March 29, 2004

Solum's Blogospheric Bookclub

by Nick Morgan

Although I'm woefully behind in class reading, I'll make an effort to keep up with Professor Solum's Bookclub reading of Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig (download it here for free). Maybe others will join the blogospheric discussion.

Lessig writes (as Solum quotes):

    [W]e come from a tradition of “free culture”—not“free” as in “free beer” (to borrow a phrase from the founder of the freesoftware movement), but “free” as in “free speech,” “free markets,” “free trade,” “free enterprise,” “free will,” and “free elections.” ... [t]he free culture that I defend in this book is a balance between anarchy and control.

Solum responds:

I myself was a bit uneasy with these sweeping contrasts between "anarchy" and "control," but I find myself more tolerant of the ambiguity than Solum. The notions of freedom Lessig contrasts are certainly not (yet) rigorous, but I think they adequately pinpoint the basic concerns of the anti-IP movement. The freedom so far articulated is the freedom that makes progress possible--open and flowing speech, expression, self-determination, and invention. There's no need to bring down the barrier that makes this beer mine, and not yours, but Lessig is setting us up to be critical of barriers that we don't, in fact, generally want, and that haven't, in fact, been part of our cultural traditions of creativity. Barriers that his book has so far suggested arise from big money and corrupt politics are apparently barriers that interfere with freedom as we like it. We just don't yet understand the change that's in progress, but

So unlike Solum, my hope is not so much that Lessig's writing will prove formally rigorous, but that the story he tells will indeed make the case that intellectual property, today, betrays widely shared values of freedom and progress. We shall see.

March 29, 2004 05:44 PM | TrackBack

Book? What's a book?

Posted by: Brian at March 30, 2004 12:22 AM

Am reading chapter 1 and 2 - thanks to both you and Solum for keeping the momentum of the review going.

What is a book?
Interesting: a source where language finds expression?

Posted by: Joseph at March 30, 2004 10:50 AM
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