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Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy Paperback – September 29, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143116134
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143116134
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Should anyone besides libertarian hackers or record companies care about copyright in the online world? In this incisive treatise, Stanford law prof and Wired columnist Lessig (Free Culture) argues that we should. He frames the problem as a war between an old read-only culture, in which media megaliths sell copyrighted music and movies to passive consumers, and a dawning digital read-write culture, in which audiovisual products are freely downloaded and manipulated in an explosion of democratized creativity. Both cultures can thrive in a hybrid economy, he contends, pioneered by Web entities like YouTube. Lessig's critique of draconian copyright laws—highlighted by horror stories of entertainment conglomerates threatening tweens for putting up Harry Potter fan sites—is trenchant. (Why, he asks, should sampling music and movies be illegal when quoting texts is fine?) Lessig worries that too stringent copyright laws could stifle such remix masterpieces as a powerful doctored video showing George Bush and Tony Blair lip-synching the song Endless Love, or making scofflaws of America's youth by criminalizing their irrepressible downloading. We leave this (copyrighted) book feeling the stakes are pretty low, except for media corporations. (Oct. 20)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

As Lessig, a law professor at Stanford, sees it, if intellectual-property law is left as it is an entire generation will be criminalized. He argues that the ways in which young people break copyright laws help them to become the sort of people we want them to be�creative and collaborative. Kids today are simply not going to give up downloading music and using copyrighted material in YouTube videos: they belong to a culture for which �remix� is �the essential art.� Lessig�s proposals for revising copyright are compelling, because they rethink intellectual-property rights without abandoning them. He argues that hybrids that combine the �commercial and sharing� economies can create value for both sides (as Harry Potter fan sites and Lostpedia have done); indeed, one problem is media companies� appropriating the work of fans without returning the favor. �When both benefit,� Lessig writes, �how do we say who is riding for free?�
Copyright ©2008 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Prior to rejoining the Harvard faculty, Lessig was a professor at Stanford Law School, where he founded the school's Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.

Lessig serves on the Board of Creative Commons, MapLight, Brave New Film Foundation, The American Academy, Berlin, AXA Research Fund and iCommons.org, and on the advisory board of the Sunlight Foundation. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation's Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American's Top 50 Visionaries.

Lessig holds a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale.

Customer Reviews

Very thought provoking!
W. Jamison
Remix, I learn from this book, is where you take bits and pieces of things others have created, cobble them together, and call the result your very own work of art.
George Goldberg
Some of the arguments will be familiar from Lessig's previous book Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity but Remix takes them to a new depth.
Tama Leaver

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Tama Leaver on December 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Remix is the culmination of Lawrence Lessig's tireless arguments about the importance of creativity being able to be built on the foundations of culture that already exists, a pathway only open if the extremes of copyright are sobered and a shared, free commons is actively promoted and created. Some of the arguments will be familiar from Lessig's previous book Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity but Remix takes them to a new depth. More to the point, Remix, despite being written by a lawyer, is an extremely accessible work that makes its arguments with humour and is easy to read. The argument is compelling, and Remix has a place in the libraries of schools and universities and the bookshelves of anyone interested in a creativity culture built on the successes of the past with the tools of the future.

(My only criticism would be this book is very US-centric, but that's Lessig's prerogative; others needs to extend these arguments beyond national boundaries.)
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Otto on December 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The core of this book is a question about what kind of world we want to create for future generations. Lessig presents an argument that the natural way humans interact with content is to remix it, as we are used to doing with text. Just as we take no offense when somebody quotes our text in their own communication, we should resist the urge to control "quoting" of our digital content.

This is a passionately written book, but it takes some engagement with the issue to really enjoy it. Starting with another of Lessig's books, The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, might help a reader get into the subject, but once he or she realizes the consequences of culture's legal stance on this issue, Lessig's perspective becomes invaluable to have around. That book more sets out the conditions created by sharing economies, where Remix looks for how art and business can survive under these conditions.

Lessig's lessons on how businesses can thrive or fail as hybrids may help content-producers get a grip as the financial industry melts down.

The main point, as I said, is about the world and culture we create for our children. Do we want a world where they have free "speech" in hundreds of digital "languages", or one where their natural abilities are locked down? Lessig offers advice on how to change law and ourselves to create a culture where our children's expression is cherished (for the sake of their education and their community-building). He wants to start a conversation about how business can thrive among sharing economies as well. This book will be a key perspective in that conversation.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Zittrain on January 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
By its own account, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has threatened thousands of people -- many of them teenagers -- with lawsuits for sharing copies of copyrighted music without permission. Most individuals pay several thousand dollars to settle out of court. In the only such case to go to trial in the United States, the jury awarded the RIAA $222,000 in a verdict against a woman from Duluth, Minnesota, who shared 24 songs that had a retail value of $23.76. Massachusetts youth Joel Tenenbaum has also refused to settle, and his trial will soon begin -- more than $1 million is at stake for allegations that he shared seven songs.

In Remix, Lawrence Lessig says 'enough' to this situation, arguing for a hybrid approach that differentiates private and commercial use. His book is an important and urgent work of radical moderation. It seeks to get both sides to stand down and respect one another, using arguments couched in terms of each party's values. Lessig wants to persuade traditional publishers -- the purveyors of 'read-only' culture -- that they should not fear their own fans. Publishers stand to make more money by embracing those who make new works from old standards than they do by criminalizing them. More subtly, Lessig argues that a strict divide between the world of sharing and the world of commerce is counterproductive. He wants to refocus attention away from the stalemated copyright wars and towards a more vibrant 'read-write culture' that remixes rather than replaces what came before. The future lies with hybrid enterprises that wisely blend the mercenary 'me' and the charitable 'thee'.

Lessig points out that the act of writing is near-universal. We teach our children how to write at an early age, and the tools to do so have long been accessible.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Tiemann on February 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have been reading Lessig since Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, and this book is by far the most advanced in terms of synthesis.

Code 1.0 and Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace, Version 2.0 present the basis of arguments for an informed discussion about the law and its application to our lives as technology, too, enters our lives. They barely argue, but the facts themselves are wonderful agents for provoking arguments, especially amongst the many competing beliefs we may have about what is right, what is just, what is practical, and what is legal.

Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity and The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World are arguments. They are compelling arguments, passionate and brilliant, but they are merely arguments.

What is completely new about Remix is that it finally and fully embraces the human context that was always present in Lessig's writing, but always subordinated to facts and arguments. In Remix it becomes clear that we can no longer dismiss his writings as "of the elite for the elite by the elite".
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