A deft touch

A deft touch
: I never cease to be amused at the utter lack of humor, subtlety, and irony in Larry Lessig’s “work.” The mere title of his latest book says it all: “Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity.” I’m working on my biography: “Lawrence Lessig: How a Professor Manages to Use a Sledgehammer To Keep Beating Home The Point That He Just Hates Media and Will Not Stop Until The Horse Is Dead, I Tell You, Dead, Really Dead.”

  • http://paulfrankenstein.org/ Frankenstein

    You know, the snark would go over much better if you actually read his book and addressed the issues that he’s talking about.
    Otherwise, it simply comes across as empty noise and meaningless bluster, akin to Macbeth’s sound and fury.

  • billg

    Strikes me, Frankenstein, that we don’t need to read a new book by a mono-memed crusader before we comment on its title, expecially a title that is as heavy handed and oh,so serious as this one.
    You don’t need to read much of Lessig to know what he has to say. He just keeps saying it. This title clearly labels this new book as more of the same.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    I’m waiting for him to put his book up for free. We don’t want to support a big media monolith by actually buying information, do we?

  • http://www.photodude.com PhotoDude

    Yes, why isn’t the book online with a Creative Commons license? In fact, why is it copyrighted at all?
    Does the good professor need to earn a living (or perhaps, the company that printed it)? Funny, his proposals on copyright have rarely taken the individuals need for income into consideration before.
    Personally, I’m happy he is able to profit from his copyrighted creation. I hope he learns that some individuals feed themselves that way. Then he might understand our frustration with many of his ideas.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Guys, you’re way off-base in the snarking here. It’s well-known that the profits for this sort of book isn’t much. IF it isn’t free, it’s probably due to a contractual issue on the publisher’s side, not that Lessig needs the book-profits to make money. My guess is that he’d like it to be free, not only for intellectual reason, but from someone like him, on a pure capitalistic basis, it’s actually more renumerative to use the book as advertising.
    Moreover, he’s never said copyright should be abolished altogether. That’s a pure strawman.
    These attacks are completely disconnected from rational criticism.

  • Anonymous

    Seth,
    You set off my BS detector w/ this one:
    “IF it isn’t free, it’s probably due to a contractual issue on the publisher’s side, not that Lessig needs the book-profits to make money.”
    Given his beliefs and the freedom of the web, why does he need a publisher? That book looks like the worthless required texts in my old Mass Comm grad program.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    He needs a publisher because lawyer/professors write books which make trivial amounts of money, but are mainly for the reading of other lawyer/professors, and that whole system is still mainly reliant on piles of dead trees. And in working within that system, he may not be able to make as much available as he’d like for free, but so what? It sure isn’t for the book money, because in practice, there is no book money worth speaking of, for books like his.
    The strawman is to paint him as some sort of hippie communist who says even the smallest amount of copyright is evil. That’s not what he says – I think that portrayal should set off the BS detectors.

  • http://www.dashes.com/anil/ Anil

    Funny, his proposals on copyright have rarely taken the individuals need for income into consideration before.
    You guys are so off base here it’s not even funny. The existence of Creative Commons licenses *strengthens* copyright, and only makes sense in a system where copyright exists. If you think CC licensing can’t increase your profits, I’d ask you to argue the point with Cory Doctorow, whose success as a first-time scifi novelist is extraordinary in a notoriously difficult genre to break into.
    More to the point, Lessig never says “big media is bad”. He points out, correctly, that it is big media companies whom we have to hold most responsible for the radical increase in the purvey of copyright law. And I think anyone who understands the effect that increase in the power of copyright would probably draw the same conclusions about its negative effect. I’ve no doubt that if little media companies, or educational institutions, or an underground network of evil goblins were responsible for the negative influence of a wrongheaded copyright regime, then Lessig’s book would say “How little media, colleges, and goblins use tech and the law…”
    It’s almost creepy how someone who’s trying to get *more* people making music, writing books, publishing blogs, and creating films is being described as “hating media”. Valenti is the one who wants to keep me from being able to make films that incorporate key elements of popular culture, not Lessig. Perhaps you all ought to learn more before you criticize.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Nice apologia, Anil. But it’ won’t fly with me. I read Lessig’s frequent media bashings. And just read his blunderbuss title; as subtle as anything he does. Media-bashing is part and parcel of everything he does.

  • billg

    Anil, I wouldn’t argue that the duration of copyright has not been extended in response to clout by a few media companies. But I would also argue that it’s primary negative effect on wanna-be writers, musicians, and movie directors has been to curtail plagiarism.
    Most people don’t have the talent to write music, author books, or make films, and I’d rather not have to wade through all that rubbish, thank you. But, if they want to take a stab at being creative — as opposed to “borrowing”, I don’t see that current copyright law stands in their way.
    I’ve read a lot of Lessig’s stuff over the last couple of years, and I can’t shake the notion that his appeal is primarily to people who don’t like paying for entertainment. I.e., Lessig may be sincere, but I believe many of his disciples just want free stuff.

  • http://www.dashes.com/anil/ Anil

    I don’t see that current copyright law stands in their way.
    Which is exactly why Lessig’s work is valuable. Many artists who are not borrowing, but are creating new works, are stymied by the unchecked expansion of copyright’s mandate.

  • billg

    Many artists who are not borrowing, but are creating new works, are stymied by the unchecked expansion of copyright’s mandate.
    How so? Copyright, even if it does extend for several times the lifetime of Mickey Mouse, applies equally to any original work. It’s only an issue if you want to borrow/use/steal work that is still under copyright in ways that don’t fit accepted definitions of fair use.

  • Kate

    If Lessig ever “created” anything that made money, his tune would change pretty damn quickly. He’s just jealous as are those “artists” who need someone else’s creation to copy.

  • old maltese

    It seems odd that Prof. Lessig would use ‘Big Media’ in the *singular* in his title.
    There are ways of wording it without invoking the singular/plural question.

  • Anonymous

    The comments against Lessig’s work here are just a load of ignorant bollocks by people who have not taken the time to really think about what he is saying. In addition, the fighting over intellectual property *has* had an impact on the production of information. Talk to any documentary maker. And in the realm of other areas beyond entertainment, more restrictive IP laws have had a negative impact on academic collaboration and research.
    And in fact, I believe that Lessig’s being published by a start-up at Penguin.