Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy: Lawrence Lessig: Bloomsbury Academic

Chapters Summary: Intro to Chapter 3

The book Remix by Lawrence Lessig thoroughly investigates issues with copyright laws in the modern society, going into the social and ethical issues of Intellectual property, equality of access, Policies and standards, and Globalization. Lessig starts the book by providing examples of how copyright law can be misused or immoral, giving 4 different examples in the introduction alone. Starting with the absurdity of YouTube antipiracy. The other chapters go into more detail in examples, and talk about concepts like Read Only and Read Write culture.


Brief Chapter summary:

Intro: Examples of copyright usage and mishandling, providing examples on how it regulates art, culture and simple things like sharing home movies. Lessig uses these examples to give a small taster on the idea that the current copyright laws, made for a more analog society, may be damaging to the growth of culture in a more digital society.

Chapter 1, Cultures of Our Past: The history of copyright laws, primarily focusing on the musical artist Sousa, and his attempts to improve artist’s benefits from production of commercial music, with things like the phonograph and early radio stations being introduced. Though Sousa’s main concern was the degradation of culture, particularly Read-Write culture, which Lessig develops the idea of in this chapter. Lessig describes Read-Write and Read-Only (Referred to as RW and RO) briefly, and to put it simply, modern examples of RW culture is present in things like music remixes, whilst RO culture has grown rapidly in music through pop culture and music streaming technology.


Chapter 2, Cultures of Our Past: A shorter chapter, Lessig describes the struggle between RO and RW culture, and his belief that RW culture can grow in a modern ‘hybrid’ economy. particularly the idea that modern copyright law goes against RW culture, with the example of Girl Talk a one man band that remixes various artists’ music.


Chapter 3, RO, Extended: Lessig discusses the in depth parts of RO culture, and how the digital society we live in cultivates its growth, where older, analog technology would have prevented it. Using the example of record players, VHS tapes, and in modern society, audio downloads and piracy. Lessig discusses how RW culture was impacted by RO culture, mentioning the development of digital recording allowed RW to grow through remixing, in turn resulting in stronger copyright to halt the usage of remixing. Going into detail on copyright, and how it criminalizes the newer ‘digital native’ generation, punishing the use of technology to access music. Lessig goes on to describe the ‘on demand’ music access society, and how RO only culture is a major part of it, with things like Spotify and iTunes being prime examples of RO culture.


Notable quotes:

“Copyright law gives Viacom that power by giving it a quick and inexpensive way to get YouTubes of the world to help it protect its rights.”

“There is no market in licensing music to amateur video. Thus, there was no plausible way in which Prince or Universal was being harmed by Stephanie Lenz’s sharing this video of her kid dancing”

“Permission, was vital, legally”

“Over the years, Avant-Garde moved from analog to digital – aka computers.”

“I think it’s just great on a creative level that everyone is so involved with the music they like… you don’t have to be a traditional musician”

“Thus we romanticize that sacrifice”

“War on piracy, war on concepts, fighting against things that can’t be stopped.”

“We should make sure this war is winnable, and that the price we pay is worth it”

“Defend industries that never get born out of fear of the liability that the current regime of copyright imposes”

“Criminalizing an entire generation is too high a price to pay for any end” “Certainly too high for a copyright system generated a generation ago.”

“What does it mean to a society when a whole generation is raised as criminals”

“Does the fact of crime justify the repeal of criminal law”


Infographic Summary:

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