Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Acceptable
Comment: This is a ex library book, stickers and markings accordingly.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back Hardcover – October 25, 2011

3.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$0.99 $0.01

Best Books of the Month
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Free Ride

“A book that should change the debate about the future of culture….With this stylishly written and well-reported manifesto, Levine has become a leading voice on one side of our most hotly contested debate involving law and technology.”
—Jeffrey Rosen, The New York Times Book Review

"Turbo-reported....Free Ride is a timely and impressive book--part guilt trip, part wake-up call, and full of the kind of reporting that could only have been done with a book advance from an Old Media company."

"[A] smart, caustic tour of the modern culture industry."

“Brilliant…A crash course in the existential problems facing the [media].” 
—Richard Morrison, The Times 

“The most convincing defense of the current predicament of the creative industries that I have read.”      
—James Crabtree, Financial Times

“With penetrating analysis and insight, Levine, a former executive editor of Billboard magazine, dissects the current economic climate of the struggling American media companies caught in the powerful fiscal grip of the digital industry…. This incisive book is a start at an informed dialogue.”
Publishers Weekly

“Can the culture business survive the digital age?  That’s the burning question Robert Levine poses in his provocative new book.  And his answer is one that will get your blood boiling. Rich with revealing stories and telling tales, Free Ride makes a lucid case that information is actually expensive – and that it’s only the big technology firms profiting most from the work of others that demand information be free.” 
—Gary Rivlin, author of Broke, USA
“One of the great issues of the digital age is how people who create content will be able to make a living. Robert Levine’s timely and well-researched book provides a valuable look at how copyright protection was lost on the internet and offers suggestions about how it could be restored.”
—Walter Isaacson, President/CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Benjamin Franklin 
“This book thoroughly documents a wide-spread outbreak of cyber amnesia. Despite libertarian delusions, industries often get Free Rides, especially in their early days, but they eventually give back.  Taxpayers build roads, then get hired to build cars.  The Internet gives back a lot in exchange for its Free Ride, but one thing it defiantly isn’t giving back is a way for enough people to make a living. No matter how amusing or addictive the Internet becomes, its foundation will crumble unless it starts returning the favors it was given and still depends on.”
—Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget
Free Ride is a brilliantly written book that exposes the dark side of the Internet. A must read for anyone interested in the horrific undermining of our intellectual culture.”
—Edward Jay Epstein, author of The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood
“Robert Levine deftly dissects the self-serving Orwellian freedom-speak being served up by Silicon Valley’s digital new lords as they amass fortunes devaluing the work of artists, journalists and other old-fashioned ‘content creators.’ Free Ride begs us to remove our blinders and take a hard look down a cultural dead-end road.”
—Fred Goodman, author of Fortune’s Fool: Edgar Bronfman Jr., Warner Music, and an Industry in Crisis

“Without being a Luddite, Levine makes the phony digital media gurus of our day seem as simple-minded as their slogans.”
—Ron Rosenbaum, author of How the End Begins and Explaining Hitler


About the Author

ROBERT LEVINE was most recently executive editor of Billboard mag­azine. His articles on technology, business, and culture have appeared in the New York Times, Fortune, Condé Nast Portfolio, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, and Travel & Leisure. He lives in New York.

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385533764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385533768
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,193,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I started Robert Levine's "Free Ride" with a deeply skeptical mindset. As someone who has followed the topics of digital innovation, the digital economy, and piracy in the news and blogosphere, I tend to be wary of anything that really amounts to obsolete companies trying to preserve an advantage through regulatory and legal means in the face of technological innovation.

This is why I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It's a fascinating history of the rise of digital piracy as it affected (and affects) the major "content" businesses (Music, Newspapers, Publishing, Television, and Film), and particularly the divide between the digital technology companies (such as Google) and the content industries. Quite often, I finished a chapter of the book much more sympathetic to these businesses than I had been before, particularly when Levine really delves into the economics of the "content" businesses and the piracy affecting them. While I don't entirely agree with him (at times, I think he's a little too wed to the idea of keeping the content businesses large and stable), I strongly recommend this book to any interested in these topics.

Levine focuses on those five main "content" businesses, but the real heart of the book (the most researched and detailed, including Levine's proposal for dealing with piracy) lie in the sections about the Music Industry. He goes into great detail about how digital piracy unfolded on the industry in the form of Napster, File-Sharing, and Digital Lockers, and how the Music Industry reacted to these changes (and the proliferation of digital technology plus the web).
Read more ›
2 Comments 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So happy the author Robert Levine has peeled back the onion on this subject . . . America (and the world) is experiencing a crushing cultural change - digital parasites are everywhere! Read this volume to find out why . . . recommend.
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
The book is well researched and written, the culture business cannot continue to profit from "traditional" models, and there aren't many great solutions to provide content to consumers on the internet that both consumers and content creators benefit from.

However I was frustrated during the first few chapters of the book; I felt like the author was venting against the internet, pirates, and YouTube. The Internet has provided the best distribution method (for consumers) to date for multimedia, and pirates discovered this far faster than the content industry. If Netflix & Hulu preceded mainstream file sharing I wonder how many movies would be downloaded against copyright?
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I never thought a book about copyright would be fun to read, but Free Ride is a terrific book. Levine takes an issue that has been way oversimplified (bad Hollywood/rich artists v. internet freedom) and shows the reader there's a lot more to the story. While not overstating his case--he concedes some copyright reform is needed--he makes a strong argument that digital piracy is immoral, unethical, and a threat to future creativity. If artists can't make money off their works, Levine argues, it's very reasonable to assume they'll produce a lot less.

As an aside, I'd be interested to know what Mr.Levine thinks about SOPA. In any case, I recommend Free Ride.
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
A few years back I used to teach an undergraduate class at an Australian University where I required students to read a lot of Lessig and Doctorow's commentary on copyright and culture. I was so into that philosophy of intellectual property that I thought it was amazingly cool when Lessig was played by Christopher Lloyd on an episode of the West Wing.

One of the things that surprised me in this book was that what I'd once seen as a battle between a rebel alliance of copyleft freedom fighters on one side and monopolistic capitalist dinosaurs on the other was substantially more complicated.

The author explores and documents why technology and communications companies (the finger is generally pointed at Google) strongly advocate against enforcement of copyright (that is that they agree in general that creators should be compensated, but lobby against enforcement of copyright law). I found author was unnecessarily critical of Lessig in particular (I don't think Lessig is pushing any barrow other than his own even though groups he is involved with have been blessed by Google's beneficence), but that the author's general argument about why certain big companies were willing to support groups like the EFF and other anti-copyright enforcement advocacy groups does seem to hold water.

It boils down to reasoning coming along the lines of "the killer app for the Internet is piracy" and that many technology companies would incur a substantial cost if they had to strictly police copyright infringement. That it can be reasonably argued that services like the old Napster, BitTorrent, and File Locker sites indirectly drive profit in the technology industry whilst reducing profit in the "creation of culture" industry (hence the use of parasite in the book's title).
Read more ›
Comment 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: communication, business communications