From Publishers Weekly
Rapid-fire advances in technology have transformed home entertainment. Not only can we store hours of television programming and music on hard drives, software has made it easy to create our own movies and songs, splicing and sampling professional-grade material into amateur productions. Entertainment conglomerates are understandably concerned, but in online journalist Lasica's reporting on the culture clash over digital distribution and remixing, corporations are simplistically portrayed as dinosaurs intent on stifling the little guy's creative freedom in order to protect their profit margins. The characterization is not entirely unmerited, but the deck feels unfairly stacked when "Big Entertainment" honchos are juxtaposed with a preacher who illegally copies and downloads movies so he can use short clips for his sermons. Similarly, Lasica infuses the allegedly inevitable triumph of "participatory culture" with a sense of entitlement and anti-corporate bias that he never fully addresses. Lasica's interviews are far-ranging, and he provides a cogent analysis of the broad problems with America's outdated legal framework for dealing with intellectual property rights and the need for the entertainment industry to adapt to new technologies. Too often, though, he falls back to an alarmist tone. With so many other works addressing this issue from both sides, it will be hard for Lasica's book to stand out from the pack. (May 13)
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When the music-recording industry took a hard-line legal stance against file sharers, it alienated its customer base and hurt its own sales. A similar battle is brewing in the movie industry, as faster Internet speeds and video compression are making it easier to download entire movies over the Net for free. Lasica, a top online journalist, takes us into the Internet movie underground, where an elite club of pirates known as "rippers" and "crackers" secretly obtain copies of movies and release them in cyberspace. At the other extreme are the Hollywood studios, which are treating ordinary users like thieves, placing such shackles on digital media that we can't legally make a backup copy of a DVD we own and soon restricting the copying and sharing of high-definition TV. Contrast this with the freedoms that computers give us to remix, copy, and paste video and to author DVDs, and you have a scenario where ordinary producers of creative art become felons. Lasica takes the middle view that while copyrights need to be protected, the continual erosion of fair-use rights needs to be addressed. David SiegfriedCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved