Lawrence Lessig's new book goes on sale October 16. Pre-order today.
Lawrence Lessig, the reigning authority on intellectual property in the Internet age, spotlights the newest and possibly the most harmful culture war—a war waged against our kids and others who create and consume art. America’s copyright laws have ceased to perform their original, beneficial role: protecting artists’ creations while allowing them to build on previous creative works. 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 today’s most talented artists are felons, and so are our kids, who see no reason why they shouldn’t do what their computers and the Web let them do, from burning a copyrighted CD for a friend to “biting” 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 conflict—a war as ill conceived and unwinnable as the war on drugs. By embracing “read-write culture,” which allows its users to create art as readily as they consume it, we can ensure that creators get the support—artistic, commercial, and ethical—that they deserve and need. Indeed, we can already see glimmers of a new hybrid economy that combines the profit motives of traditional business with the “sharing economy” evident in such Web sites as Wikipedia and YouTube. The hybrid economy will become ever more prominent in every creative realm—from news to music—and Lessig shows how we can and should use it to benefit those who make and consume culture.
Remix is an urgent, eloquent plea to end a war that harms our children and other intrepid creative users of new technologies. It also offers an inspiring vision of the post-war world where enormous opportunities await those who view art as a resource to be shared openly rather than a commodity to be hoarded.
All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. ...
-- John Donne
Jonathan Lethem wrote this 'remix' in the February 2007 issue of Harper's Magazine.
He elicited a response from Larry Lessig in the April 2007 issue:
In his beautifully crafted February criticism, "The Ecstasy of Influence", Jonathan Lethem teaches more about the importance of what I call "remix" than any other work I have read. Certainly more than my own work.