5 April 2004

How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity

Free Culture

The latest book by Lawrence Lessig, University of Stanford law professor, is a gripping read, replete with historical tales that seem to be forgotten. Beginning with Thomas Lee and Tinie Causby, who sued the government for flying over their farms. By rule of law, their property extended to the heavens. But SCOTUS would have none of it, instead decrying common sense revolts at the idea.

Then there's the story of Edwin Howard Armstrong, inventor of FM radio. RCA did everything in its power to crush Mr. Armstrong and his patents. Armstrong committed suicide, defeated, broken and impoverished by corporate behemoths, protecting the old radio guard.

I felt outrage after reading the story of Jesse Jordan. Young Jesse thought it a nifty programming project to use Microsoft's network to index files at RPI. The RIAA pursued him with a vengeance. In fact, as the chief lawyer for the RIAA, Matt Oppenheimer instructed:

You don't want to pay another visit to a dentist like me.

Mr. Jordan, facing 250K in costs to battle such a punitive legal onslaught settled for his life savings of 12K in the bank.

Lessig details how every new technological revolution also brought us the onset of "piracy", whether it be Disney or the new motion picture industry escaping to California from Edison's patents in New Jersey.

But these references are just a prelude to the core of the book. Here, Lessig examines copyright, property, law, digitial media, and impact upon freedom. And in the true spirit of free culture, the book is available for online reading or to download in pdf format.


No comments yet

Add Comment

This item is closed, it's not possible to add new comments to it or to vote on it