativitas manusia. Walaupun telah berumur delapan tahun, karya yang diterjemahkan oleh KUNCI Cultural Studies Center ini masih sangat relevan untuk dicermati.
Profile Image for Nat Roberts.
34 reviews
August 22, 2021
I don't know how to fairly rate this book. Lessig's writing is clear and cogent. Within the property system as it stands, he lays out a compelling argument for placing limits on copyright. However, Lessig continually writes himself into ideological knots to avoid challenging the concept of private property itself, which leaves this book a frustrating tangle of half-measures. Lessig perpetually declares he is not an anarchist and consistently uses that term derisively, yet his own arguments underscore the oppressive nature of our current system. Lessig seems terrified of an increasingly obvious truth: Private property is inherently oppressive, doubly so when it's applied to the realm of ideas.
I'm glad I read this book and will gladly recommend it to anyone interested in the conservative argument for limiting copyright, however it's only reaffirmed my own commitment to anarchism. Lessig's only goal is to mitigate the ills of capitalism's property system, rather than take the canker by the roots and remove it. As such, his arguments never rise to meet the moment, and instead flounder in the philosophical shallow end. He's clearly possessed of a brilliant mind, but he misdirects his talents by trying to constrain a monster that ought to be slain.
Profile Image for Liv.
88 reviews11 followers
May 2, 2009
I read this book through Dailylit.com, 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 culture movement might be a better idea than not. Creative and scientific works are an attempt at describing realities, even imaginary realities, and through utilizing, modifying, and expanding upon these things, reality is better and more richly defined, understood, and puzzled at. While this certainly isn't a sufficient argument, it is, to me, a compelling one.
Profile Image for Andrew.
130 reviews14 followers
July 9, 2012
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 in recent years as the MPAA and RIAA have lobbied to keep the public domain from growing. Worth reading if you care about the rights of artists and creators, trends in legislating digital media, or just understanding why YouTube videos keep getting taken down for the most absurd reasons, this book is for you.
407 reviews67 followers
May 16, 2017
This is a pretty incredible book. It's about the copyright system and the unique challenges it faces from the internet. The internet is basically one big copying machine, and traditionally it has been very open and unregulated. Yet we have these laws in place to regulate copying, designed specifically for a very different context, in which most content creators have had significant resources, including armies of lawyers.

This clashing of technology with outdated law creates ridiculous situations, such as college kids being bilked out of their life savings because they copied one song from the internet. Individuals can't afford the kinds of law teams that companies can afford, which basically just means individuals are left without justice. A lot of this book revolves around these issues: do we want to live in a permission culture, or a free culture? Do we want to live in a country where only the rich are entitled to justice?

Many people have strong opinions on file sharing, but this book discusses so many subtleties that even the best-informed readers will walk away realizing that the problem is much more complex than they ever imagined. A lot of arguments have to do with property and value, concepts which most people assume is self-evident. This book digs into the very definitions of these words, which have shifted significantly over time. It also talks about various forms of file sharing, some of which is not only harmless, but quite beneficial to content creators.

The concept of property is particularly nebulous when it comes to intellectual property, but even real property can be very subtle. When you buy a plot of land, what exactly is your property? The dirt? How much dirt? A foot? Five feet? What about the air above the dirt? Can people go into your yard as long as they manage not to touch the ground? If not, then how low in the air are they allowed to go before they've invaded your property? These are questions that had to be answered by courts. They ruled that people own everything from the Earth's core to infinite outer space. Which means, when you buy a plot of land, you own entire galaxies. Crazy, right? But it worked, until airplanes were invented, and people started suing airlines for invading their land. Then the courts had to revisit this question.

So, when something is your property, it's not necessarily self-evident what, exactly, you own, or what rights you have. The courts will tell you what it means, and what they decide can change depending on what makes sense in the current environment and latest technologies. The courts have traditionally erred on the side of not protecting old business models from new technologies. Until now. The governmental decisions being made around intellectual property are unprecedented, for the first time siding with protecting entrenched business models. Increasingly, the result, as this book argues, is a permission culture. A system where you must hire a team of lawyers at $400 an hour if you want to create content.

I think a case can be made that copying content is harmless to the creators. Or, at least mostly harmless. It's no more harmful than pressing mute during a commercial break. No one is entitled to an income from their preferred business model, or to be protected from customers using new technologies to subvert their business models. If they can no longer earn money in ways that suited them in the past, it's up to them to find new avenues for earning money, not the customers or the government.

This is a controversial claim, and this book is brilliant in that it doesn't depend on this line of reasoning to make its case. It operates from the premise that, although not equivalent to stealing a physical object, file sharing does create some harm to content creators, and that any solutions we come up with must include some way for creators to earn money in their chosen business model. The end result is a book that should pretty much persuade anyone who reads it, regardless of their position.

One of the biggest arguments this book makes is that the Constitution has stipulated temporary copyright protection for creative works, after which it is to fall into the public domain. Congress has extended the copyright terms several times, basically every time valuable copyrights started reaching their terms. It used to be 14 years, and now it is 96 years. He argues that this is unconstitutional, as there is in effect no limit if Congress can just extend the limit whenever works start to reach it. He took his case to the Supreme Court and lost.

Then he started working on the Eldred Act, his proposal to Congress that should make everyone happy. The idea is, everything gets copyright protection for 50 years. After that, they must pay $1 to extend it. This way, the works that no longer earn an income for the creators can fall into the public domain. Consumers and creators will be welcome to use it without hiring armies of lawyers, while the creators are guaranteed an income for 50 years, or even indefinitely for a nominal fee, and anyone who wants to obtain permission to use works will know who to contact. The RIAA fought this law, presumably because they didn't want to compete with the public domain.

This is just a summary of the biggest highlights I've taken from this book. It is far more persuasive that I can hope to be. It presents a lot of facts most people are unaware of, and presents very careful logic to make its point. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in copyright, intellectual property, and the internet.
Profile Image for Kuba Zalewski.
2 reviews
December 14, 2018
Great book. A must-read for everyone who is at least slightly interested in intellectual property and/or Internet. Although already 14 years old (which in relation to Internet is like a millennium), this book still manages to be an important voice in the dispute over the scope of copyright. By using interesting examples, the author makes the topic interesting and engaging. Although focused on American law, Lawrence Lessig’s book is relevant to European copyright tradition as well, conveying a vision of copyright law that is compatible with my intuition on how the system should look like.
Profile Image for Erica.
55 reviews
May 16, 2017
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.
31 reviews1 follower
September 28, 2007
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.
136 reviews9 followers
March 22, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Myles.
559 reviews29 followers
July 8, 2013
(2.4/5.0) I could steal a review, but then again that probably wouldn't be stealing.
Profile Image for Devastatingwildness.
106 reviews75 followers
October 3, 2020
Lessig evidentemente es un moderado y llega a pasar por alto las trampas autoreplicantes del sistema económico con alguna posible contradicción al final del libro. Propone que se limite el periodo efectivo de protección del copyright de forma que se permita a los creadores tener garantizado un beneficio mientras que esté suficientemente limitado en el tiempo para que la cultura libre o no regulada perviva como ecosistema para la creatividad. Ciertamente el debate está del lado de los dueños del copyright que finalmente son corporaciones que crecieron al amparo de leyes flexibles contra las que luchan ahora para ser más ricos y controlar cada vez más sus derechos de propiedad extendidos en el tiempo y en características idealmente hasta el infinito estrangulando una cultura que dejaría de ser de la libertad y la creatividad para ser una cultura del permiso a los dueños del copyright. Unos dueños que tienen una legislación a su medida porque hicieron lobby para ello financiando a congresistas que luego prolongan los plazos de vencimiento del copyright. Dada la falta de regulación del sistema de copyright automáticamente la obra queda protegida al ser creada sin necesidad de registro o presentar copia de forma que tenemos obras que no sabemos a cuántos creadores pertenece y por tanto cuántos permisos hay que pedir y que no queda constancia en ningún lado. Te queda jugártela a las demandas posteriores o contratar abogados para encontrar a los dueños del copyright y pagar esos permisos o defenderte luego en cortes. Recalcar que la mayor parte del libro se centra en USA y la evolución de su legislación por lo que de país a país puede haber matices. Eso sí, las compañías ya pensaron en esto y se dedicaron a crear sistemas de protección de su copyright creando la Digital Millennium Copyright Act y otros medios para que no solo no puedas perjudicar sus derechos sino que directamente se convirtieran en juez y policía de sus derechos al crear un sistema paralelo que protege a sus medios de protección. ¿Qué? Que no puedo usar software para romper sus medidas de protección del copyright, eso al margen de la ilegalidad de qubrantar el copyright. Y esto no son leyes, yo me lo guiso yo me lo como. Lessing hace propuestas razonables aunque me sigue llevando a preguntar si esto no llevará a consumidores de primera y consumidores de segunda perseguidos por usar la piratería ahora que supuestamente la abundancia de proveedores de contenido digital daría lugar a la competencia entre ellos y a rebajar precios a la vez que pone los contenidos en manos de (casi) cualquier. ¿Y qué pasa con la creatividad? En YouTube tenemos día sí y día también que se bloquean contenidos de obras derivadas y el fair use es una risa como él mismo sabe por su ambigüedad y por estar pensado para hace un siglo. El sistema de CC (Creative Commons) con sus licencias específicas y restringidas, pero que se apoya en el sistema actual de copyright y no va a su contra, me parece interesante aunque no hable de esto aquí. Es interesante la lectura de este libro para pensar la problemática desde una perspectiva más realista en el sentido de los intereses y los actores en juego y su relación con la cultura por parte de un abogado involucrado en toda esta crisis continua (de más de un siglo ya) con las nuevas tecnologías. Aunque por supuesto, creo, se podría pensar en marcos todavía más amplios relacionándolo con el sistema económico y político, las aspiraciones sociales y humanas a largo plazo, etc. Y que podría haber dicho lo mismo en menos páginas eso sí.
Profile Image for Zoe.
77 reviews1 follower
May 30, 2017
Highly recommended!!

It is worth noting that this book was originally written in 2004, which makes it seem to be a little bit outdated on the surface, since the book mainly talks about how the usage of copyright law should be subject to modification at the advent of internet technology age, in order to reduce the cost of law and to enhance the freedom of creativity. However, after 14 years (btw, 14 years is the original copyright term) in 2017, while the technology, or sharing system in this case, experiences constant changing, the copyright law in the United States has not been any ostensible difference. Astonishing as it may sound, songs like Happy Birthday to You and national animation characters like Mickey Mouse are still under the protection of copyright, which means you cannot use them freely for your own creation in reality.

Secondly, this book is actually under Creative Common license, which means you can download a PDF version from the internet legally for free! I borrowed the book from the university library, downloaded a free PDF version, and now I'd really like to buy and keep a hardcopy for myself.

This book is extremely easy to read, and deserve to be read again. Intriguing and fascinating. The author definitely made the logic very clear, even though his suggestions to lawmakers deserve a more through consideration.

I don't remember if I have ever given this degree of compliment to any other books.
Profile Image for Lindsay Hickman.
147 reviews
November 27, 2019
This is a really excellent book, I only wish I had read it sooner! It is a bit dated, focusing a lot on the sharing of music, through platforms like Napster, but it still rings true. One of the most interesting points I thought about this book was how literally every major technological innovation was 'stolen' or 'pirated' off of another from Radio, Television, Film, Computers, etcetera. This book does a deep dive into copyright laws and the usefulness of them, as well as the hinderances they are when developing or inventing new technologies. A great example in the book was near the beginning, but it stuck with me through the entire read. Did you know that Walt Disney 'stole' the idea and music for Mickey Mouse's Steamboat Willie? It is completely true. It was an adaptation of another movie that was popular at the time: Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill. Disney didn't break any laws or rules (because they weren't invented yet) but because of his innovative use of sound and animation we now have the likes of Pixar. The point of the book, I believe is that laws should not stifle innovation, like Walt Disney's, and many laws and major companies today have the power and monopoly to hinder or completely stop it.
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