Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity

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From "the most important thinker on intellectual property in the Internet era" (The New Yorker), a landmark manifesto about the genuine closing of the American mind.

Lawrence Lessig could be called a cultural environmentalist. One of America's most original and influential public intellectuals, his focus is the social dimension of creativity: how creative work builds on the past and how society encourages or inhibits that building with laws and technologies. In his two previous books, Code and The Future of Ideas, Lessig concentrated on the destruction of much of the original promise of the Internet. Now, in Free Culture, he widens his focus to consider the diminishment of the larger public domain of ideas. In this powerful wake-up call he shows how short-sighted interests blind to the long-term damage they're inflicting are poisoning the ecosystem that fosters innovation.

All creative works-books, movies, records, software, and so on-are a compromise between what can be imagined and what is possible-technologically and legally. For more than two hundred years, laws in America have sought a balance between rewarding creativity and allowing the borrowing from which new creativity springs. The original term of copyright set by the Constitution in 1787 was seventeen years. Now it is closer to two hundred. Thomas Jefferson considered protecting the public against overly long monopolies on creative works an essential government role. What did he know that we've forgotten?

Lawrence Lessig shows us that while new technologies always lead to new laws, never before have the big cultural monopolists used the fear created by new technologies, specifically the Internet, to shrink the public domain of ideas, even as the same corporations use the same technologies to control more and more what we can and can't do with culture. As more and more culture becomes digitized, more and more becomes controllable, even as laws are being toughened at the behest of the big media groups. What's at stake is our freedom-freedom to create, freedom to build, and ultimately, freedom to imagine.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JonathanGorman - LibraryThing

The beginning of this book stretches on a little and suffers for Lessig trying to head of objects and arguments that someone who disagrees with him might make against what he's writing. He does though ... Read full review

FREE CULTURE: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity

User Review  - Kirkus

"A free culture, like a free market, is filled with property," writes a copyright expert. But, he adds, extremism in asserting rights in that property can kill a culture.Consider Disney Corp., which ... Read full review

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
Creators
21
Mere Copyists
31
Catalogs
48
Piracy
62
Founders
85
Recorders
95
Collectors
108
Chimera
177
Harms
183
BALANCES
209
CONCLUSION
257
Us Now
276
Them Soon
287
NOTES
307
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
331

Property
116

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About the author (2004)

Lawrence Lessig is a professor at Stanford Law School and the founder of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. The author of The Future of Ideas and Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, he is the chair of the Creative Commons project (www.creativecommons.org). A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge University, and Yale Law School, he has clerked for Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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