While in the midst of a digital revolution that is transforming human culture in ways that have never existed before, it seems like this revolution comes at a high price, a cost we pay in terms of our creativity and innovation being stifled by intellectual copyright laws. In Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity, Stanford law professor, Lessig Lawrence , makes a strong case against the leverage of copyright law to serve the interests of the corporate giants over the interests of laymen.
To corroborate his stance, Lessig expertly cites a wide range of examples of how these giant corporations have leveraged the copyright laws to curb the creative ethos of individuals. A stark example in this direction is the popular case of information technology student Jesse Jordan in which he was forced to pay $12.000 (his lifetime savings) to settle a lawsuit waived against him by the music industry for” merely fixing a glitch in an Internet search engine.”
The book also provides a historical account of the development of copyright law from its start in English common law and the UK Statute Anne and chronicles the different changes that were made to it all along the way until it becomes a crippling tool that protects the interests of a select few.Ironically, those that are complaining about copyright infringements, Lessig argues, were also those who blatantly violated it in the past.
This group contains popular entertainment companies in film industry, music industry, Radio, Cartoon animations companies to mention but a few. While Lessig acknowledges the importance of copyright laws in protecting the intellectual property of its owners, he strongly advocates for maintaining a balance between the interests of the owner and broader society in such a way that does not hamper human creative thinking.
Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford law professor, takes an in-depth look at Free Culture and its implications for creativity in his book Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity. He argues that corporate giants have leveraged copyright laws to effectively stifle creativity. To illustrate this point, he cites Jesse Jordan’s case as an example. Jordan was sued by the music industry and forced to pay $12,000 to settle the case – his entire life savings – for merely fixing a glitch in an internet search engine.
Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity is an essential read for anyone looking to gain insight on current trends regarding creativity and digital culture. It is indeed a timely read now that AI technology is taking over and the debate of copyright is getting to the surface back again.
This book is a balance between anarchy and control. A free culture, like a free market, is filled with property. It is filled with rules of property and contract that get enforced by the state. But just as a free market is perverted if its property becomes feudal, so too can a free culture be queered by extremism in the property rights that define it. That is what I fear about our culture today. It is against that extremism that this book is written.
Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity by Lessig Lawrence.