Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity” as Want to Read:
Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book

Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  2,444 Ratings  ·  199 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 May 10th 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Free Culture, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Free Culture

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Alfaniel Aldavan
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 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.)
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Ahmed Omer
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lis, nonfiction
Free Culture is an incredibly compelling read about the current state of copyright laws, intellectual property, and creative culture in the United States. Lawrence Lessig does a great job of showing how the intellectual property fundamentalism that many take for granted right now -- the idea that creators should have absolute control over their ideas in perpetuity -- isn't actually on track with our legal tradition, which favors a more balanced approach that limits intellectual property rights t ...more
Jun 25, 2017 added it
Shelves: insightful
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 prop
Robin Hartanto
Mar 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Carly McKenna
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
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
Dec 12, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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,
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 ...more
Dec 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, law, technology
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.
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 cas
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
IMPORTANT: This book is free to read online, yet I bought a paperback. Reason? An ebook can never give the same convenience and feel a printed copy gives. This book is a living proof that giving away something for free or sharing something actually boosts the sale of it. I read few chapters online and then I purchased this book.

Though I am not a fan of "Intellectual Property Rights", I enjoyed this book a lot. The author tries to strike a balance (which he very well does) between the rights of t
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Okay, so obviously I am on an IP law and policy kick right now, but these are all genuinely readable and entertaining. I am 13 years late to the party on this one, but it is a very good book, and still relevant. I can see why Lessig became The Guy in this area. While in some ways it is depressing that we have made so little headway in terms of sensible IP policy since 2004, it is interesting to see the ways markets and technologies have changed since then. This book also provides a very clear pi ...more
Caden Mccann
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book. Lawrence Lessig came onto my radar after his run in the most recent Democratic primaries, and reading more about him made me interested in exploring his work. This book really challenged my assumptions about copyright, showing me how stringent copyright laws aren't necessarily a good thing and can lead to less fertile ground for creativity and innovation. I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking for an engagingly written lay book on legal issues relatin ...more
So the copy of the edition in the possession of this reviewer has 345 pages: it is a previously owned copy that comes with some highlights and annotations, so there may be a little more to say about this text 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.
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I definitely recommend this book to everyone interested in public domain and the concept of free culture. The book is full of interesting and unbelievable stories and even though it talks a lot about the law, it's easily understood as the author has explained everything quite well.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Though a bit out-dated in terms of technology and the architecture of access behind it, this still presents a great introduction to how copyright online and copyright in real life is fragmented and broken.

I would love for Dr. Lessig to update this book!
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Exquisite read
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Vincent Li
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was hesitant at first to read this book because it was published more than a decade ago (in 2004). Some of the age shows; Lessig spends a paragraph explaining the new fangled conception of a "blog" and remarks with surprise that the Japanese are streaming mp3s through their cell phones. I'm glad I pushed through and finished the book, it was worth all the dated references. I learned a lot about intellectual property, and came across arguments that are original and relevant even 12 years later. ...more
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pada saya sedang membacanya, dan orang di sekitar saya melihat judulnya, yang mereka bayangkan adalah budaya bebas yg urak-urakan dan hedonisme.... Inilah efek jika tidak membaca sub judul dari sebuah buku hasil terjemahan :-D

Buku ini saya dapatkan gratis dari tim Creative Commons Indonesia (terima kasih banyak). Saya mengenal konsep Creative Commons, sebagai alternatif dari sistem hak cipta (copyright), saat mulai sering membaca blog BoingBoing dengan pentolannya Corry Doctorow. Lalu saya mulai
Another great read (a Creative Commons licensed read!) by free culture advocate and IP lawyer, Lawrence Lessig. As he does often, he does not come out against Copyright, as the media would have you believe. Instead he talks about how antiquated and abused Copyright extensions are greatly limited the culture of society for the benefit of a few companies.

The best part of the book is when he discusses his Supreme Court case in which he tried to show the Justices how Congress is acting outside of th
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future
  • Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity
  • The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind
  • Freedom of Expression: Resistance and Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property
  • The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
  • Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays
  • Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates
  • Digital Copyright: Protecting Intellectual Property on the Internet
  • The Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism
  • The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It
  • Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars
  • Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide
  • Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership
  • The Social Life of Information
  • Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences
  • We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People
  • The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet
  • Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
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 about Lawrence Lessig

Nonfiction Deals

  • Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
    $15.99 $3.99
  • The Monster of Florence
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob
    $9.99 $1.99
  • April 1865 (P.S.)
    $11.74 $1.99
  • Jesus Is ______: Find a New Way to Be Human
    $7.99 $0.99
  • Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Lab 257
    $8.74 $1.99
  • How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Girl in the Woods: A Memoir
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Last Lecture
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
    $12.74 $1.99
  • Not Tonight, Honey: Wait 'Til I'm A Size 6
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Dog Years
    $13.74 $1.99
  • The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology
    $12.99 $2.99
  • An Appetite For Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience
    $27.99 $2.99
  • Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Sex Object
    $9.74 $2.99
  • Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Dakotas)
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Restless: Because You Were Made for More
    $7.49 $1.99
  • Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman
    $10.24 $1.99
  • The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions
    $16.99 $2.99
  • Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
    $13.99 $3.99
  • Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Pukka: The Pup After Merle
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Arctic Dreams
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors
    $19.99 $1.99
  • Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Buddhist Boot Camp
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Flour: A Baker's Collection of Spectacular Recipes
    $21.99 $3.99
  • The Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D-Day
    $12.99 $3.99
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Moving Beyond Words: Essays on Age, Rage, Sex, Power, Money, Muscles: Breaking the Boundaries of Gender
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Do the Work
    $4.99 $1.49
  • The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century
    $4.99 $1.99
  • I Suck at Girls
    $10.74 $1.99
  • The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
    $14.99 $2.99
  • A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives
    $18.99 $1.99
  • Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Peace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now--As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It
    $7.24 $1.99
  • The World's Last Night: And Other Essays
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Life
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society
    $13.24 $2.99
  • Grace, Not Perfection (with Bonus Content): Celebrating Simplicity, Embracing Joy
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Promise and the Dream: The Untold Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. And Robert F. Kennedy
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing Impossible Pain, Finding Incredible Power
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Why We Run: A Natural History
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple
    $12.99 $2.99
“Every generation welcomes the pirates from the last.” 15 likes
“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.” 6 likes
More quotes…