Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture

I only read the intro to this book, because who has time to read more?, but Lessig sets up an interesting argument here. He begins with two stories: that of the Wright brothers and the subsequent Supreme Court case in with the Causby brothers challenged airlines’ rights to trespass in their “property”–the airspace above their homes, and that of Armstrong, who invented FM technology and then faced a long and tragic battle with RCA over property rights. In the first instance, it was decided that “common sense revolts” at the idea of individual ownership of something as public as airspace. In the second, the big corporation won the day in being able to legally silence then steal from Armstrong.

Lessig likens the current (well, ten-year-old) property rights situation created by the Internet to the latter story. The Internet, he says, has opened a space for the sharing and publication of once-noncommercial creative work–building on existing work without needing to seek permission has existed for a long time, but, now that sort of work happens online, where it can be monitored and regulated, and the property rights of those previously existing works can be “protected.” In most cases, those who control the property are big corporations, who gain the support of the government through corruption, but also through the value on property that has been inculcated in American society. Many of us, Lessig points out, are on the side of the property-holders. This book seeks to ask why? Seeks to explore the creative community made possible by the Internet, and the ways that that creative work is squashed and prohibited by law and culture. Culture may be being held too tightly by culture.

Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity. NY: The Penguin Press, 2004.

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1 Response to Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture

  1. Damon says:

    Lawrence Lessig seems like an incredible human with incredible integrity. I wish someone would let him KNOW that his SUPER-PAC was not going to work out the way everyone wishes. It may work out similar to how the Ron Paul campaign worked out for 2012, in that hundreds of thousands of Conservatives realized that there is no way to BEAT the corruption from within. Sure, the Elite want the election to have the appearance of legitimate, but it won’t stop them from an outright scandal if needed.

    if he wants something to work, he just needs to teach others that they do not need to vote for morality and integrity. They simply need to act on it. Opt-Out – Create a Parallel System – UnRegister – Revoke your permission – stop paying for WAR – Let the other countries know Obama/Bush does not represent them – If his hundreds of thousands of followers did this all at once, can you imagine the impact.


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