Larry Lessig's new book "Free Culture" — which is about the value of freedom to cultural production — is out in stores today, and, unlike his previous two books, Larry has foudn the leverage to convince his publisher to let him release the full text of the new book online under a Creative Commons license. He credits me with providing the ammunition he needed to convince Penguin to allow him to do this — which is extraordinarily flattering — but however he got there, I'm glad he did.
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?