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Book:; Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy by Lawrence Lessig. Penguin, 2008.

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= primer on the debates over copyright in the Digital Age.


By the author:

"In the past, I’ve tried to advance this view for peace by focusing on the costs of this war to innovation, to creativity, and, ultimately, to freedom. My aim in The Future of Ideas was to defend industries that never get born for fear of the insane liability that the current regime of copyright imposes. My subject in Free Culture was the forms of creative expression and freedom that get trampled by the extremism of defending a regime of copyright built for a radically different technological age.

But I finished Free Culture just as my first child was born. And in the four years since, my focus, or fears, about this war have changed. I don’t doubt the concerns I had about innovation, creativity, and freedom. But they don’t keep me awake anymore. Now I worry about the effect this war is having upon our kids. What is this war doing to them? Whom is it making them? How is it changing how they think about normal, right-thinking behavior? What does it mean to a society when a whole generation is raised as criminals?


REMIX, unlike Free Culture, is focused on a particular kind of creativity. I hadn't recognized, or even thought carefully, about this creativity when I wrote Free Culture. But the Sousa quote I've referred to again and again (railing against "talking machines," he observes "we will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cords will be eliminated by a process of evolution was was the tail of man when he came from the ape.") got me to think about the importance of "democratic creativity" -- meaning a kind of creativity that ordinary people engage just like the professionals. This focus on the amateur vs. the professional of course is a theme of others -- Benkler, most importantly. But I liked the way it explained something about how creativity was different in he 20th century from every other century, including the 21st." (


From Spencer Ante in Business Week:

" In the book's first section, Lessig argues that the copyright wars have created a false impression: that there can be only one victor—either Hollywood or the Internet. Instead, he says, the consumption-driven culture of the media and the interactive culture of the Net can prosperously co-exist. Problem is, most people who have spent time on the Net already understands and agrees with this point.

The middle section of Remix is its most valuable part. Much of the author's power stems from his ability to combine legal theory and geek cred with economics. Here again, he draws on all three to draw attention to the rise of an Internet-fueled "hybrid" economy that mixes elements of "commercial economies," where money rules, and "sharing economies," where people give away stuff for social or personal reasons. Although this section borrows heavily from the work of others, including The Long Tail by Chris Anderson and Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, Lessig breaks new ground.

Using examples of hybrid economies such as the free-software movement, photo-sharing site Flickr, and other social media, Lessig explains how giving things away can make money and why some hybrids succeed and others fail. The trick, he says, is to figure out the proper balance between the two models. Every successful hybrid must "frame its work, and the profit it expects, in a way that doesn't frighten away the community" of users that made it successful in the first place, he writes.

To help hybrids flourish, Lessig offers five reasonable reforms in Remix's final section, including requiring copyright holders to renew their rights after an initial period of protection. But this brief chapter feels tacked on. It would have been better had Lessig used Remix to tell the story of his Creative Commons. That system, which allows creators to surrender some rights to public use while retaining others through a variety of licensing and contract provisions, may ultimately be Lessig's most important legacy." (

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