Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity (published in paperback as Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity) is a 2004 book by law professor Lawrence Lessig that was released on the Internet under the Creative Commons Attribution/Non-commercial license on March 25, 2004.
This book documents how copyright power has expanded substantially since 1974 in five critical dimensions:
duration (from 32 to 95 years),
scope (from publishers to virtually everyone),
reach (to every view on a computer),
control (including "derivative works" defined so broadly that virtually any new content could be sued by some copyright holder as a "derivative work" of something), and
concentration and integration of the media industry.It also documents how this industry has successfully used the legal system to limit competition to the major media corporations through legal action against:
College students for close to $100 billion, because their improvements of search engines made it easier for people in a university intranet to find copyrighted music placed by others in their "public" folder.
Lawyers who advised MP3.com that they had reasonable grounds to believe streaming an MP3 uploaded by a customer only to computers that the customer has logged-in on for the service is legal, and
Venture capitalists who funded Napster.The result is a legal and economic environment that stifles "the Progress of Science and useful Arts", exactly the opposite of the purpose cited in the US Constitution. It may not be possible today to produce another Mickey Mouse, because many of its early cartoon themes might be considered "derivative works" of some existing copyrighted material (as indicated in the subtitle to the hardback edition and in numerous examples in this book).
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