Posted by: Dirk | April 16, 2009

(Book review) Remix – Making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy

Lawrence Lessig is a Stanford professor and a lawyer dealing with copyright laws and the like. In Remix, he shows what today’s copyright laws do to the creativity of children by explaining how they work and how they were intended to work when they were enacted. Of course, the digital technology available today was not what the law makers in the early 20th century had in mind. Lessig describes the mind-boggling logic of today’s copyrights where you cannot even post a video on youtube showing your child dancing to music – because, you guessed it, the music is copyrighted.

Having read Benkler’s Wealth of Networks, the second part of the book was the more interesting one. In it, Lessig describes how non-commercial communities and commerical firms form hybrids that are outperforming every competitor. Examples include Google, where each search makes Google better, and Amazon, where each book bought increases the quality of suggestions. There is a delicate balance involved since users might boycot the firm if they think their “work” (if they are aware of it) is exploited. However, firms need the input of customers in order to offer the better product. This is a very interesting … well, hybrid.

I would recommend the book to anyone interested in Intellectual Property Rights. Also, there is a blog run by Lessig with comments on politics and how to influence them. Some of his older books are available there in pdf as well.

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