Models exist Creative Commons which show what a healthier solution might look like. Lessig provides justification for change and spells out the dangers of continuing along the current trajectory. Highly readable and still quite relevant ten years after publication. Mar 11, Jackie rated it it was amazing.
Every time I pick up a book by him, I am always impressed by Lawrence Lessig's capacity at storytelling. There aren't many people who are simultaneously talented academics and lawyers - expert enough to argue cases before the supreme court - who can also tell stories relevant to their subject in a manner that would be captivating to any audience and at the same time manages to explain technical legal, economic, and philosophical points.
This book by Lessig focuses on recent changes in the legal Every time I pick up a book by him, I am always impressed by Lawrence Lessig's capacity at storytelling. This book by Lessig focuses on recent changes in the legal rules surrounding access to and use of culture and knowledge of various sorts in the US - forms of information and innovation often thought of as "intellectual property.
I can't speak to what this book has to add over Lessig's "Future of Ideas" and "Free Culture," as I've only read pieces of these books and some years ago. Certainly his narrative style in this book lived up to the engaging style of his classic "Code" from a decade ago. I selected to read this over the less recent books on the knowledge economy, as this field changes so quickly that I was interested in his most recent work on the subject.
Having enjoyed this book, I would recommend it highly, as I would his previous works on the topic. The subject of this book - which Lessig dedicates to our country's youth and their need to have the ability to access and build from our intellectual and cultural heritage - became more salient immediately after I completed this book, with the sad suicide of Aaron Schwarz, an incredibly talented 26 year old computer genius and political activist who had been legally persecuted for his efforts to make JSTOR academic research articles available for free to those who do not have membership in elite academic communities.
A fronte d'una problematica di questa portata questo libro, che s'interroga sul "futuro del copyright" non la racconta del tutto giusta. Questo non vuol dire che l'autore sia superficiale. Nel suo sforzo di dare un poco ragione a tutti i partecipanti alla disputa, Lessig ricorda come il diritto di riutilizzare parti della produzione creativa altrui sia sempre stato la ragion d'essere fondamentale della cultura, fin da quando esiste. A iniziare dai linguaggi artistici ed espressivi. L'aspetto economico non era rilevante.
Era una questione di principio ". Del resto, aggiunge Lessing, cosa vogliamo fare, criminalizzare un'intera generazione? Certo, Lessig prende le distanze da chi crede che l'utilizzo della produzione intellettuale dovrebbe essere sempre gratuito. Ma lo fa al tempo stesso anche da chi pensa che non debba esserlo mai. Fa un po' l'effetto di un libro scritto nel per proporre una riforma "equa" del focatico Written in , this book uses classic examples to illustrate how the government needs to lessen the regulations of copyrighting, specifically loosening restrictions on P2P peer-to-peer filesharing.
A good read for those who are interested in government affairs and how it mixes with technology. I hope, though, the author writes a second edition version in the next years, especially with the advent of meme culture and the rapid growth of streaming and viral videos. Dec 06, kthread rated it liked it. Larry Lessig beckons us in his new book, Remix , to think about the future of a generation weaned on pirated media. In his usual elegant style, he clears the bramble around thorny issues of gift economies, fan labor though he doesn't use the term , and what he calls the "Copyright Wars. If you regularly read books in this genre you will recognize many of these examples; accordingly, Lessig works to reinvigorate the Potter Wars anecdo Larry Lessig beckons us in his new book, Remix , to think about the future of a generation weaned on pirated media.
If you regularly read books in this genre you will recognize many of these examples; accordingly, Lessig works to reinvigorate the Potter Wars anecdote by focusing Warner Bros. The young creator network that fought in the Potter War skirmishes are part of Lessig's most interesting argument: The distilled argument begins chapter ninethe chapter that will appear on syllabi and circulate online especially as it's a list, which bodes well for bookmark-sharing site Digg, and a list that ends with decriminalizing filesharing, a topic dear to Digg users and Lessig defines amateur creativity as different from professional creativity.
A silly family video would be the former, the remix artist GirlTalk the latter, and he proposes flipping the model so a site host like YouTube absorbs responsibility for copyright fees in uploaded files instead of the user.
About the author
Think of Clay Shirky's work on cognitive surpus and how he argues it was masked for decades "Did you ever see that episode of Gilligan's Island where they almost get off the island and then Gilligan messes up and then they don't? I saw that one. I saw that one a lot when I was growing up. On page of Remix , he writes "the agreement between media companies, or media companies and artists, are not love letters.
They do not express mutual respect. Respect for the laws governing copyright will work, he suggests, when the laws reflect the current culture read his distinction between thin-sharing and thick-sharing. Without alteration, the regulations will continue to be ignored and this disregard may bleed into other areas of regulation, a dangerous trend for an entire generation.
At an event last night near Los Angeles, Lessig spoke on protecting use of amateur performance and the dangers of read-only societies. And speaking of silly family videos, last week I posted a Thanksgiving dance clip, a Taylor tradition we now share with friends by posting online. As the cruise director of this particular family activity that was destined for YouTube, I made sure we used a remix of a Jackson 5 song, one I like better than the original spun by a Japanese DJ.
We researched the original choreography on YouTube--the head bobs , the spinning Spaceship Earth moves. And instead of dubbing over, I left our voices and the scuffles of our shoes, adding a layer that adds value for the audience of this video: I agree with Lessig that trying to live without the love of amateur remixers in an online world filled with video will be "one long sleepless night. More Lessig on admins exercising judgment on video-sharing sites. Nov 25, Jeffrey rated it liked it. Lessig is a lawyer and law professor who has been at the forefront of questioning copyright controls in the digital age.
He presents a number of ideas about how the internet, crowdsourcing, and artistic remixing are the modalities for economic and cultural development in the 21st century. His primary objective with Remix is to demonstrate why 20th century copyright law and the uncompromising definition of property serves neither company nor consumer in the 21st century. In Lessig's "hybrid" economy consumers are not just consumers, they are empowered to take an active role in shaping and advancing the things they consume.
Images, music, movies, text: This "remixing" is taken on by the very people who formerly just bought such entertainment to be entertained. It is, in some ways, the ultimate triumph of fan fiction just applied to every art form in addition to writing. But Lessig isn't espousing a world where passive consumers simply become more active consumers and the wheels of the free market just fall into the fresher ruts formed by the digital world.
Lessig believes that remix culture is a means by which democracy is enriched and ensured because it honors the way a new generation has learned to "write. It's his definition of writing that is so intriguing: Text is today's Latin. It is through text that we elites communicate. For the masses, however, most information is gathered through other forms of media: TV, film, music, and music video. These forms of "writing" are the vernacular of today.
They are the kinds of "writing" that matters most to most. Like so much in contemporary life, access to more information and more context forces the critical mind to accept broader definitions for previously accepted ideas. At heart, that is a very democratic thing to do. Whether or not you should read Lessig's book depends on your interest in contemporary culture or if you're in the profession of projecting business models into the future. It isn't a difficult text to read but it can be a bit dry and, for those of you who've subscribed to Wired magazine for the past ten years, you might be disappointed by the lack of material that hasn't already been a part of information-age-discourse.
The most salient points in Remix center around the need for an updated approach to copyright law. As this is Lessig's area of expertise, it only makes sense that his best moments are devoted to the ways in which new forms of copyright could benefit both artist and audience. As a founding member of the Creative Commons he has already done much to prove that he practices what he preaches.
The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age A Remix Manifesto , where Lessig provided some much-needed academic rigour to Gaylor's thesis on intellectual property and culture. In that same year, Lessig published Remix: The book serves as an expansion and meticulous delineation of Lessig's thoughts provided in Gaylor's documentary, and it serves not as a call to arms as some have described it but rather as a I was introduced to Lawrence Lessig during Brett Gaylor's documentary RiP!: The book serves as an expansion and meticulous delineation of Lessig's thoughts provided in Gaylor's documentary, and it serves not as a call to arms as some have described it but rather as a careful appeal for social and legal reform of the restrictive intellectual property regime.
The book is divided into three parts: Lessig presents an interesting albeit excessively simplistic at times exposition of the underlying factors driving the cultural clash that took place with the advent of the internet. Whilst it would appear that Lessig is perpetuating the polarisation of the debate, Lessig stresses that 'the evidence promises an extraordinary synthesis' of these two cultures.
He expertly explains how technology has fundamentally changed the manner in which we experience art, juxtaposing the structural differences between LPs and iTunes, for example, and conventional television and Netflix. He makes a convincing case that at the bottom of the debate the question is one of access. Our expectations of access have shifted significantly, whilst industry and political leaders have stayed behind.
Admittedly, I was highly sceptical of Lessig's ability to discuss economics without a specific background in the discipline. It is always disappointing to read misinformed economic analysis that would have benefited from further research. Lessig, however, navigates the topic with great prowess. Again, Lessig writes about balance; about creating hybrid economies in which the legitimate profit-maximising interests of the industry are fulfilled in light of the nuanced requirements of the people who not only consume but also interact with the industry's products.
What is fascinating about this part of the book is how true it rings today, 8 years since publication, particularly in the context of digital disruption and entrepreneurship. Lessig finishes the book in Part III by discussing the ways in which we can enable the cooperation and co-existence of culture and commerce in the future. His legal analysis of intellectual property regulation is second to none, making a fiercely convincing case for law reform. In addition to the law, Lessig also writes about reforming our norms and expectations surrounding the control of culture.
Most striking — considering his curiously silent race for the Democratic nomination — is his comment on the limitations of government regulation. Means are always subject to measure, Lessig writes, leaving for the reader some powerful final thoughts that reverberate to this day. Jul 09, Taylor rated it really liked it Shelves: In this book, Lessig does not challenge that copyright is necessary to provide economic incentive for the creation of new works, but rather argues that copyright law has become outdated due to technological advancement.
His primary concern is that because this activity is so prevalent among the American youth, the outdated copyright law has created a nation of scofflaws. He f In this book, Lessig does not challenge that copyright is necessary to provide economic incentive for the creation of new works, but rather argues that copyright law has become outdated due to technological advancement. He finds it unnecessary to wage a war on piracy, when criminalizing the behavior has failed to deter the action in young people.
The implication is that as young people begin to think of themselves as criminals, they will lose respect for the legal system and for intellectual property. Lessig also argues that the current copyright system harms society by unnecessarily inhibiting creativity, stifling innovation, and missing economic opportunities for copyright holders. He uses computer technology as a metaphor for different types of creative cultures: In an RO culture, products are produced and then consumed.
In a RW culture, creative products are remixed to create further creative products. Lessig asserts that it is possible to not only have a better RO culture, but also a more vibrant RW culture and a flourishing world of hybrids. For instance, he proposes that the law should not allow or require copyright owners to police uses of their works in noncommercial instances.
This, he claims, would enhance RW culture and would end lawsuits, or fear of lawsuits, against users whose use posed no economic threat to the copyright owner. In some instances, this may be highly undesirable for copyright owners, who may not want their creative work exploited, especially if the exploitation caused a work to be overexposed in the marketplace. While the nonprofit use may not have had an immediate negative effect on the market of the original, this overexposure may end up causing economic damages for which the copyright owner had no recourse.
This would be very effective in solving the orphan works problem, and, if all renewals were searchable in a database, would also result in a much clearer system for determining copyright status. As useful as this solution might be, I think it is very unlikely to actually occur, since there has been a lot of money put into litigating for extending copyright durations, not the other way around. At the end of this book Lessig ends with a brief explanation of why our government acts irrational when it comes to copyright, education, war, and a slew of other items.
To paraphrase, he says it's because our kids have less money to give to corporate campaigns than the RIAA, big oil, war profiteers, et al. I posit that if our system was sane right now, Lessig would be one of the top spokesmen for items like the legality of public expression on the net. He would be someone who would often show u At the end of this book Lessig ends with a brief explanation of why our government acts irrational when it comes to copyright, education, war, and a slew of other items. He would be someone who would often show up on outlets like CNN to explain why we need to rethink copyright in an age of the Internet and how it's literally making whole forms of expression illegal for no good reason.
Instead Lessig is a fringe figure that those of us that know about Free Software follow. In the age of the corporate media much of our country is now conditioned to think that copyright, file sharing, and the like is a simple black and white issue when its not. The rational arguments of Lessig, the Free Software movement, Open Source, and others never reach anyone's ears because the corporate media has a definite stance and they have no desire to present the other side.
Art- ists who work with found footage, for example, blatantly reflect on the absorptive logic of the creative process. But I would argue that every work of art comes into being through a similar process, no matter how subtly. No artist works in a vacuum. Every artist reflects— consciously or not— on what has come before and what is happening parallel to his or her practice. As she described to me, these works are based on a pretty simple premise: Rather than creating more images of people who are already overrepresented, rather than literally making another image of a Madonna or a John Lennon, I wanted to reflect on the other side of the equation, on what goes into the making of celebrity.
I realized I needed to turn the camera degrees, away from those who are usually in the public eye—those who already have a strong voice and presence on the screen or stage—towards those on the other side of the screen or stage, the audience members who attend concerts, watch movies, and buy CDs. Towards those who are usually—incorrectly, in my opinion— conceived of as mere absorbers of culture rather than being recog- nized as having the potential to reflect culture creatively.
Prior to Working Class Hero, the similar installations had all been well received. Breitz wrote Yoko Ono to secure that permission. After a couple of months, she received a response from one of Ms. She wanted permission to engage with twenty-five fans singing his music. When Breitz responded with that correction, the lawyer informed her that he had not in fact personally reviewed her proposal. He was simply relaying the fact that Ms. Ono was not willing to grant the rights requested.
Ono wanted to hear more, but she disagreed with the curator about her freedom to make a cover without per- mission. Ono asked to see it in writing. Please note, clearance for the use of the actual musical composi- tions must be secured from the relevant publishers.
Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy
Sony knew this was too much but wanted to set a baseline for the negotiations that would follow. They requested that the artist let them know the largest sum that she could afford. Time, however, was running short. The exhibit was scheduled to open in Newcastle in a matter of weeks. After being pressed, the lawyers agreed to permit the work to be shown at this nonprofit institution without an agreement. They did the same for a non- profit venue in Vienna three months later, but mentioned that Ms. A year after the request was originally made, it had still not been resolved.
Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy
No one seems to have noticed that the value of the time spent dickering over these rights far exceeded any possible licensing fee. A principle was at stake. Gregg Gillis is a twenty-five-year-old biomedical engineer from Pittsburgh. That band has now pro- duced three CDs. Night Ripper, for example, remixes between and samples from artists.
For the defining feature of this mash-up genre is that the samples are remixed without any permission from the original artists. And if you ask any lawyer representing any label in America, he or she would quickly Ono-ize: Indeed, one CD factory had refused even to press the CD. Gillis had begun with music at the age of fifteen. Girl Talk the band was born in late on a Toshiba originally purchased for college.
Gillis loaded the machine with audio tracks and loops. Then, using a program called Audio- Mulch, he would order and remix the tracks to prepare for a perfor- mance. I guess I was a little naive, but at the same time, it was just the world I existed in where you see these things every day.
Gillis knew about this run-in. But as he explained to me in a way that reminded me of the days when I too thought the law was simply justice written nicely, I feel the same exact way now that I felt then. I felt like if someone really had a problem with this then we could stop doing it. That someone would was a prediction too obvious to make. Gillis agrees the problem is going away. But for a very different reason. For the thing that Gillis does well, Gillis explained to me, everyone will soon do.
Everyone, at least, who is passionate about music. Or, at least, everyone passionate about music and under the age of thirty. This appropriation time where any grade-school kid has a copy of Photoshop and can download a picture of George Bush and manipulate his face how they want and send it to their friends.
Well, more and more people have noticed a huge increase in the amount of people who just do remixes of songs. Every single Top 40 hit that comes on the radio, so many young kids are just grabbing it and doing a remix of it. The software is going to become more and more easy to use. Ideas impact data, manipulated and treated and passed along. And, Gillis believes, it is also great for the record industry as well: Treat it more like a game and less like a product. It was about a practice. Or about the practice of this generation. SilviaO is a successful Colombian artist. For a time she was a song- writer and recording star, making CDs to be sold in the normal channels of Colombian pop music.
In the late s, she suffered a tragic personal loss, and took some time away from performing. When she returned to creating music, a close friend and developer for Adobe convinced her to try something different. Suffice it to say for now that the nonprofit provides free copyright licenses to enable artists to mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. About a hundred people, mainly artists and twentysomethings, were gathered in an amphitheater next to the museum. SilviaO spoke in Spanish. A translator sitting next to me carried her words into English.
People were asked to upload tracks. As those tracks got remixed, the new tracks would keep a reference to the old. So you could see, for example, that a certain track was made by remix- ing two other tracks. And you could see that four other people had remixed that track. I was certain she was about to attack remix creativity.
A remixer had totally destroyed the meaning of her contribution. I was certain this was to become a condemnation of the freedom that I had thought we were all there to celebrate. To my extraordinary surprise and obvious relief, however, Sil- viaO had no condemnation to share. She instead described how the experience had totally changed how she thought about creat- ing music. Sure, the words were no longer meaningful. But the sound had taken on new meaning. Since then, she has added song after song to the ccMixter collection. The Creative Commons licenses had shifted the copyright baseline through the voluntary acts of copyright holders.
And for SilviaO, the act of creating had changed. Before, she sat in a studio, crafting work that would be broadcast, one to many. Now she was in a conversation with other artists, providing con- tent they would add to, and adding content back. So there is more freedom. The war is not about new forms of creativity, not about artists making new art.
Congress has not been pushed to criminalize Girl Talk. But every war has its collateral damage. These creators are just one type of collateral damage from this war. The extreme of regula- tion that copyright law has become makes it difficult, and sometimes impossible, for a wide range of creativity that any free society—if it thought about it for just a second—would allow to exist, legally. Collateral damage is the focus of this book. I want to put a spotlight on the stuff no one wants to kill—the most interesting, the very best of what these new technologies make possible.
If the war simply ended tomorrow, what forms of creativity could we expect? What good could we realize, and encourage, and learn from? What does it do to them? What do they then do to us? I answer these questions by drawing a map of the change in what we could call cultures of creativity.
That map begins at the turn of the last century. It is painted with fears from then about what our culture was becoming. Most of those fears proved correct. But they help us understand why much of what we seem to fear today is nothing to fear at all. We should celebrate that return, and the prosper- ity it promises. We should use it as a reason to reform the rules that render criminal most of what your kids do with their computers. Most of all, we should learn something from it—about us, and about the nature of creativity.
John Philip Sousa was a critic of the then relatively lax United States copyright system. This mix of protections was crafted by Congress to reward artists for their creativity by cre- ating incentives for artists to produce great new work. With these new technologies, and for the first time in history, a musical composition could be turned into a form that a machine could play—the player piano, for example, or a phonograph.
Once encoded, copies of this new musical work could be duplicated at a very low cost. For the first time in human history, with a player piano or a pho- nograph, ordinary citizens could access a wide range of music on demand. This was a power only kings had had before. Now every- one with an Edison or an Aeolian was a king. This angered many composers. Some, such as Sousa, resolved to do something about it. His trip to Capitol Hill was just one part of his extensive and ulti- mately successful campaign. It is instead a point that may have been obvious to him, then, but that has largely been for- gotten by us, now.
When I was a boy. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cords will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape. We would become just consumers of culture, not also producers. We would become practiced in selecting what we wanted to hear, but not practiced in producing stuff for others to hear.
Instead, his fear was that culture would become less democratic: Culture would become the product of an elite, even if this elite, this cultural monarchy, was still beloved by the people. Indeed, he believed this change was already happening. I was in one of the biggest yacht harbors of the world, and I did not hear a voice the whole summer. Every yacht had a gramophone, a phonograph, an Aeolian, or something of the kind. They were playing Sousa marches, and that was all right, as to the artistic side of it, but they were not paying for them, and, furthermore, they were not helping the technical development of music.
This wide love for the art springs from the singing school, secu- lar or sacred; from the village band, and from the study of those instruments that are nearest the people. There are more pia- nos, violins, guitars, mandolins, and banjos among the working classes of America than in all the rest of the world, and the pres- ence of these instruments in the homes has given employment to enormous numbers of teachers who have patiently taught the children and inculcated a love for music throughout the various communities. The child becomes indifferent to practice, for when music can be heard in the homes without the labor of study and close applica- tion, and without the slow process of acquiring a technique, it will be simply a question of time when the amateur disappears entirely.
Sousa was romanticizing culture in a way that might remind the student of American history of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson roman- ticized the yeoman farmer. But his repul- sion would have little to do with the efficiency of food production, or even the quality of the food produced. Instead, he would object to the effect of this change on our democracy. Jefferson believed that the ethic of a yeoman farmer—one practiced in the discipline of creating according to an economy of discipline, as any farmer on the edge of civilization in eighteenth-century America would—was critical to democratic self-governance.
Yeoman self-sufficiency was thus not a virtue because it was an efficient way to make food. Yeo- man self-sufficiency was a virtue because of what it did to the self, and in turn, what it did to democratic society, the union of many individual selves. His fear was not that culture, or the actual quality of the music produced in a culture, would be less. His fear was that people would be less connected to, and hence practiced in, creating that culture.
Amateurism, to this professional, was a virtue—not because it produced great music, but because it produced a musical culture: If you want to respect Yo-Yo Ma, try playing a cello. If you want to understand how great great music is, try performing it with a collection of amateurs. This reading, however, is not enough. The fear was not absolute: RW creativity would become less significant; RO culture, more. Never before in the history of human culture had the production of culture been as profession- alized. Never before had its production become as concentrated.
At first, these tokens were physical—player-piano rolls, then quickly phonographs. In , , phono- graphs were produced in the United States. Record sales in were more than 27 million. In , fewer than , The cycle then continued. The twentieth century was thus a time of a happy competition among RO technologies. Each cycle produced a better technology; each better technology was soon bested by something else.
By the turn of the twenty-first century, this competition had produced extraordinary access to a wide range of culture. Never before had so much been available to so many. It also produced an enormously valuable industry for the American economy and oth- ers. Copyright industries had an annual employment growth rate of 3. It had built super- stars who spoke powerfully to millions. For there was a second aspect to the culture that Sousa described that we should also notice here.
This was the relation- ship between culture and the particular form through which we regulate culture—copyright law. It was about the limits on that regulation. For his time, Sousa was a copyright extremist. He had come to Washington to push for what was perceived by many to be a radical increase in the reach of copyright.
The push was opposed by many in the business world and many antiregulation idealists. That limit got revealed midway through his testimony. Since the time you speak of, when they used to be singing in the streets. Is not that so? No, sir; you could always do it. Any public performance is prohibited, is it not, by that law? You would not call that a public performance. But any public performance is prohibited by the law of ? Not that I know of at all. I have never known that it was unlawful to get together and sing.
And anyway, Currier was not being seri- ous. He was not a copyright extremist. Indeed, quite the opposite. Even for this extremist, copy- right law had a limit. Keep these two ideas in mind as we turn to the argument that follows: In the balance of this book, my hope is to revive these two Sousarian sensibilities. As we look back at our history, the domi- nance of the radically different culture and the culture of regu- lating culture of the last forty years is likely to obscure the view of a much longer tradition that lived before it.
That much longer tradition has value for us today. For the conditions that made its best part possible are now returning. And ironically for Mr. And if permitted by the industries that now dominate the produc- tion of culture and that exercise enormous control over Congress, which regulates that culture , they could also encourage an enor- mous growth in economic opportunity for both the professional and the amateur, and for all those who benefit from both forms of creativity. Whoever wins, the other must lose. This simple framing creates a profound confusion.
- Tomorrows Ulterior Motives (Yaoi Manga / Graphic Novel).
- Urging the Government of Romania to provide equitable, prompt, and fair restitution to the Romanian Greek Catholic Church.
- Practical Tips for Teaching Assistants;
- The Right Hand of God;
- The Design of Things to Come: How Ordinary People Create Extraordinary Products (paperback).
For there need be no trade-off between the past and the future. Instead, all the evidence promises an extraordinary synthesis of the past and the present to create a phenomenally more prosperous future. This future need not be either less RO or more RW: And much more interesting to those focused on the economy, at least , this future could see the emergence of a form of economic enterprise that has been relatively rare in our past, but that prom- ises extraordinary economic opportunity: I start with what simply continues the twentieth century—a story of how the Internet extends RO culture beyond the unavoidable limits of twentieth-century technology.
I then show just how the same technologies that encourage RO culture could also encour- age the revival of the RW creativity that Sousa celebrated. All three changes, if allowed, will be valu- able and important. All three should be encouraged. We listen to music. We watch a movie. We read a book. We might reenact a dance from a movie. Or we might quote a passage from the book in a letter to a friend. But in the main, this kind of culture is experienced through the act of consumption. This is the stuff at the core of RO culture. For most of the twentieth century, these tokens were analog.
They all therefore shared certain limitations: No doubt there were recording studios aplenty in Nashville and Motown.
See a Problem?
But for the ordinary consumer, RO tokens were to be played, not manipulated. And while they might legally be shared, every lending meant at least a temporary loss for the lender. But from the perspective of the content industry, these limita- tions in analog technology were not bugs. They were aspects of the technology that made the content indus- try possible. And its imperfections drove demand for each new generation of technology. Record companies thus sold bits of culture, embedded in vinyl records, then in eight-track tapes, then in cassette tapes, and then in CDs. With each new format, there was a wave of new demand often for the very same work.
The same with film. Film companies distributed films to theaters, and then films to videocassettes, and then films to DVDs. The business model of both these distribu- tors of RO culture depended upon controlling the distribution of copies of culture. The nature of analog tokens of RO culture sup- ported this business model by making it very difficult to do much differently.
The law supported this business model. The law, for example, forbade a consumer from making ten thousand copies of his favor- ite LP to share with his friends. The code of an analog video- cassette effectively limited the number of times it could be played before the tape wore out, for example. The code of a digital copy of that film does not. What before was both impossible and illegal is now just illegal. When the content industry recognized this change, it was ter- rified.
Unlike analog technologies and analog tokens of RO culture, digi- tal technologies would instead conspire with the enemy—at least, the enemy of this particular business model. By the mids, the industry came to fully recognize this enemy. By the late s, it had hatched a strategy to fight it. And thus were born the copyright wars. In September , the content industry, working with the U. Department of Commerce, began to map a strategy for protecting a business model from digital technologies.
First the lawyers targeted commercial entities like MP3. According to one site that monitors lawsuits filed by the Recording Industry Association of America, as of June , the RIAA had sued 17, people, including a twelve-year-old girl and a dead grand- mother. The International Fed- eration of the Phonographic Industry European cousin to the RIAA reported suing more than ten thousand people in eighteen countries by the end of It promised many more suits in As never before at least since the last time ,13 the content industry was threatened by new technologies.
And unless the government launched a massive effort to regulate the use and spread of these technologies, the rise of digital technologies would mean the fall of much of the content industry. By the first half of , world sales of recorded music had fallen by 9. Worldwide, the recording in- dustry suffered its third straight year of declining sales. Sony told investors it expected music revenues to fall an additional 13—15 per- cent in Most thus believed the industry faced a choice: Re-remaking Nature Then Steve Jobs taught them differently.
The technologies of the Internet were originally coded in a way that enabled free, and perfect, copies, that nature could be changed by a different code, with different permissions built in. Thus, digital tokens of RO culture could be recoded with at least enough control to restore a market in their distribution.
The iTunes Music Store was the proof. Launched in , more than 1 billion songs were downloaded within three years, 2. This remade code was enough to get a reluctant con- tent industry to play along. Jobs understood that the record companies would demand some control. DRM was just a speed bump: An important legal lever was being deployed at the same time in the Napster case. Napster had countersued the record labels, charging that they had an agree- ment among themselves not to sell content to the digital platform.
Thus was iTunes born. Others followed a similar path—offering different models for selling culture, but all still sell- ing culture nonetheless. The key with each successful example was to find a balance between access and control that would sat- isfy both the consumers and the creators. This mix of models soon convinced a skeptical industry that RO culture had a twenty-first- century future.
And soon into the century, there was a revival of investment to find ways to better spread and exploit an RO market in a digital age. The potential is not hard to envision; the businesses are just beginning to emerge now. If the twentieth century made culture generally accessible, the twenty-first will make it universally accessi- ble. As the mix increases, the diversity of culture that can flourish in the digital age grows.
Think of all the books in the Library of Con- gress. Now imagine the same diversity of music, video, and images. And then imagine all of it accessible, in an instant, by anyone, any- where. No doubt there are lots of hurdles to overcome to get to this world. But the hurdles are not technical. And if these regulatory burdens can be reduced, a new industry of RO culture can flourish. A hundred years from now, if it is allowed to flourish, we will see its relation- ship to the twentieth century as we see the relationship between the Boeing and the work of the Wright brothers or Alberto Santos- Dumont.
This is the extraordinary potential for RO culture in a digital age. Recoding Us As these businesses grow, they change not only business. They also change us. They change how we think about access to culture. They change what we take for granted. With tele- vision and movies, the viewer had to conform his schedule to the schedule of the distributor.
So much was required by the technol- ogy; so much came to seem natural. During the same period, however, books were accessed dif- ferently. When we walked into a library, we expected to get what we wanted, then. The idea that the library gets to say when and what I read is outrageous. Or put differently, it would have been considered outrageous for any library or bookstore or publisher to exercise the same control over access to books that television stations and film distributors exer- cised over film and video.
In the twenty-first century, television and movies will be book- i-fied. Or again, our expectations about how we should be able to access video content will be the same as the expectations we have today about access to books. Freedom will mean freedom to choose to watch what you want when you want, just as freedom to read means the freedom to read what you want when you want.
In both cases, not necessarily for free. But in both cases, according to your schedule, not the schedule of someone else. More and more, even to old folks like me, it seems astonishing to remember a time when to watch a television show, you had to synchronize your schedule to the schedule of the broad- caster.
Absurd that if you missed an episode, that was it. There was no chance—at least that season—for a repeat. The expectation of access on demand builds slowly, and it builds differently across generations. But at a certain point, perfect access meaning the ability to get whatever you want whenever you want it will seem obvious.
And when it seems obvious, anything that resists that expectation will seem ridiculous. Ridiculous, in turn, makes many of us willing to break the rules that restrict access. Even the good become pirates in a world where the rules seem absurd. I saw this dynamic in myself with the Academy Awards. I was thus desperate to watch the awards. But that year, I was on sab- batical in Germany, and not desperate enough to get up at 3 a. So I programmed a VCR to record the show, and went to bed expecting to awaken and watch the results. My first reaction was to turn to the Web site of the Academy Awards.
The site had fancy advertisements that changed with every click you made, and tons of content. They must, I thought, have video of the awards ceremony available to be streamed. And the Academy Awards ceremony is a wasting asset: So I turned to iTunes, willing to pay whatever it would charge to download the awards ceremony. But again, no luck. I then extended my search to a number of other obvious places where the program might be for sale.
Yet again, no luck. Within five minutes, I had found clips with both friends, which I watched with utter joy. Many people did the same as I though I take it not for the same reason. And many took those clips and blogged them—adding commentary, or criticism, or praise for the works celebrated at the awards. I did too, adding links to the YouTube clips on my blog in an entry the next day bragging about my Oscar-winning friends. But then I read about legal action being initiated against bloggers and YouTube users who had distributed parts of the awards.
And while, as a lawyer, I understood precisely the claim the content owners had, as a citizen of the twenty-first century, I was still aston- ished. YouTube is a picture of unmet demand. Access is the mantra of the YouTube generation. Not necessarily free access. Digital technologies will thus shift the expectations surround- ing access.
Those changes will change other markets as well. Think of the iPod—perfectly integrating all forms of RO culture into a single device. That integration will increasingly lead us to see the device not as music player, or video player, but as a universal access point, facilitating simple access to whatever we want whenever we want. Many devices will compete to become this device. And that competition is certain to produce an extraordinarily efficient tool to facilitate, and meter, and police our access to a wide range of culture.
This change, in turn, will change other markets as well. Think about a hotel room: Why is beyond me. What chance is there that in the thirty minutes I have before I go to sleep I will find something just starting on the channels the hotel provides that I actually want to watch? Count on a future of simple docking devices that amplify or project content accessed through an iPod-like device.
Hotels and restau- rants, airplanes, and bars will then focus on supplying great infra- structure. The iUser brings the content. Users will thus demand access at any time, to everything think: And technologies will develop to provide or meter or police that access think: But then which of these three models for access will it be? Will these devices simply provide access, either by simply holding the content, or by enabling the user to tune into a particular channel? Or like a jukebox, will they meter access, deducting a fee for every download or play? Or like a soldier at a military base, will they monitor the content being accessed, and block access without the proper credentials?
The easy, and to some degree true, answer is that they will do all three. But the interesting part is how significant the first of those three will be, and how insignificant the third. The limitations of the tech- nology of the twentieth century restricted the ways in which ads might support free content. In a world of relatively few channels, those ads had suf- ficient penetration to make them pay both the networks and the advertiser.
The limits in that technology are obvious: The advertiser has to broadcast to a wide range of people; the ability to target ads is relatively weak. And the advertiser is constantly aware that his message is viewed as an intrusion. When ads came every thirty minutes or so, for many, they were a welcome break.
But when 25 percent of broadcasting time is advertisement, they are a perpetual annoyance. But just as the limitations of analog RO culture were eliminated by digital technologies, so too the limitations of twentieth-century advertising can be eliminated by twenty-first-century digital tech- nology. Americaas copyright laws have ceased to perform their original, beneficial role: In fact, our system now criminalizes those very actions. For many, new technologies have made it irresistible to flout these unreasonable and ultimately untenable laws. Some of todayas most talented artists are felons, and so are our kids, who see no reason why they shouldnat do what their computers and the Web let them do, from burning a copyrighted CD for a friend to abitinga riffs from films, videos, songs, etc and making new art from them.
Criminalizing our children and others is exactly what our society should not do, and Lessig shows how we can and must end this conflictaa war as ill conceived and unwinnable as the war on drugs.