Lessig: hybrid economies and more

What gave this book a unique perspective, I think, is that Lessig has a legal background and professes law. Not only did he provide a lot of useful insight on the behaviors (and rates) of corporate lawyers, he also made what I consider to be esoteric legal matters approachable for the  layman. One of the biggest concepts I took away from the book was that copyright not only can but should be interpreted in different ways. His calls for reform and the little chart on p. 254 made sense, particularly when it came to Lessig’s claim that amateur remix should be entirely fair game, etc. Some other notions I found to be either a little problematic or strange though:

The middle of the book reads like a celebration of star internet sites; that’s all fine, but I was curious about his description of the hybrid economy, which will either supplant the traditional commercial and sharing sorts or run alongside them. These are the wave of the future, but what will they yield? Indeed, some seem worse than others, and I’m thinking here of the Microsoft example. The first couple were fine (craigslist, Flickr), but the collaboration space Microsoft is cultivating seemed really, and unashamedly, exploitative (200). Did anyone else get that impression? 

The ending about why kids suffer and why the wealthy corporations/campaign donors win out seemed shoehorned in. This could have been, and should be, another book on its own. But anyway, Lessig seems to be critical of both the law as it stands today, and also what’s happening to society vis-a-vis the youth’s proclivity to download illegal music. We perceive the kids as criminals, and they apparently internalize that. Which do you think Lessig takes issue with more? The law or the culture? And do you think his position is sensible?

Another thing that might be useful: how could you compare and contrast Lessig and Jenkins? I know that each quoted the other in their respective works, and Lessig even invoked Jenkins’ classic convergence culture tropes: Star Wars and the Lawver/Warner “Potter War.” I can think of some differences: Lessig doesn’t seem to be as much of an industry consultant/insider who mediates and negotiates between the fans and the media giants. His concern is more for the superfluous attributes of copyright law. Lessig is more actively appealing to the government for change. Both are predicting the future a little bit and remain unsure of how new developments will pan out: Lessig with hybrid economies and Jenkins with convergence.


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