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Also by Lawrence Lessig 

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace 

The Future of Ideas 

Free Cultun^ 

Code: Version 2.0 


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Making Art and Commerce Thrive 
in the Hybrid Economy 




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First published in the United States by The Penguin Press 2008 

First published in Great Britain 2008 

Bloomsbury Academic 

An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 

i6 Soho Square 

London W1D3QY 

Copyright © Lawrence Lessig, 2008 

CC 2008 Lawrence Lessig. This work is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 
Non-Commercial Licence 

A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library 

ISBN 9-781-4081-1374-9 

^ .... . . ^ ^ 

This book is produced using paper that is made from wood grown in managed, sustainable forests. It is 

natural, renewable and recyclable. The logging and manufacturing processes conform to the 

environmental regulations of the country of origin. 

Printed and bound in Great Britain by 
Clays Ltd, St Ives pic 


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To two teachers, 
L. Ray Patterson and Jac\ Valenti 

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Part I: Cultures 

RW Culture Versus RO Culture 
Limits in Regulation 


Nature Remade 
Re-remaking Nature 
Receding Us 


Writing Beyond Words 
Remixed: Text 
Remixed: Media 
The Significance of Remix 
The Old in the New 







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Differences in Value — and "Values" 
Differences in Value (As in $) 
Differences in Value (As in "Is It Any Good?' 
Differences in Law (As in "Is It Allowed?") 
Lessons About Cultures 




Part II: Economies 


Commercial Economies 

Three Successes from the Internet's 
Commercial Economy 

Three Keys to These Three Successes 

Little Brother 

The Character of Commercial Success 

Sharing Economies 

Internet Sharing Economies 

The Paradigm Case: Wikipedia 

Beyond Wikipedia 

What Sharing Economies Share 


The Paradigm Case: Free Software 
Beyond Free Software 

Parallel Economies Are Possible 







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Tools Help Signal Which Economy a Creator 

Creates For 226 

Crossovers Are Growing 227 

Strong Incentives Will Increasingly Drive 

Commercial Entities to Hybrids 22S 

Perceptions of Fairness Will in Part Mediate the 

Hybrid Relationship Between Sharing and 

Commercial Economies 2il 

"Sharecropping" Is Not Likely to Become a 

Term of Praise 24i 

The Hybrid Can Help Us Decriminalize Youth 24S 

Part III: Enabling the Future 


1. Deregulating Amateur Creativity 2S4 

2. Clear Title 260 

3. Simplify 266 

4. Decriminalizing the Copy 26S 

5. Decriminalizing File Sharing 211 


Chilling the Control Freaks 274 

Showing Sharing 276 

Rediscovering the Limits of Regulation 2S0 


Acknowledgments 295 

Notes 299 

Index 319 


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In early 2007, I was at dinner with some friends in Berlin. We 
were talking about global warming. After an increasingly intense 
exchange about the threats from climate change, one overeager 
American at the table blurted, "We need to wage a war on carbon. 
/it\ Governments need to mobilize. Get our troops on the march!" /*\ 

Then he fell back into his chair, proud of his bold resolve, sipping a 
bit too much of the wildly too-expensive red wine. 

It was obvious that my friend was speaking metaphorically. Car- 
bon is not an "enemy." Not even an American marine could fight it. 
Yet, as I looked around the table, a kind of reticence seemed to float 
above our German companions. "What does that look mean?" I 
asked one of my friends. After a short pause, he almost whispered, 
"Germans don't like war." 

The response sparked a rare moment of recognition (in me). 
Of course, no one was talking about using guns to fight carbon. 
Or even carbon polluters. Yet, for obvious reasons, the associations 
with war in Germany are strongly negative. The whole country, 
but especially Berlin, is draped in constant reminders of the costs of 
that country's twentieth-century double blunder. 

But in America, associations with war are not necessarily 


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negative. I don't mean that we are a war-loving people; I mean that 
our history has allowed us to like the idea of waging war. Not out 
of choice, but as a remedy to a great wrong. War is a sacrifice that 
we have made, and in one recent case at least, a sacrifice to a very 
good end. We thus romanticize that sacrifice. 

That romance in turn allows the metaphor to spread into other 
social or political conflicts. We wage war on drugs, on poverty, on 
terrorism, on racism. There is a war on government waste, a war on 
crime, a war on spam, a war on guns, and a war on cancer. As Pro- 
fessors George Lakoff and Mark Johnson describe, each of these 
"wars" produces a "network of entailments." Those entailments 
then frame and drive social policy. As they put it, in discussing 
President Carter's "moral equivalent of war" speech: 

/itN There was an "enemy," a "threat to national security," which /*\ 

required "setting targets," "reorganizing priorities," "establishing 
a new chain of command," "plotting new strategy," "gathering 
intelligence," "marshaling forces," "imposing sanctions," "calling 
for sacrifices," and on and on. The WAR metaphor highlighted 
certain realities and hid others. The metaphor was not merely a 
way of viewing reality; it constituted a license for policy change 
and political and economic action. The very acceptance of the 
metaphor provided grounds for certain interferences: there was 
an external, foreign, hostile enemy (pictured by cartoonist in Arab 
headdress); energy needed to be given top priorities; the populace 
would have to make sacrifices; if we didn't meet the threat we 
would not survive.^ 

A fight for survival has obvious implications. Such fights get 
waged without limit. It is cowardly to question the cause. Dissent is 


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an aid to the enemy — treason, or close enough. Victory is the only 
result one may contemplate, at least out loud. Compromise is always 

These entailments make obvious sense during conflicts such as 
World War II, when there really was a fight for survival; my spark 
of Lakoffian recognition, however, was to see just how danger- 
ous these entailments are when the war metaphor gets applied in 
contexts in which, in fact, survival is not at stake. 

Think, for example, about the "war on drugs." Fighting 
debilitating chemical addiction is no doubt an important social 
objective. I have seen fi rsthand the absolute destruction it causes. But 
the "war on drugs" metaphor prevents us from recognizing that there 
may be other, more important objectives that the war is threatening. 
Think about the astonishingly long prison terms facing even small- 
/it\ time dealers — the Supreme Court, for example, has upheld a life /*\ 

sentence without the possibility of parole for the possession of 672 
grams of cocaine.2 Think about ghettos burdened by the drug trade. 
Think about governments in Latin America that have no effectively 
independent judiciary or even army because the wealth produced 
by prohibition enables the drug lords to capture their control. 
And then think about the fact that this war has had essentially 
no effect on terminating the supply of drugs. One doesn't notice 
these inconvenient truths in the middle of a war. To see them, you 
need a truce. You need to step back from the war to ask. How 
much is it really costing? Are the results really worth the price? 

The inspiration for tlliS bOOl( is the copyright wars, by which right- 
thinking sorts mean not the "war" on copyright "waged" by "pirates" 


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but the "war" on "piracy," which "threatens" the "survival" of certain 
important American industries. 

This war too has an important objective. Copyright is, in my 
view at least, critically important to a healthy culture. Properly bal- 
anced, it is essential to inspiring certain forms of creativity. Without 
it, we would have a much poorer culture. With it, at least properly 
balanced, we create the incentives to produce great new works that 
otherwise would not be produced. 

But, like all metaphoric wars, the copyright wars are not actual 
conflicts of survival. Or at least, they are not conflicts for survival 
of a people or a society, even if they are wars of survival for certain 
businesses or, more accurately, business models. Thus we must keep 
in mind the other values or objectives that might also be affected by 
this war. We must make sure this war doesn't cost more than it is 
/it\ worth. We must be sure it is winnable, or winnable at a price we're /*\ 

willing to pay. 

I believe we should not be waging this war. I believe so not 
because I think copyright is unimportant. Instead, I believe in 
peace because the costs of this war wildly exceed any benefit, at least 
when you consider changes to the current regime of copyright that 
could end this war while promising artists and authors the protec- 
tion that any copyright system is intended to provide. 

In the past, I've tried to advance this view for peace by focusing 
on the costs of this war to innovation, to creativity, and, ultimately, 
to freedom. My aim in The Future of Ideas was to defend industries 
that never get born for fear of the insane liability that the current 
regime of copyright imposes. My subject in Free Culture was the 
forms of creative expression and freedom that get trampled by the 
extremism of defending a regime of copyright built for a radically 
different technological age. 


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But I finished Free Culture just as my first child was born. 
And in the four years since, my focus, or fears, about this war have 
changed. I don't doubt the concerns I had about innovation, cre- 
ativity, and freedom. But they don't keep me awake anymore. Now I 
worry about the effect this war is having upon our kids. What is 
this war doing to them? What is it making them? How is it changing 
how they think about normal, right- thinking behavior? What does 
it mean to a society when a whole generation is raised as criminals? 

This is not a new question. Indeed, it was the question that 
the former, now late, head of the Motion Picture Association of 
America, Jack Valenti, asked again and again as he fought what 
he called a "terrorist war" against "piracy ."3 It was the question 
he asked a Harvard audience the fi rst time he and I debated the 
issue. In his brilliant and engaging opening, Valenti described 
/it\ another talk he had just given at Stanford, at which 90 percent of /*\ 

the students confessed to illegally downloading music from Nap- 
ster. He asked a student to defend this "stealing." The student's 
response was simple: Yes, this might be stealing, but everyone 
does it. How could it be wrong? Valenti then asked his Stanford 
hosts: What are you teaching these kids? "What kind of moral 
platform will sustain this young man in his later life?" 

This wasn't the question that interested me in that debate. I 
blathered on about the framers of our Constitution, about incent- 
ives, and about limiting monopolies. But Valenti's question is 
precisely the question that interests me now: "What kind of mor- 
al platform will sustain this young man in his later life?" For me, 
"this young man" represents my two young sons. For you, it may 
be your daughter, or your nephew. But for all of us, whether we have 
kids or not, Valenti's question is exactly the question that should 


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xviii PREFACE 

concern us most. In a world in which technology begs all of us to 
create and spread creative work differently from how it was created 
and spread before, what kind of moral platform will sustain our 
kids, when their ordinary behavior is deemed criminal? Who will 
they become? What other crimes will to them seem natural? 

Valenti asked this question to motivate Congress — and anyone 
else who would listen — to wage an ever more effective war against 
"piracy." I ask this question to motivate anyone who will listen (and 
Congress is certainly not in that category) to think about a different 
question: What should we do if this war against "piracy" as we cur- 
rently conceive of it cannot be won? What should we do if we know 
that the future will be one where our kids, and their kids, will use a 
digital network to access whatever content they want whenever they 
want it? What should we do if we know that the future is one where 
/it\ perfect control over the distribution of "copies" simply will not exist? /*\ 

In that world, should we continue our ritual sacrifice of some 
kid caught downloading content? Should we continue the expul- 
sions from universities? The threat of multimillion-dollar civil judg- 
ments? Should we increase the vigor with which we wage war 
against these "terrorists"? Should we sacrifice ten or a hundred to a 
federal prison (for their actions under current law are felonies), so 
that others learn to stop what today they do with ever-increasing 
frequency ? 

In my view, the solution to an unwinnable war is not to wage 
war more vigorously. At least when the war is not about survival, 
the solution to an unwinnable war is to sue for peace, and then to 
find ways to achieve without war the ends that the war sought. 
Criminalizing an entire generation is too high a price to pay for 
almost any end. It is certainly too high a price to pay for a copyright 
system crafted more than a generation ago. 


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This war is especially pointless because there are peaceful means 
to attain all of its objectives — or at least, all of the legitimate objec- 
tives. Artists and authors need incentives to create. We can craft a 
system that does exactly that without criminalizing our kids. The 
last decade is filled with extraordinarily good work by some of the 
very best scholars in America, mapping and sketching alternatives 
to the existing system. These alternatives would achieve the same 
ends that copyright seeks, without making felons of those who nat- 
urally do what new technologies encourage them to do. 

It is time we take seriously these alternatives. It is time we stop 
wasting the resources of our federal courts, our police, and our uni- 
versities to punish behavior that we need not punish. It is time we 
stop developing tools that do nothing more than break the extraor- 
dinary connectivity and efficiency of this network. It is time we call 
/it\ a truce, and figure a better way. And a better way means redefining /*\ 

the system of law we call copyright so that ordinary, normal behav- 
ior is not called criminal. 

Many will read this declaration and wonder just why I should be 
allowed to teach law at a great American university. Do we respond 
to high levels of rape by decriminalizing rape ? Would tax evasion 
best be solved by eliminating taxes? Should the fact of speeding 
mean we should repeal the speed limit? Or put generally: Does the 
fact of crime justify the repeal of criminal law? 

Of course not. Rape is wrong and should be punished severely 
whether or not people continue to rape. Tax evasion is evil and 
should be punished much more severely than it is, whether or not 
most people cheat. And speeding kills and should be regulated 
much more effectively than it is now, even if most of us regularly 
speed. Nothing I'm saying about the copyright war in particular 
generalizes automatically to every other area of regulation. I am 


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talking specifically about one unwinnable war, and about alterna- 
tives to that war that have the consequence of decriminalizing our 
kids, and decriminalizing many of us too. 

But I confess that I do believe that this way of thinking about the 
copyright wars should affect how we think about other kinds of reg- 
ulation. Tax evasion is wrong. But one way to avoid that wrong would 
be a simpler, fairer tax system. Speeding is wrong. But one way to 
avoid that wrong is to avoid fifty-five-mile-per-hour speed limits 
on straight, rural, four-lane public highways. We should always be 
thinking about how to moderate regulation in light of the likeli- 
hood that the target of regulation will comply. It does no one any 
good to regulate in ways that we know people will not obey. 

We need, in other words, more humility about regulation. The 
twentieth century changed us in many obvious ways. But the one way 
/it\ we're likely not to notice is the presumption the twentieth century /*\ 

gave us that government regulation is plausibly successful. For most 
of the history of modern government, the struggle was not about 
what was good or bad; the struggle was about whether it was possible 
to imagine government effecting any good through regulation. Fears 
of inevitable corruption, in part at least, drove our framers to limit the 
size of the federal government — not idealism about libertarianism. 
Recognizing the uselessness of certain sorts of rules led governments 
to avoid regulation in obvious areas, or to deregulate when they saw 
their regulation failing. These are the historical expressions of regu- 
latory humility, a habit of mind for most of human history. 

We've forgotten these limits of humility. Wherever there is a 
wrong, the first instinct of our government is to send in the legal 
equivalent of the marines. We pass a law to ban a behavior, but 
we rarely work through just how that law will change behavior. 
Nor do we assess how corrosive it is if, the law notwithstanding. 


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the behavior remains the same, though now with the label "crimi- 
nal." If something is wrong, it gets a law, without us even working 
through alternatives to exploding regulation. 

If you're skeptical, think about a simple example. Around the 
time the Supreme Court heard arguments in the well-known peer- 
to-peer file-sharing case MGM v. Grokster,'^ my local public-radio 
station aired a story about the case. The story happened to run on 
a day when the radio station was also running its own fund-raising 
drive. Just after the story about Grokster ended, the show shifted 
to its call for public support. "More than 90 percent of people who 
listen to public radio don't contribute to its support," the announcer 
said. "That's why we need you to contribute now." 

I had worked on a brief in the Grokster case, in which we 
addressed the content industry's claim that 91 percent of the con- 
/it\ tent shared on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks was in violation /*\ 

of copyright law. We had responded by reminding the Court that 
in the earlier Sony Betamax case, in which the VCR was the tar- 
get, the content industry had also estimated that 91 percent of VCR 
usage was in violation of copyright laws. The industry was nothing 
if not consistent. 

But the contrast between the complaint in the Supreme Court 
and the complaint of the announcer on public radio startled me. 
Here were two examples of free riding: people downloading Brit- 
ney Spears's music without paying her and people listening to "All 
Things Considered" without paying NPR. With one, we criminal- 
ize the free riding. With the other, we don't. Why? Do you think 
it would be appropriate to arrest people who listen to NPR without 
paying? I certainly don't. And as you may wonder, do I think Brit- 
ney Spears should be paid through voluntary pledges on a 1-800 
number? No, again, I don't. 


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My point in retelling this story is to get you to see something 
that is otherwise too often obscure: there are many different ways in 
which we tax to raise the revenues needed for public goods (as the 
economist would call copyrighted works). We select among these 
different ways the one that is best. The critical point I want this 
book to make is that one factor we should consider when deciding 
that is whether the way we select makes our kids criminals. That's 
not the only factor. But it is one that has plainly been missing from 
Congress's consideration about how best to deal with the impact of 
digital technologies upon traditional copyright industries. 

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In early February 2007, Stephanie Lenz's thirteen-month-old son, 
Holden, started dancing. Pushing a walker across her kitchen 
floor, Holden started moving to the distinctive beat of a song by 
/it\ Prince (that's the current name of the artist formerly known as /*\ 

Prince), "Let's Go Crazy." Holden had heard the song a couple of 
weeks before while the family watched the Super Bowl. The beat 
had obviously stuck. So when he heard the song again, he did what 
any sensible thirteen-month-old would do — he accepted Prince's 
invitation and went "crazy" to the beat, in the clumsy but insanely 
cute way that any precocious thirteen-month-old would. 

Holden's mom, understandably, thought the scene hilarious. 
She grabbed her camcorder and captured the dance digitally. For 
twenty-nine seconds, she had the priceless image of Holden danc- 
ing, with the barely discernible Prince playing on a radio some- 
where in the background. 

Lenz wanted her parents to see the film. But it's a bit hard to 
e-mail a 20-megabyte video file to anyone, including your rela- 
tives. So she did what any sensible citizen of the twenty-first cen- 


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tury would do: she uploaded the file to YouTube and e-mailed her 
relatives the link. They watched the video scores of times, no doubt 
sharing the link with fi-iends and colleagues at work. It was a per- 
fect YouTube moment: a community of laughs around a homemade 
video, readily shared with anyone who wanted to watch. 

Sometime over the next four months, however, someone not 
a friend of Stephanie Lenz also watched Holden dance. That 
someone worked for Universal Music Group. Universal either 
owns or administers some of the copyrights of Prince. And 
Universal has a long history of aggressively defending the 
copyrights of its authors. In 1976, it was one of the lead plaintiffs 
suing Sony for the "pirate technology" now known as the VCR. 
In 2000, it was one of about ten companies suing Eric Corley and 
his magazine, 2600, for publishing a link to a site that contained 
/it\ code that could enable someone to play a DVD on Linux. And /*\ 

now, in 2007, Universal would continue its crusade against copy- 
right piracy by threatening Stephanie Lenz. It fi red off a letter to 
YouTube demanding that it remove the unauthorized perform- 
ance of Prince's music. YouTube, to avoid liability itself, complied. 

This sort of thing happens all the time today. Companies like 
YouTube are deluged with demands to remove material from their 
systems. No doubt a significant portion of those demands are fair 
and justified. If you're Viacom, funding a new television series with 
high-priced ads, it is perfectly understandable that when a perfect 
copy of the latest episode is made available on YouTube, you would 
be keen to have it taken down. Copyright law gives Viacom that 
power by giving it a quick and inexpensive way to get the YouTubes 
of the world to help it protect its rights. 

The Prince song on Lenz's video, however, was something com- 
pletely different. First, the quality of the recording was terrible. No 


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one would download Lenz's video to avoid paying Prince for his 
music. Likewise, neither Prince nor Universal was in the business of 
selling the right to video- cam your baby dancing to their music. 
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 with her 
family, friends, and whoever else saw it. Some parents might well be 
terrifi ed by how deeply commercial culture had penetrated the brain 
of their thirteen- month- old. Stephanie Lenz just thought it cute. 

Not cute, however, from Lenz's perspective at least, was the 
notice she received from YouTube that it was removing her video. 
What had she done wrong? Lenz wondered. What possible rule 
— assuming, as she did, that the rules regulating culture and her 
(what we call "copyright") were sensible rules — could her ma- 
/it\ ternal gloating have broken? She pressed that question through a /*\ 

number of channels until it found its way to the Electronic Fronti- 
er Foundation (on whose board I sat until the beginning of 2008). 

The EFF handles lots of cases like this. The lawyers thought 
this case would quickly go away. They fi led a counternotice, 
asserting that no rights of Universal or Prince were violated, and 
that Stephanie Lenz certainly had the right to show her baby 
dancing. The response was routine. No one expected anything 
more would come of it. 

But something did. The lawyers at Universal were not going 
to back down. There was a principle at stake here. Ms. Lenz was not 
permitted to share this bit of captured culture. They would insist 

indeed, would threaten her with this claim directly — that sharing 
this home movie was willful copyright infringement. Under the 


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laws of the United States, Ms. Lenz was risking a $150,000 fine for 
sharing her home movie. 

We'll have plenty of time to consider the particulars of a copy- 
right claim like this in the pages that follow. For now, put those 
particulars aside. Instead, I want to you imagine the conference room 
at Universal where the decision was made to threaten Stephanie 
Lenz with a federal lawsuit. Picture the meeting: four, maybe more, 
participants. Most of them lawyers, billing hundreds of dollars an 
hour. All of them wearing thousand- dollar suits, sitting around 
looking serious, drinking coffee brewed by an assistant, reading a 
memo drafted by a fi rst- year associate about the various rights 
that had been violated by the pirate, Stephanie Lenz. After thirty 
minutes, maybe an hour, the executives come to their solemn de- 
cision. A meeting that cost Universal $10,000? $50,000? (when you 
/it\ count the value of the lawyers' time, and the time to prepare the legal /*\ 

materials); a meeting resolved to invoke the laws of Congress against 
a mother merely giddy with love for her thirteen- month- old. 

Picture all that, and then ask yourself: How is it that sensible 
people, people no doubt educated at some of the best universities 
and law schools in the country, would come to think it a sane use 
of corporate resources to threaten the mother of a dancing 
thirteen- month- old? What is it that allows these lawyers and 
executives to take a case like this seriously, to believe there's some 
important social or corporate reason to deploy the federal scheme 
of regulation called copyright to stop the spread of these images and 
music? "Let's Go Crazy"? Indeed! What has brought the Ameri- 
can legal system to the point that such behavior by a leading cor- 
poration is considered anything but "crazy"? Or to put it the other 


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around, who have we become that such behavior seems sane 


to anyone ? 

Near the center of London, in a courtyard named Mason's Yard, 
there is a modern-looking cement building called White Cube. In 
a previous life, it was an electricity substation. Today it is an art 

In late August 2007, 1 entered the gallery and walked to the base- 
ment. A large black curtain separated the stairs from an exhibit. 
When I passed through the curtain, I saw on one wall of the huge 
black room twenty-five plasma displays, one set next to the other, 
in portrait orientation. Each display was a window into a studio. 
In each studio was a fan of John Lennon. Twenty-five fans — three 
/it\ women, twenty-two men, fifteen wearing T-shirts (both men and /*\ 

women), one wearing a tie (man). All twenty-five were singing the 
vocal track, from the first song to the last, without pause, from John 
Lennon's first solo album, John Lennon /Plastic Ono Band (1970). 
The exhibit looped the video again and again, for eight hours a day, 
six days a week, throughout the summer of 2007. 

These fans were ordinary Brits. Very ordinary. None were 
beautiful. None were very young. They had no makeup. They were 
twenty-five Lennon fanatics, selected from over six hundred who 
had applied to sing this tribute to their favorite artist. 

London was not the only city with an exhibit like this. Three 
related installations had been made in three different countries. In 
Jamaica, Legend (A Portrait of Bob Marley) featured thirty fans sing- 
ing Marley's Legend album. In Berlin, King (A Portrait of Michael 
Jacl^on) had sixteen fans singing the whole oi Thriller. And in Italy, 


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thirty fans of Madonna gathered for Queen (A Portrait of Madonna), 
a tribute to the queen of pop. Wor/^ing Class Hero (A Portrait of John 
Lennon) was just the latest in the series. The young South African 
artist who had created it, Candice Breitz, was considering making 

I'm not one to be moved by John Lennon's solo work. Yet as I 
sat in that pitch-black room, watching these fans sing his music, I 
was overwhelmed with emotion. Like a mother holding her baby 
for the first time, or a boy reaching out to take his father's hand, or 
a daughter turning to kiss her father as her wedding begins, each of 
these fans conveyed an extraordinary and contagious emotion. They 
were not fantastic singers. Often someone would miss the timing or 
forget the words. But you could see that this music and its creator 
were among the most important things in these people's lives. Who 
/it\ knows why? Who knows what their particular associations were? /*\ 

But it was clear that this album was just about the most important 
creative work these fans knew. Their performance was a celebration 
of this part of their lives. That was its point: not so much about Len- 
non, but about the people whose lives Lennon had touched. 

Throughout her career Breitz has focused upon the relation- 
ship between mainstream culture — from blockbuster movies to pop 
music — and the audience who experiences it. As she explained to me, 

the idea is to shift the focus away from those people who are usu- 
ally perceived as creators so as to give some space, some room, to 
those people who absorb cultural products — whether it's music or 
movies or whatever the case may be. And to think a little bit about 
what happens once music or a movie has been distributed: how it 
may get absorbed into the lives into the very being of the people 
who listen to it or watch it.' 


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Each of us connects differently. The connection runs deep in some; 
it skips across the surface in others. Sometimes it catches us and 
pulls us along. Sometimes it changes us completely. Again, Breitz: 

Even the most broadly distributed, most market- infl ected mu- 
sic comes to have a very specifi c and local meaning for people 
according to where it is that they're hearing it or at what mo- 
ment in their life they're hearing it. What goes hand in hand with 
the moment of reception is a dimension of personal translation. 

This "reception," she continued, "involves . . . interpretation or 
translation." That act "is creative." Active. Engaged. Yet, it's 
easy for us to miss the active in the mere watching. It's rude to 
turn around and watch people watch a movie. It's a crime to try 
/it\ to fi Im them singing in the shower. We live in a world infused /*\ 

with commercial culture, yet we rarely see how it touches us, and 
how we process it as it touches us. 

As Breitz explained this to me, I wondered about its source in 
her. Where did it come from.'' I asked her. In part, it was African. 

In African and other oral cultures, this is how culture has tradi- 
tionally functioned. In the absence of written culture, stories and 
histories were shared communally between performers and their 
audiences, giving rise to version after version, each new version 
surpassing the last as it incorporated the contributions and feed- 
back of the audience, each new version layered with new details 
and twists as it was infl ected through the collective. This was 
never thought of as copying or stealing or intellectual property 
theft but accepted as the natural way in which culture evolves and 


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develops and moves forward. As each new layer of interpretation 
was painted onto the story or the song, it was enriched rather than 
depleted by those layers. 

But this reality is not unique to oral cultures. In Breitz's view, it 
is "how the artistic process works" generally. 

This process of making meaning may be more blatant in the 
practice of certain artists than it is in the practice of others. Art- 
ists who work with found footage, for example, blatantly reflect 
on the absorptive logic of the creative process. But I would argue 
that every work of art comes into being through a similar process, 
no matter how subtly. No artist works in a vacuum. Every artist 
reflects — consciously or not — on what has come before and what 
/itN is happening parallel to his or her practice. /*\ 

This understanding of culture, and the artist's relationship to 
culture, led directly to the particular work I was watching at White 
Cube. As she described to me, 

these works are based on a pretty simple premise: there are 
enough images and representations of superstars and celebrities 
in the world. Rather than creating more images of people who 
are already overrepresented, rather than literally making another 
image of a Madonna or a John Lennon, I wanted to reflect on 
the other side of the equation, on what goes into the making of 

I realized I needed to turn the camera 180 degrees, away from 
those who are usually in the public eye — those who already have 


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a strong voice and presence on the screen or stage — towards those 
on the other side of the screen or stage, the audience members who 
attend concerts, watch movies, and buy CDs. 

Towards those who are usually — incorrectly, in my opinion — 
conceived of as mere absorbers of culture rather than being recog- 
nized as having the potential to reflect culture creatively. 

Prior to Working Class Hero, the similar installations had all 
been well received. After seeing Legend, for example, Bob Marley's 
widow, Rita, decided to incorporate permanently a copy in the 
inventory of the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, where she had 
arranged an opening showing at the museum, inviting all thirty 
performers and their families from across Jamaica to come to the 
museum to celebrate its celebration of her husband. 
/it\ But with the portrait of Lennon, the reception wasn't quite so /*\ 

warm. At White Cube's request, Breitz had set out to secure per- 
mission from the copyright holders oi John Lennon /Plastic Ono 
Band prior to the first installations of the work at nonprofit muse- 
ums in Newcastle and Vienna. Breitz wrote Yoko Ono to secure 
that permission. After a couple of months, she received a response 
from one of Ms. Ono's lawyers. "We are not able to grant the use 
of Mr. Lennon's image for your project," the e-mail informed. But 
Breitz didn't want permission to use Lennon's image. She wanted 
permission to engage with twenty-five fans singing his music. 
When Breitz responded with that correction, the lawyer informed 
her that he had not in fact personally reviewed her proposal. He 
was simply relaying the fact that Ms. Ono was not willing to grant 
the rights requested. A major international curator who knew Yoko 
and was a supporter of Breitz's work intervened on Breitz's behalf. 


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suggesting that, as he understood the situation, Breitz could in fact 
have paid for the relevant copyrights and gone ahead with the proj- 
ect, but that out of respect, she was seeking Ono's permission and 
understanding. Ms. Ono wanted to hear more, but she disagreed 
with the curator about her freedom to make a cover without per- 
mission. "Permission," Ono insisted, "was vital, legally." 

The curator described the proposal again. Ono asked to see it 
in writing. After reviewing it, her lawyers informed Breitz that she 
could me John Lennon /Plastic Ono Band in her project, but: 

Please note, clearance for the use of the actual musical composi- 
tions must be secured from the relevant publishers.^ 

Relieved (however naively), Breitz then asked White Cube's 
/it\ lawyers to start the process of securing "clearance" from the copy- /*\ 

right holders for the compositions. Three months later, the lawyers 
representing Sony (holder of the rights to ten of the eleven songs on 
the album) quoted a standard fee of approximately $45,000 for one 
month's exhibition. Sony knew this was too much but wanted to set 
a baseline for the negotiations that would follow. They requested 
that the artist let them know the largest sum that she could afford. 
They wanted to see the project's budget. 

Time, however, was running short. The exhibit was scheduled 
to open in Newcastle in a matter of weeks. After being pressed, the 
lawyers agreed to permit the work to be shown at this nonprofit 
institution without an agreement. They did the same for a non- 
profit venue in Vienna three months later, but mentioned that Ms. 
Ono's lawyers wanted a formal agreement before any further exhi- 
bitions could go ahead. 


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A year after the request was originally made, it had still not 
been resolved. At the time of this writing, more than two years 
after the initial response, and after literally hundreds of hours of 
the lawyers', the museum executives', and Breitz's time, the rights 
holders have still not come to a final agreement. No one seems to 
have noticed that the value of the time spent dickering over these 
rights far exceeded any possible licensing fee. Economics didn't 
matter. A principle was at stake. As Ms. Ono had put it, "permis- 
sion was vital, legally" before the love of twenty-five fans for the 
work of John Lennon could be explored publicly by another artist. 

Gregg GilliS is a twenty-five-year-old biomedical engineer from 
Pittsburgh. He is also one of the hottest new artists in an emerging 
/it\ genre of music called "mash-up" or "remix." Girl Talk is the name /*\ 

of his one-man (and one-machine) band. That band has now pro- 
duced three CDs. The best known. Night Ripper, was named one 
of the year's best by Rolling Stone and Pitchfork^. In March 2007, his 
local congressman. Democrat Michael Doyle, took to the floor of 
the House to praise this "local guy made good" and his new form 
of art. 

"New" because Girl Talk is essentially a mix of many samples 
drawn from many other artists. Night Ripper, for example, remixes 
between 200 and 250 samples from 167 artists. "In one example," 
Doyle explained on the floor of the House, "[Girl Talk] blended 
Elton John, Notorious B.I.G., and Destiny's Child all in the span of 
30 seconds." Doyle was proud of this hometown wonder. He invited 
his colleagues to "take a step back" to look at this new form of art. 
"Maybe mash-ups," Doyle speculated, "are a transformative new art 


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that expands the consumer's experience and doesn't compete with 
what an artist has made available on iTunes or at the CD store." 

Doyle's comments helped fuel a flurry of media attention to 
Girl Talk. That, in turn, helped fuel some real anxiety among Girl 
Talk's distributors. For the defining feature of this mash-up genre 
is that the samples are remixed without any permission from the 
original artists. And if you ask any lawyer representing any label 
in America, he or she would quickly Ono-ize: "Permission is vital, 
legally." Thus, as Gillis practices it. Girl Talk is a crime. Apple 
pulled Night Ripper from the iTunes Music Store. eMusic had done 
the same a few weeks before. Indeed, one CD factory had refused 
even to press the CD. 

Gillis had begun with music at the age of fifteen. Listening to 
electronic experimental music on a local radio station, he "discov- 
/it\ ered this world of people that could press buttons and make noise /*\ 

on pedals and perform it live." "It kind of blew my mind," he told 
me. At the age of sixteen he "formed a noise band — noise meaning 
very avant-garde music" for the time.^ 

Over the years, "avant-garde" moved from analog to digital — 
aka computers. Girl Talk the band was born in late 2000 on a 
Toshiba originally purchased for college. Gillis loaded the machine 
with audio tracks and loops. Then, using a program called Audio- 
Mulch, he would order and remix the tracks to prepare for a perfor- 
mance. I've seen Girl Talk perform live; his shows are as brilliant as 
his recorded remixes. 

It wasn't long into the life of Girl Talk, however, that the shadow 
of Law Talk began to grow. Gillis recognized that his form of cre- 
ativity didn't yet have the blessing of the law. Yet he told me, "I was 

never that fearful I guess I was a little naive, but at the same 

time, it was just the world I existed in where you see these things 


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every day. [And you] know you're going to be selling such a small 
number of albums that no one will probably ever take notice of it." 
There were of course famous cases where people did "take notice." 
Negativland, a band we'll see more of later in this book, had had a 
famous run-in with U2 and Casey Kasem after it remixed a record- 
ing of Kasem introducing the band on American Top 40. Gillis 
knew about this run-in. But as he explained to me in a way that 
reminded me of the days when I too thought the law was simply 
justice written nicely, 

I feel the same exact way now that I felt then. I think, just mor- 
ally, that the music wasn't really hurting anyone. And there's no 
way anyone was buying my CD instead of someone else's [that I 
had sampled]. And ... it clearly wasn't affecting the market. This 
/itN wasn't something like a bootlegging case. I felt like if someone /*\ 

really had a problem with this then we could stop doing it. But I 
didn't see why anyone should. 

Why anyone "should" was a question I couldn't answer. That 
someone would was a prediction too obvious to make. The "prob- 
lem" would be raised not directly, but indirectly; not by filing a 
lawsuit against Girl Talk, but by calling up iTunes or another 
distributor and asking questions that made the distributor stop 
its distribution, and thus forcing this artist, and this art form, into 
obscurity. The "problem" of Girl Talk would be solved by mak- 
ing sure that any success of Girl Talk was limited. Keep it in Pitts- 
burgh, and dampen the demand wherever you can, and maybe the 
"problem" would go away. 

Gillis agrees the problem is going away. But for a very different 
reason. For the thing that Gillis does well, Gillis explained to me. 


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everyone will soon do. Everyone, at least, who is passionate about 
music. Or, at least, everyone passionate about music and under the 
age of thirty. 

We're living in this remix culture. This appropriation time where 
any grade-school kid has a copy of Photoshop and can download 
a picture of George Bush and manipulate his face how they want 
and send it to their friends. And that's just what they do. Well, 
more and more people have noticed a huge increase in the amount 
of people who just do remixes of songs. Every single Top 40 hit 
that comes on the radio, so many young kids are just grabbing it 
and doing a remix of it. The software is going to become more and 
more easy to use. It's going to become more like Photoshop when 
it's on every computer. Every single P. Diddy song that comes out, 
/itN there's going to be ten-year-old kids doing remixes and then put- /*\ 

ting them on the Internet. 

"But why is this good.''" I asked Gillis. 

It's good because it is, in essence, just free culture. Ideas impact 
data, manipulated and treated and passed along. I think it's just 
great on a creative level that everyone is so involved with the music 

that they like You don't have to be a traditional musician. You 

get a lot of raw ideas and stuff from people outside of the box who 
haven't taken guitar lessons their whole life. I just think it's great 
for music. 

And, Gillis believes, it is also great for the record industry as 
well: "From a financial perspective, this is how the music industry 


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can thrive in the future . . . this interactivity with the albums. Treat 
it more hke a game and less like a product." 

Gillis's point in the end, however, was not about reasons. It was 
about a practice. Or about the practice of this generation. "People 
are going to be forced — lawyers and . . . older politicians — to face 
this reality: that everyone is making this music and that most music 
is derived from previous ideas. And that almost all pop music is 
made from other people's source material. And that it's not a bad 
thing. It doesn't mean you can't make original content." 

All it means — today, at least — is that you can't make this con- 
tent legally. "Permission is vital, legally," even if today it is impos- 
sible to obtain. 

^ SilviaO is a successful Colombian artist. For a time she was a song- ^ 

writer and recording star, making CDs to be sold in the normal 
channels of Colombian pop music. In the late 1990s, she suffered 
a tragic personal loss, and took some time away from performing. 
When she returned to creating music, a close friend and developer 
for Adobe convinced her to try something different. 

I saw her describe the experience outside a beautiful museum 
near Bogota, at the launch of Creative Commons Colombia. (We'll 
see more of Creative Commons later. Suffice it to say for now that the 
nonprofit provides free copyright licenses to enable artists to mark 
their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. These 
licenses are then translated, or "ported," into jurisdictions around 
the world. When that porting is complete, the country "launches," 
making the new localized licenses available.) About a hundred 
people, mainly artists and twentysomethings, were gathered in an 


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amphitheater next to the museum. SilviaO spoke in Spanish. A 
translator sitting next to me carried her words into Enghsh. 

She told a story of donating an a cappella track titled "Nada 
Nada" ("Nothing Nothing") to a site Creative Commons runs 
called ccMixter. ccMixter was intended as a kind of Friendster 
for music. People were asked to upload tracks. As those tracks got 
remixed, the new tracks would keep a reference to the old. So you 
could see, for example, that a certain track was made by remix- 
ing two other tracks. And you could see that four other people had 
remixed that track. 

SilviaO's track was a beautiful rendition of a song sung in Span- 
ish, described on the ccMixter site as the story of "a girl not chang- 
ing her ideas, dreams or way of life after engaging in a relationship." 
A few days after the track was uploaded, however, a famous mixter 
/it\ citizen, fourstones, remixed it — cutting up the Spanish into totally /*\ 

incomprehensible (but beautiful) gibberish, and retitling the mix 
"Treatment for Mutilation." 

As she stood before those who had come to celebrate Creative 
Commons Colombia and described this "mutilation," I, the chair- 
man of Creative Commons, began to sweat. I was certain she was 
about to attack remix creativity. A remixer had totally destroyed 
the meaning of her contribution. I was certain this was to become a 
condemnation of the freedom that I had thought we were all there 
to celebrate. 

To my extraordinary surprise and obvious relief, however, Sil- 
viaO had no condemnation to share. She instead described how 
the experience had totally changed how she thought about creat- 
ing music. Sure, the words were no longer meaningful. But the 
sound had taken on new meaning. As she told me later, "the song 


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became more jazzy, and it opened the gate to understanding that 
maybe it was going to be more to treat my voice as an instrument 
and something completely independent from lyrics than I was used 
to before."'* 

Inspired by that remix, she wrote another track to be layered 
onto the first. Since then, she has added song after song to the 
ccMixter collection. Unlike Breitz's work or Girl Talk, all these 
remixes were legal. If "permission is vital, legally," then with this 
work, permission had already been given. The Creative Commons 
licenses had shifted the copyright baseline through the voluntary 
acts of copyright holders. 

And for SilviaO, the act of creating had changed. Before, she sat 
in a studio, crafting work that would be broadcast, one to many. 
Now she was in a conversation with other artists, providing con- 
/it\ tent they would add to, and adding content back. "I'm more talking /*\ 

with the musicians right now," she told me, "because I'm releas- 
ing my work and I know for sure, for many of them, they don't 
understand not even the words I am saying. [But] my voice is just 
another instrument, so all the options that they are playing with 

are completely their own. So there is more freedom My voice," 

she explained, "was just a little bit — it was just a little part of the 
huge process that is happening now with this kind of creation. I 
was a little bit more free, because I didn't know how they were 

"I became," she whispered, "a little bit more courageous." 

If I 3SkGd you to shut your eyes and think about "the copyright wars," 
your mind would not likely run to artists or creators like these. 


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Peer-to-peer file sharing is the enemy in the "copyright wars." Kids 
"steahng" stuff with a computer is the target. The war is not about 
new forms of creativity, not about artists making new art. Congress 
has not been pushed to criminahze Girl Talk. 

But every war has its collateral damage. These creators are just 
one type of collateral damage from this war. The extreme of regula- 
tion that copyright law has become makes it difficult, and sometimes 
impossible, for a wide range of creativity that any free society — if it 
thought about it for just a second — would allow to exist, legally. In 
a state of war, however, we can't be lax. We can't forgive infractions 
that might at a different time not even be noticed. Think "eighty- 
year-old grandma being manhandled by TSA agents," and you're 
in the frame for this war as well. 

Collateral damage is the focus of this book. I want to put a 
/it\ spotlight on the stuff no one wants to kill — the most interesting, /*\ 

the very best of what these new technologies make possible. If the 
war simply ended tomorrow, what forms of creativity could we 
expect? What good could we realize, and encourage, and learn 
from ? 

I then want to spotlight the damage we're not thinking enough 
about — the harm to a generation from rendering criminal what 
comes naturally to them. What does it do to them? What do they 
then do to us ? 

I answer these questions by drawing a map of the change in 
what we could call cultures of creativity. That map begins at the 
turn of the last century. It is painted with fears from then about 
what our culture was becoming. Most of those fears proved correct. 
But they help us understand why much of what we seem to fear 
today is nothing to fear at all. We're seeing a return of something 


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we were before. We should celebrate that return, and the prosper- 
ity it promises. We should use it as a reason to reform the rules that 
render criminal most of what your kids do with their computers. 
Most of all, we should learn something from it — about us, and 
about the nature of creativity. 

^ ^ 


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^ ^ 


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^ ^ 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.indd 21 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:54:36AM 


^ ^ 


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n a humid day in June 1906, one of America's favorite com- 
posers climbed the steps of the Library of Congress to testify 
about the status of copyright law in America. John Philip Sousa 
/it\ was a critic of the then relatively lax United States copyright system. /*\ 

He had come to Washington to ask that Congress "remedy a seri- 
ous defect in the . . . law, which permits manufacturers and sellers of 
phonograph records ... to appropriate for their own profit the best 
compositions of the American composer without paying a single 
cent therefor" — a form of "piracy" as he called it.^ 

Sousa's outrage is not hard to understand. Though he was a 
famous conductor, some of Sousa's income came from the copy- 
rights he had secured in the work he had composed and arranged. 
Those copyrights gave him an exclusive right to control the pub- 
lic performance of his work; any reproduction of sheet music to 
support that public performance; and any arrangements, or other 
work, "derived" from his original work. This mix of protections 
was crafted by Congress to reward artists for their creativity by cre- 
ating incentives for artists to produce great new work. 

The turn of the century, however, brought an explosion of 


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technologies for creating and distributing music that didn't fit well 
within this old model of protection. With these new technologies, 
and for the first time in history, a musical composition could be 
turned into a form that a machine could play — the player piano, 
for example, or a phonograph. Once encoded, copies of this new 
musical work could be duplicated at a very low cost. A new indus- 
try of "mechanical music" thus began to spread across the country. 
For the first time in human history, with a player piano or a pho- 
nograph, ordinary citizens could access a wide range of music on 
demand. This was a power only kings had had before. Now every- 
one with an Edison or an Aeolian was a king. 

The problem for composers, however, was that they didn't share 
in the wealth from this new form of access. Mechanical music may 
have in one sense "copied" their work. But as most courts inter- 
/it\ preted the Copyright Act, whatever "copy" these machines made /*\ 

was not the sort of copy regulated by the law. This angered many 
composers. Some, such as Sousa, resolved to do something about it. 
His trip to Capitol Hill was just one part of his extensive (and ulti- 
mately successful) campaign. 

My interest in Sousa's testimony, however, has little to do with 
his (to us, today) obviously sensible plea. It is instead a point that 
may have been obvious to him, then, but that has largely been for- 
gotten by us, now. For as well as complaining about the "piracy" of 
mechanical music, Sousa also complained about the cultural emp- 
tiness that mechanical music would create. As he testified: 

When I was a boy ... in front of every house in the summer eve- 
nings you would find young people together singing the songs of 
the day or the old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines 


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going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal 
cords will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of 
man when he came from the ape.^ 

"We will not have a vocal cord left." 

John Philip Sousa was obviously not offering a prediction about 
the evolution of the human voice box. He was describing how a 
technology — "these infernal machines" — would change our rela- 
tionship to culture. These "machines," Sousa feared, would lead us 
away from what elsewhere he praised as "amateur" culture. We 
would become just consumers of culture, not also producers. We 
would become practiced in selecting what we wanted to hear, but 
not practiced in producing stuff for others to hear. 

So why would one of America's most prominent professional 
/it\ musicians criticize the loss of amateur music.'' /*\ 

Sousa's fear was not that the quality of music would decline as 
less was produced by amateurs and more by professionals. Instead, 
his fear was that culture would become less democratic: not in the 
sense that people would vote about what is, or is not, good culture, 
but in a sense that MIT professor Eric von Hippel means when he 
argues that innovation today is becoming more "democratized."^ In 
the world Sousa feared, fewer and fewer would have the access to 
instruments, or the capacity, to create or add to the culture around 
them; more and more would simply consume what had been 
created elsewhere. Culture would become the product of an elite, 
even if this elite, this cultural monarchy, was still beloved by the 

Indeed, he believed this change was already happening. As he 


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Last summer ... I was in one of the biggest yacht harbors of the 
world, and I did not hear a voice the whole summer. Every yacht 
had a gramophone, a phonograph, an Aeolian, or something of the 
kind. They were playing Sousa marches, and that was all right, as 
to the artistic side of it, but they were not paying for them, and, 
furthermore, they were not helping the technical development of 

This decline in participation, Sousa argued, would translate 
into a decline in the spread of tools to create music: 

This wide love for the art springs from the singing school, secu- 
lar or sacred; from the village band, and from the study of those 
instruments that are nearest the people. There are more pia- 
/itN nos, violins, guitars, mandolins, and banjos among the working /*\ 

classes of America than in all the rest of the world, and the pres- 
ence of these instruments in the homes has given employment 
to enormous numbers of teachers who have patiently taught the 
children and inculcated a love for music throughout the various 

"And what is the result" of this loss of "amateurs".'' Sousa asked. 

The child becomes indifferent to practice, for when music can be 
heard in the homes without the labor of study and close applica- 
tion, and without the slow process of acquiring a technique, it 
will be simply a question of time when the amateur disappears 

entirely [T]he tide of amateurism cannot but recede, until there 

will be left only the mechanical device and the professional 


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"The tide of amateurism cannot but recede" — a bad thing, this 
professional beheved, for music and for culture. 

Sousa was romanticizing culture in a way that might remind the 
student of American history of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson roman- 
ticized the yeoman farmer.^ He would be sickened by the modern 
corporate farm that has displaced his yeoman hero. But his repul- 
sion would have little to do with the efficiency of food production, 
or even the quality of the food produced. Instead, he would object 
to the effect of this change on our democracy. Jefferson believed 
that the ethic of a yeoman farmer — one practiced in the discipline 
of creating according to an economy of discipline, as any farmer on 
the edge of civilization in eighteenth-century America would — was 
critical to democratic self-governance. Yeoman self-sufficiency was 
thus not a virtue because it was an efficient way to make food. Yeo- 
/it\ man self-sufficiency was a virtue because of what it did to the self, /*\ 

and in turn, what it did to democratic society, the union of many 
individual selves. 

Sousa's take on culture was similar. His fear was not that culture, 
or the actual quality of the music produced in a culture, would be 
less. His fear was that people would be less connected to, and hence 
practiced in, creating that culture. Amateurism, to this professional, 
was a virtue — not because it produced great music, but because it 
produced a musical culture: a love for, and an appreciation of, the 
music he re-created, a respect for the music he played, and hence a 
connection to a democratic culture. If you want to respect Yo-Yo 
Ma, try playing a cello. If you want to understand how great great 
music is, try performing it with a collection of amateurs. 


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RW Culture Versus RO Culture 

In the language of today's computer geeks, we could call the culture 
that Sousa celebrated a "Read/Write" ("RW") culture:* in Sousa's 
world (a world he'd insist included all of humanity from the begin- 
ning of human civilization), ordinary citizens "read" their culture 
by listening to it or by reading representations of it (e.g., musical 
scores). This reading, however, is not enough. Instead, they (or at 
least the "young people of the day") add to the culture they read 
by creating and re-creating the culture around them. They do this 
re-creating using the same tools the professional uses — the "pianos, 
violins, guitars, mandolins, and banjos" — as well as tools given to 
them by nature — "vocal cords." Culture in this world is flat; it is 
/it\ shared person to person.^ As MIT professor Henry Jenkins puts /*\ 

it in his extraordinary book. Convergence Culture, "[T]he story of 
American arts in the 19th century might be told in terms of the 
mixing, matching, and merging of folk traditions taken from vari- 
ous indigenous and immigrant populations."' 

Sousa's fear was that this RW culture would disappear, be dis- 
placed by — to continue the geek-speak metaphor — an increasingly 
"Read/Only" ("RO") culture: a culture less practiced in perfor- 
mance, or amateur creativity, and more comfortable (think: couch) 
with simple consumption. The fear was not absolute: no one feared 
that all nonprofessional creativity would disappear. But certainly its 

* The analogy is to the permissions that might attach to a particular file on a computer. 
If the user has "RW" permissions, then he is allowed to both read the file and make 
changes to it. If he has "Read/Only" permissions, he is allowed only to read the file. 


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significance and place within ordinary society would change. RW 
creativity would become less significant; RO culture, more. 

As one reflects upon the history of culture in the twentieth cen- 
tury, at least within what we call the "developed world," it's hard 
not to conclude that Sousa was right. Never before in the history of 
human culture had the production of culture been as profession- 
alized. Never before had its production become as concentrated. 
Never before had the "vocal cords" of ordinary citizens been as 
effectively displaced, and displaced, as Sousa feared, by these 
"infernal machines." The twentieth century was the first time in 
the history of human culture when popular culture had become 
professionalized, and when the people were taught to defer to the 

The "machines" that made this change possible worked their 
/it\ magic through tokens of RO culture — recordings, or performances /*\ 

captured in some tangible form, and then duplicated and sold by an 
increasingly concentrated "recording" industry. At first, these tokens 
were physical — player-piano rolls, then quickly phonographs. In 
1903, "the Aeolian Company had more than 9,000 [player-piano] 
roll titles in their catalog, adding 200 titles per month."^" During 
the 1910s, "perhaps 5% of players sold were reproducing pianos." At 
one point in the 1920s, a majority of the pianos made in America 
had a player unit included." 

Phonographs shared a similar growth. In 1899, 151,000 phono- 
graphs were produced in the United States.^^ Fifteen years later, 
that number had more than tripled (to approximately 500,000 
units). Record sales in 1914 were more than 27 million." But for 
most of the 1920s, sales stayed above 100 million copies.'"* By the late 
1920s, between 33 percent and 50 percent of all households had a 
record player.*' Nineteen twenty-nine was the peak for record sales 


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in the United States^*" before the Depression burst this and many 
other cultural bubbles. 

But as radio technology improved, physical tokens of RO cul- 
ture faced competition from tokens that were more virtual — what 
we call "broadcasts." To compete, phonograph manufacturers cut 
prices. "In 1925, Victor dropped the price of its $1.50 single-side 
Red Seal records to 90 cents, and cut its $1.00 records to 65 cents."^^ 
But as Philip Meza describes, "the price cuts did not work, and sales 

continued to fall In 1919, 2.2 million phonographs were sold. In 

1922, fewer than 600,000.... "!'* 

Competition drove the producers of physical tokens to produce 
higher-quality tokens. That in turn drove the demand for higher- 
quality radio — a demand that inspired Edwin Howard Armstrong 
to invent, the FCC to allow, and RCA to deploy FM radio.^"* Radio, 
/it\ however, soon faced its own competition from a new form of broad- /*\ 

cast — television. The cycle then continued. 

The twentieth century was thus a time of a happy competition 
among RO technologies. Each cycle produced a better technology; 
each better technology was soon bested by something else. The 
record faced competition from tapes and CDs; the radio, from tele- 
vision and VCRs; VCRs, from DVDs and the Internet. 

By the turn of the twenty-first century, this competition had 
produced extraordinary access to a wide range of culture. Never 
before had so much been available to so many. It also produced an 
enormously valuable industry for the American economy and oth- 
ers. In 2002, the publishing industry alone (excepting the Internet) 
had revenues close to $250 billion.^" In the same year, the revenue 
for broadcasting (again excepting the Internet) was almost $75 bil- 
lion.^^ The revenue to the motion-picture and sound-recording 


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industries was close to $80 billion.^^ And according to the Motion 
Picture Association of America, 

Core Copyright industries are responsible for an estimated 6% 
of the nation's total GDP totaling $626 billion a year. Copyright 
industries had an annual employment growth rate of 3.19% per 
year — a rate more than double the annual employment growth 
rate achieved by the economy as a whole.^^ 

RO culture had thus brought jobs to millions. It had built super- 
stars who spoke powerfully to millions. And it had come to define 
what most of us understood culture, or at least "popular culture," 
to be. 

^ I ■ -1. ■ n I I.- ■^ 

Limits in Regulation 

Before RO culture carries us away, however, return for a moment 
to Sousa. For there was a second aspect to the culture that Sousa 
described that we should also notice here. This was the relation- 
ship between culture and the particular form through which we 
regulate culture — copyright law. It was about the limits on that 

For his time, Sousa was a copyright extremist. He had come 
to Washington to push for (what was perceived by many to be) a 
radical increase in the reach of copyright. The push was opposed by 
many in the business world and many antiregulation idealists. 

Yet Sousa's extremism still knew an important limit, a place 
where copyright law would reach too far. That limit got revealed 


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midway through his testimony. As he testified Sousa was inter- 
rupted by Congressman Frank Dunklee Currier, a Repubhcan 
fi-om New Hampshire. After Sousa described the "young people 
together singing the songs of the day and the old songs," Currier 

Currier: Since the time you speak of, when they used to be 

singing in the streets . . . the law has been [changed] ... to 

prohibit that. Is not that so ? 
Sousa: No, sir; you could always do it. 
Currier: Any public performance is prohibited, is it not, by 

that law? 
Sousa: You would not call that a public performance. 
Currier: But any public performance is prohibited by the law 
^ ofl897P ^ ^ 

Sousa: Not that I know of at all. I have never known that it 

was unlawful to get together and sing.^** 

Though the record doesn't indicate it, one imagines laughter fol- 
lowed Sousa's comment. And anyway. Currier was not being seri- 
ous. He was not a copyright extremist. Indeed, quite the opposite. 
Currier was an "intellectual property" skeptic, unconvinced of the 
need for this government-backed monopoly to interfere with inven- 
tions or the arts. The aim of his question was to embarrass Sousa 
for Sousa's (from Currier's view) extremism.^' He wanted to suggest 
the law had already gone too far and didn't need to go any further. 
The effort backfired. Sousa didn't believe that every use of cul- 
ture should be regulated. Indeed, he thought it ridiculous to imag- 
ine a world where it was "unlawful to get together and sing." That 
part of culture (a critical part if amateur culture was to survive) 


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must be left unregulated, Sousa believed, even if another part of 
culture (the part where commercial entities profited from creative 
works) needed to be regulated more. Even for this extremist, copy- 
right law had a limit. 

Keep these two ideas in mind as we turn to the argument 
that follows: one, the importance of "amateur" creativity, produc- 
ing an RW culture; two, the importance of limits in the reach of 
copyright's regulation, leaving free from regulation this amateur 

In the balance of this book, my hope is to revive these two 
Sousarian sensibilities. As we look back at our history, the domi- 
nance of the radically different culture (and the culture of regu- 
lating culture) of the last forty years is likely to obscure the view 
of a much longer tradition that lived before it. That much longer 
/it\ tradition has value for us today. For the conditions that made its /*\ 

best part possible are now returning. And ironically for Mr. Sousa, 
they are returning precisely because of a new generation of (as pro- 
fessional musicians today call them) "infernal machines." These 
new infernal machines, however, will enable an RW culture again. 
And if permitted by the industries that now dominate the produc- 
tion of culture (and that exercise enormous control over Congress, 
which regulates that culture), they could also encourage an enor- 
mous growth in economic opportunity for both the professional 
and the amateur, and for all those who benefit from both forms of 


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he "copyright wars" have led many to beheve that the choice 

we face is all or nothing. Either Hollywood will win or "the 
Net" will win. Either we're about to lose something important that 
/it\ we've been, or we're going to kill something valuable that we could /*\ 

be. Whoever wins, the other must lose. 

This simple framing creates a profound confusion. For there 
need be no trade-off between the past and the future. Instead, all 
the evidence promises an extraordinary synthesis of the past and 
the present to create a phenomenally more prosperous future. This 
future need not be either less RO or more RW: it could be both. 
And much more interesting (to those focused on the economy, at 
least), this future could see the emergence of a form of economic 
enterprise that has been relatively rare in our past, but that prom- 
ises extraordinary economic opportunity: what I call the "hybrid." 

In the chapters that follow, I want to map this future. I start 
with what simply continues the twentieth century — a story of 
how the Internet extends RO culture beyond the unavoidable 
limits of twentieth-century technology. I then show just how the 
same technologies that encourage RO culture could also encour- 


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age the revival of the RW creativity that Sousa celebrated. Finally, 
I describe the most interesting change that I believe we're going to 
see — the "hybrid" — that will increasingly define the industries of 
culture and innovation. All three changes, if allowed, will be valu- 
able and important. All three should be encouraged. 

^ ^ 


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here's a part of culture that we simply consume. We listen to 
music. We watch a movie. We read a book. With each, we're not 
expected to do much more than simply consume.* We might hum 
/it\ along with the music. We might reenact a dance from a movie. Or /*\ 

we might quote a passage from the book in a letter to a friend. But 
in the main, this kind of culture is experienced through the act of 
consumption. There's a beginning, a middle, and an end to that 
consumption. Once we've finished it, we put the work away. 

This is the stuff at the core of RO culture. And while of course 
the stuff was not born with the "infernal machines" that Sousa 
lamented (in our tradition it was Gutenberg who gave birth to the 
most significant spread of tokens of RO culture), my focus for the 
moment will be on the RO culture that Sousa did lament: the tokens 
of RO culture that get processed and performed by machines, cap- 
turing and spreading music, and the spoken word, and eventually, 
images and film. 

* Of course, as Candice Breitz and many others argue, there's nothing "simple" in con- 
suming, but put those complications aside for the moment. 


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For most of the twentieth century, these tokens were analog. 
They all therefore shared certain limitations: first, any (consumer- 
generated) copy was inferior to the original; and second, the tech- 
nologies to enable a consumer to copy an RO token were extremely 
rare. No doubt there were recording studios aplenty in Nashville 
and Motown. But for the ordinary consumer, RO tokens were to be 
played, not manipulated. And while they might legally be shared, 
every lending meant at least a temporary loss for the lender. If you 
borrowed my LPs, I didn't have them. If you used my record player 
to play Bach, I couldn't listen to Mozart. 

These are the inherent — we could say "natural" — limitations 
of analog technology. From the consumer's perspective, they were 
bugs. No consumer ever bought a record player because he couldn't 
copy the records. 
/it\ But from the perspective of the content industry, these limita- /*\ 

tions in analog technology were not bugs. They were features. 
They were aspects of the technology that made the content indus- 
try possible. For this nature limited the opportunity for consumers 
to compete with producers (by "sharing"). And its imperfections 
drove demand for each new generation of technology. Record 
companies thus sold bits of culture, embedded in vinyl records, 
then in eight-track tapes, then in cassette tapes, and then in CDs. 
With each new format, there was a wave of new demand (often 
for the very same work). The same with film. Film companies 
distributed films to theaters, and then films to videocassettes, and 
then films to DVDs. The business model of both these distribu- 
tors of RO culture depended upon controlling the distribution of 
copies of culture. The nature of analog tokens of RO culture sup- 
ported this business model by making it very difficult to do much 


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The law supported this business modeL The law, for example, 
forbade a consumer from making ten thousand copies of his favor- 
ite LP to share with his friends.^ But it wasn't really the law that 
mattered most in stopping this form of "piracy." It was the econom- 
ics of making a copy in the world of analog technology. At least 
among consumers, it was this nature of the LP that really limited 
the consumer's ability to be anything other than "a consumer." 

Nature Remade 

Digital technology changed this "nature." With the introduction of 
digital tokens of RO culture and, more important, with the wide- 
spread availability of technologies that could manipulate digital 
/it\ tokens of RO culture, digital technology removed the constraints /*\ 

that had bound culture to particular analog tokens of RO culture. 
As I've described in a different context,^ we could say that while 
the code of an LP record protected it from duplication, the code of 
a digital copy of that record does not. T]\ecode of an analog video- 
cassette effectively limited the number of times it could be played 
(before the tape wore out, for example). The code of a digital copy 
of that film does not. The "natural" constraints of the analog world 
were abolished by the birth of digital technology. What before was 
both impossible and illegal is now just illegal. 

When the content industry recognized this change, it was ter- 
rified. Digital tokens of RO culture would no longer conspire with 
the content industry to protect that industry's business model. 
Unlike analog technologies and analog tokens of RO culture, digi- 
tal technologies would instead conspire with the enemy — at least, 
the enemy of this particular business model. By the mid-1990s, the 


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industry came to fully recognize this enemy. By the late 1990s, it 
had hatched a strategy to fight it. 

And thus were born the copyright wars. In September 1995, the 
content industry, working with the U.S. Department of Commerce, 
began to map a strategy for protecting a business model from digital 
technologies.^ In 1997 and 1998, that strategy was implemented in a 
series of new laws designed to extend the life of copyrighted work,'* 
strengthen the criminal penalties for copyright infringement,^ and 
punish the use of technologies that tried to circumvent digital locks 
placed on digital content. '' 

This legislation was soon complemented by aggressive litigation. 
First the lawyers targeted commercial entities like and 
Napster.^ Then they targeted ordinary citizens, charging them with 
downloading music or enabling others to do the same.* The federal 
/it\ system was flooded with claims based upon federal copyright law. /*\ 

According to one site that monitors lawsuits filed by the Recording 
Industry Association of America, as of June 2006, the RIAA had 
sued 17,587 people, including a twelve -year-old girl and a dead grand- 
mother.' A year later, the RIAA had sent around 2,500 prelitigation 
letters to twenty-three more universities across the nation, threaten- 
ing action based upon students' allegedly illegal downloading of copy- 
righted content.^" These aggressive legal threats have coincided with a 
250 percent increase in copyright litigation in the federal courts in six 
years." A similar pattern has spread overseas. The International Fed- 
eration of the Phonographic Industry (European cousin to the RIAA) 
reported suing more than ten thousand people in eighteen countries 
by the end of 2006. It promised many more suits in 2007.*^ 

By the turn of the century, the industry's view had become 
simple and dire: As never before (at least since the last time)," the 
content industry was threatened by new technologies. And unless 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.lndd 39 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:54:42 AM 



the government launched a massive effort to regulate the use and 
spread of these technologies, the rise of digital technologies would 
mean the fall of much of the content industry. 

The numbers then were at least consistent with the con- 
tent industry's argument: By the first half of 2002, world sales of 
recorded music had fallen by 9.2 percent in dollar value, and unit 
shipments were down 11.2 percent. Worldwide, the recording in- 
dustry suffered its third straight year of declining sales. Sony told 
investors it expected music revenues to fall an additional 13—15 per- 
cent in 2003: "In the United States, sales had also declined steadily 
over the previous three years, with sales of recorded music falling 
8.2 percent in dollar value and 11.2 percent in unit shipments."" 
The labels blamed "piracy" for "an estimated $5 billion loss in 
2002" alone. ^^ More recent statistics are, if anything, worse." 
/it\ Most in the industry — at least circa 2002 — believed that /*\ 

"piracy" was unavoidable given the "nature" of digital technologies. 
Most thus believed the industry faced a choice: drive digital to the 
periphery and save the industry, or allow it to become mainstream, 
and watch the industry fail. 

Re-remaking Nature 

Then Steve Jobs taught them differently. For at the height of the 
frenzy of this war against "piracy," Jobs demonstrated in prac- 
tice what many had been arguing in theory: that the only nature 
of digital technology is that it conforms to how it is coded. The 
technologies of the Internet were originally coded in a way that 
enabled free, and perfect, copies, that nature could be changed by 
a different code, with different permissions built in. Thus, digital 


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tokens of RO culture could be recoded with at least enough control 
to restore a market in their distribution. That market could, Jobs 
demonstrated, compete effectively with the "free" distribution of 
the Internet. 

The iTunes Music Store was the proof. Launched in 2003, more 
than 1 billion songs were downloaded within three years, 2.5 billion 
within four.^' And while iTunes music was digital, iTunes tokens of 
digital culture contained a technology to limit their (re)distribution. 
Code (called FairPlay, a kind of Digital Rights Management, or 
DRM technology) was used to remake the code of digital tokens of 
RO culture. This remade code was enough to get a reluctant con- 
tent industry to play along. 

Apple's iTunes wasn't the first to embed DRM in content.^* It was 
just the smartest. Jobs understood that the record companies would 
/it\ demand some control. The success of iTunes (and more important, /*\ 

of the iPod conveniently tied to it) came from the fact that "some 
control" could be less than "perfect control." You couldn't eas- 
ily spread iTunes content to everyone on the Web — though if you 
hunted around a bit on the Net, you'd find all the code you could 
want to liberate iTunes. DRM was just a speed bump: it slowed ille- 
gal use just enough to get the labels to buy in. 

I'm not saying it was Jobs's genius alone that brought the content 
industry around. An important legal lever was being deployed at 
the same time in the Napster case. Recall that the record compa- 
nies had sued Napster because of the "piracy" it enabled. Napster 
had countersued the record labels, charging that they had an agree- 
ment among themselves not to sell content to the digital platform.^' 
The labels needed cover from this charge, and an experiment with 
an operating system holding no more than 5 percent of the market 
seemed safe enough. Thus was iTunes born. 


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But whatever the motivation, or the mix of motivations, iTunes's 
success supported the idea that a wide range of content might be sold 
digitally on the same model that defi ned the content industry of 
the twentieth century: by metering the number of copies sold. 
iTunes quickly expanded its offerings to books, then music 
videos and TV shows, and, fi nally, movies. Others followed a 
similar path — offering different models for selling culture, but 
all still selling culture nonetheless. eMusic convinced inde- 
pendent labels to sell downloads without any DRM. Rhapsody 
sold DRM'd downloads in a subscription model. The key with 
each successful example was to fi nd a balance between access 
and control that would satisfy both the consumers and the 
creators. This mix of models soon convinced a skeptical industry 
that RO culture had a twenty- fi rst- century future. And soon 
/it\ into the century, there was a revival of investment to fi nd ways /*\ 

to better spread and exploit an RO market in a digital age. 

The potential is not hard to envision; the businesses are just 
beginning to emerge now. If the twentieth century made culture 
generally accessible, the twenty-first will make it universally accessi- 
ble. As the cost of inventory drops, the mix of inventory increases — 
the lesson of the Long Tail, which we'll consider more in chapter 
6. As the mix increases, the diversity of culture that can flourish in 
the digital age grows. Think of all the books in the Library of Con- 
gress. Now imagine the same diversity of music, video, and images. 
And then imagine all of it accessible, in an instant, by anyone, any- 
where. No doubt there are lots of hurdles to overcome to get to this 
world. But the hurdles are not technical. As we'll see in chapter 
9, they are just regulatory. And if these regulatory burdens can be 
reduced, a new industry of RO culture can flourish. A hundred 
years from now, if it is allowed to flourish, we will see its relation- 


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ship to the twentieth century as we see the relationship between the 
Boeing 111 and the work of the Wright brothers or Alberto Santos- 
Dumont. This is the extraordinary potential for RO culture in a 
digital age. 

Recoding Us 

As these businesses grow, they change not only business. They also 
change us. They change how we think about access to culture. 
They change what we take for granted. 

For example: during the twentieth century, our access to televi- 
sion and movies was different from our access to books. With tele- 
vision and movies, the viewer had to conform his schedule to the 
/it\ schedule of the distributor. So much was required by the technol- /*\ 

ogy; so much came to seem natural. "Channels" were tools to chan- 
nel people into watching one mix of content rather than another. A 
smart scheduler tried to keep an audience by varying the mix so as 
to prevent the "viewer" from wandering to another channel. 

During the same period, however, books were accessed dif- 
ferently. With books, the "natural" expectation (in the twentieth 
century at least) was that the content was accessible on our sched- 
ule. When we walked into a library, we expected to get what we 
wanted, then. If the library didn't have it, we expected it to get what 
we wanted relatively quickly through interlibrary loan. If a librar- 
ian had told you as you entered the library, "I'm sorry, in the after- 
noon we offer only nonfiction. If you'd like to read some fiction, 
come back after five p.m.," you would have been incensed. The idea 
that the library gets to say when and what I read is outrageous. Or 
put differently, it would have been considered outrageous for any 


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library or bookstore or publisher to exercise the same control over 
access to books that television stations and film distributors exer- 
cised over film and video. 

In the twenty-first century, television and movies will be book- 
i-fied. Or again, our expectations about how we should be able to 
access video content will be the same as the expectations we have 
today about access to books. The idea that you would conform 
your schedule to a distributor's will seem increasingly ridiculous. 
The idea that you would have to wait till "prime time" to watch 
prime television will seem just fascist. Freedom will mean freedom 
to choose to watch what you want when you want, just as freedom 
to read means the freedom to read what you want when you want. 
In both cases, not necessarily_^r_^'(?e. But in both cases, according to 
your schedule, not the schedule of someone else. 
/it\ We can see this most clearly in our kids, who think it "just /*\ 

dumb" that an episode of a favorite TV series is not available when- 
ever they want to see it. And even older sorts begin to understand 
this sense, as the DVRs like ReplayTV and TiVo become increas- 
ingly common. More and more, even to old folks like me, it seems 
astonishing to remember a time when to watch a television show, 
you had to synchronize your schedule to the schedule of the broad- 
caster. Absurd that if you missed an episode, that was it. There was 
no chance — at least that season — for a repeat. 

The expectation of access on demand builds slowly, and it builds 
differently across generations. But at a certain point, perfect access 
(meaning the ability to get whatever you want whenever you want it) 
will seem obvious. And when it seems obvious, anything that resists 
that expectation will seem ridiculous. Ridiculous, in turn, makes 
many of us willing to break the rules that restrict access. Even the 
good become pirates in a world where the rules seem absurd. 


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I saw this dynamic in myself with the 2007 Academy Awards. 
For weird and accidental reasons (meaning, I don't hang out with 
movie stars), I had two friends nominated for an Oscar in 2007. I 
was thus desperate to watch the awards. But that year, I was on sab- 
batical in Germany, and not desperate enough to get up at 3 a.m. 
to watch hours of Hollywood self-promotion. So I programmed a 
VCR to record the show, and went to bed expecting to awaken and 
watch the results. 

I'm not a technical genius, but I'm also not an idiot. Nonetheless, 
as seems always to be the case, the VCR didn't record. So though I 
could read that both of my friends had indeed won Oscars, I was 
extremely disappointed that I couldn't watch them win. 

My first reaction was to turn to the Web site of the Academy 
Awards. The site had fancy advertisements that changed with every 
/it\ click you made, and tons of content. They must, I thought, have /*\ 

video of the awards ceremony available to be streamed. It's 2007, I 
thought. And the Academy Awards ceremony is a wasting asset: 
while many will care about the program in February 2007, almost 
no one will care in March. 

But the site didn't have the actual ceremony available for free (or 
"free," since all content on the site was run with ads surrounding it) 
or even to purchase. So I turned to iTunes, willing to pay whatever 
it would charge to download the awards ceremony. But again, no 
luck. iTunes didn't have it. I then extended my search to a number 
of other obvious places where the program might be for sale. Yet 
again, no luck. 

So then I did something I just don't do — I went to YouTube 
to see who might have at least clips that might show my friends 
accepting their awards. Within five minutes, I had found clips with 
both friends, which I watched with utter joy. 


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Many people did the same as I (though I take it not for the same 
reason). And many took those chps and blogged them — adding 
commentary, or criticism, or praise for the works celebrated at the 
awards. I did too, adding links to the YouTube clips on my blog in 
an entry the next day bragging about my Oscar-winning friends. 
But then I read about legal action being initiated against bloggers 
and YouTube users who had distributed parts of the awards. And 
while, as a lawyer, I understood precisely the claim the content 
owners had, as a citizen of the twenty-first century, I was still aston- 
ished. Though this instinct can't be justified as a matter of (at least 
today's) law, it is the essence of practical reason in the digital age: if 
you don't want your stuff stolen, make it easily available. YouTube 
is a picture of unmet demand. And indeed, when I've tried to find 
clips of important breaking news on YouTube, the only times I've 
/it\ failed have been when the content provider has made the same con- /*\ 

tent available on its own site. Access is the mantra of the YouTube 
generation. Not necessarily free access. Access. 

Digital technologies will thus shift the expectations surround- 
ing access. Those changes will change other markets as well. Think 
of the iPod — perfectly integrating all forms of RO culture into a 
single device. That integration will increasingly lead us to see the 
device not as music player, or video player, but as a universal access 
point, facilitating simple access to whatever we want whenever we 
want. Many devices will compete to become this device. And that 
competition is certain to produce an extraordinarily efficient tool 
to facilitate, and meter, and police our access to a wide range of 

This change, in turn, will change other markets as well. Think 
about a hotel room: at high-quality hotels, there is now fierce 
competition to provide extremely high-quality televisions. Why is 


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beyond me. What chance is there that in the thirty minutes I have 
before I go to sleep I will find something just starting on the 150 
channels the hotel provides that I actually want to watch? From 
my perspective, at least, this $2,000 flat-screen television is a useless 
suck of space in a hotel room. 

But as the universal access devices I've described get perfected, 
the same competition that drives hotels to spend thousands to give 
me beautiful access to the shopping channel will drive them to pro- 
vide a simple way to connect my access device to their projector. 
Count on a future of simple docking devices that amplify or project 
content accessed through an iPod-like device. Hotels (and restau- 
rants, airplanes, and bars) will then focus on supplying great infra- 
structure. The iUser brings the content. 

Users will thus demand access at any time, to everything (think: 
/it\ Library of Congress). And technologies will develop to provide or /*\ 

meter or police that access (think: the iPod, 2020). But then which 
of these three models for access will it be? Will these devices simply 
provide access, either by simply holding the content, or by enabling 
the user to tune into a particular channel? Or like a jukebox, will 
they meter access, deducting a fee for every download or play? Or 
like a soldier at a military base, will they monitor the content being 
accessed, and block access without the proper credentials? 

The easy, and to some degree true, answer is that they will do 
all three. But the interesting part is how significant the first of those 
three will be, and how insignificant the third. My sense is that digi- 
tal technology will enable market support for a much wider range 
of "free" content than anyone expects now (where "free" simply 
means without charge); and digital technologies will continue to 
resist models that depend upon the heavy policing by its owners 
to protect against "unauthorized use." The quick disappearance of 


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DRM for music is evidence of the latter point?" I, however, want to 
focus here on the former. 

The model for commercial broadcasting in the twentieth cen- 
tury was ad-supported "free" content. The limitations of the tech- 
nology of the twentieth century restricted the ways in which ads 
might support free content. Programs were interrupted. Ads that 
roughly matched the demographic of the program's audience were 
broadcast. In a world of relatively few channels, those ads had suf- 
ficient penetration to make them pay (both the networks and the 

The limits in that technology are obvious: The advertiser has 
to broadcast to a wide range of people; the ability to target ads is 
relatively weak. The advertiser can't really know who saw the ad 
or what they did when they saw it. And the advertiser is constantly 
/it\ aware that his message is viewed as an intrusion. When ads came /*\ 

every thirty minutes or so, for many, they were a welcome break. 
But when 25 percent of broadcasting time is advertisement, they are 
a perpetual annoyance. (Indeed, at this frequency, you can begin 
to understand why there's a market to buy "free" TV: if eighteen 
minutes of every hour is advertisements, then even if you value your 
time at the minimum wage, it would pay to spend $1.99 to avoid 
watching the commercials.) 

But just as the limitations of analog RO culture were eliminated 
by digital technologies, so too the limitations of twentieth-century 
advertising can be eliminated by twenty-first-century digital tech- 
nology. And as the lessons of this change get spread, content pro- 
viders will increasingly recognize that free access pays. Free access 
is a means to gather extremely valuable data about the viewer. That 
data can translate into much more effective advertising techniques. 

The point is obvious when you think about Amazon. Amazon 


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knows me intimately because it watches me more carefully than 
does any thing or person in the world. No one could pick a bet- 
ter list of things I'm likely to want to buy. That's because Amazon 
sees what I buy. It learns from the patterns of other customers what 
the sort who buys as I do is likely to want to buy next. It has built 
a thick profile of my preferences. And I'm very happy to listen to it 
when it suggests something I might be interested in. 

So imagine a network with the same data about you. (I know, 
privacy alarms are going off, and that's an important issue of course, 
but it's not the issue for this book.)^^ Imagine that by watching all 
the YouTube clips you browsed through or the shows you actu- 
ally paused to watch, the network began to build a profile of your 
preferences as rich as Amazon's. And as it developed this profile, 
this network could now market more effectively than any network 
/it\ today. Access is what produces this value. Limiting access limits it. /*\ 

This third point will be recognized soon, and not because 
dweeby professors write about it. That's the great thing about mar- 
kets: there's never a need to lecture a competitive market. Mar- 
kets are driven to find value through competition with others. No 
doubt, every age will be marked with battles waged by the previ- 
ous generation's giants. But the giants always fall to a better way 
of making money. And the RO culture that digital technologies 
will support will provide lots of new ways for content producers 
to make money. 'As if by an invisible hand," this market will radi- 
cally change the nature of access to culture in the next ten years. As 
a result, our children will be unable to understand a world where 
Thursday at 10 p.m. was more significant in cultural terms than 
Friday at 5 a.m. 

By invoking Adam Smith's "invisible hand," I don't mean to 
say that policy makers have nothing to worry about here. Smith's 


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Wealth of Nations teaches us about the phenomenal power of mar- 
kets to adjust. But these markets adjust, as Yochai Benkler's The 
Wealth of Networks powerfully teaches, in light of the baseline 
allocation of rights. Policy makers must assure that rights are not 
allocated in a way that distorts or weakens competition. A costly 
overlay of spectrum rights, for example, or an inefficient market of 
copyrights, can stifle competition and drive markets to unnecessary 
concentration. These factors must be regulated by policy makers. 
They will not be "solved" by an invisible hand. 

But for my purposes here, the most important policy mistake is 
one that stifles the Sousarian instinct: a policy driven by the view 
that the only way to protect RO culture is to render RW culture 
illegal. That choice is a false choice. In the next chapter, I want to 
sketch a future for RW culture that might motivate us to see just 
/it\ why we should avoid this false choice. /*\ 


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ne of my closest (if most complicated) friends at college was an 
English major. He was also a brilliant writer. Indeed, in every 
class in which writing was the measure, he did as well as one pos- 
/it\ sibly could. In every other class, he, well, didn't. /*\ 

Ben's writing had a certain style. Were it music, we'd call it 
sampling. Were it painting, it would be called collage. Were it digi- 
tal, we'd call it remix. Every paragraph was constructed through 
quotes. The essay might be about Hemingway or Proust. But he 
built the argument by clipping quotes from the authors he was dis- 
cussing. Their words made his argument. 

And he was rewarded for it. Indeed, in the circles for which he 
was writing, the talent and care that his style evinced were a mea- 
sure of his understanding. He succeeded not simply by stringing 
quotes together. He succeeded because the salience of the quotes, 
in context, made a point that his words alone would not. And his 
selection demonstrated knowledge beyond the message of the text. 
Only the most careful reader could construct from the text he read 
another text that explained it. Ben's writing showed he was an 


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insanely careful reader. His intensely careful reading made him a 
beautiful writer. 

Ben's style is rewarded not just in English seminars. It is the 
essence of good writing in the law. A great brief seems to say noth- 
ing on its own. Everything is drawn from cases that went before, 
presented as if the argument now presented is in fact nothing new. 
Here again, the words of others are used to make a point the others 
didn't directly make. Old cases are remixed. The remix is meant to 
do something new. (Appropriately enough, Ben is now a lawyer.) 

In both instances, of course, citation is required. But the cite 
is always sufficient payment. And no one who writes for a living 
actually believes that any permission beyond that simple payment 
should ever be required. Had Ben written the estate of Ernest 
Hemingway to ask for permission to quote For Whom the Bell Tolls 
/it\ in his college essays, lawyers at the estate would have been annoyed /*\ 

more than anything else. What weirdo, they would have wondered, 
thinks you need permission to quote in an essay? 

So here's the question I want you to focus on as we begin this 
chapter: Why is it "weird" to think that you need permission to 
quote? Why would (or should) we be "outraged" if the law required 
us to ask Al Gore for permission when we wanted to include a 
quote from his book The Assault on Reason in an essay? Why is an 
author annoyed (rather than honored) when a high school student 
calls to ask for permission to quote? 

The answer, I suggest, has lots to do with the "nature" of writ- 
ing. Writing, in the traditional sense of words placed on paper, is 
the ultimate form of democratic creativity, where, again, "demo- 
cratic" doesn't mean people vote, but instead means that everyone 
within a society has access to the means to write. We teach everyone 


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to write — in theory, if not in practice. We understand quoting is an 
essential part of that writing. It would be impossible to construct 
and support that practice if permission were required every time 
a quote was made. The freedom to quote, and to build upon, the 
words of others is taken for granted by everyone who writes. Or 
put differently, the freedom that Ben took for granted is perfectly 
natural in a world where everyone can write. 

Writing Beyond Words 

Words, obviously, are not the only form of expression that can be 
remixed in Ben's way. If we can quote text from Hemingway's For 
Whom the Bell Tolls in an essay, we can quote a section from Sam 
/it\ Wood's film of Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls in a film. /*\ 

Or if we can quote lyrics from a Bob Dylan song in a piece about 
Vietnam, we can quote a recording of Bob Dylan singing those lyr- 
ics in a video about that war. The act is the same; only the source is 
different. And the measures of fairness could also be the same: Is it 
really just a quote? Is it properly attributed? And so on. 

Yet, however similar these acts of quoting may be, the norms 
governing them today are very different. Though I've not yet found 
anyone who can quite express why, any qualified Hollywood law- 
yer would tell you there's a fundamental difference between quot- 
ing Hemingway and quoting Sam Wood's version of Hemingway. 
The same with music: in an opinion by perhaps one of the twenti- 
eth century's worst federal judges. Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy, the 
court issued "stern" sanctions against rap artists who had sampled 
another musical recording. Wrote the judge. 


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"Thou shalt not steal" has been an admonition followed since the 
dawn of civilization. Unfortunately, in the modern world of busi- 
ness this admonition is not always followed. Indeed, the defen- 
dants in this action for copyright infringement would have this 
court believe that stealing is rampant in the music business and, 
for that reason, their conduct here should be excused. The con- 
duct of the defendants herein, however, violates not only the Sev- 
enth Commandment, but also the copyright laws of this country.^ 

Whether justified or not, the norms governing these forms of 
expression are far more restrictive than the norms governing text. 
They admit none of the freedoms that any writer takes for granted 
when writing a college essay, or even an essay for the New Yorker. 

/it\ A complete answer to that question is beyond me, and therefore /*\ 

us, here. But we can make a start. There are obvious differences 
in these forms of expression. The most salient for our purposes is 
the democratic difference, historically, in these kinds of "writing." 
While writing with text is the stuff that everyone is taught to do, 
filmmaking and record making were, for most of the twentieth 
century, the stuff that professionals did. That meant it was easier to 
imagine a regime that required permission to quote with film and 
music. Such a regime was at least feasible, even if inefficient. 

But what happens when writing with film (or music, or images, 
or every other form of "professional speech" from the twentieth 
century) becomes as democratic as writing with text.'' As Negativ- 
land's Don Joyce described to me, what happens when technology 
"democratiz[es] the technique and the attitude and the method [of 

creating] in a way that we haven't known before [I]n terms of 

collage, [what happens when] anybody can now be an artist".''^ 


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What norms (and then law) will govern this kind of creativ- 
ity? Should the norms we all take for granted from writing be 
applied to video? And music? Or should the norms from film be 
applied to text? Put differently: Should the "ask permission" norms 
be extended from film and music to text? Or should the norms 
of "quote freely, with attribution" spread from text to music and 

At this point, some will resist the way I've carved up the choices. 
They will insist that the distinction is not between text on the one 
hand and film/music/images on the other. Instead, the distinction 
is between commercial or public presentations of text/film/music/ 
images on the one hand, and private or noncommercial use of text/ 
film/music/images on the other. No one expects my friend Ben 
to ask the Hemingway estate for permission to quote in a college 
/it\ essay, because no one is publishing (yet, at least) Ben's college essays. /*\ 

And in the same way, no one would expect Disney, for example, to 
have any problem with a father taking a clip from Superman and 
including it in a home movie, or with kids at a kindergarten paint- 
ing Mickey Mouse on a wall. 

Yet however sensible that distinction might seem, it is in fact not 
how the rules are being enforced just now. Again, Ben's freedom 
with text is the same whether it is a college essay or an article in 
the New Yorker (save perhaps if he's writing about poetry). And in 
fact, Disney has complained about kids at a kindergarten painting 
Mickey on a wall.^ And in a setup by J. D. Lasica, every major stu- 
dio except one insisted that a father has no right to include a clip of 
a major film in a home movie — even if that movie is never shown 
to anyone except the family — without paying thousands of dollars 
to do so."* 

However sensible, the freedom to quote is not universal in the 


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noncommercial sphere. Instead, those in thousand-dollar suits typi- 
cally insist that "permission is vital, legally." 

Nor do I believe the freedom to quote should reach universally 
only in the noncommercial sphere. In my view, it should reach 
much broader than that. But before I can hope to make that norma- 
tive argument stick, we should think more carefully about why this 
right to quote — or as I will call it, to remix — is a critical expression 
of creative freedom that in a broad range of contexts, no free society 
should restrict. 

Remix is an essential act of RW creativity. It is the expression 
of a freedom to take "the songs of the day or the old songs" and 
create with them. In Sousa's time, the creativity was performance. 
The selection and arrangement expressed the creative ability of the 
singers. In our time, the creativity reaches far beyond performance 
/it\ alone. But in both contexts, the critical point to recognize is that the /*\ 

RW creativity does not compete with or weaken the market for the 
creative work that gets remixed. These markets are complemen- 
tary, not competitive. 

That fact alone, of course, does not show that both markets 
shouldn't be regulated (that is, governed by rules of copyright). But 
as we'll see in the next part of the book, there are important reasons 
why we should limit the regulation of copyright in the contexts in 
which RW creativity is likely to flourish most. These reasons reflect 
more than the profit of one, albeit important, industry; instead, 
they reflect upon a capacity for a generation to speak. 

I start with a form of RW culture that is closest to our tradition 
of remixing texts. From that beginning, I will build to the more 
significant forms of remix now emerging. In the end, my aim is to 
draw all these forms together to point to a kind of speech that will 


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seem natural and familiar. And a kind of freedom that will feel 

Remixed: Text 

There is a thriving RW culture for texts on the Net just now. Its 
scope and reach and, most important, sophistication are far beyond 
what anyone imagined at the Internet's birth. Through technologies 
not even conceived of when this system began, this RW culture for 
texts has built an ecology of content and an economy of reputation. 
There is a system now that makes an extraordinary range of ini- 
tially unfiltered content understandable, and that helps the reader 
recognize what he should trust, and what he should question. 
/it\ We can describe this system in three layers. The first is the writ- /*\ 

ing itself. This has evolved through two different lives. The first of 
these is obscure to many; the second is the ubiquitous "blog." 

The first was something called Usenet. In 1979, two computer 
scientists at Duke, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, invented a distrib- 
uted messaging system that enabled messages to be passed cheaply 
among thousands of computers worldwide. This was Usenet. Some- 
times these messages were announcementy; sometimes they were 
simply informational. But soon they became the location of increas- 
ingly interactive RW culture. As individuals realized they could 
simply hit a single button and post a comment or reply to thousands 
of computers worldwide, the temptation to speak could not be 
resisted. Usenet grew quickly, and passion around it grew quickly 
as well. 

In 1994, a couple of lawyers changed all this. The firm Canter & 


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Siegel posted the first cross-group commercial message — aka 
spam — advertising its services. Thousands responded in anger, 
flaming the lawyers to get them to stop. But many others quickly 
copied Canter & Siegel. Other such scum quickly followed. Usenet 
became less and less a place where conversation could happen, and 
more and more a ghetto for gambling ads and other such scams 
(see also your e-mail in-box).' 

Just about the time that Usenet was fading, the World Wide 
Web was rising. The Web's inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, was keen 
that the Web be a RW medium — what Benkler calls "the writ- 
able Web."'^ He pushed people developing tools to implement Web 
protocols to design their tools in a way that would encourage both 
reading and writing.^ At first, this effort failed. The real drive for 
the Web, its developers thought, would be businesses and other 
/it\ organizations that would want to publish content to the world. RO, /*\ 

not RW. 

But as tools to simplify HTML coding matured, Berners-Lee's 
idea of a RW Internet became a reality. Web-logs, or blogs, soon 
started to proliferate at an explosive rate. In March 2003, the best- 
known service for tracking blogs, Technorati, found just 100,000 
blogs. Six months later, that number had grown to 1 million. A year 
later, more than 4 million were listed.* Today there are more than 
100 million blogs worldwide, with more than 15 added in the time 
it took you to read this sentence. According to Technorati, Japa- 
nese is now the number one blogging language. And Farsi has just 
entered the top ten.' 

When blogs began (and you can still see these early blogs using 
Brewster Kahle's "Wayback machine" at, while they 
expressed RW creativity (since the norm for this form of writing 
encouraged heavy linking and citation), their RW character was 


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limited. Many were little more than a public diary: people (and 
some very weird people) posting their thoughts into an apparently 
empty void. Most were commentary on other public events. So the 
writing itself was RW, but the writing was experienced by an audi- 
ence as RO. 

Soon, however, in what Benkler calls the "second critical inno- 
vation of the writable Web,"^" bloggers added a way for their audi- 
ence to talk back. Comments became an integral part of blogging. 
Some of these comments were insightful, some were silly, some 
were designed simply to incite. But by adding a way to talk back, 
blogs changed how they were read. 

This was the first layer of the Net's RW culture for text. Alone, 
however, this layer would be worth very little. How could you find 
anything of interest in this vast, undifferentiated sea of content? 
/it\ If you knew someone you trusted, maybe you'd read her blog. But /*\ 

why would you waste your time reading some random person's 
thoughts about anything at all? 

The next two layers helped solve this problem. The first added 
some order to the blogosphere. It did so by adding not a taxonomy 
but, as Thomas Vander Wal puts it, a "folksonomy to this RW 
culture."" Tags and ranking systems, such as, Reddit, 
and Digg, enabled readers of a blog or news article to mark it for 
others to find or ignore. These marks added meaning to the post 
or story. They would help it get organized among the millions of 
others that were out there. Together these tools added a metalayer 
to the blogosphere, by providing, as Wired cofounder Kevin Kelly 
puts it, "a public annotation — like a keyword or category name that 
you hang on a file, Web page or picture."^^ And as readers explore 
the Web, users leave marks that help others understand or find the 
same stuff. 


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So, for example, if you read an article about Barack Obama, you 
can tag it with a short description: "Obama" or "Obama_environ- 
ment." As millions of readers do the same, the system of tagging 
begins to impose order on the stuff tagged — even though no one 
has drafted a table of tags, and no one imposes any rules about the 
tags. You could just as well tag the Obama article "petunias," and 
some few petunia lovers will be disappointed as they follow the sign 
to this nonpetunia site. But as more and more users push the arrows 
in other ways, more and more follow more faithful taggers. 

Tagging thus added a layer of meaning to RW content. The 
more tags, the more useful and significant they become. Impor- 
tantly, this significance is created directly by the viewers or consum- 
ers of that culture — not by advertisers, or by any other intentional 
efforts at commercial promotion. This reputation and word-of- 
/it\ mouth technology create a competing set of meanings that get asso- /*\ 

ciated with any content. The tools become "powerful forces that 
marketers must harness," though as Don Tapscott and Anthony 
Williams point out, this is a force that can "just as easily spin out of 
control in unpredictable ways."" 

As they add meaning to content, these tools also enable col- 
laboration. Significance and salience are a self-conscious commu- 
nity activity." Sites such as reinforce this community 
power by allowing users to share bookmarks, enabling "links [to] 
become . . . the basis for learning new things and making connec- 
tions to new people."" They also change the relative power of the 
reader. As the reader "writes" with tags or votes, the importance of 
the original writing changes. A major national newspaper could 
have the highest-paid technology writer in the world. But what 
happens to that writer when it turns out that the columns read by 
more, and recommended by most, are written by eighteen-year-old 


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bloggers? The New Yor\ Times used to have the power to say who 
was the most significant. A much more democratic force does that 

The third layer of this RW culture for text is much less direct. 
These are tools that try to measure the significance of a conversa- 
tion by counting the links that others make to the conversations. 
Technorati is the leader in this area so far. Its (ro)bots crawl the 
world of blogs, counting who links to whom or what. The company 
then publishes up-to-the-minute rankings and link reports, so you 
can post a blog entry and, minutes later, begin watching everyone 
who links back to that entry. Technorati says it updates its index 
every ten minutes.^'' With over 100 million blogs indexed, that's a 
very fast update. 

Indices like this show the revealed preferences of the blogo- 
/it\ sphere. In almost real time, we can see who is wielding influence. /*\ 

And as the space matures, most interestingly, we can see that the 
influence of blogs is increasingly outstripping mainstream media. 
In the Q4 report for 2006, Technorati reported that in the 51—100 
range of most popular sites on the Web, 25 percent were blogs.'^ 
Ten years before, percent of nonprofessional content would have 
been among the most popular of any popular media. 

These three layers, then, work together. There would be noth- 
ing without the content. But there would be too much to be useful 
were there only the content. So, in addition to content, content about 
content — tags, and recommendations — combined with tools to 
measure the influence of content. The whole becomes an ecosystem 
of reputation. Those trying to interact with culture now recognize 
this space as critical to delivering or understanding a message. 

Many worry about this blogosphere. Some worry it is just a fad — 
but what fad has ever caught 100 million users before? Charlene Li 


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reports that 33 percent of teenagers make a blog entry weekly, and 
41 percent visit a social networking site daily.^^ And absolutely every 
major publication devotes a substantial amount of resources to mak- 
ing this presence as important as any. 

Others worry about quality; how can bloggers match the New 
Yor\ Times} What bloggers will spend the effort necessary to get 
their stories right? 

If the question is asked about blogs on average, then no doubt 
the skepticism is merited. But if the same question were asked of 
newspapers on average, then great skepticism about newspapers 
would be merited as well. The point with both is that we have 
effective tools for assessing quality. And more important, we have 
increasingly famous examples of blogs outdoing traditional media 
in delivering both quality and truth. Yochai Benkler catalogs a host 
/it\ of cases where bloggers did better than mainstream media in fer- /*\ 

reting out the truth, such as uncovering the truth about Trent Lott's 
affection for racist statements, or the lack of veracity in Diebold's 
claims about its voting machines." And even a cursory review of 
key political blogs — Instapundit or Michelle Malkin on the Right, 
the Daily Kos or the Huffington Post on the Left — reveals a depth 
and an understanding that are rare in even the best of mainstream 
media. The point is there's good and bad on both sides. But perhaps 
in the blogosphere, there are better mechanisms for determining 
what is good and what is bad. 

The point was driven home to me in the 2004 election. That 
election, of course, had created public awareness about blogs, since 
the early front-runner, Vermont governor Howard Dean, had been 
created by blog culture. But as I watched the returns from that elec- 
tion on national television, I began to feel sorry for the "correspon- 
dents" who had to report on this pivotal election on television. In 


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one example, one of our nation's most prominent correspondents 
was asked to give, as the segment was advertised, an "in-depth anal- 
ysis of" voters in one particular state. When the segment began, the 
national desk switched to this correspondent, and he began with 
a question to three "average voters" from the state. He then had 
about thirty seconds to add his own witty insight on top of their 
totally inane blather about why they had voted as they did. And 
that was it. One minute, and zero substance, broadcast to millions 
across the country. 

It so happened that at the same time, I was reading an "in-depth 
analysis" of the same state, posted on a blog. The post had been 
written within the previous three hours. It was chock-full of sub- 
stance and insight. Timely, smart, and comprehensive — much bet- 
ter than the "human angle" news that is national news today, and 
/it\ much more reflective of the talent of a great journalist. The televi- /*\ 

sion reporter no doubt thought he was a journalist. But with TV 
tuned to the attention span of an increasingly ADD public, who 
can afford to be a journalist? 

There's one more important dimension to the RW culture of 
text on the Internet: the power of advertising. In this realm, theedi- 
torial power of advertisers is radically smaller than in traditional 
media. An advertiser can choose whether and where to advertise. 
But advertising is still a small part of the economy of blogging, and 
where it is relevant, many different content sources compete, so 
the ability of an advertiser indirectly to control content is radically 

The RW Internet is an ecosystem. 

Many will remain skeptical. If the quality of the average blog is 
so bad, what good could this RW creativity be doing? But here we 
need to focus upon a second aspect of RW creativity — not so much 


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the quality of the speech it produces, but the effect it has upon the 
person producing the speech. 

I've felt one aspect of this effect personally. I'm a law profes- 
sor. For the first decade of my law professor life, I wrote with the 
blissful understanding that no one was reading what I wrote. That 
knowledge gave me great freedom. More important, whatever the 
three readers of my writing thought remained their own private 
thoughts. Law professors write for law journals. Law journals don't 
attach comments to the articles they publish. 

Blog space is different. You can see people read your writing; if 
you allow, you can see their comments. The consequence of both is 
something you can't quite understand until you've endured it. Like 
eating spinach or working out, I force myself to suffer it because I 
know it's good for me. I've written a blog since 2002. Each entry 
/it\ has a link for comments. I don't screen or filter comments (save for /*\ 

spam). I don't require people to give their real name. The forum 
is open for anyone to say whatever he or she wants. And people 
do. Some of the comments are quite brilliant. Many add important 
facts I've omitted or clarify what I've misunderstood. Some com- 
mentators become regulars. One character, "Three Blind Mice," 
has been a regular for a long time, rarely agreeing with anything 
I say. 

But many of the comments are as rude and abusive as language 
allows. There are figures — they're called "trolls" — who live for the 
fights they can gin up in these spaces. They behave awfully. Their 
arguments are (in the main) ridiculous, and they generally make 
comment spaces deeply unpleasant. 

Other commentators find ways around these trolls. Norms like 
"don't feed the troll" are invoked whenever anyone takes a troll on. 
But there's only so much that can be done, at least so long as the 


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forum owner (me) doesn't block certain people or force everyone to 
use his or her real name. 

I find it insanely difficult to read these comments. Not because 
they're bad or mistaken, but mainly because I have very thin skin. 
There's a direct correlation between what I read and pain in my 
gut. Even unfair and mistaken criticism cuts me in ways that are 
just silly. If I read a bad comment before bed, I don't sleep. If I trip 
upon one when I'm trying to write, I can be distracted for hours. I 
fantasize about creating an alter ego who responds on my behalf. 
But I don't have the courage for even that deception. So instead, 
my weakness manifests itself through the practice (extraordinarily 
unfair to the comment writer) of sometimes not reading what oth- 
ers have said. 

So then why do I blog all ? Well, much of the time, I have no 
/it\ idea why I do it. But when I do, it has something to do with an ethic /*\ 

I believe that we all should live by. I first learned it from a judge I 
clerked for. Judge Richard Posner. Posner is without a doubt the 
most significant legal academic and federal judge of our time, and 
perhaps of the last hundred years. He was also the perfect judge to 
clerk for. Unlike the vast majority of appeals court judges, Posner 
writes his own opinions. The job of the clerk was simply to argue. 
He would give us a draft opinion, and we'd write a long memo in 
critique. He'd use that to redraft the opinion. 

I gave Posner comments on much more than his opinions. In 
particular, soon after I began teaching he sent me a draft of a book, 
which would eventually become Sex and Reason. Much of the book 
was brilliant. But there was one part I thought ridiculous. And in a 
series of faxes (I was teaching in Budapest, and this was long before 
e-mail was generally available), I sent him increasingly outrageous 
comments, arguing about this section of the book. 


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The morning after I sent one such missive, I reread it, and was 
shocked by its abusive tone. I wrote a sheepish follow-up, apologiz- 
ing, and saying that of course, I had endless respect for Posner, blah, 
blah, and blah. All that was true. So too was it true that I thought 
my comments were unfair. But Posner responded not by accepting 
my apology, but by scolding me. And not by scolding me for my 
abusive fax, but for my apology. "I'm surrounded by sycophants," 
he wrote. "The last thing in the world I need is you to filter your 
comments by reference to my feelings." 

I was astonished by the rebuke. But from that moment on, I 
divided the world into those who would follow (or even recom- 
mend) Posner's practice, and those who wouldn't. And however 
attractive the anti-Posner pose was, I wanted to believe I could fol- 
low his ethic: Never allow, or encourage, the sycophants. Reward 
/it\ the critics. Not because I'd ever become a judge, or a public fig- /*\ 

ure as important as Posner. But because in following his example, 
I would avoid the worst effects of the protected life (as a tenured 
professor) that I would lead. 

Until the Internet, there was no good way to do this, at least 
if you were as insignificant as I. It's not like I could go to my local 
Starbucks and hold a public forum. There are people who do 
that in my neighborhood. Most of them have not showered for 
weeks. Famous people could do this, in principle. But the ethic of 
public appearances today, at least for Americans, militates against 
this sort of directness. It's rude to be critical. Indeed, if you're too 
critical, you're likely to be removed from the forum by men with 

This is not the way it is everywhere. In perhaps the most dra- 
matic experience of democracy I've witnessed, I watched Brazil's 
minister of culture, Gilberto Gil, argue with a loving but critical 


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crowd (loving his music and most of his pohcies, except the part 
that protected incumbent radio stations).^' The forum was packed. 
There was no stage that separated Gil from the hundreds who 
huddled around to hear him. People argued directly with him. He 
argued back, equal to equal. The exchange was so honest that it 
even embarrassed John Perry Barlow, Gil's friend and fan, who 
stood to defend Gil against the critics. 

But Gil loved the exchange. He was not embarrassed by the 
harshness of the criticism. His manner encouraged it. He was a 
democratic leader in a real (as opposed to hierarchical) democracy. 
He was Posner in Brazil. 

For those of us who are not Posner and not Gil, the Internet is 
the one context that encourages the ethic of democracy that they 
exemplify. It is the place where all writing gets to be RW. To write in 
/it\ this medium is to know that anything one writes is open to debate. /*\ 

I used to love the conceit of a law review article — presenting its 
arguments as if they were proven, with little or no space provided 
for disagreement. I now feel guilty about participating in such a 

All this openness is the product of a kind of democracy made 
real with writing. If trends continue, we're about to see this democ- 
racy made real with all writing. The publishers are going to fight 
the Googlezation of books. But as authors see that the most signifi- 
cant writing is that which is RW, they'll begin to insist that their 
publishers relax. In ten years, everything written that is read will 
be accessible on the Net — meaning not that people will be able to 
download copies to read on their DRM-encumbered reader but 
accessible in an open-access way, so that others will be able to com- 
ment on, and rate, and criticize the writing they read. This write/ 
read is the essence of RW. 


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Text is just a small part of the RW culture that the Internet 
is. Consider now its big, and ultimately much more significant, 

Remixed: Media 

For most of the Middle Ages in Europe, the elite spoke and wrote 
in Latin. The masses did not. They spoke local, or vernacular, lan- 
guages — what we now call French, German, and English. What 
was important to the elites was thus inaccessible to the masses. The 
most "important" texts were understood by only a few. 

Text is today's Latin. It is through text that we elites communi- 
cate (look at you, reading this book). For the masses, however, most 
/it\ information is gathered through other forms of media: TV, film, /*\ 

music, and music video. These forms of "writing" are the vernacu- 
lar of today. They are the kinds of "writing" that matters most to 
most. Nielsen Media Research, for example, reports that the aver- 
age TV is left on for 8.25 hours a day, "more than an hour longer 
than a decade ago."^^ The average American watches that average 
TV about 4.5 hours a day.^^ If you count other forms of media — 
including radio, the Web, and cell phones — the number doubles.^"* 
In 2006, the U.S. Bureau of the Census estimated that "American 
adults and teens will spend nearly five months" in 2007 consum- 
ing media.^' These statistics compare with falling numbers for text. 
Everything is captured in this snapshot of generations: 

Individuals age 75 and over averaged 1.4 hours of reading per 
weekend day and 0.2 hour (12 minutes) playing games or using a 


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computer for leisure. Conversely, individuals ages 15 to 19 read for 
an average of 0.1 hour (7 minutes) per weekend day and spent 1.0 
hour playing games or using a computer for leisure.^* 

It is no surprise, then, that these other forms of "creating" are 
becoming an increasingly dominant form of "writing." The Inter- 
net didn't make these other forms of "writing" (what I will call 
simply "media") significant. But the Internet and digital technolo- 
gies opened these media to the masses. Using the tools of digital 
technology — even the simplest tools, bundled into the most innova- 
tive modern operating systems — anyone can begin to "write" using 
images, or music, or video. And using the facilities of a free digital 
network, anyone can share that writing with anyone else. As with 
RW text, an ecology of RW media is developing. It is younger than 
^ the ecology of RW texts. But it is growing more quickly, and its ^^ 

appeal is much broader.^' 

These RW media look very much like Ben's writing with text. 
They remix, or quote, a wide range of "texts" to produce something 
new. These quotes, however, happen at different layers. Unlike text, 
where the quotes follow in a single line — such as here, where the 
sentence explains, "and then a quote gets added" — remixed media 
may quote sounds over images, or video over text, or text over 
sounds. The quotes thus get mixed together. The mix produces the 
new creative work — the "remix." 

These remixes can be simple or they can be insanely complex. 
At one end, think about a home movie, splicing a scene from Super- 
man into the middle. At the other end, there are new forms of art 
being generated by virtuosic remixing of images and video with 
found and remade audio. Think again about Girl Talk, remixing 


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between 200 and 250 samples from 167 artists in a single CD. This 
is not simply copying. Sounds are being used like paint on a palette. 
But all the paint has been scratched off of other paintings. 

So how should we think about it? What does it mean, exactly? 

However complex, in its essence remix is, as Negativland's Don 
Joyce described to me, "just collage." Collage, as he explained, 

[e] merged with the invention of photography. Very shortly after 
it was invented . . . you started seeing these sort of joking postcards 
that were photo composites. There would be a horse-drawn wagon 
with a cucumber in the back the size of a house. Things like that. 
Just little joking composite photograph things. That impressed 
painters at the time right away. 

/it\ But collage with physical objects is difficult to do well and expen- /*\ 

sive to spread broadly. Those barriers either kept many away from 
this form of expression, or channeled collage into media that could 
be remixed cheaply. As Mark Hosier of Negativland described to 
me, explaining his choice to work with audio, 

I realized that you could get a hold of some four-track reel-to- 
reel for not that much money and have it at home and actually 
play around with it and experiment and try out stuff. But with 

film, you couldn't do that. It was too expensive So that . . . drove 

me ... to pick a medium where we could actually control what we 
were doing with a small number of people, to pull something off 
and make some finished thing to get it out there.^^ 

With digital objects, however, the opportunity for wide-scale 
collage is very different. "Now," as filmmaker Johan Soderberg 


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explained, "you can do [video remix] almost for free on your own 
computer."^' This means more people can create in this way, which 
means that many more do. The images or sounds are taken from 
the tokens of culture, whether digital or analog. The tokens are 
"blaring at us all the time," as Don Joyce put it to me: "We are bar- 
raged" by expression intended originally as simply RO. Negativ- 
land's Mark Hosier: 

When you turn around 360 degrees, how many different ads or logos 
will you see somewhere in your space? [0]n your car, on your wrist- 
watch, on a billboard. If you walk into any grocery store or restaurant 
or anywhere to shop, there's always a soundtrack playing. There's 

always . . . media. There's ads. There's magazines everywhere [I]t's 

the world we live in. It's the landscape around us. 

This "barrage" thus becomes a source.^" As Johan Soderberg 
says, "To me, it is just like cooking. In your cupboard in your 
kitchen you have lots of different things and you try to connect dif- 
ferent tastes together to create something interesting." 

The remix artist does the same thing with bits of culture found 
in his digital cupboard. 

My favorites among the remixes I've seen are all cases in which 
the mix delivers a message more powerfully than any original alone 
could, and certainly more than words alone could. 

For example, a remix by Jonathan Mcintosh begins with a 
scene from The Matrix, in which Agent Smith asks, "Do you ever 
get the feeling you're living in a virtual reality dream world.'' Fab- 
ricated to enslave your mind.''" The scene then fades to a series of 
unbelievable war images from the Fox News Channel — a news 
organization that arguably makes people less aware of the facts 


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than they were before watching it.^^ Toward the end, the standard 
announcer voice says, "But there is another sound: the sound of 
good wilL" On the screen is an image of Geraldo Rivera, some- 
where in Afghanistan. For about four seconds, he stands there 
silently, with the wind rushing in the background. (I can always 
measure the quickness of my audience by how long it takes for 
people to get the joke: "the sound of good will" = silence). The clip 
closes with a fast series of cuts to more Fox images, and then a final 
clip from an ad for the film that opened Mcintosh's remix: "The 
Matrix Has You." 

Or consider the work of Sim Sadler, video artist and filmmaker. 
My favorite of his is called "Hard Working George." It builds exclu- 
sively from a video of George Bush in one of his 2004 debates with 
John Kerry. Again and again, Sadler clips places where Bush says, 
/it\ essentially, "it's hard work." Here's the transcript: /*\ 

Sir, in answer to your question I just know how this world works. 
I see on TV screens how hard it is. We're making progress; it is 
hard work. You know, it's hard work. It's hard work. A lot of 
really great people working hard, they can do the hard work. 
That's what distinguishes us from the enemy. And it's hard work, 
but it's necessary work and that's essential, but again I want to 
tell the American people it's hard work. It is hard work. It's hard 
work. There is no doubt in my mind that it is necessary work. I 
understand how hard it is, that's my job. No doubt about it, it's 
tough. It's hard work which I really want to do, but I would hope 
I never have to — nothing wrong with that. But again I repeat to 
my fellow citizens, we're making progress. We're making progress 
there. I reject this notion. It's ludicrous. It is hard work. It's hard 


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work. That's the plan for victory and that is the best way. What I 
said was it's hard work and I made that very clear. 

Usually, the audience breaks into uncontrolled laughter at "I 
would hope I never have to — nothing wrong with that," so people 
don't hear the rest of the clip. But by the end, the filter Sadler has 
imposed lets us understand Bush's message better. 

Some look at this clip and say, "See, this shows anything can 
be remixed to make a false impression of the target." But in fact, 
the "not working hard" works as well as it does precisely because 
it is well known that at least before 9/11, Bush was an extremely 
remote president, on vacation 42 percent of his first eight months 
in office. ^^ The success of the clip thus comes from building upon 
what we already know. It is powerful because it makes Bush him- 
/it\ self say what we know is true about him. The same line wouldn't /*\ 

have worked with Clinton, or Bill Gates. Whatever you want to say 
about them, no one thinks they don't work hard. 

My favorite of all these favorites, however, is still a clip in a series 
called "Read My Lips," created by Soderberg. Soderberg is an artist, 
director, and professional video editor. He has edited music videos for 
Robbie Williams and Madonna and, as he put it, "all kinds of pop 
stars." He also has an Internet TV site — — that carries 
all his own work. That work stretches back almost twenty years. 

"Read My Lips" is a series Soderberg made for a Swedish com- 
pany called Atmo, in which famous people are lip-synched with 
music or other people's words. They all are extraordinarily funny 
(though you can't see all of them anymore because one, which mixed 
Hitler with the song "Born to Be Alive," resulted in a lawsuit). 

The best of these (in my view at least) is a love song with Tony 


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Blair and George Bush. The sound track for the video is Lionel 
Richie's "Endless Love." Remember the words "My love, there's 
only you in my life." The visuals are images of Bush and Blair. 
Through careful editing, Soderberg lip-synchs Bush singing the 
male part and Blair singing the female part. The execution is almost 
perfect. The message couldn't be more powerful: an emasculated 
Britain, as captured in the puppy love of its leader for Bush. 

The obvious point is that a remix like this can't help but make 
its argument, at least in our culture, far more effectively than could 
words. (By "effectively," I mean that it delivers its message success- 
fully to a wide range of viewers.) For anyone who has lived in our 
era, a mix of images and sounds makes its point far more power- 
fully than any eight-hundred-word essay in the New Yor\ Times 
could. No one can deny the power of this clip, even Bush and Blair 
/it\ supporters, again in part because it trades upon a truth we all — /*\ 

including Bush and Blair supporters — recognize as true. It doesn't 
assert the truth. It shows it. And once it is shown, no one can escape 
its mimetic effect. This video is a virus; once it enters your brain, 
you can't think about Bush and Blair in the same way again. 

But why, as I'm asked over and over again, can't the remixer 
simply make his own content? Why is it important to select a 
drumbeat from a certain Beatles recording? Or a Warhol image? 
Why not simply record your own drumbeat? Or paint your own 

The answer to these questions is not hard if we focus again upon 
why these tokens have meaning. Their meaning comes not from 
the content of what they say; it comes from the reference, which is 
expressible only if it is the original that gets used. Images or sounds 
collected from real-world examples become "paint on a palette." 


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And it is this "cultural reference," as coder and remix artist Victor 

Stone explained, that "has emotional meaning to people When 

you hear four notes of the Beatles' 'Revolution,' it means some- 
thing."^^ When you "mix these symbolic things together" with 
something new, you create, as Soderberg put it, "something new 
that didn't exist before." 

The band Negativland has been making remixes using "found 
culture" — collected recordings of RO culture — for more than 
twenty-five years. As I described at the start, they first became 
(in) famous when they were the target of legal action brought by 
Casey Kasem and the band U2 after Negativland released a mash- 
up of Casey Kasem's introduction of U2 on his Top 40 show. So 
why couldn't Negativland simply have used something origi- 
nal? Why couldn't they rerecord the clip with an actor? Hosier 
^ explained: ^ 

We could have taken these tapes we got of Casey Kasem and 
hired someone who imitated Casey Kasem, you know, and had 
him do a dramatic re-creation. Why did we have to use the actual 
original . . . the actual thing? Well, it's because the actual thing has 
a power about it. It has an aura. It has a magic to it. And that's 
what inspires the work. 

Likewise with their remarkable, if remarkably irreverent, 
film. The Mashin of the Christ. This five-minute movie is made 
from remixing the scores of movies made throughout history 
about Jesus' crucifixion. The audio behind these images is a 
revivalist preacher who repeatedly says (during the first minute), 
"Christianity is stupid." The film then transitions at about a min- 


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ute and a half when the preacher says, "Communism is good." The 
first quote ahgns Christians, at least, against the film. But the sec- 
ond then reverses that feeling, as the film might also be seen as a 
criticism of Communism. As Hosier explained the work: 

The Mashin of the Christ just came out of an idle thought that 
crossed my mind one day when I was flipping around on Amazon 
.com. I thought, "How many movies have been made about the 
life of Jesus, anyway.?" I came up with thirty or forty of them and 
I started thinking about [how] every one of those films has similar 
sequences of Jesus being beaten, ffogged, whipped, abused. There's 
always a shot where he's carrying the cross and he stumbles and he 
falls. And it just occurred to me ... I thought that would make an 
interesting montage of stuff. 

^ . , . . . ^ 

This montage's point could not have been made by simply shooting 

crucifixion film number forty-one. 

The Significance of Remix 

I've described what I mean by remix by describing a bit of its prac- 
tice. Whether text or beyond text, remix is collage; it comes from 
combining elements of RO culture; it succeeds by leveraging the 
meaning created by the reference to build something new. 

But why should anyone care about whether remix flourishes, or 
even exists } What does anyone gain, beyond a cheap laugh } What 
does a society gain, beyond angry famous people.'' 

There are two goods that remix creates, at least for us, or for 


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our kids, at least now. One is the good of community. The other is 


Remixes happen within a community of remixers. In the digital 
age, that community can be spread around the world. Members of 
that community create in part for one another. They are showing 
one another how they can create, as kids on a skateboard are show- 
ing their friends how they can create. That showing is valuable, 
even when the stuff produced is not. 

Consider, for example, the community creating anime music 
videos (AMV). Anime are the Japanese cartoons that swept 
America a few years ago. AMVs are (typically) created by remixing 
/it\ images from these cartoons with a music track or the track from a /*\ 

movie trailer. Each video can take between fifty and four hundred 
hours to create. There are literally thousands that are shared non- 
commercially at the leading site, 

The aim of these creators is in part to learn. It is in part to show 
off. It is in part to create works that are strikingly beautiful. The 
work is extremely difficult to do well. Anyone who does it well also 
has the talent to do well in the creative industries. This fact has 
not been lost on industry, or universities training kids for industry. 
After I described AMVs at one talk, a father approached me with 
tears in his eyes. "You don't know how important this stuff is," he 
told me. "My kid couldn't get into any university. He then showed 
them his AMVs, and now he's at one of the best design schools in 

AMVs are peculiarly American — or, though they build upon 


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Japanese anime, they are not particularly Japanese. This is not because 
Japanese kids are not remixers. To the contrary, Japanese culture 
encourages this remixing from a much younger age, and much more 
broadly. According to cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito, 

Japanese media have really been at the forefront of pushing recom- 
binant and user-driven content starting with very young children. 
If you consider things like Po\etnon and Yu-Gi-Ohl as examples of 
these kinds of more fannish forms of media engagement, the base 
of it is very broad in Japan, probably much broader than in the 
U.S. Something like Pol^emon or Yu-Gi-Ohl reached a saturation 
point of nearly 100 percent within kids' cultures in Japan.^** 

But the difference between cultures is not just about saturation. 
/it\ Henry Jenkins quotes education professors David Buckingham /*\ 

and Julia Sefton-Green, "Po/^emon is something you do, not just 
something you read or watch or consume," and continues: 

There are several hundred different Po^(?oto«, each with multiple 
evolutionary forms and a complex set of rivalries and attachments. 
There is no one text where one can go to get the information about 
these various species; rather, the child assembles what they know 
about the Po/^emon from various media with the result that each 
child knows something his or her friends do not and thus has a 
chance to share this expertise with others.^' 

"Every person," Ito explains, thus "has a personalized set of Po^e- 
mon. That is very different from [American media, which are] ask- 
ing kids to identify with a single character." 

PoJ^emon is just a single example of a common practice in Japan. 


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This more common practice pushes "kids to develop more persona 
hves, and remix-oriented pathways to the content." Kids in the sec- 
ond and third grades, for example, will all 

carry around just a little sketchbook . . . with drawings of manga 
[cartoon] characters in them. That's what [Japanese] kids do. Then 
by fourth or fifth grade there are certain kids that get known to be 
good at drawing and then they actually start making their original 
stories. Then at some point there needs to be an induction into the 
whole doujinshi scene, which is its own subculture. That usually 
happens through knowing an older kid who's involved in that. 

American kids have it different. The focus is not: "Here's some- 
thing, do something with it." The focus is instead: "Here's some- 
/it\ thing, buy it." "The U.S. has a stronger cultural investment in the /*\ 

idea of childhood innocence," Ito explains, "and it also has a more 
protectionist view with respect to media content." And this "protec- 
tionism" extends into schooling as well. "Entertainment" is sepa- 
rate from "education." So any skill learned in this "remix culture" is 
"constructed oppositionally to academic achievement." Thus, while 
"remix culture" flourishes with adult-oriented media in the United 
States, "there's still a lot of resistance to media that are coded as 
children's media being really fully [integrated] into that space." 

Yet the passion for remix is growing in American kids, and 
AMVs are one important example. Ito has been studying these 
AMV creators, getting a "sense of their trajectories" as creators. At 
what moment, she is trying to understand, does "a fan see [him- 
self] as a media producer and not just a consumer".'' And what was 
the experience (given it was certainly not formal education) that led 
them to this form of expression.'' 


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Ito's results are not complete, but certain patterns are clear. "A 
very high proportion of kids who engage in remix culture," for 
example, "have had experience with interactive gaming formats." 
"The AMV scene is dominated by middle-class white men" — in 
contrast to the most famous remixers in recent Japanese history, the 
"working-class girls" who produced doujinshi. Most "have a day job 
or are full-time students but... have an incredibly active amateur 
life [They] see themselves as producers and participants in a cul- 
ture and not just recipients of it." That participation happens with 
others. They form the community. That community supports itself. 


A second value in remix extends beyond the value of a community. 
/it\ Remix is also and often, as Mimi Ito describes, a strategy to excite /*\ 

"interest-based learning." As the name suggests, interest-based 
learning is the learning driven by found interests. When kids get to 
do work that they feel passionate about, kids (and, for that matter, 
adults) learn more and learn more effectively. 

I wrote about this in an earlier book. Free Culture. There I de- 
scribed the work of Elizabeth Daley and Stephanie Barish, both of 
whom were working with kids in inner-city schools. By giving these 
kids basic media literacy, they saw classes of students who before 
could not retain their focus for a single period now spending every 
free moment of every hour the school was open editing and perfect- 
ing video about their lives, or about stories they wanted to tell. 

Others have seen the same success grow from using remix 
media to teach. At the University of Houston — a school where a 
high percentage of the students don't speak English as their first 


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language — the Digital Storytelling project has produced an 
extraordinary range of historical videos, created by students who 
research the story carefully, and select from archives of images and 
sounds the mix that best conveys the argument they want their 
video to make. 

As Henry Jenkins notes, "[M]any adults worry that these kids 
are 'copying' preexisting media content rather than creating their 
own original works."^*^ But as Jenkins rightly responds, "More and 
more literacy experts are recognizing that enacting, reciting, and 
appropriating elements from preexisting stories is a valuable and 
organic part of the process by which children develop cultural lit- 
eracy."^^ Parents should instead, Jenkins argues, "think about their 
[kids'] appropriations as a kind of apprenticeship."^^ They learn by 
remixing. Indeed, they learn more about the form of expression 
/it\ they remix than if they simply made that expression directly. /*\ 

This is not to say, of course, that however they do this remix, 
they're doing something good. There's good and bad remix, as 
there's good and bad writing. But just as bad writing is not an argu- 
ment against writing, bad remix is not an argument against remix. 
Instead, in both cases, poor work is an argument for better educa- 
tion. As Hosier put it to me: 

Every high school in America needs to have a course in media 
literacy. We're buried in this stuff. We're breathing it. We're 
drinking it constantly. It's 24/7 news and information and pop 

culture If you're trying to educate kids to think critically about 

history and society and culture, you've got to be encouraging them 
to be thoughtful and critical about media and information and 


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Doing something with the culture, remixing it, is one way to 

The Old in the New 

To many, my description of remix will sound like something very 
new. In one sense it is. But in a different, perhaps more fundamen- 
tal sense, we also need to see that there's nothing essentially new in 
remix. Or put differently, the interesting part of remix isn't some- 
thing new. All that's new is the technique and the ease with which 
the product of that technique can be shared. That ease invites a wider 
community to participate; it makes participation more compelling. 
^ But the creative act that is being engaged in is not significantly dif- ^^ 

ferent from the act Sousa described when he recalled the "young 
people together singing the songs of the day or the old songs." 

For as I've argued, remix with "media" is just the same sort of 
stuff that we've always done with words. It is how Ben wrote. It 
is how lawyers argue. It is how we all talk all the time. We don't 
notice it as such, because this text-based remix, whether in writ- 
ing or conversation, is as common as dust. We take its freedoms 
for granted. We all expect that we can quote, or incorporate, other 
people's words into what we write or say. And so we do quote, or 
incorporate, or remix what others have said. 

The same with "media." Remixed media succeed when they 
show others something new; they fail when they are trite or deriva- 
tive. Like a great essay or a funny joke, a remix draws upon the 
work of others in order to do new work. It is great writing without 
words. It is creativity supported by a new technology. 


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Yet though this remix is not new, for most of our history it was 
silenced. Not by a censor, or by evil capitalists, or even by good capi- 
talists. It was silenced because the economics of speaking in this 
different way made this speaking impossible, at least for most. If in 
1968 you wanted to capture the latest Walter Cronkite news pro- 
gram and remix it with the Beatles, and then share it with your 
ten thousand best friends, what blocked you was not the law. What 
blocked you was that the production costs alone would have been in 
the tens of thousands of dollars. 

Digital technologies have now removed that economic censor. 
The ways and reach of speech are now greater. More people can use 
a wider set of tools to express ideas and emotions differently. More 
can, and so more will, at least until the law effectively blocks it. 


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I've described two cultures and two kinds of creativity. One (RO) 
is fueled by professionals. The other (RW) is fueled by both pro- 
fessionals and amateurs. Both have been critical to the development 
/it\ of culture. Both will be spread by the maturing of digital technolo- /*\ 

gies. But though I believe both will grow in the digital age, there 
are still important differences between them. In this brief interlude, 
consider a few of these differences. Then, before we turn to per- 
haps the most interesting development, consider some lessons that 
understanding these two cultures can teach. 

Differences in Value-and "Values" 

These two cultures embody different values. 

RO culture speaks of professionalism. Its tokens of culture de- 
mand a certain respect. They offer themselves as authority. They 
teach, but not by inviting questions. Or if they invite questions, they 
direct the questions to someone other than the speaker. Or per- 
former. Or creator. 


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This form of culture is critically important, both to the spread 
of culture and to the spread of knowledge. There are places where 
authority is required: No one should want Congress's laws on a 
wiki. Or instructions for administering medication. Or the flight 
plan of a commercial airliner. 

So too is RO culture central to the growth of the arts. The ability 
to channel the commercial return from music or film has allowed 
many people to create who otherwise could not. This is the proper 
function of copyright law, and its only good justification. Where 
we can see that creativity would be hindered by the absence of this 
special privilege, the privilege makes sense. 

And finally, RO culture makes possible an integrity to expres- 
sion that, for some at least, is crucial. Artists want their expression 
framed just as they intend it. RO culture gives them that freedom. 
/it\ Doctors or pharmaceutical companies want to assure that instruc- /*\ 

tions or medical explanations are not translated by just anyone. 
Control here is important, and not at all evil. Again, where it gives 
us something we otherwise wouldn't have — artistic expression or 
quality assurance — control can be good.^ 

RW culture extends itself differently. It touches social life dif- 
ferently. It gives the audience something more. Or better, it asks 
something more of the audience. It is offered as a draft. It invites 
a response. In a culture in which it is common, its citizens develop 
a kind of knowledge that empowers as much as it informs or 

I see this difference directly in my life as a teacher. When stu- 
dents come to law school, most come from an essentially RO educa- 
tion. For four years (or more), they've sat in large lecture halls, with 
a professor at the front essentially reading the same lectures she's 
given year after year after year. 'Any questions?" usually elicits 


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points of order, not substance. "Do we have to read chapter 5?" 
"Will the subjunctive be on the exam?" 

Maybe that's the appropriate way to teach most undergraduate 
courses. But the best legal education is radically different. The law 
school classroom is an argument. The professor provides the source 
for that argument. The class is a forum within which that argu- 
ment happens. Students don't listen to lectures. They help make the 
lecture. They are asked questions; those questions frame a discus- 
sion. The structure demands that they create as they participate in 
the discussion. 

People who know little about how the law works are puzzled — 
sometimes terrified — when they see that this is how we train pro- 
fessionals. The model of biochemistry is more attractive to them: 
"Here's a list of things to memorize. Do it." But the law is not a list 
/it\ of statutes. The law is a way of speaking and thinking and, most /*\ 

important, an ethic. Every lawyer must feel responsible for the law 
he or she helps make. For within the American system, at least, the 
law is made as it is practiced. How it is made depends upon the val- 
ues its practitioners share. 

This form of education teaches responsibility as well as the sub- 
ject. It develops an ethic as well as knowledge about a particular 
field. And it expresses a sometimes profound respect for its stu- 
dents: from their very first week in law school, they are part of the 
conversation that law is. Their views are respected — at least so long 
as they place them within the frame of the law's conversation. 

All of us believe this at some level. We all believe that writing 
has its own ethic, and that it imposes that ethic on the writer and 
the thing written. Those of us who object to judges who delegate 
opinion writing to their law clerks do so not so much because we 
want judges who are bettered by becoming better writers, but 


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instead because we want opinions that bear the mark of the con- 
straint that comes from the responsibihty of writing. Creating is a 
responsibihty. Only by practicing it can you learn it. 

Those who study juries say they have much the same effect on 
the citizens who serve on them. Jurors are given evidence. They 
act on it. As they deliberate, they recognize they've been credited 
with (sometimes) extraordinary power. That (sometimes) wakes 
them up. They understand they have a responsibility that reaches 
far beyond their ordinary lives. That makes them think and act 
differently — even after they have rendered their verdict. 

These examples bias me. Of course I think reading is impor- 
tant. Of course it is "fundamental." But humans reach far beyond 
the fundamental. And as I watch my kids grow, the part I cher- 
ish the most is not their reading. It is their writing. Since my old- 
/it\ est (now five) was two, we have told him "monster man" stories. /*\ 

Watching his rapt attention at every twist in these totally on-the-fly 
made-up stories was a kick. But the moment he first objected to 
a particular shift in the plot, and offered his own, was one of the 
coolest moments of my life. What we want to see in our kids is their 
will. What we want to inspire is a will that constructs well. 

I want to see this capacity expressed not just in words. I want to 
see it expressed in every form of cultural meaning. I want to watch 
as he changes the ending to a song he almost loves. Or adds a char- 
acter to a movie that he deeply identifies with. Or paints a picture to 
express an idea that before was only latent. I want this RW capacity 
in him, generalized. I want him to be the sort of person who can 
create by remaking. 

This then is the first difference between RO and RW cultures. 
One emphasizes learning. The other emphasizes learning by speak- 
ing. One preserves its integrity. The other teaches integrity. One 


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emphasizes a hierarchy. The other hides the hierarchy. No one 
would argue we need less of the first, RO culture. But anyone who 
has really seen it believes we need much more of the second. 

Differences in Value (As in $) 

The story so far emphasizes values with a capital V. Lefties who 
promote social, educational, and democratic ideals would very 
much like these values. They speak to the sort of stuff Lefties are 
supposed to like. 

But there are more reasons to support RW culture than the fact 
that a bunch of us tree buggers would like it. 

For as well as promoting certain values that at least some of us 
/it\ find important, the RW culture also promotes economic value. /*\ 

To see just why, think for second about the devices necessary to 
make RO culture work. You see them everywhere. They are smaller 
and smaller, and cheaper and cheaper. As bandwidth grows, they 
more efficiently grab content, which they then enable you to con- 
sume. Their brilliance has grabbed me. I don't watch "television" 
anymore. But I do watch my iPod connected to a screen more and 
more. I spend way too much money on this. Apple hopes others 
will spend way too much, too. 

But the economic value in this consumption is tiny compared 
with the economic potential of consumer-generated content. Think 
of all the devices you need to make that home movie of your kid 
as Superman — the camera, the microphone, the hard disk to store 
500 gigabytes of takes, the fast computer to make the rendering 
bearable. And then think about the bandwidth you'll need to share 
this creativity with your family and friends. 


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This is a point that has been made for some time, perhaps never 
better than in Andrew Odlyzko's essay "Content Is Not King":^ 
despite the rhetoric of the content industry, the most valuable con- 
tribution to our economy comes from connectivity, not content. 
Content is the ginger in gingerbread — important, no doubt, but 
nothing like the most valuable component in the mix. 

People on the Right need to recognize this. As I've watched the 
debate about copyright develop, I've been astonished by how quickly 
those on the Right have been captured by the content industry. 
Maybe I'm astonished because, as Stewart Baker chided me in a 
review oi Free Culture, liberals like me spend too much time talk- 
ing to liberals like me rather than to conservatives. As Baker wrote 
in his review, 

/itN Viewed up close, copyright bears little resemblance to the kinds /*\ 

of property that conservatives value. Instead, it looks like a con- 
stantly expanding government program run for the benefit of a 
noisy, well-organized interest group — like Superfund, say, or 
dairy subsidies, except that the benefits go not to endangered 
homeowners or hard-working farmers but to the likes of Barbra 

Streisand and Eminem Copyright is a trial lawyer's dream — 

a regulatory program enforced by private lawsuits where the plain- 
tiffs have all the advantages, from injury-free damages awards to 
liability doctrines that extract damages from anyone who was in 
the neighborhood when an infringement occurred.^ 

Baker's is a great point. Let me add to it: As conservative econo- 
mists have taught us again and again, value in an economy is least 
likely to come from state -protected monopolies. It is most likely to 
be generated by competition. There is a huge and vibrant economy 


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of competition that drives technology in our economy. The monop- 
oly rights we call copyright are constraints on that competition. I 
believe those constraints are necessary. But as with every necessary 
evil, they should be as limited as possible. We should provide pro- 
tection from competition only where there is a very good reason to 

My point of course is not that we can or should simply sacrifice 
RO culture to enable RW. Instead, the opposite: in protecting RO 
culture, we shouldn't kill off the potential for RW. 

Differences in Value 
(As in "Is It Any Good?") 

/it\ In June 2007, the backlash against RW culture was born. In a short /*\ 

and cleverly written book titled The Cult of the Amateur, Andrew 
Keen, a writer and failed Internet entrepreneur, launched a full- 
scale attack on precisely the culture that I am praising. The core of 
his attack was that "amateur culture" is killing "our culture." The 
growth of this kind of creativity will eventually destroy much that 
we think of as "good" in society. "Not a day goes by without some 
new revelation that calls into question the reliability, accuracy, and 
truth of the information we get from the Internet," Keen writes."* 
And in response to all the free stuff the Internet offers. Keen is 
quite worried: "What is free," he warns, "is actually costing us a 
fortune."^ Wikipedia, for example, "is almost single-handedly kill- 
ing the traditional information business."'' And the "democratiza- 
tion" that I praise "is," he argues, "undermining truth, souring civic 
discourse, and belittling expertise, experience and talent."' 


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There is more than a bit of self-parody in Keen's book. For 
though the book attacks the Internet for its sloppiness and error, it 
itself is riddled with sloppy errors.^ (Here's a favorite: "Every defunct 
record label, or laid-off newspaper reporter, or bankrupt indepen- 
dent bookstore is a consequence of 'free' user-generated Internet 
content — from craigslist's free advertising, to YouTube's free music 
videos, to Wikipedia's free information.'"' "Every"} Wow!) 

Yet even if we ignore Keen, his point can't be ignored. There 
are many who have expressed a similar fear about the dangers that 
they perceive in this latest form of creativity. 

My first exposure to this skepticism was at a conference at New 
York University about "fair use." The Comedies of Fair U$e confer- 
ence was filled with artists and creators demonstrating precisely the 
creativity I've been praising. But in the middle of this conference, 
/it\ Charles Sims, a lawyer with the firm of Proskauer Rose, pleaded /*\ 

with the young creators to turn away from their "derivative" form 
of creativity. They should focus, Sims argued, on something really 
challenging — "original creativity." Sims said: 

I can't say strongly enough that I think what Larry is really funda- 
mentally focused on . . . [ — ] this parasitic reuse [ — ] is such a ter- 
rible diversion of young people's talent I think that if you have 

young film people you should be encouraging them to make their 
films and not to simply spend all of their time diddling around 
with footage that other people have made at great expense, to cre- 
ate stuff that's not very interesting. There's a fundamental failure 

of imagination 

I'm saying, that as members of the academy, to encourage young 
people to think that instead of creating out of their own souls and 


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their own talents to simply reuse what's available off the streets to 
them, is underselling the talents that young people have.'" 

There are a number of layers to this form of criticism. We should 
be careful to tease them apart. 

Most obvious is the criticism that the work on average is more 
than "creative" work. There's no comparing ten minutes produced 
by J. J. Abrams and ten minutes from any of the stuff that passes for 
video production on YouTube. Remix is just "crap." This criticism is 
certainly true. The vast majority of remix, like the vast majority of 
home movies, or consumer photographs, or singing in the shower, 
or blogs, is just crap. Most of these products are silly or derivative, a 
waste of even the creator's time, let alone the consumer's. 

But I never quite get what those who raise this criticism think 
/it\ follows from the point. I was once a student at the Goethe Institute /*\ 

in Berlin. After a week of our monthlong intensive German course, 
I asked the teacher why we weren't encouraged to speak more. 
"Your German is really quite awful just now," she told me. "You 
would all make terrible mistakes if you spoke, so I think it best if 
you just listen." No doubt her assessment was right. But, amazingly 
for a language teacher at the Goethe Institute, she was simply miss- 
ing the point. 

So too do critics who argue that the vast majority of remix is 
bad. Think again about blogs. The value of blogs is not that I'm 
likely to find a comment that surpasses the very best of the A^ew Yorl{^ 
Times. I'm not. But that's not the point. Blogs are valuable because 
they give millions the opportunity to express their ideas in writing. 
And with a practice of writing comes a certain important integrity. 
A culture filled with bloggers thinks differently about politics or 


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public affairs, if only because more have been forced through the 
discipline of showing in writing why A leads to B. 

If this point weren't true, why would we teach our kids how to 
write? Given that the vast majority will never write anything more 
than an e-mail or a shopping list, why is it important to torture 
them with creative writing essays ? For again, like the Internet, the 
vast majority of what students write is just crap (trust me on this 
one). What reason is there for wasting their time (and worse, mine) 
to produce such garbage? 

(That's a rhetorical question. I suspect you see the point.) 

A second layer to this criticism is more relevant but even less 

true. Some criticize what I'm calling "remix" by arguing there's no 

there there. This is Sims's real complaint. Even granted that most 

is crap, even the best, in his view, is a waste, "a fundamental failure 

/it\ of imagination." /*\ 

But anyone who thinks remixes or mash-ups are neither orig- 
inal nor creative has very little idea about how they are made or 
what makes them great. It takes extraordinary knowledge about a 
culture to remix it well. The artist or student training to do it well 
learns far more about his past than one committed to this (in my 
view, hopelessly naive) view about "original creativity." And per- 
haps more important, the audience is constantly looking for more 
as the audience reads what the remixer has written. Knowing that 
the song is a mix that could draw upon all that went before, each 
second is an invitation to understand the links that were drawn — 
their meaning, the reason they were included. The form makes 
demands on the audience; they return the demands in kind. 

This point links directly with an argument advanced by Ste- 
ven Johnson in his fantastic book. Everything Bad Is Good for You}^ 


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Aiming to rebut the view that television has become "brain dead," 
Johnson argues that TV has in fact become more rich and com- 
plex over time, not less. The reason relates in part to technology. As 
people collect not only television sets but DVD players, producers of 
television programming have a strong incentive to give their audi- 
ence an interest in after-broadcast sales. A show maximizes its reve- 
nue when there's a postbroadcast demand for DVDs or for reruns. 
So how do you create that demand? One way is through com- 
plexity. As Johnson demonstrates, the most successful television 
shows have multiplied the number of plot lines running through 
them. And though the shows are always understandable at one 
viewing, few viewers would understand everything going on in 
every show. The fan thus has a reason to watch it again — which 
means, buy the DVD or tune in to reruns. Complexity thus 
/it\ drives follow-on consumption. Henry Jenkins makes a related /*\ 

point about movies: 

The old Hollywood system depended on redundancy to ensure 
that viewers could follow the plot at all times, even if they were 
distracted or went out to the lobby for a popcorn refill during a 
crucial scene. The new Hollywood demands that we keep our 
eyes on the road at all times, and that we do research before we 
arrive at the theater.^^ 

Obviously, this idea can be taken too far. The story can't be 
totally inaccessible. There must be some payoff for watching the 
first time. But the key is to make the first time, and the next ten 
times, worth it. To make once necessary but not enough. 

This strategy is not new with television. Think about the great 
nineteenth-century novels. When an author such as Dickens wrote 


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his novels in serial form (where each chapter originally appears as 
an installment in a magazine, published before the full novel was 
completed)," his goal was to attract people to each installment, and 
then to draw them back to the finished book. Dickens (and many 
others) did this by writing very intricate stories that repaid many 
reread ings. 

Remix is doing the same thing with other forms of culture. 
Like the work of a great classical composer (Mahler and Beethoven 
fit here), the best remix is compelling both the first time and the 
hundredth time. Indeed, it is only by the hundredth time that one 
begins to understand it enough for it to make sense. There needs 
to be a strong enough raw pull to get the listener to that hundredth 
hearing (something Arnold Schoenberg never quite got). But once 
you're hooked, you don't fight to get free. You listen again and again, 
/it\ each time hoping to understand more. /*\ 

Even with nonclassical music, this isn't completely new. Why 
does one listen to Bob Dylan a thousand times, or to the ballads of 
Jeff Tweedy again and again? It's not just the music that compels 
the repeated listening. In this form, the melody is best if it's simple 
and compelling. Instead, it is the poetry that the melody illustrates. 
You listen again and again because each time you understand the 
poetry differently — more, and more fit to the context. 

Thus the argument in favor of remix — the essential art of 
the RW culture — is not simply the negative: what harm are they 
doing? The argument for me is strongly positive: I want my kids 
to listen to SilviaO's remix of fourstones' latest work — a thousand 
times I want them to listen. Because that listening is active, and 
engaged, far more than the brain-dead melodies or lyrics of a Brit- 
ney Spears. Her work draws on nothing, save the forbidden and 
erotic. In this, it may be, in Sims's view, perfectly original. Yet it 


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is also totally derivative, and deeply disrespectful of the tradition 
from which she comes. You pay respect to tradition by incorporat- 
ing it. But you make the tradition compelling by doing so in a way 
that makes everyone want to understand more. As the novelist Jon- 
athan Lethem puts it, "What we want from every artist is that they 
surprise us and show us something unprecedented. But . . . this act is 
itself innately supported by response, appropriate, imitation."" 

And then there's one final layer of this criticism that in the end 
annoys me the most. Maybe some of this work is okay, this criticism 
says, and some of it is even quite good. But none of it is as good as 
the greats of [you pick the time]. Our culture, the story goes, is col- 
lapsing. There are no standards anymore. There is no quality. Taste 
and art are wasting away. 

Every generation has had the experience of an older generation 
/it\ insisting that the new is degraded, that only the old is great. Didn't /*\ 

that experience teach us something? As Ithiel de Sola Pool said 
almost two decades ago, "Each generation sees as its culture those 
values and practices with which it grew up. Its hallowed traditions 
are those it learned in childhood."^^ Of course the new is inferior to 
the past. How else could it be progress ? 

But even accepting this critique, what should be done about it? 
If our culture is collapsing because millions of people are choosing 
to watch or create stuff that the critic doesn't like, should the gov- 
ernment intervene on behalf of the critic? I'd be the first to admit 
that the state has a role in regulating society, and I'm even willing 
to admit that sometimes the state has a role in regulating speech. 
Copyright law, after all, is a regulation of speech, and justified if 
it produces incentives to create speech that otherwise wouldn't be 
created. ^'' 


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But none of these justifications for state regulation could ever 
support the idea that we intervene to suppress a form of "culture" 
that some elite believes is not good enough. Subsidies are one thing. 
Prohibition is something radically different. 

Maybe, however, the most effective response to this criticism 
is one that Victor Stone, architect of ccMixter, offered me: "You 
know. . . this discussion will be over in ten or twenty years. As the 
boomers die out, and they get over themselves by dying, the genera- 
tion that follows . . . just doesn't care about this discussion. They just 
assume that remixing is part of music, and it's part of the process, 
and that's it." 

And they'll defend it, at least until a new form of creativity 
comes along that they try to stop. We all become our parents. 

^ Differences in Law ^ 

(As in "Is It Allowed?") 

American copyright law regulates (at least potentially)^^ any cre- 
ative work produced after 1923, for a maximum term of life of the 
author plus seventy years, or ninety-five years for corporate work 
or work created before 1978. This regulation relates differently to 
RO and RW cultures. Put simply, current copyright law supports 
the practices of the RO culture and opposes the practices of the RW 
culture. Or again, as the law is architected just now, it clearly favors 
one kind of culture over another. 

Consider first copyright's relationship to RO culture. As I've 
described, the essence of RO is that the user, or consumer, is given 
the permission to consume the culture he purchases. He has no 


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legal permission beyond that permission to consume. During the 
analog history of RO culture, he had no easy technical capacity 
beyond that capacity to consume. 

Digital technologies changed the technical capacity. In its first 
version, digital technologies gave users almost unlimited technical 
capacity to mix and remix RO culture. But "can" does not imply 
"may." While the tools enabled users to do with RO culture as they 
wished, the law did not grant users of RO culture the permission to 
do as they wished. Instead, as applied to a world where each use of 
culture is a copy, RO culture required the permission of copyright 
owners before RO culture could be remade. 

This gap between what the law permitted and what the technol- 
ogy allowed could have been closed either by changing the law or 
by changing the technology. The past five years have seen changes 
/it\ in both — but both aiming to strengthen the control over content, /*\ 

not weaken it. As RO culture has evolved in the digital world, tech- 
nologies have given the copyright owner an ever-increasing oppor- 
tunity to control precisely how copyrighted content is consumed. 
At its most extreme, digital-rights management technologies could 
control how often you listen to a song you've downloaded, where 
that song gets stored, whether you can share that song with some- 
one else, and how long you have the right to listen. The technology 
could enable almost any form of control the copyright owner could 

Copyright law supports this control in the digital age because 
of a deceptively simple fact about the architecture of copyright 
law, and the architecture of digital technology. The law regulates 
"reproductions" or "copies." But every time you use a creative work 
in a digital context, the technology is making a copy. When you 
"read" an electronic book, the machine is copying the text of the 


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book from your hard drive, or from a hard drive on a network, to 
the memory in your computer. That "copy" triggers copyright law. 
When you play a CD on your computer, the recording gets copied 
into memory on its way to your headphones or speakers. No matter 
what you do, your actions trigger the law of copyright. Every action 
must then be justified as either licensed or "fair use." 

Because every use triggers the law of copyright, I say that copy- 
right law supports the technologies used to implement an RO cul- 
ture. For if DRM says you can read an e-book only twice, all that 
the technology is doing is implementing a right that copyright law 
gives the copyright owner. Copyright law is triggered every time 
you read an e-book. Unless protected by "fair use," each time you 
read the e-book, you need permission from the copyright owner. 

It's critical to recognize, however, that this control is radically 
/it\ greater than the control the law of copyright gave a copyright owner /*\ 

in the analog world. And this change in the scope of control came 
not from Congress deciding that the copyright owner needed more 
control. The change came instead because of a change in the plat- 
form through which we gain access to our culture. Technological 
changes dramatically increased, and the scope of control that the 
law gave copyright owners over the use of creative work increased 

In the physical world, copyright law gives the copyright owner 
of a book no legal control over how many times you read that book. 
That is because when you read a book in real space, that "reading" 
does not produce a copy. And because copyright law is not triggered, 
no one needs any permission to read the book, lend the book, sell 
the book, or use the book to impress his or her friends. In the physi- 
cal world, the law of copyright is triggered when you take the book 
to a copy shop and make fifty copies for your friends — no doubt a 


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100 REMIX 

possible use, but not an ordinary use. Ordinary uses of the book are 
free of the regulation of the law. Ordinary uses are unregulated. 

But in the digital world, the same acts are differently regulated. 
To share a book requires permission. To read a book requires per- 
mission. To copy a paragraph to insert into a term paper requires 
permission. All the ordinary uses of a creative work are now regu- 
lated because all the ordinary uses trigger copyright law — because, 
again, any use is a copy.'^ 

RO culture in the digital age is thus open to control in a way 
that was never possible in the analog age. The law regulates more. 
Technology can regulate more effectively. Technology can con- 
trol every use. The law ratifies the control that technology would 
impose over every use. To the extent the copyright owner wants, 
and subject to "fair use," the use of his copyrighted work in digital 
/it\ space can be perfectly controlled. In this sense, the law supports RO /*\ 

culture more than it ever has. 

The law's relationship to RW culture is different. For again, 
the very act of rewriting in a digital context produces a copy; that 
copy triggers the law of copyright. Once triggered, the law requires 
either a license or a valid claim of "fair use." Licenses are scarce; 
defending a claim of "fair use" is expensive. By default, RW use 
violates copyright law. RW culture is thus presumptively illegal. 

For most of American history it was extraordinarily rare for 
ordinary citizens to trigger copyright law. For most of American 
history, the practice of RW culture would have flown under the 
radar of this form of commercial regulation. The reason again was 
a combination of the architecture of copyright law and the technol- 
ogies of culture. From 1790 until 1909, copyright law didn't regulate 
"copies." Its core regulation was of "printing, reprinting, publishing 
and vending." People engaged in RW culture were not "printing. 


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reprinting, publishing and vending." This core was expanded in 
1870, when the law added the regulation of what we call derivative 
works to its scope. But even then, the regulation was not general. It 
was specific to particular activities, and these activities were again 
primarily commercial. "By 1873," writes Professor Tony Reese, "the 
subject matter of copyright protection included 'any book, map, 
chart, dramatic or musical composition, engraving, cut, print, or 
photograph or negative thereof, or ... painting, drawing, chromo, 
statue, statuary, and . . . models or designs intended to be perfected 
as works of the fine arts.' "" Again, not the sort of things that ordi- 
nary RW creators do. 

In 1909, the law changed. For the first time, the word "copy" was 
used generally to refer to the rights of any copyright owner, includ- 
ing the copyright owner of books. Until that time, the exclusive 
/it^ right to "copy" was limited to works such as statues, but not gener- /*\ 

ally to works such as books. (Thus, to "copy" a statue required the 
permission of the copyright owner, but to "copy" a book did not.) 
But the revisers of the 1909 act forgot this distinction and granted 
copyright owners "the semblance of a right to an activity that was 
to have increasing importance in the new century."^" Over time, the 
word began to reach every technology that "cop[ied]." Thus, as the 
range of technologies that enabled people to "copy" increased, so 
too did the effective scope of regulation increase.^^ 

This automatic expansion in regulation was not really remarked 
upon by Congress. Congress didn't intend the expansion. Neither 
did it stop it. Those who benefited from this expansion were happy 
for the benefit. Those who might potentially be harmed by it failed 
to notice that the contours of their freedom — their RW freedom — 
were narrowing. 

There were, of course, important exceptions. In the late 1960s, 


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102 REMIX 

Xerox gave us a technology to copy texts. In the niid-1970s, tech- 
nologists gave consumers a device designed to record television 
shows. That device thus "copied" copyrighted content without per- 
mission of the content owner. In 1976, Disney and Universal filed 
a lawsuit against the maker of that device, Sony. Eight years later, 
the Supreme Court excused the copying, finding that consumers' 
actions were protected by the doctrine of "fair use."^^ 

Similarly, in the 1980s there was an explosion of devices for 
copying cassette tapes. The content owners complained that people 
were using these devices to copy copyrighted content without the 
permission of the copyright owner. Congress ordered an exten- 
sive study of the practice. That study concluded that 40 percent of 
people ten and over had tape-recorded music in the past year; that 
the tapers had a greater interest in music than nontapers did; that 
/it\ most were "place-shifting" — "shifting" the "place" the copyrighted /*\ 

material would be played; that taping displaced some sales and 
inspired others; and that both tapers and nontapers believed "that 
it was acceptable to copy a prerecorded item for one's own use or to 
give to a friend ."^^ 

Each of these conflicts was not really a conflict with the core 
of RW culture. Mixtapes are perhaps an exception — many of my 
friends growing up thought the creativity in the selection was 
among the most difficult, and important, for anyone who knows 
anything about popular culture. But these weren't really the target 
of the copyright owners. Their concern instead was the use of these 
technologies to displace a market they thought they owned. It was 
technology competing with the protection of copyright. Technol- 
ogy, in other words, competing with RO culture. Despite this com- 
petition, the technology was largely left alone. 

When RW culture moves to the Net, however, things change 


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dramatically. First, digital technologies, as I've already described, 
explode the demand for RW culture. More and more people use 
technology to say things, and not simply with words. Music is 
remixed; video mash-ups proliferate; blogs begin to build a culture 
around the idea of talking back. 

Second, digital technologies also change how RW culture and 
copyright interact. Because every use of creative work technically 
produces a copy, every use of creative work technically triggers 
copyright law. And while many of these uses might be fair use, 
or uses licensed, expressly or implicitly, by the copyright owner, 
the critical point to recognize is that this is still a vast change to 
the history of American copyright law. For the first time, the law 
regulates ordinary citizens generally. For the first time, it reaches 
beyond the professional to control the amateur — to subject the 
/it\ amateur to a control by the law that the law historically reserved to /*\ 


This is the most important point to recognize about the rela- 
tionship between the law and RW culture. For the first time, the 
law reaches and regulates this culture. Not because Congress delib- 
erated and decided that this form of creativity needed regulation, 
but simply because the architecture of copyright law interacted with 
the architecture of digital technology to produce a massive expan- 
sion in the reach of the law. 

This change is also reflected further in professional culture itself. 
Think, for instance, about how the law regulates music. Perhaps 
the most distinctive American form of music is jazz. Jazz musi- 
cians create by building upon the creativity of others before. They 
listen to the work of others. They remake it. "Improvisation is a key 
element of the form." Indeed, the genre is known for its "collective 
improvisation."^'' Great jazz musicians are known for their ability 


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104 REMIX 

to improvise. Louis Armstrong "essentially re-composed pop-tunes 
he played."^' 

A modern equivalent to jazz is called by some "laptop music," 
by others simply "sampling." Musicians create this music by taking 
the sound recordings of other musicians and remixing them. Girl 
Talk is an example of this. Dean Gray, Shitmat, 9th Wonder, and 
Doormouse are others. 

The law was fairly relaxed about the creativity of jazz musi- 
cians.^'' But the law is not at all relaxed about the creativity of 
modern laptop music. In a series of cases beginning in the 1980s, 
samplers have faced an increasingly hostile judiciary which insists 
that any use of a recording requires the permission of the copyright 
owner. The point of this series came in 2004, when the Sixth Circuit 
Court of Appeals held that every sample used in a remixed record- 
/it^ ing triggered copyright law. There was no "de minimis" excep- /*\ 

tion to copyright* that would permit samplers to avoid licensing 
the sample they used.^^ Beginning with hip-hop, which introduced 
sampling to popular culture, and continuing through laptop music 
today, no creative act would be distributed free of a legal cloud. 

You might think that artists would be eager to end this insanity. 
In fact, among their lawyers at least, this craziness is a kind of lot- 
tery system. An extraordinary effort is devoted by lawyers to iden- 
tifying samples used without permission in successful records. The 
threat of copyright liability is huge, so the payoff to make litigants 
go away is also huge. The system loves the game; the game thus 
never ends. 

But this is much more than a game. There's a profound injustice 

* Meaning siinply that the amount of "copying" was so small as to not be within the 
scope of copyright law's concern. 


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in the difference of the law here, especially as it affects an emerg- 
ing class of artists. Why should it be that just when technology is 
most encouraging of creativity, the law should be most restrictive? 
Why should it be effectively impossible for an artist from Harlem 
practicing the form of art of the age to commercialize his creativity 
because the costs of negotiating and clearing the rights here are so 
incredibly high? 

The answer is: for no good reason, save inertia and the forces 
that like the world frozen as it is. 

Can we imagine a movement that will get us from this world to 
a better world? Are we stuck in these dark ages? We'll think a bit 
more about those questions at the end of this book. 

The point for now is simply to recognize that the law strongly 
favors RO culture while strongly disfavoring RW. Given all the good 
/it\ RW might do, we as a society should at least decide whether this bias /*\ 

against RW creativity makes sense and whether it should continue. 

Lessons About Cultures 

I've described two cultures of creativity. I've argued that both are 
important and valuable. Differences exist. In the last chapter, I 
described some of those differences. What can we learn from these 
two cultures? What lessons can we draw from how they interact? 

RO Culture Is Important 
AND Valuarle 

I've had lots of nice things to say about RW culture. That doesn't 
mean there isn't an equal amount of good to say about RO culture. 


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106 REMIX 

In building the Library of Congress, Jefferson hoped, as the hbrary 
boasts in its slogan, "to sustain and preserve a universal collection 
of knowledge and creativity for future generations." That access is 
important because it teaches us about our past, and about the diver- 
sity of culture that lives around us. The first step of learning is lis- 
tening. RO culture is essential to that first step. 

RO Culture Will Flourish 
IN THE Digital Age 

For most of our history, universal access was just another Jeffer- 
sonian dream. It is now a possibility. As the costs of access drop, 
there will be a market incentive to build the biggest "library" in 
human history. And like the very best libraries in our past, the job 
/it\ of this library will be to assure access. Not necessarily for free, for /*\ 

in many cases, "free" would produce insufficient incentives to build 
that access. Instead, RO culture will flourish; more culture will be 
accessible more cheaply than at any point in human history. 

RW Culture Is Also Important 
AND Valuarle 

Yet the history of the Enlightenment is not just the history of teach- 
ing kids to read. It is also the history of teaching kids to write. It is 
the history of literacy — the capacity to understand, which comes 
not just from passively listening, but also from writing. From the 
very beginning of human culture, we have taught our kids RW cre- 
ativity. We have taught them, that is, how to build upon the culture 
around us by making reference to that culture or criticizing it. As 


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Negativland's Hosier put it to me: ''Of course human beings build 
on what came before them in anything they create. That's just obvi- 
ous." We have encouraged them to build upon it. We have forced 
them to acquire a "literacy" about the culture around them. We test 
our kids on the basis of that literacy; we reward the "literate" of 
every generation. We reward "writing." 

For most of human history, text was the only democratic literacy. 
For most of human history, words were the only form of expres- 
sion that everyone had access to. The twentieth century gave us an 
extraordinary range of new types of "writing." But until the last 
years of that century, none of that "writing" was ever democratized 
in the way that text had been. Only a few could go to film school. 
Only a relatively few had the resources to learn how to record or 
edit. The single most important effect of the "digital revolution" 
/it\ was that it exploded these historical barriers to teaching. Every /*\ 

important form of writing has now been democratized. Practically 
anyone can learn to write in a wide range of forms. The challenge 
now is to enable this learning, not only by building the technologies 
it requires, but by assuring the freedom that it requires. 

So again, as I encouraged in chapter 2, think a bit about that 
freedom. Remember when you learned to write. Remember the act 
of quoting. Or incorporating. Or referring. Or criticizing. What 
freedoms did you take for granted when you did all of this? Did 
you ask permission to quote? Did you notify the target of your 
criticism that you were criticizing him? Did you think twice about 
your right to dis a movie you saw in a letter to a friend? Were you 
ever troubled by quoting Bob Dylan in an essay about war? 

The answer to all these questions is of course "no." We grew up 
taking for granted the freedoms we needed to practice our form 


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108 REMIX 

of writing. We created, and we shared our creativity with whoever 
would read it (our parents and teachers, if we were lucky). We never 
questioned the right to create in this way, freely. 

Our kids want the same freedom for their forms of writing. 
For not just words, but for images, film, and music. The technolo- 
gies we give our kids give them a capacity to create that we never 
had. We've given them a world beyond words. This world is part of 
what I've called RW culture. It is continuous with what has always 
been part of RW culture — the literacy of text. But it is more. It is 
the ability for amateurs to create in contexts that before only profes- 
sionals ever knew. 

Whether RW Culture Flourishes 
^ Depends at Least in Part ^ 


As it exists now, copyright law inhibits these new forms of literacy. 
I don't mean that it stops kids from remixing. No law could ever 
do that, any more than a law could stop quoting. Instead, I mean 
that the law as it stands now will stanch the development of the 
institutions of literacy that are required if this literacy is to spread. 
Schools will shy away, since this remix is presumptively illegal. 
Businesses will be shy, since rights holders are still eager to use the 
law to threaten new uses. Uncertainty about the freedom to engage 
in this form of creativity will only stifle the willingness of institu- 
tions to help this form of literacy develop. RW culture can't help 
but expand the sense of "writing." But legal culture will force the 
institutions that teach writing to stay far away from this new expres- 
sive form. 


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The Law's Current Attitude Is Both 
Destructive and Self-defeating — to 
Values Far More Important Than the 
Profits of the Culture Industries 

We, as a society, can't kill this new form of creativity. We can only 
criminalize it. We can't stop our kids from using the technologies 
we give them to remix the culture around them. We can only drive 
that remix underground. We can't make our kids passive in the way 
we were toward the culture around us. We can only make them 
"pirates." So does this criminalization make sense? 

Here history has an important lesson. About a decade ago, 
scholars and activists began calling for a legislative response to what 
we would eventually term "peer-to-peer file sharing." We did not 
/it). call for further penalties for illegal file sharing. Instead, we called ^\ 

for decriminalization. A wide range of proposals asked Congress 
to create a compulsory license for peer-to-peer (p2p) file sharing. 
Under this license, the act of sharing music, for example, would 
not violate any law of copyright. It would instead simply affect how 
compensation for file sharing would be shared. 

The most ambitious of these proposals was made by Professor 
William Fisher at Harvard. Under Fisher's plan. Congress would 
permit, for example, music to be shared freely.^* It would establish 
technologies to sample who was getting what. Then, based upon 
that evidence of popularity, it would compensate artists for their 
creativity through a tax that would be imposed upon digital tech- 
nologies in the most efficient way possible. Thus, Madonna would 
make more than Lyle Lovett; and Lyle Lovett would make more 
than I. 


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110 REMIX 

There are plenty of ways to criticize these proposals. While I've 
made my own, I've also criticized many others. But as we look back 
over the last ten years and imagine how things would have been 
different if, in 1998, Congress had enacted any of these proposals, 
several facts become clear. 

First, the war on file sharing has been an utter failure. As one 
article notes. 

More than 5 billion songs were swapped on peer-to-peer sites [in 
2006] while CD sales, the industry's core revenue-producing prod- 
uct, continue to decline, dropping about 20 percent this year alone. 
And according to a recent report from Jupiter Research, things are 
only going to get worse. "Young consumers are increasingly shun- 
ning music buying in favor of file-sharing, which is four times 
/itN more popular than digital-music buying among ages 15 to 24," the /*\ 

report notes. ^' 

A picture captures the point much better than words. Using data 
provided (generously for free) by BigChampagne Online Media 
Measurement, we can graph the average number of p2p users from 
August 2002 to October 2006 (see pages 112—13). The gray bar 
indicates when the Supreme Court decided MGM v. Grokster, hold- 
ing p2p file sharing to be illegal.^" As is plain, whatever the law is 
doing, it's not having much effect upon what p2p users are doing. 

Second, had a compulsory license been put in place, artists 
would have received more money over the last ten years than they 
have. Legal sharing may have stanched some growth in legal sales. 
But there was a huge amount of content shared "illegally" that, 
under this alternative, would at least have triggered compensation 
for artists. 


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Third, had businesses been free to rely upon these hcenses, there 
would have been an explosion in innovation around these tech- 
nologies. It would not just have been a few who could strike deals 
with the ever terrified recording industry. Anyone who had an idea 
could have deployed it, consistent with the terms of the compulsory 
license. Thus, innovation in content distribution would have been 
greater too. 

But fourth and most important, had we had a system of com- 
pulsory licenses a decade ago, we wouldn't have a generation of 
kids who grew up violating the law. As a recent survey by the mar- 
ket research firm NPD Group indicated, "more than two-thirds of 
all the music [college students] acquired was obtained illegally."^^ 
Had the law been changed, when they shared content, their behav- 
ior would have been legal. Their behavior would therefore not have 
/it\ been condemned. They would not have understood themselves to /*\ 

be "pirates." Instead, they would have been allowed to lead the sort 
of childhood that I did — where what "normal kids did" was not a 

Again, I don't mean this as an argument in favor of decriminal- 
izing all currently illegal behavior. Whether or not kids rob banks, 
it should be illegal to rob banks. The wrong of rape is increased, 
not mitigated, by its frequency. Instead, I'm asking you to weigh 
one bad against the other: What our policy makers have done over 
the last decade has not actually stopped file sharing; it has not actu- 
ally helped a lot of artists; it has not spurred a wide range of innova- 
tion. All it has done with certainty is raise a generation of "pirates." 

Weigh that bad against the alternative: if there had been a 
compulsory license, artists would have had more money; business 
(outside of the recording industry) would have had a greater oppor- 
tunity to innovate; and our kids would not have been "pirates." 


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Average Simultaneous P2P Users — USA 


7,500,000 - 










3,500,000 - 
3,000,000 - 
2,500,000 - 
2,000,000 - 
1,500,000 - 
1,000,000 - 
500,000 - 

















No doubt someone would have lost something in this alternative 
scenario. Lawyers for sure. Maybe record companies too. Lawyers 
would have missed out on the extraordinary boon to our industry 
caused by the litigation surrounding illegal file sharing. Record 
companies might have lost out because they would have given up 
an exclusive right in favor of compulsory compensation. But even 
this loss is uncertain. It is more than plausible that a compulsory 
system would have secured for the recording industry more money 
than in fact it got. 

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8/12/08 1:55:09 AM 






I raise this parallel not to endorse peer-to-peer file sharing. 
I stand by my position in Free Culture that "piracy" is wrong — 
a position I repeated nine times in that book.^^ Instead, I raise the 
parallel to ask whether we want to make this mistake again. Should 
the next ten years be another decade-long war against our kids? 
Should we spend more of our resources hiring lawyers and tech- 
nologists to build better weapons to wage war against those practic- 
ing RW culture.'' Have we learned nothing fi-om the total failure of 
policy that has defined copyright policy over the last decade .f" 

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8/1 2/08 1 :55:1 1 AM 



I believe this for the same reason the content industry is so keen 
to enforce copyright. As the RIAA's Mitch Bainwol and Gary Sher- 
man explained: 

It's not just the loss of current sales that concerns us, but the habits 
formed in college that will stay with these students for a lifetime. 
This is a teachable moment — an opportunity to educate these 
particular students about the importance of music in their lives 
and the importance of respecting and valuing music as intellec- 
tual property.^^ 

Exactly right. So what rules should we work so hard to enforce.'' 

The argument in favor of reforming our legal attitude toward 
remixing is a thousand times stronger than in the context of p2p 
/it\ file sharing: this is a matter of literacy. We should encourage the /*\ 

spread of literacy here, at least so long as it doesn't stifle other forms 
of creativity. There is no plausible argument that allowing kids 
to remix music is going to hurt anyone. Until someone can show 
that it will, the law should simply get out of the way. We need to 
decriminalize creativity before we further criminalize a generation 
of our kids. 


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^ ^ 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.indd 115 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:55:12 AM 


In the first part of this book, I described two cultures: one made to be con- 
sumed (RO), the other made to be remade (RW). Both cultures were part 
of our past: RW creativity from the dawn of human culture, RO from 
the birth of technology to capture and spread tokens of culture. Both, 
I've argued, will be part of our future: The Internet will enable a more 
vibrant RO culture. It will also enable a more expansive RW culture. 

But to see just how both futures will unfold, we need to think a bit 
less about culture, more about economics. Nothing gets built unless there 
are the incentives to build it. And while the incentives to build RO cul- 
/its ture are clear enough, what builds RW culture.? Who will invest in its /*\ 

construction.? Who's going to pay for customer support.? 

In this part, I describe two economies of social production — 
commercial and sharing economies — on the way to describing a mix 
between these two, an economy I call a "hybrid." In the sense that I will 
describe, we have seen hybrids before. They have been part of our his- 
tory. But their significance is now, potentially at least, radically increased. 
Every interesting Internet business will be a hybrid. Understanding how, 
and how to do it well, will become the most important challenge for 
Internet entrepreneurs. 


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n "economy" is a practice of exchange that sustains itself, or 
is sustained, through time. A "practice of exchange." For 

1. A gives something to B. 

2. B (directly or indirectly) gives something back to A. 

3. Repeat. 

The "something" could have tangible, economic value — money, 
or hours of labor. Or it could be intangible, and without ordinary 
economic value — friendship, or helping a neighbor with a flat tire. 
In either case, the trade occurs within an "economy" when it is a 
regular practice of social interaction. People participate within that 
economy so long as they get enough back relative to what they give. 
This doesn't mean everyone gets back exactly what he or she con- 
tributes (or more) : A talented lawyer working for a public-interest- 
housing law firm gives more than her meager salary returns. (Meet 
my wife.) But it does mean that people operating within an econ- 
omy evaluate the exchange, how much they get versus how much 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.indd 117 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:55:12 AM 


118 REMIX 

they give, and that we should expect they will continue in that 
economy so long as they get enough from the exchange relative to 
what they give. 

"Economies" in this sense differ in many ways. In the story that 
follows, however, I radically and crudely simplify these differences 
to speak about three types of economies only: a commercial econ- 
omy, a sharing economy, and a hybrid of the two. 

Following the work of many, but in particular of Harvard pro- 
fessor Yochai Benkler,^ by a "commercial economy," I mean an 
economy in which money or "price" is a central term of the ordi- 
nary, or normal, exchange. In this sense, your local record store is 
part of a commercial economy. You enter and find the latest Lyle 
Lovett CD. You buy it in exchange for $18. The exchange is defined 
in terms of the price. This does not mean price is the only term, or 
/it\ even the most important term. But it does mean that there is noth- /*\ 

ing peculiar about price being a term. There's nothing inappropri- 
ate about insisting upon that cash, or making access to the product 
available only in return for cash. 

A "sharing economy" is different. Of all the possible terms of 
exchange within a sharing economy, the single term that isn't appro- 
priate is money. You can demand that a friend spend more time 
with you, and the relationship is still a friendship. If you demand 
that he pay you for the time you spend with him, the relationship is 
no longer a friendship. 

So, again, there's nothing odd about your local Wal-Mart insist- 
ing that you give them $2.50 for a bottle of juice. You might not 
like that demand; you might well think $2.00 is the right price. But 
there's nothing inappropriate about Wal-Mart's demand. In our 
culture at least, that's just the way a Wal-Mart is supposed to deal 
with us. 


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Nor is there anything odd about a Softball team demanding that 
every member make at least ten of the twelve games in a season. Again, 
you might not like the demand; you might wish you could miss four 
rather than just two games. But there's nothing inappropriate about 
the team's demand. Indeed, it is a perfectly reasonable way to make 
sure participants within this sharing economy actually participate. 

But it would be very odd if a friend apologized for missing lunch 
and offered you $50 to make it up. And it would be very, very odd if 
your girlfriend, at the end of a great date, offered you $500 to spend 
the night. Or if Wal-Mart asked all customers to "pitch in and help 
Wal-Mart by sweeping at least one aisle each time you shop." Or if 
McDonald's asked you to "help out" by promising to buy hamburg- 
ers at least once a month. Money in the sharing economy is not just 
inappropriate; it is poisonous. And "helping out" is not just rare in a 
/it\ commercial economy. It is downright weird. /*\ 

Viewed like this, we all live in many different commercial and 
sharing economies, all at the same time. These economies comple- 
ment one another, and our lives are richer because of this diversity. No 
society could survive with just one or the other. No society should try. 

The Internet has many examples of commercial and sharing 
economies. In this chapter, we consider examples of both. But the 
aim throughout this chapter is simply preliminary: to set up a richer 
understanding of a much more interesting phenomenon — the 
hybrid — that we'll consider in the chapter that follows. 

Commercial Economies 

My wife (to be) and I were at an Italian restaurant. In Italy. I 
ordered pasta with a mushroom sauce. She ordered pasta with a 


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120 REMIX 

tomato sauce. After the waiter served us, he offered my wife some 
Parmesan cheese. She accepted. He grated the cheese for her and 
then began to leave. I stopped him and said I too wanted Parmesan 

"No," he told me. 

"No?" I asked. 

"No," he said again. "The cheese would overwhelm the taste of 
the mushrooms." 

Startled a bit, I hesitated. "But what if I want the taste 
overwhelmed ? " 

"That's not my concern," he informed me, and walked away. 

You learn a great deal about who you are by noticing the things 
that enrage you, and then working out just why. This was one of those 
moments for me. What "right" did this waiter have to interfere with 
/it\ rny eating my pasta as I wanted ? It wasn't as if I was going to com- /*\ 

plain to the locals about the taste of the pasta. Nor was I likely ever 
to return to this village or this restaurant. Indeed, to the contrary, 
the exchange made me resolve never to return to this restaurant. The 
waiter was out of line. I would take my business elsewhere. 

My reaction came from a certain view I held (unnoticed until 
that moment) of my relationship to a restaurant. It was, in the sense 
I mean in this chapter, for me simply a "commercial" relationship. 
This was a transaction within a "commercial economy." Had the 
waiter said, "Sure, extra cheese costs an extra euro (for both you 
and your wife)," that would have been totally appropriate. Price 
is how we, in commercial economies, negotiate things. If there's 
something I want that they want to ration, then let them use the 
market's most ubiquitous tool for rationing — money. The business 
of business is to make money — not, as this waiter saw it, to avoid 
insulting mushroom-strewn pasta. 


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Of course, there's nothing natural or necessarily right about my 
view of my relationship to this beautiful Italian restaurant. But I 
take it that anyone living within a modern commercial economy 
would have the same or a similar response in at least some part of 
the commercial economy. Imagine the dry cleaner who refused to 
clean an old sweater: "That design went out ages ago." Or a cof- 
fee shop that insisted, "Tell us about your day!" before the barista 
would take your order. ("It's the friendly way to be!" the shop 
insists.) All of us, somewhere in our life, relish the simplicity of the 
market. And some of us (myself included) yearn for ways to make 
more of our life governed by the simple logic of markets. 

If we're in a place where we feel such simplicity should reign, 
where we're not insulted when someone mentions money, where 
we meter the relationship with price, then we're within a "com- 
/it\ mercial economy." The market is the engine that drives this com- /*\ 

mercial economy; if well designed (meaning regulated to protect 
participants from force or fraud), the market is an extraordinary 
technology for producing and spreading wealth. The commer- 
cial economy is a central part of modern life; it has contributed to 
human well-being perhaps more than any other institution created 
by humankind. We are well beyond the point where it makes sense 
to oppose the flourishing of the market. 

A critical part of the Internet is just such a commercial econ- 
omy. Indeed, for some, it is the most important part. The Internet 
has caused an explosion in the opportunities for business to make 
money by making old businesses work better. It has also made pos- 
sible new businesses that before the Net weren't even conceivable. 
And while we're just beginning to get a clear sense of what makes 
business prosper on the Internet, we can already see that this new 
bit of social infrastructure offers a staggering potential for growth 


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122 REMIX 

and innovation. In 1994, there were 1,700 dot-com domain names. 
Twelve years later, there were more than 30 million.^ There was 
no category called the "e-commerce sector" in 1994. In 2005, the 
e-commerce sector was estimated to be worth $2.4 trillion: $1,266 
billion for manufacturing, $945 billion for wholesale, $93 billion for 
retail, and $96 billion for selected service industries.^ 

What makes the Internet's commercial economy work? Or why 
does it work so well, or differently from real-space economies? In 
the balance of this section, we will consider a few key features that 
explain its success. My aim is saliance, not comprehensiveness. I 
want only to draw out a few features that will make the relation- 
ships among commercial and sharing economies clear. 

^ Three Successes from the Internet s ^ 

Commercial Economy 

Begin with some familiar examples of Internet success, from which 
we can draw some lessons of success. 


More than thirty years ago, in November 1976, America's film 
industry launched a war against a technology that was quickly 
becoming ubiquitous: the (what we now call) VCR. The VCR had 
been designed to record programming "off air." Most of that pro- 
gramming was copyrighted. Copying copyrighted works without 
the permission of the copyright holder was. Universal and Disney 
claimed, a crime. The VCR, they thus argued, was a tool designed 
to enable a crime. 


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Eight years later, the Supreme Court disagreed.'' By a close 
vote, the Court held that the VCR itself was not illegal, because 
although it could be used to infringe, it was also "capable of a sub- 
stantial noninfringing use." At least some of the copyright owners, 
the Court noted, whose work would be taped were happy that it 
would be taped. (Mr. Rogers was the Court's favorite example.) 
And for those not happy that their work was being recorded, the 
Court held that at least sometimes, this "time-shifting" of content 
was a protected "fair use." These noninfringing uses thus saved the 
technology from being banned by copyright law. Hollywood would 
have to figure out how to make money despite the technology. 

In the thirty years since Hollywood lost that case, it has become 
clear just how lucky it was to lose. Video sale and rental revenues 
far surpass what the film industry makes in the theater.' Had the 
/it\ studios won, it's not clear just how much the platform of that sue- /*\ 

cess would have spread. 

Blockbuster Video was a key reason losing the war on VCRs was 
a victory for Hollywood. For the Blockbusters of the world soon 
brought more revenue to Hollywood than its own blockbusters in 
theaters did. The store first launched in Dallas in 1985, with eight 
thousand tapes and 6,500 titles. Because of the spread of VCRs, 
there was a ready infrastructure to support Blockbuster's business. 
Two years later there were fifteen stores and twenty franchises. By 
mid-1989 there were more than seven hundred stores. At the end of 
that year there were one thousand stores.*" 

Blockbuster was a brilliant innovation in the distribution of 
film. But it had important drawbacks. However convenient it 
made finding a film, you still had to go to the Blockbuster and 
browse through endless fluorescent-lit aisles of videos to find it. 
And however endless those aisles of videos, each Blockbuster 


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124 REMIX 

could in fact carry a relatively small number of films. There was 
thus more choice than TV, and on your own schedule. But not 
endless choice. And though convenient, the system still had its 

In 1997, Reed Hastings had a better idea for delivering video 
to consumers. Rather than a harshly lit store at a strip mall, Hast- 
ings thought, the Internet would be a pretty good way to browse 
for films. Indeed, using smart preference-matching technologies, 
the Internet would be a better way to browse for film because the 
machine would help you find what in fact you wanted. He thus 
launched one of the Internet's most famous success stories: Netflix. 
Customers paid Netflix a flat monthly fee; in exchange, they could 
rent DVDs of favorite films; those DVDs were sent through the 
mail, with simple return envelopes included; the monthly subscrip- 
/it\ tion entitled the customer to hold a fixed number of DVDs. Thus, /*\ 

if you had a three-DVD subscription, you paid about $17 a month. 
You ordered three movies that you wanted to see, and Netflix sent 
them. You could hold on to these movies for as long as you wanted 
(hence, no late fees). And when you returned one, the next on 
your queue was sent. The only inconvenience of this system was 
that you had to plan ahead a bit. The great advantage was that if 
you planned a bit in advance, the films would be waiting at home 
whenever you wanted to watch them. 

Netflix has radically changed the video rental market. The 
best evidence of its effect is that in 2004, Blockbuster changed its 
business model to mirror Netflix's to better compete.^ Wal-Mart's 
service was taken over by Netflix in 2005.^ Hastings's model thus 
became the industry standard. 


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Perhaps the first dramatically successfiil example of Internet com- 
merce began as a simple bookstore. Founded in 1994 (as Cadabra 
.com) and launched in 1995 (as, Amazon set out to 
do more efficiently what bookstores had always sought to do: sell 
books. When the online store opened, it had only two thousand 
titles in stock. But within the first month it had orders from all 
fifty states and from forty-five countries outside the United States. 
Sales in 1997 reached approximately $150 million. Two years later, 
sales were $1.6 billion. Two years after that, because of third-party 
deals with companies such as Target and America Online, sales 
exceeded $3 billion. In 2003 the company crossed $5 billion. In 2006 
sales totaled more than $10 billion.' 

/it\ Once again, this store had advantages very similar to the /*\ 

advantages of Netflix. Rather than browsing a Barnes & Noble 
superstore, the customer used his computer to see what books there 
were to buy. And rather than the customer using his car to collect 
the books he wanted, Amazon used the U.S. Postal Service. Ama- 
zon founder Jeff Bezos's bet was that the convenience of browsing 
would outweigh the delay in receipt. More important, Amazon 
could far surpass any bricks-and-mortar store in the size of its 

Amazon's success, however, didn't come naturally. The com- 
pany has been relentless in building innovation to drive sales. In 
2003 the company launched the Amazon Associates program, 
which enabled independent sites to become sellers for Amazon. 
The Associates earn revenue from referrals to Amazon. In 2005 it 
launched Amazon Connect, which enabled authors to post remarks 


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126 REMIX 

on the book pages for their books. In 2006 the company launched 
Amazon S3, offering high-bandwidth storage and distribution for 
large digital objects. In January 2007 the company began Ama- 
pedia, "a collaborative wiki for user-generated content related to 
'the products you like the most.' "^^ In the decade since Amazon 
launched, it has delivered to the market an extraordinary range of 
innovation. Everything it does is aimed to drive sales of its prod- 
ucts more efficiently. 

One of the techniques that Amazon uses mirrors the technique 
of the Internet generally: Amazon has opened its platform to allow 
others to innovate in new ways to build value out of Amazon's data- 
base. Through a suite of tools called Amazon Web Services (AWS), 
Amazon enables developers to build products that integrate directly 
into Amazon's database. For example, a developer named Jim Bian- 
/it\ colo used AWS to build a free Web tool to track the price difference /*\ 

between new products and used products (plus shipping). And a 
company called TouchGraph used AWS to build a product browser 
that would show the links between related products. Enter Cass 
Sunstein's, for example, and you'll see all the books in Amazon that 
relate to Sunstein's books in subject and citation. 

Amazon sells some of these AWS services. Some it leaves 
free. But it develops these services if it believes such development 
will drive the sales of its products, and perhaps even teach Ama- 
zon something about how to better offer its products. Of course, 
it ultimately controls the platform. What others add, Amazon 
can take away. But in a limited way, the platform invites innova- 
tion from others. That innovation rewards others and Amazon 


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Without a doubt, the most famous example of Internet success is 
Google. Founded at Stanford by two students (the first URL was, the company radically improved the 
effectiveness of Internet searches. Rather than selling placement 
(which can often corrupt the results) or relying upon humans to 
index (which would be impossible given the vast scale of the Inter- 
net), the first Google algorithms ordered search results based upon 
how the Net linked to the results — a process called PageRank, 
referring not to "page" as in Web page, but "Page" as in Larry Page, 
Google cofounder and developer of the technique." If many Web 
sites linked to a particular site, that site would be ranked higher in 
the returned list than another Web site that had few links. Google 
/it\ thus built upon the knowledge the Web revealed to deliver back /*\ 

to the Web a product of extraordinary value. The company was 
founded in 1998. In 2005 its market capitalization was $113 billion; 
in July 2007 it had risen to $169 billion.i^ 

One might well say that all of Google's value gets built upon 
other people's creativity. Google's index is built by searching and 
indexing content others have made available on the Web. As I've 
described, the original algorithm built its recommendations upon 
the links it found already existing on the Web; later, the algorithm 
also adjusted its recommendations based upon how people responded 
to the results Google returned. In all of these cases, the value Google 
creates comes from the value others have already created. 

Some draw a downright foolish conclusion from the fact that 
Google's value gets built upon other people's content. Andrew 
Keen, for example, a favorite from chapter 5, writes, "Google is a 
parasite; it creates no content of its own."" 


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128 REMIX 

But in the same sense you could say that all of the value in the 
Mona Lisa conies from the paint, that Leonardo da Vinci was just a 
"parasite" upon the hard work of the paint makers. That statement 
is true in the sense that but for the paint, there would be no Mona 
Lisa. But it is false if it suggests that da Vinci wasn't responsible for 
the great value the Mona Lisa is. 

Like Amazon, Google also offers its tools as a platform for oth- 
ers to build upon. We'll see this more below as we consider Google 
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). And more successfully 
than anyone, Google has built an advertising business into the heart 
of technology. Web pages can be served with very smartly selected ads; 
users can buy searches in Google to promote their own products. 

The complete range of Google products is vast. But one feature of 
all of them is central to the argument I want to make here. Practi- 
/it\ cally everything Google offers helps Google build an extraordinary /*\ 

database of knowledge about what people want, and how those 
wants relate to the Web. Every click you make in the Google uni- 
verse adds to that database. With each click, Google gets smarter. 

Three Keys to These 
Three Successes 

These familiar stories of Internet success reveal three keys to suc- 
cess in this digital economy. 

Long Tails 

The first of these three is also perhaps the most famous. Each of 
these three Internet successes takes advantage of a principle that 


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Amazon's Jeff Bezos recognized in 1995, and that Wired's editor 
in chief, Chris Anderson, formahzed in 2005 in his book The Long 

The Long Tail principle (LTP) says that as the cost of inven- 
tory falls, the efficient range of inventory rises. And as transaction 
costs generally fall to zero, the efficient inventory rises to infinity. 
Put differently, the less it costs to hold a particular book or DVD 
in inventory, the more books or DVDs a particular company can 
profitably hold. Thus, Amazon can offer its customers more books 
than any bricks-and-mortar store could, since it can store these 
books efficiently at inventory locations around the country. And 
more important, a big share of Amazon's profits come from titles 
that are unavailable anywhere else. Chris Anderson estimated that 
25 percent of Amazon's sales come from its tail (where the tail rep- 
/it\ resents products not available in a bricks-and-mortar store). More /*\ 

generally, the current data at Rhapsody, Netflix, and Amazon show 
that the tail amounts to between 21% and 40% of the market.'' 
Netflix profits in the same way. Netflix offers seventy-five thousand 
titles today (about twelve thousand in 2002) in more than two hun- 
dred genres on its Web site. Blockbuster offered seven thousand to 
eight thousand in 2002. ''' 

The Long Tail dynamic benefits those whose work lives in the 
niche. A wider diversity of films and books is available now than 
ever before in the history of culture. The low cost of inventory 
means wider choice. Wider choice is a great benefit for those whose 
tastes are different.'^ 

Those who doubt the significance of the Long Tail are quick 
to argue that the amount of commerce generated in the Long Tail 
is small relative to the market generally. Anderson calculates 25 
percent of Amazon's sales come from its tail; but the Wall Street 


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130 REMIX 

]ournal\ Lee Gomes comments, "[UJsing another analysis of those 
numbers ... you can show that 2.7% of Amazon's titles produce a 
whopping 75% of its revenues ."^^ 

But this criticism misses two important points. First, all the 
excitement in a market is action at the margin. Like with runners 
in a 100-meter dash, the difference between first and last place may 
be just .02 seconds. But that is the difference that matters, and the 
difference produced by sales in the Long Tail will matter lots to 
companies struggling to compete. 

Second, and more important, the breadth of this market will 
support a diversity of creativity that can't help but inspire a wider 
range of creators. For reasons at the core of this book, inspiring 
more creativity is more important than whether you or I like the 
creativity we've inspired. 
/it\ Perhaps the best evidence of this comes from another increas- /*\ 

ingly successful example of this Internet economy, launched by 
one of the key entrepreneurs changing an operating system called 
Linux from a hobby to a business: Red Hat and its cofounder Rob- 
ert Young. After Red Hat went public in 1999, Young moved on to 
start his next great idea: Lulu Inc., a technology company that helps 
people "publish and sell any kind of digital content." 

Lulu's aim is to out-Amazon Amazon, to "put all the books in a 
bookstore that can't fit on Amazon."" The market is not the niche 
that Amazon's Long Tail serves, but the "small niche market" that 
is beyond even Amazon's reach. As Young told me, "Amazon's busi- 
ness model is built around the business model of the existing book- 
publishing industry. Lulu's business model is a completely different 
Internet-based business model that . . . doesn't even look at what the 
publishing industry does." 

Lulu does this by working hard to educate authors about how 


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best to write to compete. "If you're going to write a detective novel," 
Young explained to me, "that competes with Agatha Christie, fig- 
ure out what your hook is." "Why should your detective novel sell? " 
Lulu asks its authors. "Is there something unique about it?" 

Lulu's aim is not to spread free culture, if that means culture 
you don't have to pay for.^" "We think sharing is easy," Young told 
me. "What's difficult is empowering people to actually get paid for 
content they are producing." Lulu focuses not on all of the "ninety- 
nine out of a hundred" authors who get rejected by the traditional 
publishing market. Instead, it focuses on the "forty-nine out of a 
hundred": people who "actually have something valuable to say and 
should have a market." These are people who are 

writing for too small a market or they're writing another book 
/itN on a subject that the publishers have already published a book on. /*\ 

Either way, the publisher doesn't want it because he doesn't see 
any profit in it. Not. .. because it's a bad book. He admits it's a 
valuable book. It's just he doesn't want it because he's already got 
two other books on [for example] programming in lava. So he 
doesn't want a third. 

Once again, on the margin, what will make Lulu successful where 
vanity presses were not is the efficiency with which creative work 
can be produced and distributed way down the Long Tail. Young 
is fanatical about the challenge in selling down the tail. There's 
nothing automatic. It takes hard work by both Lulu and the author. 
Success gets made; no "Long Tail magic" makes it for anyone. 

But the consequence of his success will be a much wider range 
of people creating. And this is the most important consequence for 
society generally. Just as Jefferson romanticized the yeoman farmer 


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132 REMIX 

working a small plot of land in an economy disciplined by hard work 
and careful planning, just as Sousa romanticized the amateur musi- 
cian, I mean to romanticize the yeoman creator. In each case, the 
skeptic could argue that the product is better produced elsewhere — 
that large farms are more efficient, or that filters on publishing mean 
published works are better. But in each case, the skeptic misses 
something critically important: how the discipline of the yeoman's 
life changes him or her as a citizen. The Long Tail enables a wider 
range of people to speak. Whatever they say, that's a very good thing. 
Speaking teaches the speaker even if it just makes noise. 

Little Brother 

/it\ The Long Tail alone, however, is not enough to explain the great /*\ 

success of the Amazons/Netflixes/Googles of the world. It's not 
enough that stuff is simply available. There must also be an effi- 
cient way to match customers to the stuff in the Long Tail. I may 
well want to buy a book that only five hundred others in the world 
would want to buy. But I'm not about to sift through the 10 million 
other books on Amazon's shelf to find that one that I'd be eager to 
buy. Amazon (and Netflix and Google) have got to do that for me. 
And each of these companies does it well by, in a phrase, spying on 
my every move. An efficient Little Brother (a relative of Orwell's 
Big Brother) learns what I'm likely to want and then recommends 
new things to me based upon what he has learned. 

Collecting data about customers is, of course, nothing new. But 
the key to the efficiency of this Little Brother is that it builds upon a 
principle described best by VisiCalc co-inventor Dan Bricklin in an 
essay called "The Cornucopia of the Commons."^^ 


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Bricklin's essay was inspired by a quibble he had with those 
who said Napster was so successful because it was a peer-to-peer 
technology. Napster's success, he argued, had nothing to do with 
peer-to-peer. First, the system was not in fact a "peer-to-peer" tech- 
nology. Second, not using a p2p architecture may well have been a 
better technical strategy to serving the ends that Napster sought. 

Bricklin argued that Napster's success came not from a techni- 
cal design, but from an architecture that produced value as a by- 
product of people getting what they wanted. When you installed 
Napster, by default it made shareable the music you had on your 
computer. The more people who joined, the better the "database." 
And as a Napster user added content to his library by, for exam- 
ple, ripping a CD, "creating the copy in the shared music direc- 
tory c[ould] be a natural by-product of [his] normal working with 
/it\ the songs."^^ "Increasing the value of the database by adding more /*\ 

information is a natural by-product of using the tool for your own 
benefit." "No altruistic sharing motives need be present" to explain 
the network's extraordinary success. 

Bricklin made the same point about a service called CD Data- 
base (CDDB). CDDB was originally created by volunteers who 
wanted a simple way to get track information about their music. 
CDs ship with the track identified simply by a number and a total 
track time. But by using cryptographic signing technologies, it's 
fairly easy to get a unique signature for every song on any CD. 
Using that signature, an Internet database can easily identify which 
song is on your CD if that song's signature has already been entered 
onto the database along with information about the song's name, 
artist, etc. Thus, by getting people to add that information into the 
database, the database becomes more valuable to everyone. 

Notice a corollary to Bricklin's design law suggested by a 


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134 REMIX 

commenter on Bricklin's original essay, Evan Williams: Design 
the database so people use the data they enter, thus increasing their 
incentive to get it right?^ Apple's iTunes does that right now. If 
you put a CD into your iTunes-enabled computer, chances are it 
launches iTunes. And if iTunes is connected to the Internet, iTunes 
then compares the track information from the CD with the (now) 
Gracenote CD database. If it finds the CD, then it substitutes the 
uninteresting "Track 01, Track 02" titles provided by the CD itself 
with the artist and track information. But if it doesn't find the track 
information, then it informs you, and invites you to enter the data 

Once you've entered the data, iTunes then gives you a simple way 
to send that data to Gracenote. Gracenote gets to choose whether 
to accept the submission or not, but the point is, Gracenote knows 
/it\ (because it is filtering the input through services like this) that it's /*\ 

likely the data you've entered is valid. It's a hassle to enter the data 
in the first place; it would be a real hassle to enter false data, submit 
it, and then enter the real data. And no doubt, Gracenote can hold 
inputs till it gets corroboration. 

The critical point again is that the design of Gracenote elicits 
the valuable data, not any particular love for Gracenote or Apple. 
The design "add[s] . . . value [to] the database without [adding] any 
extra work [to the user.]"^** 

Perhaps the best example of this kind of by-product value cre- 
ation (in theory at least; the lawyers never allowed this system to get 
going) was the aspiration of the company sued into the Dark Ages, Michael Robertson, the company's founder, wanted to 
remake the world of music production by finding a better way to 
market new bands to existing customers. A strong believer in the 


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efficacy of Little Brother, Robertson thought the best way to market 
is to understand your customers perfectly. And one way to under- 
stand your customers perfectly (or as perfectly as humans can) is to 
see what stuff they already own. 

Robertson had a brilliant, Cornucopia of the Commons way to 
learn just this. He gave the customers something they wanted in 
exchange for them giving him something he needed. 

The service he gave them was called It promised 
to give customers access to "their music" wherever they were. To do 
this, customers would simply need to show what "their 
music" was. The customer would submit a CD that she (presump- 
tively) owned to a program called Beam-it. Beam-it would identify 
the CD and report its identity to would then 
give the user access to that music wherever she was (on the Net at 
/it\ least). Thus, in exchange for learning what music customers had, /*\ gave those customers access to their music everywhere. 
And then, using the complex of preference data would 
collect, the company could predict which of its own catalog its cus- 
tomers were likely to love. So if it saw that I liked Lyle Lovett, and 
then saw that I liked one of its new artists too, then it would have 
a good reason to try to promote that new artist to others who liked 
Lyle Lovett. (Of course, the real algorithm was much more com- 
plex than this; but that's the basic idea.) 

Once again, this design would work because it asked nothing 
more of its customers than the ordinary effort the customers would 
expend to get what they wanted. It would thus efficiently gather the 
data necessary to make the business work. And this ability to gather 
this data efficiently is a key reason Internet businesses can beat their 
bricks-and-mortar equivalents. Just think of the revolt there would 


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136 REMIX 

be if Barnes & Noble superstores had clerks following you around, 
recording what books you looked at and which you bought. Yet 
this is precisely what Amazon can do, simply by designing its sys- 
tem well. 

All three of my examples of Internet successes build upon the 
Bricklin insight to feed Little Brother, none perhaps as comprehen- 
sively as Google. Every Google product is designed to give a user 
what he or she wants and, at the same time, to gather data that 
Google needs. You don't have a choice about helping Google when 
you use Google's search engine. Your search is a gift to the com- 
pany as well as something valuable to you. The company efficiently 
serves you a product, and very efficiently learns something in the 

There are many who are troubled by Little Brother. Professor 
/it\ Jeff Rosen once described the terror and outrage he felt at knowing /*\ 

Amazon was "watching" what books he bought in order to rec- 
ommend new books to him. When I heard his description, I real- 
ized that one of us was from a different planet. No doubt Amazon 
might abuse the data it collects. But also, no doubt, it has a huge 
incentive not to. (Unlike the U.S. government, if Amazon screws 
up, I can take my business elsewhere.) Anyway, it's not as if Jeff 
Bezos is reading my (almost daily) orders. Some computer some- 
where is simply responding to input collected from me. And while 
I might care lots about what my neighbors, or students, or friends 
think about me, I don't care a whit about what some computer 
thinks about my tastes. 

This is not to say we shouldn't be concerned with how these data 
might be used. When the United States government demanded 
that Google provide it with search queries relating to pornography 
in the context of the government's defense of the Child Online Pro- 


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tection Act, Google fought the demand fiercely in court, no doubt 
in part because it didn't want its users to think that their every 
search might be made available to the government?' Likewise, the 
company has recently taken steps to partially anonymize the data 
it holds, to avoid demands like this in the future and to respond to 
harsh criticism by privacy groups that claim Google's database is in 
effect a privacy time bomb. 

These are important concerns, but beyond my focus here. They 
emphasize, however, a central design feature of the successful Inter- 
net economy: build the technology to feed Little Brother with the 
mouse droppings of happy customers. (Okay, that sounds gross, but 
you get the point.) 

^ LEGO-izED Innovation ^ 

The final feature of these three Internet successes that I want to 
highlight is ultimately one that generalizes to the Internet itself. All 
three of these successful Internet businesses build their value in part 
by allowing others to innovate upon their platform. Functionality 
gets LEGO-ized: it gets turned into a block that others can add to 
their own Web site or their own business. 

Netflix does this the least among the three, but it does it none- 
theless. (The company was scolded by one of the Net's leading blog- 
gers in 2004 for failing to offer APIs.^*" It is slowly responding.) Its 
purpose is to "improve the accuracy of predictions about how much 
someone is going to love a movie based on their movie preferences."^^ 
To achieve this end, Netflix runs a "Netflix Prize" — offering a 
grand prize of $1 million to anyone who improves Netflix's own 
system by more than 10 percent. To enable this competition to hap- 
pen, Netflix shared "a lot of anonymous rating data." The company 


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138 REMIX 

also increasingly offers through RSS feeds access to ranking infor- 
mation about its users' choices. 

Amazon does this through its Amazon Web Services. And 
Google does this perhaps most of all, through Google APIs that 
encourage what has come to be known as the Google mash-up. 
Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams describe one example of the 
Google mash-up in their book, Wil^inomics. 

In May 2005, Paul Rademacher was trying to find a house in Sili- 
con Valley for his job at Dreamworks Animation. He grew weary 
of the piles of Google maps for each and every house he wanted 
to see, so he created a new Web site that cleverly combines listings 
from the online classified-ad service craigslist with Google's map- 
ping service. Choose a city and a price range, and up pops a map 
/itN with pushpins showing the location and description of each rental. /*\ 

He called his creation housingmaps. 

While a useful tool for helping people find a place to live, 
on the surface it hardly seems groundbreaking. And yet, Paul 
Rademacher's site quickly became a poster child for what the new 
Web is becoming, not because of what it was, but for how it was 
created. Housingmaps was one of the Web's first mashups. 

Google Map mashups, for example, have emerged to do every- 
thing from pinpointing the locations of particular crime sites, to 
outing celebrity homesteads, to enabling fitness buffs to measure 
their daily running distance. Or, for the price conscious, there's 
CheapGas, a service that mashes Google Maps and GasBuddy 
together to identify gas stations with the lowest pump prices.^^ 

The integration is often transparent (meaning, in the weird way 
that word works, that you can't see the machinery that links one 


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service to another company). But it enables the sharing of powerful 
functionality across many different sites. Not only does everyone 
not have to reinvent the wheel. They also don't have to build it. Web 
services enable the invention and the building to be shared among 
many different entities. 

This is a pattern that will grow dramatically as more companies fol- 
low the same path. When you go to a blog, for example, the comments 
might be handled by a special comment company (necessitated by evil 
spammers). Or when you answer a poll at a Web site, some other Web 
site will actually be running the poll. But visible or not, the effect will 
be quite profound. These technologies will radically reduce the cost of 
doing business in this increasingly important commercial space. 

LEGO-ized innovation is just one component of what Tim 
O'Reilly first tagged "Web 2.0."^' It may ultimately be the most 
/it\ important. For it demonstrates both how the Internet is uniquely /*\ 

poised to exploit a general tenet of economics and how the Internet 
takes advantage of the principle of democratization that is its hall- 
mark. Consider these two in turn. 


In 1937 Nobel laureate Ronald Coase was wondering why there 
were firms in a free market.^" If the core of a market was that 
resources should be allocated by price, why within a firm wasn't 
it price that determined who got what? Within a firm it was the 
command of a "boss." Life inside the firm thus looked more like 
the "economic planning" of communism than the competition of a 
marketplace. Why? Why weren't firms built like free markets? 

The answer was "transaction costs." It cost money to go to the 
market: time, bargaining costs, costs of capital, etc. Coase reasoned 
that this cost would help explain the size of a firm. A firm would go 


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140 REMIX 

to the market to obtain a product when doing so was cheaper than 
producing the product inside the firm. It would produce the prod- 
uct in house when the costs of the market were too high. Yochai 
Benkler summarizes the point: 

[Pjeople use markets when the gains from doing so, net of transac- 
tion costs, exceed the gains from doing the same thing in a man- 
aged firm, net of the costs of organizing and managing a firm. Firms 
emerge when the opposite is true, and transaction costs can best be 
reduced by bringing an activity into a managed context that requires 
no individual transactions to allocate this resource or that effort.^^ 

It follows from this insight that as transaction costs fall, all 
things being equal, the amount of stuff done inside a firm will fall as 
/it\ well. The firm will outsource more. It will focus its internal work on /*\ 

the stuff it can do best (meaning more efficiently than the market). 

LEGO-ized innovation is simply the architectural instantiation 
of this economic point. Through the architecture that makes Web 
2.0 possible — including what many have called Web services — the 
transaction costs of outsourcing functionality drop dramatically. 
Why set up a payment service — exposing yourself and your firm to 
the risk of fraud, for example — when you can simply contract with 
PayPal? Why run your own servers when a firm can really prom- 
ise 24/7 service with its own.'' Some realms, like national security, 
might well want to opt out of this sort of outsourcing. But the obvi- 
ous point is that it will make sense not to outsource less and less. 


LEGO-ized innovation also teaches us something critical about 

innovation on the Internet itself. In each of these Web 2.0 examples. 


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the platform allows innovation to be, as MIT professor Eric von 
Hippel describes, "democratized." Once again, that term does not 
mean innovation gets implemented as strategy was decided in the 
early brigades of Soviet soldiers — by gathering around and voting 
on the next strategic move. Instead, "democratized" here means 
that access to the resource — the right to innovate — has been made 
more democratic, that is, made dependent upon your membership 
in some community, and not upon a special status or hierarchy 
within some company or government. 

Amazon and Google democratize innovation when they open 
their Web services to people outside Amazon and Google. The 
Internet did the same, just better. The original architecture of the 
Internet was called "end-to-end," meaning innovation and intelli- 
gence in the network were to be at the edge of the network (the 
/it\ machines that connect to the network, not the network itself); the /*\ 

network itself was to be as simple as it could be.^^ As a result, anyone 
was technically free to innovate for this network. All you needed to 
do to innovate for the Internet was to conform your design to the 
Internet's protocols. Once you did that, you were in. There was no 
committee or design group or Agency of Internet Innovation that 
needed to approve your idea. Nobody could stop you from building 
whatever you wanted to build on the Internet. That freedom is a 
critical reason for the Internet's extraordinary success. 

The Character of Commercial Success 

You can tell a great deal about the character of a person by asking 
him to pick the great companies of an era. Does he pick the success- 
ful dinosaurs? Or does he pick the hungry upstarts? 


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142 REMIX 

My taste is for the hungry upstarts. One great feature of modern 
society is the institutionahzed respect we give to processes designed 
to destroy the past. The free market is the best example. Democracy 
is another. In both cases, constant flux is not the objective (we have 
courts to protect private property; we have constitutions to slow the 
will of the democracy). But in both cases, the aim is to assure that 
the past survives only if it can beat out the future. 

The commercial economies of the Internet are a fantastic exam- 
ple of exactly this dynamic. The neutral platform of the Internet 
democratized technical and commercial innovation. Power was 
thus radically shifted. The dropouts of the late 1990s (mainly from 
Stanford) beat the dropouts of the middle 1970s (from Harvard): 
Google and Yahoo! were nothings when Microsoft was said to 
dominate. This success of the new against the power of the old was 
/it\ made possible by a constitutional commitment in the architecture /*\ 

of the network to democratize innovation. 

No government could have planned these successes, and not just 
because governments are unlikely to have the talent of the geniuses 
at the likes of a Google or an eBay. Rather, governments couldn't 
plan these successes because governments, at least as we Ameri- 
cans know them, are inherently corrupted — not by bribery, not by 
greed, but by the reality of campaign financing, which lets them 
understand the views of only the last great success, and never the 
views of the next great success (which, as yet, lacks the funds to 
influence the government). 

Nor did these successes come from the dominant business of 
the time: Amazon beat (the more established) Barnes & Noble. Net- 
flix beat (the innovator) Blockbuster. And Apple beat Dell. That's 
not because Barnes & Noble was stupid and Amazon was smart. 


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Rather, as Clayton M. Christensen put it in his justly acclaimed 
book, The Innovator's Dilemma: 

Despite their endowments in technology, brand names, manufac- 
turing prowess, management experience, distribution muscle, and 
just plain cash, successful companies populated by good managers 
have a genuinely hard time doing what does not fit their model for 
how to make money. Because disruptive technologies rarely make 
sense during the years when investing in them is most important, 
conventional managerial wisdom at established firms constitutes 
an entry and mobility barrier that entrepreneurs and investors can 
bank on. It is powerful and pervasive. ^^ 

Smart for one time does not translate into smart for the next 
/it\ time. For that, we need new businesses. /*\ 

The Long Tail, Little Brother, and LEGO-ized innovation 
explain part of the success of the Internet economy. They explain 
why commerce in the Internet economy can function better (that is, 
more efficiently) than commerce in real space. 

Yet not all of the value from the Internet comes from this com- 
mercial economy. Indeed, a more surprising source has nothing to 
do with commerce at all. It is to that part we now turn. 

Sharing Economies 

Sitting next to me on a cross-country flight was a representative 
of America's youth. He was about seventeen, dressed in a compli- 
cated mix of black and silver (the metal, not the color). He had a 


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144 REMIX 

computer far cooler than mine. And when the chime indicated that 
"it is now safe to use approved electronic devices," he pulled from 
the seat pocket in front of us a huge portfolio of DVDs. 

All of them — there must have been two hundred at least — 
were copies. And as he paged through the binder, my envy grew. I 
wanted to know more about his collection and him. So I did some- 
thing simply awful, something that I never do: I struck up a con- 
versation with the person sitting next to me on an airplane. 

I asked Josh (it turned out) about his collection. Was he a film 
studies student? Did he work in the industry? He wasn't. And he 
didn't. He was just a collector. Indeed, a collector of "everything," 
he told me. This was just part of his collection. He had "gigs" of 
music as well. 

The more we spoke, the more conflicted I became. I admired 
/it\ his knowledge. He knew his culture better than I knew mine. But /*\ 

he was, according to the laws of our country, a thief. Or something 
like that. In building his collection, he had violated a billion rights. 
Don't start with me about how those rights are unjustly framed, 
or too expansive, or outdated. I know all that. I've killed forests 
explaining all that. All that aside, what this kid was doing was 
making my work harder. I fight for "free culture." My position is 
weakened by kids who think all culture should be free. 

When the frustration of the conflict became too much, I looked 
for an easy escape. Josh had a film I had always wanted to see. My 
book was finished. My e-mail was just annoying. I decided I'd ask 
to watch one of his DVDs. 

"So," I said, "could I rent one of those from you? How 
about $5?" 

I'm not writer enough to describe the look of utter disappoint- 


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ment on his face. Suffice it to say that I had found the single most 
potent insult to hurl at Josh. 

"What the fuck?" he spit back at me. "You think I do this for 
money? I'm happy to lend you one of these. But I don't tak.emoney for 

I had crossed a line. But with that crossing, my respect for Josh 
grew. I didn't agree with how he had acquired his collection. Yet 
his rebuke reminded me of a different economy within which 
culture also lives. There exists not just the commercial economy, 
which meters access on the simple metric of price, but also a sharing 
economy, where access to culture is regulated not by price, but by a 
complex set of social relations. These social relations are not simple. 
Indeed, these relations are insulted by the simplicity of price. And 
though I hope not many trade on capital acquired as Josh acquired 
/it\ his, everyone reading this book has a rich life of relations governed /*\ 

in a sharing economy, free of the simplicity of price and markets. 

If the point isn't completely obvious, consider some more 

• You have friends. That friendship lives within a certain eco- 
nomy. If you only ever ask and never give, the friendship 
goes away. If you meter each interaction and demand a 
settlement after each exchange, the friendship also goes 
away. Certain moves appropriate in some places are in- 
appropriate here. For example: "I need to talk to someone. 
Can I give you $200 for an hour- long session?" 

• You have, or have had, or will have, lovers. That relationship 
exists within a complex sharing economy. The statement 
"Wow, that was great. Here's $500!" isn't gratitude in such 


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146 REMIX 

relationships. It might be perversion, though if not matched 
by perversion on the other side, it will likely be terminal to 
the relationship. Lovers make demands on each other. Those 
demands are designed to be complex. Simplify them accord- 
ing to price, and you destroy the relationship. (The other 
side to this story follows directly as well: Prostitution is sex 
within a commercial economy. Both sides seek the simplic- 
ity of cash. Crossing that boundary is the stuff of novels or 
career-launching movies [Julia Roberts, PreWy Woman].) 
• You have neighbors. They (or you) will sometimes need help. 
Once one asked me: "My car battery is dead. Can you give me 
a jump?" After we got his car started, he tried to hand me 
$5. "What the hell, Ted," I said. "This is what neighbors do." 
Then I thought, but didn't say: Anyway, if you were going to 
/it\ pay me for this hassle, it's going to be a lot more than $5. /*\ 

As with any economy, the sharing economy is built upon exchange. 
And as with any exchange that survives over time, it must, on bal- 
ance, benefit those who remain within that economy. When it 
doesn't, people leave. Or at least they should (think about the bat- 
tered spouse). 

But of all the ways in which the exchange within a sharing 
economy can be defined — or put differently, of all the possible 
terms of the exchange within a sharing economy — the one way in 
which it cannot be defined is in terms of money. As Yochai Benkler 
puts it, in commercial economies "prices are the primary source of 
information about, and incentive for, resource allocation"; in shar- 
ing economies "non-price-based social relations play those roles."^'* 

Indeed, not only is money not helpful. In many cases, adding 
money into the mix is downright destructive.^^ This is not because 


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people are against money (obviously). It is instead because, as phi- 
losopher Michael Walzer has described generally, people live within 
overlapping spheres of social understanding. What is obviously 
appropriate in some spheres is obviously inappropriate in others.^*" 

Both academic literature and ordinary life are filled with a rich 
understanding of the differences between commercial and sharing 
economies. My favorite is Lewis Hyde's The Gift, which describes 
in great historical detail the different but related understandings 
that cultures have had about giving. Think, for example, about the 
term "Indian giver," which I always understood to be derogatory. It 
meant someone who gave something but expected to take it back. 
But the origin of the term invokes the idea of a sharing economy 
directly — not that you will take the same thing back, but that you 
understand you're part of a practice of exchange that is meant, over 
/it\ time, to be fair: "In 1764, when Thomas Hutchinson wrote his his- /*\ 

tory of the colony, the term was already an old saying: 'An Indian 
gift,' he told his readers, 'is a proverbial expression signifying a pres- 
ent for which an equivalent return is expected.' "^' So why then do 
people give such gifts, the man from Mars asks? Why do they risk 
the gift's misfiring? Why not simply give cash, which is guaran- 
teed to transfer efficiently? 

The answer is because the gift is doing something more, or dif- 
ferent, from simply transferring an asset to another. Again, as Hyde 
describes it: 

It is the cardinal difference between gift and commodity exchange 
that a gift establishes a feeling-bond between two people, while 
the sale of a commodity leaves no necessary connection. I go into a 
hardware store, pay the man for a hacksaw blade and walk out. I 
may never see him again. The disconnectedness is, in fact, a virtue 


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148 REMIX 

of the commodity mode. We don't want to be bothered. If the 
clerk always wants to chat about the family, I'll shop elsewhere. I 
just want a hacksaw blade. ^^ 

Gifts in particular, and the sharing economy in general, are thus 
devices for building connections with people. They establish rela- 
tionships, and draw upon those relationships. They are the glue of 
community, essential to certain types of relationships, even if poison 
to others. It is not a gift relationship that defines your employment 
contract with a steel mill. Nor should it be. But it is a gift relation- 
ship, or sharing economy, that defines your life with your spouse 
or partner. And if it isn't, it better become so if that relationship is 
to last. 

Sometimes organizations trade upon this kind of economy in 
/it\ order to trade upon the kind of connections a sharing economy /*\ 

produces. Hyde points to the extraordinarily successful example of 
Alcoholics Anonymous: 

AA is an unusual organization in terms of the way money is 
handled. Nothing is bought or sold. Local groups are autono- 
mous and meet their minimal expenses — coffee, literature — 
through members' contributions. The program itself is free. AA 
probably wouldn't be as effective, in fact, if the program was 
delivered through the machinery of the market, not because its 
lessons would have to change, but because the spirit behind them 
would be different (the voluntary aspect of getting sober would 
be obscured, there would be more opportunity for manipulation, 
and — as I shall argue presently — the charging of fees for service 
tends to cut off the motivating force of gratitude, a source of AA's 


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Likewise, communities that were defined as sharing economies 
radically change when money is brought into the mix. Hyde quotes 
MIT geneticist Jonathan Kind: 

In the past one of the strengths of American bio-medical science 
was the free exchange of materials, strains of organisms and infor- 
mation. But now, if you sanction and institutionalize private gain 
and patenting of micro-organisms, then you don't send out your 
strains because you don't want them in the public sector. That's 
already happening now. People are no longer sharing their strains 
of bacteria and their results as freely as they did in the past.**" 

In all these cases, price is poisonous. Money changes a relation- 
ship — it redefines it. Indeed, it would most likely insult the host. 
/it\ "Money-oriented motivations are different from socially oriented /*\ 

motivations."'*^ And crossing the line will either show a profound 
misunderstanding of the context, or suggest you did understand 
the context, but simply wanted to change it. 

These lines of understanding, of course, are not drawn by 
God. They are culturally and historically contingent. In Victorian 
England, for example, "the presence of money in sport or enter- 
tainment" reduced the value of that sport or entertainment, at 
least for "members of the middle and upper classes."''^ Obviously, 
Americans feel differently today. In nineteenth-century America, 
the idea that you would tell your personal problems to a paid pro- 
fessional would seem outrageous. Today, it is called therapy — and 
the phrase "hey, save that one for the couch" signals an increas- 
ing appreciation that some personal matters are not to be within 
a sharing economy. Some personal matters should simply be 


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150 REMIX 

Thus, no distinction between "sharing" and "commercial" 
economies can be assumed to survive forever, or even for long. 
My only claim is that when such a distinction exists, then "adding 
money for an activity previously undertaken without price com- 
pensation reduces, rather than increases, the level of activity."'*^ 
Often, not always. Conservatives in America insist upon keeping 
prostitution illegal because they fear that adding money to sexual 
exchange will increase the "activity previously undertaken without 
price compensation" — i.e., sexual activity outside a monogamous 
relationship. In that case, the fear is money increases the activity, 
not decreases it. 

Commercial and sharing economies coexist. Indeed, they com- 
plement each other. Psychologists don't begrudge friendship, even 
though the stronger the economies of friendship in a society, the 
/it\ weaker the demand for shrinks. The band Wilco doesn't begrudge /*\ 

a church choir, even if the choir gives its work away for free, while 
Wilco charges plenty for one of their (too infrequent) concerts. 
We all understand that similar things can be offered within dif- 
ferent economies. We celebrate this diversity. Only a fanatic would 
advocate wiping away one economy simply because of its effect on 
the other. 

Yet sometimes we're all fanatics. Puritan society has waged war 
against economies for sex that compete with sex within a monoga- 
mous relationship — believing both fornication (a competing shar- 
ing economy) and prostitution (a competing commercial economy) 
put too much pressure on an idealized sharing economy. Like- 
wise, the content industry today wages war against economies for 
exchanging copyrighted content — peer-to-peer sharing economies, 
where people don't necessarily know one another, as well as friend- 


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ship sharing economies,'''' where they do. In both cases, the judg- 
ment that the one economy is poison to the other may well be right. 
But whether right or not in a particular case, the key is that these 
fanatical cases are the exception. In the vast majority of cases, we 
permit this intereconomy competition to flourish. In many cases, 
we encourage it. No one is called a communist because he plays in 
a Thursday-evening Softball league (competing with professional 
baseball) or helps clean up at a local church (competing with the 
janitor of the church). To the contrary: we idealize one who can 
trade within a range of societies, with a significant part of his or her 
life outside the society of commerce. 

Now consider a distinction among the possible motivations that 
might explain participation within a sharing economy. Sometimes 
these motivations are "me-regarding" — the individual participates 
/it\ in the sharing economy because it benefits him. Sometimes these /*\ 

motivations are "thee-regarding" — the individual participates in 
the sharing economy because it benefits others. So if I join a local 
Softball league, I may be driven largely by me-regarding motiva- 
tions. If I volunteer at a local soup kitchen, I'm probably driven 
mostly by thee-regarding motivations. 

Obviously, me and thee motivations are not unrelated. One can 
always view motivations that are thee-regarding as being ultimately 
me-regarding — I choose to help my neighbors because I want to 
be, or I want to be seen as, the sort of person who helps my neigh- 
bors. That's a perfectly sensible way to understand the vast majority 
of thee-regarding motivations. My aim is not to insist that sharing 
economies are economies of selflessness. 

Yet even if thee-regardingmotivations are ultimately me-regarding, 
they are still, in one sense, more complicated to explain than the 


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152 REMIX 

simple me-regarding motivations we all understand intuitively. We're 
tolerant of weird me-regarding motivations (we call some "fetishes," 
others simply "taste"). But weirdness about thee-regarding motiva- 
tions makes us wonder whether the person even understands what 
he's saying. For example, I understand the statement "I'm working to 
spread the goodness of the National Rifle Association." I understand it 
even though I wouldn't do the same. But the statement "I'm working 
to spread the goodness of Exxon" is not just unusual. For anyone not 
actually employed by Exxon, we'd wonder whether the person really 
understood what he was saying. Thee-regarding motivations plug 
into existing understandings of communities or causes. Me-regarding 
motivations (for us, in modern tolerant societies) aren't so con- 
strained ."*' 

Using this distinction, then, I will call "thin sharing economies" 
/it\ those economies where the motivation is primarily me-regarding; /*\ 

"thick sharing economies" are economies where the motivations 
are at least ambiguous between me and thee motivation. Thus, in 
thin sharing economies, people do not base an exchange on price 
or money. But they're making this exchange simply because it 
makes them better off, or because it is an unavoidable by-product 
of something they otherwise want to do for purely me-regarding 
reasons. One person doesn't necessarily mind that his actions might 
be helping someone else. But there's no independent desire to help 
someone else. The motivation is about me. 

Three examples will illustrate what I mean. 

• Think about a stock market. In most major stock markets, 
people share information — ordinarily information about 
how much is bought at what price, but even if that were hid- 
den, the market would share the information about how 


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prices were changing. You could describe this sharing as 
constituting a sharing economy. But plainly, it's a very weird 
sort of person who would buy and sell stocks simply to help 
the market collect information about prices. People buy and 
sell stocks to make money. A by-product of that behavior is 
the information that gets shared with others. If this is a shar- 
ing economy, it is a thin sharing economy. 

• Think of the "Voice Over IP" service called Skype. With 
Skype, you can make free Internet calls, and very cheap 
Internet-to-regular-phone calls (and vice versa). But Skype 
is designed to use, or "share," the resources of the computers 
connected to this VOIP network. When you're on the Skype 
phone, Skype is using your computer to make its network 
work better.'"' This is like AT&T drawing electricity from 

/it\ your house when you use the telephone, as a way to keep its /*\ 

electricity costs down. I don't mean to criticize Skype for 
this: it certainly helps make the service better. But when 
someone participates in this "sharing economy" of com- 
puter resources, what is the most salient motivation? Is it to 
advance the cause of Skype? Or is it simply a by-product of 
people's desire for cheap calls? I suggest the latter, making 
this too a thin sharing economy. 

• Think finally of AOL's IM network. The value of that net- 
work increases for everyone. This is a consequence of net- 
work effects: the more who join, the more valuable the 
resource is for everyone. There are many contexts in which 
this network effect is true. Think, for example, about the 
English language. Every time someone in China struggles to 
learn English or a school in India continues to push English 
as a primary language, all of us English speakers benefit. But 


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154 REMIX 

in neither of these cases — with AOL or Enghsh — are people 
joining the movement because it is a movement. People join 
because it gives them something they want. 

In each case, there is a resource that is shared among everyone 
within the community — information about the market, computer 
resources to make VOIP work better, the network effect from a 
popular network. That resource is shared independent of price. But 
in none of these cases is it realistic to imagine people joining or par- 
ticipating in these networks for thee-regarding reasons. These are 
me-regarding communities. They are thin sharing economies. 

By contrast, in a thick sharing economy, motivations are more 
complex. A father might spend Sunday mornings teaching a Bible 
class at his church. Part of that motivation is about him. But cer- 
/it\ tainly, part is also about improving the community of his church — /*\ 

a thee motivation. What the proportion is we need not specify. The 
only important point is that there are both, and that the more we 
think that there is a thee motivation, the thicker the community is. 

This distinction between thick and thin will be important 
when considering differences among sharing economies. It will 
also be important in understanding the likelihood that any particu- 
lar economy will survive over time. For despite the intuitions that 
names give to the contrary, a thin sharing economy is often easier 
to support than a thick sharing economy. This is because inspiring 
or sustaining thee motivations is not costless. Or at least, all things 
being equal, a me motivation (for us, now) comes more easily to 
most. Thus, distinguishing cases where a thee motivation is neces- 
sary from cases where it isn't will be helpful in predicting whether a 
certain sharing economy will survive. 


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Internet Sharing Economies 

The Internet has exploded the range and thickness of sharing econ- 
omies too. As with commercial economies, the plasticity of the 
Internet's design, and the scale of its reach, offer a vast range of new 
opportunities for sharing economies everywhere. 

As with commercial economies, these sharing economies flour- 
ish in part because of their design. Here too, for example, the best 
follow a Bricklin-like principle: People contribute to the common 
good as a by-product of doing what they would otherwise want to 
do. But some communities demand something more from their 
members: some will claim, for example, that members owe one 
another something. Depending upon the community, that demand 
/it\ will often stick. If you told me I had a duty to Amazon, I'd think it /*\ 

a joke. I love Amazon as much as the next guy. But it gets no loyalty 
beyond the good that it offers in return. But there are plenty of enti- 
ties within the Internet sharing economy for whom it isn't a joke to 
say I owe the community something. The best such communities 
may not depend upon this kind of owing. They may simply make 
doing good fun. But in some communities, all the participants 
understand they must "do their part." And failing to do his part 
opens the deviant to criticism. For these thick sharing economies, 
the motivations to participate are more complex. 

The most prominent Internet sharing economy today, and a 
paradigm of the type, is one that didn't even exist before 9/11: Wiki- 
pedia. But Wikipedia is not the first Internet sharing economy. So 
after we cover the familiar and dominant, we'll go backward a bit, 
to better appreciate the continuity between the "barn raising," as 


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156 REMIX 

one of the Net's early legal theorists, Mike Godwin, put it, of Wiki- 
pedia, and the many barn raisings that happened before Wikipedia 
was born. 

The Paradigm Case: Wikipedia 

In 2000, Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales was fishing around for some- 
thing better to do. He had been a futures and options trader in 
Chicago during most of the 1990s and had made, he told Wired 
magazine, enough money "to support himself and his wife for 
the rest of their lives. "''^ Now he wanted to do something really 

At first he thought about writing an encyclopedia, or at least 
/it\ getting an online encyclopedia written. Using some of the profits /*\ 

from an adult-content site that he had helped start (Bomis), Wales 
launched Nupedia. The idea — obviously the only sane idea for 
writing an encyclopedia at the time — was to build a peer-reviewed 
work. He hired a philosophy Ph.D., Larry Sanger, as editor in chief. 
And they both watched this pot as the project never boiled. 

Frustrated over its slow growth, Nupedia launched a "wiki" to 
encourage the development of Nupedia articles. A wiki is a plat- 
form that lets anyone write or edit in a common space. Wiki soft- 
ware has been around for more than a decade. It was originally 
intended to enable a team to work on a project collaboratively. 
Wales and Sanger intended the wiki to be a sandbox for collabora- 
tive drafting of articles for Nupedia. Quickly, however, the sand- 
box became much more than a draft. The growth of articles in this 
(now dubbed) "Wikipedia" dwarfed anything on Nupedia. The 
sandbox then took center stage. 


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Wikipedia, however, is more than software. It is also a set of 
norms that were built into the practice of using that software. The 
objective was an encyclopedia. That meant articles were to be writ- 
ten from a "neutral point of view" (NPOV). And the project was 
to be run by a volunteer community (though Sanger was originally 
a paid editor so long as Bomis's funding continued). To assure that 
the volunteers felt they were part of a community, the rules had to 
be rules anyone could live by. Thus was born the "ignore all rules" 
rule, which Jimmy Wales explained to me as follows: 

"Ignore all rules". . . is not an invitation to chaos. It is really more 
an idea of saying, "Look, whatever rules we have in Wikipedia, 
they ought to be, more or less, discernible by any normal, socially 
adept adult who thinks about what would be the ethical thing to 
/itN do in this situation. That should be what the rule is." It should be /*\ 

pretty intuitive. And if there's something that's counterintuitive, 
it shouldn't really be a rule. It might be a guideline or it might be 
something that we go around and try to encourage people to do. 
But you can't get in trouble for not doing it."** 

Finally, there was a norm about ownership: nobody owned 
Wikipedia exclusively. The content of Wikipedia got created 
under a copyright license that guaranteed it was always free for 
anyone to copy, and that any modifications had to be free as well. 
This "copyleft" license — the brainchild of Richard Stallman — set 
the final founding norm for this extraordinary experiment in 

If you're one of the seven people in the world who have not yet 
used Wikipedia, you might well wonder whether this experiment 
in collaboration can work. The answer is that it does, and surpris- 


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158 REMIX 

ingly well — surprising even for Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales. 
As he explained to me: 

As people get experienced using Wikipedia and they're reading 
it a lot, they begin to have this intuition that Wikipedia is pretty 
darn good about being neutral on very controversial subjects. And 
that's a little bit surprising; I know certainly if you had asked me 
before Wikipedia what a big problem would be, I would have 
said, "Wow, I'm hoping that it's not going to be incredibly biased 
on controversial subjects. I'm hoping that that won't happen." It 
turns out that doesn't happen, that community is quite good ... in 
part because of the social norm that we've had from the beginning 
about neutrality and about communication. 

/it\ Not all of the work within Wikipedia is writing original articles. /*\ 

Indeed, the vast majority of work is editing content — correcting 
spelling or formatting errors, rewriting submissions to conform 
to the NPOV norm, or simply "softening [a claim] to be more 
broadly acceptable." According to one estimate, only 10 percent 
of all edits add substantive content.**' The rest is cleaning up those 
additions. And even here, more of the work is done by a relatively 
small number of users. According to Jimmy Wales, 50 percent of 
all edits are done by 0.7 percent of users — meaning just about 524 
users within his sample. The most active 2 percent (1,400) of users 
have done 73.4 percent of all edits. Counting content, Aaron Swartz 
found that "the vast majority of major contributors are unregis- 
tered and that most have only made a handful of contributions to 

This division of work is not directed. There's no "chore" norm 
at Wikipedia. As Wales describes. 


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If somebody says, "Well, I know about birds and I'm going to come 
in and monitor a few hundred bird articles and I'm going to occa- 
sionally update them when I feel like it but I'm in and out and I'm 
not really a core community member. And I, frankly, don't really 
have time or feel like dealing with the conflict and I'm not going 
to run a spell-checking hot and I'm just going to do the parts that 
I find fun," that's considered perfectly acceptable. 

These are volunteers doing as they like. It just turns out that when 
you invite the world to participate, there are enough volunteers in a 
range of categories of work to make the whole thing function quite 

The first question many ask about these thousands of volunteers 
is, why do they do it.'' (And again, this is a world of volunteers. Until 
^ February 2005, there was just one part-time employee).^^ "Why do ^^ 

people play Softball.'' " is a standard Wales response.'^ The answer of 
course is simply because they like it more than all the other things 
they might be doing at the time. But why do they like it.'' In part 
because there is also a ready, and attractive, thee-regarding moti- 
vation surrounding the project. As Wales told Tapscott and Wil- 
liams, "We are gathering together to build this resource that will be 
made available to all the people of the world for free. That's a goal 
that people can get behind."'^ 

That goal makes Wikipedians (as they call themselves) a com- 
munity — not in some abstract sense of a bunch of people with a com- 
mon interest, but instead in the very significant sense of people who 
have worked together on a common problem. As Wales describes. 

Community sometimes is almost meaningless; it just means there's 
people out there doing stuff. But in Wikipedia, what community 


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160 REMIX 

means is that they're people who have met each other; they know 
each other; they've had arguments; they've made up; they've had 
different kinds of controversies; they've banded together to take 
care of some problems; they like each other; they don't like each 
other; sometimes people are dating and then they break up and 
then there's some rumors and scandals, and all of the stuff that 
makes a rich human community is what goes inside Wikipedia. 
It's a complete soap opera actually inside our community. 

These people are likely to pick up any litter they see in their 

Surprisingly, Wikipedia is even good at things you wouldn't 
associate with a traditional encyclopedia — reporting and analyz- 
ing news events such as the Virginia Tech massacre and Hurricane 
^ Katrina. Wales explains: ^^ 

One of the things that we are doing better, I think, is when we 
have a mass public event or story with breaking news, one of the 
things that we've seen is that, in the short run, especially, Wiki- 
pedia does a very interesting thing that I have come to appreci- 
ate more and more over time, which is a census of the news that's 
coming out. So, the way I present this is when you have a big event 
like this, you'll have ten, twenty, or thirty, or fifty reporters all 
there, on the scene gathering information. But they're each see- 
ing only the piece that they can see and even if they're all abso- 
lutely excellent journalists who are doing their very best to get the 
whole story, they're each coming from a particular perspective and 
they're each interviewing particular people with particular views. 
And then that stuff goes out onto the Web where people can read 
all of it. 


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The New Yor\ Times made the same point after the Virginia Tech 
massacre. As a review article noted, "From the contributions of 
2,074 editors, at last count, the site created a polished, detailed arti- 
cle on the massacre, with more than 140 separate footnotes, as well 
as sidebars that profiled the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, and gave a 
timeline of the attacks."''' That article was viewed by more than 
750,000 within the first two days. Even the local newspaper, the 
Roanoke Times, commented that Wikipedia "has emerged as the 
clearinghouse for detailed information on the event."'' 

I've called Wikipedia part of the "sharing economy" even 
though technically the license governing Wikipedia permits anyone 
to copy Wikipedia for whatever purpose he or she wants, including 
the purpose of selling copies. There's nothing wrong, according to 
the license at least, with running an ad-supported site with a copy 
/it^ of Wikipedia. There's no problem in printing a physical copy of the ii\ 

hundred most popular articles and selling those copies for money. 
The only licensing restriction is that if you make changes to Wiki- 
pedia, you have to license the new version under the same license 
as the old. No one is permitted to improve and then lock up the 
improvements. They too must remain free. 

But Wikipedia is still part of the sharing economy because one's 
access to, or right to edit for, Wikipedia is not metered by money. 
More interestingly, the site itself — the one owned by the Wikime- 
dia Foundation — doesn't run ads to support its costs. That deci- 
sion is extremely significant. As one of the top ten Web sites in the 
world, the decision not to run ads means Wikipedia leaves about 
$100 million on the table every year. Why? What drives this site to 
ignore so much potential wealth ? 

One reason important to Wales relates directly to the impor- 
tance of the NPOV. As he explained to me, "We do care that the 


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162 REMIX 

general public looks to Wikipedia in all of its glories and all of its 
flaws, which are numerous of course. But the one thing they don't 
say is, 'Well, I don't trust Wikipedia because it's all basically adver- 
tising fluff" Forgoing ads is a way to buy credibility, just as a 
judge forgoing bribes is a way to buy credibility. In both cases, 
we might imagine the entity taking money would not be affected 
by that money. But there's no easy way to verify that it's not been 
affected. So to achieve the value sought — neutrality, or fairness — 
money must be removed from the equation. 

Wikipedia is my paradigm sharing economy. Its contributors 
are motivated not by money, but by the fun or joy in what they do. 
Some find that joy because the result is something valuable to soci- 
ety. Others find that joy because there's nothing better on television. 
Whatever the reason, there's sufficient motivation spread through- 
/it\ out the world to build an encyclopedia for free that each day draws /*\ 

more attention than all the other encyclopedias in history com- 
bined. Wikipedia is to culture as the GNU/Linux operating system 
is to software: something no one would have predicted could have 
been done, yet which an inspired leader and devoted followers built 
for free, and to remain free. 

Beyond Wikipedia 

The Internet learned to share, however, long before Wikipedia. 
Indeed, as commerce was banned from the Internet until 1991, one 
might well say that the Internet was born a sharing economy; com- 
merce was added only later. There are many examples. Consider 
just a few: 


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• The code that built the Net came from a sharing economy. The 
software that built the original Internet was the product of free col- 
laboration. Open-source, or free, software was distributed broadly 
to enable the servers and Internet protocols to function. The most 
famous of these projects was the GNU Project, which in 1983 was 
launched by Richard Stallman to build a free operating system, 
modeled upon the then dominant UNIX. For the first six years or 
so, Stallman and his loyal followers worked away at building the 
infrastructure that would make an operating system run. By the 
beginning of the 1990s, the essential part missing was the kernel 
of the operating system, without which the operating system as a 
whole could not run. 

A Finnish undergraduate decided to try to build that kernel. 
After tinkering a bit with a version, he released it to the Net for oth- 
/it\ ers to add to. This undergraduate was named Linus Torvalds. He /*\ 

named the kernel Linux. Soon, volunteers from around the world 
had helped improve the kernel enough that, when added to the 
other components of the GNU system, it built a robust and power- 
ful operating system called either Linux or, better, GNU/Linux. 
We'll see more about this operating system in the next chapter. The 
point to remark upon here is it was built by thousands volunteering 
to write code that would eventually guarantee that people could 
build upon and share an operating system. 

Less famous than GNU/Linux, but just as important to the his- 
tory of the Net, are the many instances of free software built to sup- 
ply the basic plumbing of the Internet. As Robert Young and Wendy 
Goldman Rohm put it in their book. Under the Radar (1999): 

In 1981, Eric Allman created Sendmail, an open source program 
that is responsible for routing 80 percent of the email that travels 


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164 REMIX 

over the Internet. It is currently still maintained by thousands of 
online programmers via In addition, Allman started 
Sendmail Inc. as a business in November 1998. For a profit, he 
sells easy-to-use versions of the open source software, along with 
support and service, to corporations. Another important force in 
the open source world is Perl. It was created by 43-year-old Larry 
Wall, a former linguist who created Perl while at Burroughs Corp. 
on a government-funded project. The software is free, although 
Wall has sold 500,000 copies of his Perl manuals. Another open 
source program, BIND, was originally developed at the Univer- 
sity of California at Berkeley as freeware. It allows domain names 
like to be entered as textual name addresses instead of 
machine numbers (called IP addresses, for example,, 
making it much easier for ordinary people to surf the Internet. 
^jbs Apache, the group founded by 25-year-old Brian Behlendorf, got /^ 

its start when Behlendorf was hired to build Wired magazine's 
Web site. In order to improve the Web server software, he pro- 
grammed his own enhancements and circulated the results, with 
source code, on the Internet. Other contributors added their code, 
and Apache was created. The name came from the fact that the 
software was "a patchy" collection of code from numerous con- 
tributors. Currently, Apache is used by more than half of the Web 
sites on the Internet. It was chosen by IBM, over Netscape's and 
Microsoft's closed-source Web server software, to be the founda- 
tion of IBM's Web commerce software.'^ 

Apache continues to be the dominant Web server on the Inter- 
net: for most of the first half of the decade, its market share was 
over 60 percent; today, despite fierce competition from proprietary 


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server companies such as Microsoft and Apple, the market share 
remains in the mid-50-percent range.'^ All of these products were 
initially built by people who lived within an economy of exchange. 
But their interactions within that economy were not metered by 
money. Some were paid by others so that they could afford to write 
software that would be free. But the terms of exchange for add- 
ing and changing this code were forbidden to be commercial. The 
core free-software license permits developers to sell their code. But 
they can never sell the right to modify or change the code they 
build onto free software. That economy is always to be a sharing 

Why does this kind of software development work? Or better, 
why does it often work so much better than proprietary software ? 

One reason is structural: when you write software that oth- 
/it^ ers are to work on, you must be more disciplined in your coding. ii\ 

Comments must be frequent. Code must be made more modular. 
That structure helps evaluate bugs. It also invites more to review the 
work of the coder: "with enough eyeballs all bugs are shallow."'^ 

But there's a third reason that is frequently ignored. Free and 
open-source software takes advantage of the returns from diversity 
in a way that proprietary software hasn't. As economist Scott Page 
has demonstrated in a foundational study about the efficiency of 
diversity, the success of an enterprise in solving a difficult problem 
depends not just upon the ability of the people solving the prob- 
lem. '^ Using mathematical economics. Page shows that the success 
also depends upon the diversity of the people solving the problem. 
What's needed is not just, or even necessarily, racial diversity, but a 
diversity in experience and worldviews, so as to help a project fill in 
the blind spots inherent in any particular view. 


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166 REMIX 

That point in the abstract might not sound surprising: sure, 
diversity helps, just like ability helps. But the really surprising 
part of Page's analysis is the relationship between the contri- 
bution from ability and the contribution from diversity: equal. 
Increasing diversity, in this sense, is just as valuable as increasing 

Thus, between two projects, one in which the workers are 
extremely smart but very narrow, and another in which the work- 
ers are not quite as smart but much more diverse, the second project 
could easily outperform the first. So even if you believe that pro- 
prietary firms can hire the very best programmers, an open-source 
project (with a wider diversity of coders) could easily outperform 
the proprietary project. 

This dynamic, I suggest, explains a great deal of the success of 
/it\ the software sharing economy. It likewise could explain the success /*\ 

of Internet sharing economies as well. 

• Project Gutenberg is a sharing economy. Founded in 1971 (yes, 
1971), Project Gutenberg is the oldest digital library. Its founder, 
Michael Hart, launched the project to digitize and distribute cul- 
tural works. The first Project Gutenberg text was the Declaration 
of Independence. Today, there are more than twenty-two thousand 
books in the collection, with an average of fifty books added each 
week.*^" The vast majority of the books in the collection are public- 
domain works, primarily works of literature. Most are in English, 
and most are available in plain text only."^^ Hart describes his mis- 
sion quite simply: "to encourage the creation and distribution of 
e-books." The economy of Project Gutenberg is a sharing economy. 
Volunteers add works to the collection; people download works 
freely from the collection. Price, or money, doesn't police access. 


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Voluntary contributions are all the supporters can rely upon to keep 
the work alive. 

• Distributed Proofreaders is a sharing economy. Inspired by 
Michael Hart's Project Gutenberg, and launched in 2000 by Charles 
Franks, the Distributed Proofreaders project was conceived to help 
proofread for free the books that Hart made available for free. To 
compensate for the errors of optical character recognition (OCR) 
technology, the Distributed Proofreaders project takes individual 
pages from scanned books and presents them to individuals, along 
with the original text. Volunteers then correct the text through a 
kind of distributed-computing project. (See the next item for more 
on distributed computing.) Distributed Proofreaders has contrib- 
uted to more than ten thousand books on Project Gutenberg. In 

/it\ 2004, there were between three hundred and four hundred proof- /*\ 

readers participating each day; the project finished between four 
thousand and seven thousand pages per day — averaging four pages 
every minute.''^ All of this work is voluntary. 

• Distributed-computing projects are sharing economies. Dis- 
tributed computing refers to efforts to enlist the unused cycles of 
personal computers connected to the Net for some worthy cause 
(worthy in the eyes of the volunteer, at least). The most famous was 
the SETI@home project, launched in 1999 and designed to share 
computing power for the purpose of detecting extraterrestrial life 
(or at least the sort that uses radios). More than 5 million volunteers 
eventually shared their computers with this project.*"^ But there 
are many more distributed-computing projects beyond the SETI 
project. A favorite of mine is Einstein® Home. As described by 


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168 REMIX 

Einstein@Home is designed to search data collected by the 
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) 
and GEO 600 for gravitational waves. The project was officially 
launched on 19 February 2005 as part of American Physical Soci- 
ety's contribution to the World Year of Physics 2005. It uses the 
power of volunteer-driven distributed computing in solving the 
computationally intensive problem of analyzing a large volume of 
data As of June 3, 2006, over 120,000 volunteers in 186 coun- 
tries have participated in the project.^'* 

The contributions to these distributed-computing projects are 
voluntary. Price does not meter access either to the projects or to 
their results. 

^ • The Internet Archive is a sharing economy. Launched in 1996 by ^^ 

serial technology entrepreneur (and one of the successful ones) Brew- 
ster Kahle, the Internet Archive seeks to offer "permanent access for 
researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist 
in digital format."''^ But to do this, Kahle depends upon more than 
the extraordinarily generous financial support that he provides to the 
project. He depends as well upon a massive volunteer effort to iden- 
tify and upload content that should be in the archive. The archive 
employs "probably less than one-tenth of one person," he told me. 
And "there have probably been over a thousand people that have 
uploaded" creative work to be preserved.*"^ All of the content is shared 
on the archive. Nothing is metered according to price. 

• The Mars Mapping Project was a sharing economy. Scientists at 
NASA are eager to map the surface of Mars. Mapping means id en- 


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tifying and marking on their maps the locations of craters, the age 
of craters, and other significant geological formations. For years, 
NASA and others had done this by hiring professionals. For eleven 
months beginning in November 2000, NASA experimented with 
asking amateurs to do what professionals had done. 

The theory of the experiment was that "there are many scien- 
tific tasks that require human perception and common sense, but 
may not require a lot of scientific training." So NASA set up a site 
where volunteer "clickworkers" could spend "a few minutes here 
and there" and some would "work longer" doing "routine science 
analysis that would normally be done by" a professional. ""^ For 
example, the site included "an interactive interface in which the 
contributor . . . clicks on four points on a crater rim and watches 

a circle draw itself around the rim Pressing a button sub- 

/it\ mits the set of latitude, longitude, and diameter numbers to [the] /*\ 


The results were astonishing. Once word of the project got out, 
there were "over 800 contributors who made over 30,000 crater- 
marking entries in four days."*^' Even after error correction, this 
was "faster than a single graduate student could have marked 
them, and also far faster than the original data was returned by 
the spacecraft." Thirty-seven percent of the results were provided 
by onetime contributors. And when the results were redundancy 
compared, the accuracy was extremely high. As the study of the 
results concluded, "even if volunteers have higher error rates..., a 
cheap and timely analysis could still be useful. In some applications, 
noisy data can still yield a valid statistical result."^" As Yochai Ben- 
kler describes: "What the NASA scientists running this experi- 
ment had tapped into was a vast pool of five-minute increments of 


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170 REMIX 

human judgment, applied with motivation to participate in a task 
unrelated to 'making a living.' "^^ 

• Astronomy increasingly depends upon a sharing economy. His- 
torically, astronomy always relied on amateurs. But as digital tech- 
nologies have made it possible to gather huge amounts of data, there 
is a strong push within the field to encourage sharing of these data 
among astronomers. As the editors oiNature observed, 

web technologies. .. are pushing the character of the web from 
that of a large library towards providing a user-driven collabora- 
tive workspace ... A decade ago, for example, astronomy was still 
largely about groups keeping observational data proprietary and 
publishing individual results. Now it is organized around large 
/itN data sets, with data being shared, coded and made accessible to /*\ 

the whole community. Organized sharing of data within and 
among smaller and more diverse research communities is more 
challenging, owing to the plethora of data types and formats. A 
key technological shift that could change this is a move away from 
centralized databases to what are known as "web services."^^ 

The limits on this sharing are therefore not technical. They 
are "cultural." "Scientific competitiveness will always be with us. 
But developing meaningful credit for those who share their data is 
essential to encourage the diversity of means by which researchers 
can now contribute to the global academy ."^^ 

There's some good evidence this norm is developing. The Digi- 
tal Sky Project, for example, funded through the National Science 
Foundation, "provides simultaneous access to the catalogs and image 


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data, together with sufficient computing capabihty, to allow detailed 
correlated studies across the entire data set."^"* Likewise with the 
U.S. National Virtual Observatory, another NSF-funded proj- 
ect, meant to develop "a set of online tools to link all the world's 
astronomy data together, giving people all over the world easy 
access to data from many different instruments, at all wavelengths 
of the electromagnetic spectrum from radio to gamma rays."^' The 
emphasis in all these cases is to provide a sharing economy in data, 
enabling researchers to draw upon the data to analyze and draw 
conclusions that advance the field of astronomy. 

• The Open Directory Project is a sharing economy. As a comple- 
ment to the search algorithms of major search engines, the Open 
Directory Project "is the largest, most comprehensive human- 

/it\ edited directory of the Web. It is constructed and maintained by a /*\ 

vast, global community of volunteer editors." Volunteers are asked 
to sign up to a particular area of knowledge. They are given tools 
to help them edit and modify links within the directory. The direc- 
tory asks people to give "a few minutes" of their time to "help make 
the Web a better place."^*" No money polices access to the results of 
this project, or the right to participate in it. 

• Open Source Food is a sharing economy. As described by 
its founder, "Open Source Food came to fruition because me 
and my father wanted to create a place for people like us. We're 
not professional cooks, we just love food. We want to share, learn 
and improve ourselves with the help of like-minded food lovers. 
Open Source Food is a platform for that." Users contribute reci- 
pes to the database of recipes. And while recipes as such can't be 


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172 REMIX 

copyrighted in the United States, the site uses Creative Commons 
hcenses to make sure descriptive text and images are available freely 
as well/^ No money meters access to the site. Contributions are all 

The list could go on practically indefinitely. The Internet is filled 
with successful sharing economies, in which people contribute 
for reasons other than money. As Benkler argues, they contribute 
not because "we live in a unique moment of humanistic sharing." 
Rather, the reason for all this sharing is that "the technological state 
of a society . . . affects the opportunities for . . . social, market . . . and 
state production modalities."'^ We're living in a time when technol- 
ogy is favoring the social. More vibrant sharing economies are the 
^ result. ^ 

What Sharing Economies Share 

In all of these cases, the people participating in creating something 
of value share that value independent of money. That's not to say 
they're not in it for themselves. Nor is it to say that they're not being 
paid. (A programmer working for IBM may well be paid to add 
code to a free-software project. But the freedoms that get shared 
with that free software are not tied to money.) And it's certainly not 
to say they're in it solely to benefit someone else. All the category of 
"sharing economy" requires is that the terms upon which people 
participate in the economy are terms not centered on cash. In each, 
the work that others might share is never shared for the money. 


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So why do people do it? What's in it for them? What is their 

This question has been studied extensively in the context of free 
and open-source software. Its answer begins by recognizing how 
small the "motivation" is that requires any special kind of explana- 
tion. For as a corollary to Dan Bricklin's Cornucopia of the Com- 
mons/'' we need to remember that a large part of the motivation 
for contributing to these sharing economies comes from people just 
doing for themselves what they want to do anyway. 

With free and open-source software, for example, often the 
work is self-motivated: a programmer faces a problem and has to 
fix it ("scratch an itch," as Eric Raymond put it). Eric von Hippel 
estimates in one study that "Fifty-eight percent of respondents said 
that an important motivation for writing their code was that they 
/it\ had a work need (33 percent), or a nonwork need (30 percent) or /*\ 

both (5 percent) for the code itself."^" For these people, the ques- 
tion is not, why does someone write the software? but the much 
less demanding puzzle, why does someone contribute the solution 
freely to others? This, as Rishab Ghosh has written, is obviously a 
simpler problem to explain. You don't lose anything by giving away 
an intangible good that you've already created ; and especially when 
you've been paid to create it, that's sufficient reason to contribute it 
to others. ^^ 

Beyond contributions that are explained by the fact that the con- 
tributor had to solve the problem himself anyway, theorists have 
identified a number of other reasons to explain these contributions 
to sharing economies. Again with software, one voluntary study 
demonstrates that a significant portion of contributors are moti- 
vated by pure intellectual stimulation (45 percent) or to improve 


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174 REMIX 

their own programming skills (41 percent listed this as one of their 
top three reasons.) ^^ 

Another reason points to a variant on the argument about diver- 
sity I identified in Scott Page's work above. As Steven Weber puts it 
in The Success of Open Source: 

Under conditions of antirivalness, as the size of the Internet- 
connected group increases, and there is a heterogeneous distribu- 
tion of motivations with people who have a high level of interest 
and some resources to invest, then the large group ismore likely, all 
things being equal, to provide the good than is a small group. *^ 

That means developers of open-source and free-software projects 
have a strong interest in many people sharing the projects, since the 
/it\ more who share them, the more likely someone will be motivated /*\ 

to improve them. 

Peter Kollock identifies another potential motivator as the "expec- 
tation ... of reciprocity. Both specific and generalized reciprocity can 
reward providing something of value to another. When information 
providers do not know each other, as is often the case for participants 
in open source software projects, the kind of reciprocity that is rel- 
evant is called 'generalized' exchange."^'' 

So we see that there is an abundance, not a lack, of motivations. 
As Weber writes. 

The success of open source demonstrates the importance of a fun- 
damentally different solution, built on top of an unconventional 
understanding of property rights configured around distribution. 
Open source uses that concept to tap into a broad range of human 
motivations and emotions, beyond the straightforward calculation 


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of salary for labor. And it relies on a set of organizational struc- 
tures to coordinate behavior around the problem of managing 
distributed innovation, which is different from division of labor. 
None of these characteristics is entirely new, unique to the open 
source, or confined to the Internet. But together, they are generic 
ingredients of a way of making things that has potentially broad 
consequences for economics and politics.^' 

In my view, the easiest answer to the motivation question comes 
from framing it more broadly: Why do people do these things for 
free rather than, say, watching television.'' 

In some cases, the response is simply that the sharing activity is 
more compelling. This is a purely me-regarding motivation. I want 
to play a game (MUDs and MOOs), or write an article (Wikipe- 
/it\ dia), or whatever, because I like to. /*\ 

In some cases, the response is more thee-regarding: Some part 
of the motivation to write for Wikipedia is to help Wikipedia ful- 
fill its mission: "Wikipedia is a project to build free encyclope- 
dias in all languages of the world. Virtually anyone with Internet 
access is free to contribute, by contributing neutral, cited infor- 
mation." People contribute because they want to feel that they're 
helping others. Some people help the Internet Archive or Project 
Gutenberg because they want to be part of their mission: to offer 
"permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to his- 
torical collections that exist in digital format" (Internet Archive) 
or to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks" (Project 

But again, even the thee-regarding motivations need not be 
descriptions of self-sacrifice. I suspect that no one contributes to 
Wikipedia despite hating what he does, solely because he believes 


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176 REMIX 

he ought to help create free knowledge. We can all understand peo- 
ple in the commercial economy who hate what they do but do it 
anyway ("he's just doing it for the money"). That dynamic is very 
difficult to imagine in the sharing economy. In the sharing econ- 
omy, people are in it for the thing they're doing, either because they 
like the doing, or because they like doing such things. Either way, 
these are happy places. People are there because they want to be. 

Or more completely, because "they want to be" there given the 
options the technology offers. As Benkler has put it most clearly, 
technology doesn't determine any result.*'' But different technolo- 
gies invite different behaviors. The changes in technology I've 
described here "have increased the role of [sharing] production."*^ 
If they continue to grow, they could well become part of the "core, 
rather than the periphery of the most advanced economies."** They 
/it\ have already done much more than anyone would have predicted /*\ 

even ten years ago. 


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ommercial economies build value with money at their core. 

Sharing economies build value, ignoring money. Both are criti- 
cal to life both online and offline. Both will flourish more as Inter- 
/it\ net technology develops. /*\ 

But between these two economies, there is an increasingly 
important third economy: one that builds upon both the sharing 
and commercial economies, one that adds value to each. This third 
type — the hybrid — will dominate the architecture for commerce 
on the Web. It will also radically change the way sharing economies 

The hybrid is either a commercial entity that aims to leverage 
value from a sharing economy, or it is a sharing economy that builds 
a commercial entity to better support its sharing aims. Either way, 
the hybrid links two simpler, or purer, economies, and produces 
something from the link. 

That link is sustained, however, only if the distinction between 
the two economies is preserved. If those within the sharing econ- 
omy begin to think of themselves as tools of a commercial econ- 
omy, they will be less willing to play. If those within a commercial 


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178 REMIX 

economy begin to think of it as a sharing economy, that may reduce 
their focus on economic reward. Maintaining a conceptual separa- 
tion is a key to sustaining the value of the hybrid. But how that 
separation is maintained cannot be answered in the abstract. 

The Internet is the age of the hybrid.^ Every interesting Internet 
business is now, or is becoming, a hybrid. The reasons are not hard 
to see. As Yochai Benkler describes, 

A billion people in advanced economies may have between two 
billion and six billion spare hours among them, every day. In order 
to harness these billions of hours, it would take the whole work- 
force of almost 340,000 workers employed by the entire motion 
picture and recording industries in the United States put together, 
assuming each worker worked forty-hour weeks without taking a 
/itN single vacation, for between three and eight and a half years I^ /*\ 

If sharing economies promise value, it is the commercial econ- 
omy that is tuned to exploit that. But as those in the commercial 
economy are coming to see, you can't leverage value from a sharing 
economy with a hostile buyout or a simple acquisition of assets. You 
have to keep those participating in the sharing economy happy, and 
for the reasons they were happy before. For here too money can't 
buy you love, even if love could produce lots of money. 

Yet there are differences among these hybrids. In this chapter, I 
hope first to hide these differences enough to show a common pat- 
tern. I then focus on the differences in order to learn a bit more 
about how and why some hybrids succeed while others fail. As with 
Wikipedia among sharing economies, there is a paradigm here too. 
This is the theme upon which everything else is a variation. I start 
with this theme and then turn to the growing variations. 


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The Paradigm Case: Free Software 

In the early 1990s, Robert Young was in the computer-leasing busi- 
ness. As a way to bring in customers, he wrote a newsletter called 
New Yor\ Unix. The newsletter covered whatever subjects his 
(potential) customers might be interested in. He was therefore keen 
to understand precisely what his customers would read. "I would 
ask all the members of the user groups, 'What do you want to read 
about that isn't already being covered in the major computer pub- 
lications?' The only thing they could think about at the time was 
free software." 

So Young decided to learn something about free software. He 
took a train to Boston to sit down with Richard Stallman to "ask 
/it\ him where this stuff was coming from." Young was astounded by /*\ 

what he found. "[Stallman] was using lines [like] 'from engineers 
according to their skill to engineers according to their need.' " 

"I'm a capitalist," Young recalls thinking, "and the Berlin wall 
had just fallen. I thought, I'm not sure this model is going to keep 
going." Young decided to forget about free software. "Given there 
was no economic support [for this] free software stuff," Young 
believed it all "was a blip." He reasoned, "It was only going to get 
worse over time as the communist system only ever got worse over 

Yet Young quickly saw that like many of the parallels that 
Marx saw, his own historical parallel didn't quite work. The free- 
software system didn't get worse. "Over the course of the twenty- 
four months that I was watching it, the stuff kept getting better. 
The kernel got better. More drivers came out for this stuff. More 
people were using it." 


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180 REMIX 

This surprise prompted Young to talk with some key free- 
software users to find out why the system was such a success. One of 
his research subjects was Dr. Thomas Sterhng, who worked at the 
Goddard Space FHght Center, just outside of Washington, D.C. In 
his conversation with SterHng, Young first gHmpsed the wide variety 
of reasons for the success of free software. One of SterHng's employ- 
ees, Don Becker, was writing Ethernet drivers that he licensed freely. 
Becker thought free software was "altruism" and thought himself 
part of the "altruism economy." But Sterling had a different view. As 
Young recounted the conversation to me, "Sterling said, 'Well, yeah, 
Don likes to think that way. But the reality is he's writing these driv- 
ers on Goddard time, and I'm the one who's writing his paycheck.' " 
In Sterling's view, the story was simple: this was part of a barter 
economy. "He was giving away something of relatively small value, 
/it\ and receiving back something of much greater value." /*\ 

Young's a pragmatist. He's skeptical of accounts that rely upon a 
mysterious spirit. Free software came, he told me, not from a "com- 
munity." "As far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as a com- 
munity. It's simply a bunch of people with a common interest." That 
"bunch of people" represented the "full range of humanity." But it 
had one thing in common: "a desire to see open-source software 
succeed." And that desire led members of this "bunch" to accept 
the idea of a commercial entity leveraging this sharing economy. 

As Young became convinced that free software wasn't just a fad 
and, more important, that its success didn't depend upon reviving 
Lenin, he began to look for a way to build a Linux business. "I was 
looking for a product because I knew that given the growth of inter- 
est in Linux, it was going to end up in CompUSA I didn't want 

CompUSA as a competitor. I'd rather have them as a customer. So I 
was looking for products that I could get an exclusive on." 


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Young found a young entrepreneur to partner with named 
Marc Ewing. Ewing had for a time been developing a software tool 
to run on Linux. But after months of frustrating development, he 
concluded that what the world really needed was a better version 
of Linux. He therefore started to build that better version, which 
he would eventually name Red Hat Linux. Young heard about 
Ewing's software and contacted him. He offered to buy ninety 
days' supply of his beta, about three hundred copies. "There was 
dead silence at the other end of the phone," Young recounted to me. 
"I finally got out of Marc that he was only thinking of manufactur- 
ing three hundred copies. It was a match made in heaven." Red Hat 
Inc., was born, a paradigmatic example of what I call the hybrid. 

Red Hat's success, in Young's view at least, came from something 
that seems so obvious in retrospect that it's puzzling more didn't 
/it\ try the same thing: that this free-software company actually made /*\ 

its software open-source. Other Linux distributions tried to mix 
open-source components with proprietary components. That was, 
for example, Caldera's strategy. But Young understood that the only 
way Red Hat could compete with Microsoft or Sun Microsystems 
was by giving its customers something more than what Microsoft or 
Sun could give them — namely, complete access to the code. 

Young saw this point early on. He described a conversation with 
some engineers from Southwestern Bell at a conference at Duke. 
Young was surprised to learn that they were using Linux to run 
the central switching station for Southwestern Bell. He asked why. 
Their response, as Young recounts it, is quite revealing: 

Our problem is we have no choice. If we use Sun OS or NT and 
something goes wrong, we have to wait around for months for 
Sun or Microsoft to get around to fixing it for us. If we use Linux, 


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182 REMIX 

we get to fix it ourselves if it's truly urgent. And so we can fix it on 
our schedule, not the schedule of some arbitrary supplier. 

The key was to sell "benefits" and not "features." And here the ben- 
efit was a kind of access that no other dominant software company 
could provide. 

Red Hat is thus a "hybrid." Young was not in it to make the 
world a better place, though knowing the man, I know he's quite 
happy to make the world a better place. Young was in it for the 
money. But the only way Red Hat was going to succeed was if 
thousands continued to contribute — for free — to the development 
of the GNU/Linux operating system. He and his company were 
going to leverage value out of that system. But they would succeed 
only if those voluntarily contributing to the underlying code con- 
/it\ tinned to contribute. /*\ 

One might well imagine that when a for-profit company like 
Red Hat comes along and tries to leverage great value out of the 
free work of the free-software movement, some might raise "the 
justice question." Putting aside Marc Ewing (who had great coder 
cred), who was Robert Young to make money out of Linux? Why 
should the free-software coders continue to work for him (even if 
only indirectly, since anyone else was free to take the work as well)? 
What did the (in Young's mind at least) proto-Marxist Stallman 
think about the exploitation of this work? "What about," one might 
imagine the question being asked, "the worker coder? " 

Yet what's most interesting about this period in the early life of 
the hybrid is that there were bigger issues confronting the move- 
ment than whether a Canadian should be allowed to risk an 
investment on a Linux start-up. The bigger issue was a general 
recognition that free software would go nowhere unless companies 


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began to support it. Thus, while there was whining on the side- 
hnes, there was no campaign by the founders of key free software 
to stop these emerging hybrids. So long as the work was not turned 
proprietary — so long as the code remained "'free' in the sense of 
freedom"^ — neither Stallman nor Linus Torvalds was going to 
object. This was the only way to make sure an ecology of free soft- 
ware could be supported. It was an effective way to spread free 
software everywhere. And indeed, the freedom to make money 
using the code was as much a "freedom" as anything was. If there 
were people who objected strongly to this form of "exploitation," 
then, as Apache cofounder Brian Behlendorf described to me, 
they "probably were disinclined from contributing to open source 
in the first place. They might have kept themselves out of the 
market and not spent their volunteer time or their hobbyist time 
^ writing code."-* ^ 

And thus Red Hat (and then LinuxForce [1995], CodeWeavers 
[1996], TimeSys Corp. [1996], Linuxcare [1998], Mandriva [1998], 
LinuxOne [1998], Bluepoint Linux Software Corp. [1999], Progeny 
Linux Systems Inc. [1999], MontaVista Software [1999], Win4Lin 
[2000], Linspire [2001], and Xandros [2001], to name a few) was 
born. An ecology of commercial entities designed to leverage value 
out of a sharing economy. The birth of the most important Internet 

Now, as Red Hat demonstrates, there is a delicate balance to be 
struck between the commercial entity and the sharing economy. 
Red Hat succeeded in maintaining the loyalty of the community 
because of how it behaved. It respected the terms of the license; it 
supported development that others could build upon; indeed, as 
Young estimates, at one point more than 50 percent of the core ker- 
nel development team worked for Red Hat,' and both Red Hat and 


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184 REMIX 

VA Linux Systems gave stock options to Linus Torvalds.*^ Many 
from the GNU/Linux community helped Red Hat understand 
what appropriate behavior was, and the company took great steps 
to make sure its behavior was appropriate. A key element to a suc- 
cessful hybrid is understanding the community and its norms. And 
the most successful in this class will be those that best leverage those 
norms by translating fidelity to the norms into hard work. 

Perhaps the most interesting recent example of this model is a 
company called Canonical Ltd., a commercial entity supporting 
another brand of GNU/Linux called Ubuntu Linux. Launched 
in 2004 by the entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu aims to 
become "the most widely used Linux system." Its focus initially has 
been really really easy desktop distributions. (I've experimented 
with a number of Linux installations. This one was by far the easi- 
/it\ est.) The company hopes that the ease and quality of its distribution /*\ 

(not to mention its price) will drive many more individual computer 
users to use Ubuntu Linux. 

Canonical aims to profit from the community-driven and 
community-developed Ubuntu. Its vision is inspired by Shuttle- 
worth, who says he has been "fascinated by this phenomenon of 
collaboration around a common digital good with strong revision 
control."' That collaboration is done through a community. Canon- 
ical intends to "differentiate ourselves by having the best commu- 
nity. Being the easiest to work with, being the group where sensible 
things happen first and happen fastest." "Community," Shuttle- 
worth said to me, "is the absolute essence of what we do." "Thousands" 
now collaborate in the Canonical project. 

To make this collaboration work, as Shuttleworth describes, 
at least three things must be true about the community. First, 
you must give the community "respect." Second, you must give 


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"responsibility" — actually give the community the authority you 
claim it has. "If you're not willing to respect the fact that you've 
offered people the opportunity to get invested, and take a leader- 
ship position . . . there's no way that's going to grow a strong team." 

Third, and maybe ultimately the most important: you have to 
"give people a sense of being part of something that has mean- 
ing." This the free-software community can give away easily. Con- 
tributors to this community "feel they're being part of something 

that's big and important and beautiful They feel like they get 

to focus on the things that they really want to focus on. And that's 

This is a common feature, Shuttleworth believes, across suc- 
cessful community-based projects. If you "look at Wikipedia," 
for example, "people genuinely feel like they're part of something: 
/it\ they're helping to build a repository of human knowledge, and /*\ 

that's an amazing thing. It's a full spectrum of motivation, just like 
you get the full spectrum of motivation in free software." 

Shuttleworth 's vision is different from Red Hat's. Remember, 
Young didn't believe in the "community" thing. Community is 
central to Ubuntu. But in this range of motivations, some tied to 
believing in something and some not, we can begin to get a sense 
of the interesting mix that the hybrid economy will produce. Diver- 
sity is its strength; it flourishes from the obscurity such diversity 

Beyond Free Software 

Free software is the paradigm hybrid, in which commercial enti- 
ties (Red Hat is just one) leverage value from a sharing economy. 


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186 REMIX 

But as with Wikipedia and the sharing economy, free software is 
obviously not the only hybrid. In this section, we will consider some 
other examples, and other flavors of this mix. 

I've kept this list long because my aim ultimately is to convince 
you of the diversity and significance of this category of enterprise. 
But I've divided the examples into categories. Some hybrids build 
community spaces, some hybrids build collaborations, and some 
hybrids build communities. Consider each in turn. 

Type 1: Community Spaces 

From the very beginning of the Internet, its technologies have been 
used to build community spaces — virtual places where people 
interact, sharing information or interests. The people interacting 
/it\ do so for sharing-economy reasons: the terms under which they /*\ 

interact are commerce free, though the motivations for interacting 
may or may not tie to commerce. 

Few have been able to translate these spaces into successful com- 
mercial ventures. Many are trying. The effort and the successes are 
examples of one kind of hybrid. 


Let's begin modestly with a hybrid that doesn't try to change the 
world, but has changed substantially how easily people can connect 
about their intense relationships (not to say "obsessions") with dogs. 
Dogster, as the Web site explains, is built by "dog freaks and com- 
puter geeks who wanted a canine sharing application that's truly 
gone to the dogs." Since its launch in January 2004, it has become 
the fastest-growing pet destination on the Internet, in 2007 "serving 
over 1.5 million photos for over 300,000 uploaded pets by 260,000 


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members; Dogster and Catster serve more than 17 million pages 
a month to over half a million visitors." The site offers "forums, 
classifieds, diaries, treats, private messaging. Gimme Some Paw, 
DogsterPlus, photo tagging, themed strolls, pet-friendly travel and 
pet-personality matrix." The site is designed to make this commu- 
nity space the dominant pet center on the Net. 

Dogster doesn't do this for free. The community space supports 
itself through advertisement. Given the size of the community, the 
revenue is likely to be close to $275,000 a year.* But that revenue 
means "a couple of handfuls of people can be employed by that 
site." And because it can fund itself like this, the site "will touch a 
lot more people."' The site thus leverages the community of passion 
and conversation that surrounds pets to produce revenue that sup- 
ports the site. A hybrid. 

craigslist: "Like, Peace, Man" 

The bread and butter of most local newspapers is advertising. The 
most lucrative of this advertising are classifieds. According to one 
estimate, "U.S. newspapers derive 37% of their total advertising 
income from classifieds."^" For major papers, the number is even 
higher: "Revenues from classified ads account for around 43% of 
total advertising revenues from major papers and over a third of 
total revenues."" 

In 1995, Craig Newmark launched a service that would change 
all that, craigslist was offered first as a community site just in San 
Francisco, enabling people to post free ads for everything from 
home rentals to offers for the erotic. The site grew. Fast. It incorpo- 
rated in 1999 and then expanded into nine U.S. cities in 2000, four 
more in 2001 and 2002, another fourteen in 2003. By the end of 
2006, there was a craigslist in more than four hundred cities around 


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188 REMIX 

the world/^ and overall page view growth was 195 percent that 
year. Today, it is the ninth-most-visited site in the United States 
and managed largely by Jim Buckmaster." 

But though the site has spread broadly, in critical ways the site 
has never really changed. Its design is extremely simple, almost 
retro now. There are no fancy graphics, no Flash introduction. 
When you navigate to craigslist, you're presented with a screen of 
blue text, each a link to a category holding the stuff that you might 
want. On the URL bar in your browser, the icon for the site is a 
peace sign. 

Newmark originally launched his site "as a community ser- 
vice." Its success, at least so he believes, comes from the fact that 
"people can see that we actually do [provide a community service] 
and follow up on that."'"* The follow-up is in form as well as sub- 
/it\ stance. Again, the simplicity of the site speaks volumes. Users are /*\ 

reminded of an earlier, noncommercial Internet. That simplicity 
stands in sharp contrast to the molasseslike sophistication of most 
of the rest of the commercial Web. 

Second, "99 percent of the site's content is free."^^ This "free" 
reinforces the sense that people are exchanging information, or 
"bartering" information, in something other than a commercial 
economy, craigslist enables them to "share" information — wants or 
needs — as members of the craigslist community. 

Third, craigslist reinforces that sense of community by shifting 
to the users a certain responsibility. The power to judge what con- 
tent survives on craigslist is vested first in the community. As New- 
mark described it to me, "We're saying, 'Hey, if you see something 
that's wrong, you can flag it, and if other people agree with you, 
it's removed automatically.' People respond real positively to being 


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But fourth, and most interesting for understanding this hybrid, 
not everything on craigshst is free. While the site has clearly 
signaled — and said, again and again — that, as Craig Newmark 
told me, "we're not out to make lots of money," two classes of ads — 
ads for jobs in eleven cities and apartments in New York City — are 
not offered for free.^'' From this income, the balance of the site is 
supported, and its founders profit. 

The community thus does not demand a commerce-free zone. 
It does not require that its founders remain poor. At least so long as 
the demand remains modest, the community stays. And it stays even 
though the revenue to craigslist is quite substantial — "estimated at 
more than $20 million per year, with very healthy margins for this 
tiny private company ."^^ 

Whether this "community site" really feels like a community is 

/it\ partially revealed by the sorts of things people think it is appropri- /*\ 

ate to do, or talk about, on craigslist. Some of those things I can't 

repeat in a book like this. But some plainly do signal something 

important about the sense people have of the craigslist community. 

Take for example the site's response to the Katrina disas- 
ter. Immediately after Katrina hit, the users of the New Orleans 
craigslist took it over, in effect, and directed its attention to helping 
victims of Katrina cope with the disaster. As Newmark told me, 
"Survivors announced where they relocated to. Friends and fam- 
ily asked people, 'Hey, have you seen so and so?' And then later, 
well actually, pretty soon, people started offering housing to survi- 
vors. A couple days later, people started offering jobs to survivors." 
Three days after Katrina hit New Orleans, 

craigslist's New Orleans page featured more than 2,500 offers 
from around the country for free housing for hurricane victims, 


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190 REMIX 

ranging from "Start a new life in South Carolina" to "Comfy 
couch in spacious NYC apartment." . . . Never before has the Inter- 
net played such a vital role in filling the information void follow- 
ing a natural disaster.^* 

As the San Francisco Chronicle recounted: 

The message is short. So short it would fit on a postcard. It lin- 
gers in cyberspace waiting for a response. "Family of 4 willing, 
wanting to help. Can drive to get you. Stay as long as you need to 
here in Albuquerque. God bless you. We care. Howard and Lisa 
Neil." It is one of more than 2,000 classified advertisements — and 
counting — posted on craigslist, a network of online urban com- 
munities, offering free, temporary housing to people who have 

/itN lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina The listing can be found /*\ 

under a new category on the Web site — Katrina Relief — that also 
includes listings for relief resources, missing people, temporary 
jobs, missing pets, transportation and volunteers.^' 

The point in recounting this story is not so much to praise 
craigslist (as if it needed more praise). It is instead to highlight what 
may already be obvious: craigslist's standing as a "sharing economy" 
was reflected in the fact that it was clear to everyone that that was 
the place to go to help survivors from Katrina. There were no doubt 
sites with a bigger presence. Wikipedia has more hits each day 
than craigslist. But the meaning of Wikipedia is not activism, it is 
knowledge. Yahoo ! and Google both have a presence much bigger 
than craigslist or Wikipedia. But it would have been hard to gen- 
erate the feeling that this was a community response by tying the 
activity to those commercial giants. And there's no need to waste 


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time explaining why people didn't use the government's Web sites 
to work this good, so pathetic is the government as an inspiration 
for community. We see how the community understands craigslist 
by watching how the community uses craigslist. And when emer- 
gency help was needed, the obvious response was this simple site of 
community messages. 

Of course, craigslist was not the only Internet response to 
Katrina. Neither was it the most important. David Geilhufe's 
PeopleFinder Project probably earns that title; it was built exclu- 
sively by volunteers in an extraordinary demonstration of a sharing 
economy that ultimately hosted more than 1 million Katrina-related 
searches in the "immediate aftermath of the hurricane."^" But Geil- 
hufe's success is not a complaint about craigslist. The significance 
of craigslist was that it was the place to start. Its karma made this 
/it\ commercial entity enough of a community site so that it made sense /*\ 

to use it to help the victims of America's most devastating natural 
(and then governmental) disaster. 

It's impossible to say how long craigslist can keep this karma. 
Knowing Newmark, I'd bet forever. But institutions change. And 
sometimes, institutions change people. The importance for our pur- 
poses, however, is simply to suss out what makes the sharing salient 
in this commercial entity. Newmark's is the hybrid to envy. His 
intuition of how best to maintain this community is pure gold. 


In the early 2000s, Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake decided 
they wanted to build a multiplayer game called Game Neverending. 
They failed. Flickr was the result of their failure (would that we all 
could "fail" so well). Realizing the code they had built would make 
a great photo-sharing site, they launched the site in February 2004. 


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By September the site had over sixty thousand registered users. 
Six months later, that number topped four hundred thousand. In 
December 2006, five million users were registered at Flickr.^^ 

Theirs wasn't the first site to enable people to post pictures to 
the Internet. In 1999, Lisa Gansky and Kamran Mohsenin started 
Ofoto, an online photography service. Ofoto was acquired by 
Kodak in 2001. Kodak spent millions building Ofoto. But Kodak's 
site was crassly commercial. Everything was about buying pho- 
tographs, or buying albums, or buying T-shirts with your photo- 
graphs on them. The site encouraged community in just the sense 
that a Kodak store at the mall encouraged community. 

This failure at Ofoto wasn't for a lack of trying. I knew some of 
the team at that Berkeley start-up. They got it. They worked hard 
to make Ofoto what it should be. But what it should be was resisted 
/it\ by the powers at Kodak. Kodak didn't get community, even if its /*\ 

marketing department was good at producing sappy commercials 
that celebrated it. 

Flickr was different. From day one, the aim was not to facili- 
tate commerce. The aim was instead to build a community. People 
could easily share their photographs and get feedback from other 
photographers and friends. This is what distinguished the site from 
others. As Stewart Butterfield told me, at the time Flickr launched, 
"there really wasn't a concept of public photos."^^ Flickr changed 
that. In the beginning "80 percent of the photos [were] public." 
That meant that "there was a much bigger audience for the photos 
that were on Flickr." 

One way Flickr signaled the freedom to share was by explicitly 
incorporating tags that enabled people to say, "You're free to share 
this work." Those tags came in the form of Creative Commons 
licenses. (We'll see more about Creative Commons in chapter 10.) 


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They signaled that Fhckr's lack of control over intellectual property 
was explicit: the users owned the IP. They were free to license as 
they wished. Flickr was keen to encourage the idea that it licensed 
to enable people to share. 

This focus on sharing helped build a certain kind of community. 
Flickr quickly became part of the identity of Flickr users. As But- 
terfield put it, "Netflix is an example of where I get the value out of 
other people's recommendations . . . but it's not part of my identity 
that I'm a Netflix user. [But] Flickr users actually have meet-ups 
in Tehran and Kuala Lumpur and Manchester." And community 
members do more than simply use the space that is provided for 
them. In a metaphorical sense, they pick up the trash. One of the 
keys to Flickr's success was the fact that its members constantly 
policed the site against porn. Members can flag a photo as inappro- 
/it\ priate. Pornography is quickly moved off the site. The same with /*\ 

reviews. As Butterfield told me, "People aren't writing reviews just 
because they happen to like writing reviews." They do it instead 
because they feel part of a community. 

In March 2005 Flickr was acquired by Yahoo!. Its founders con- 
tinued to work for the company. Characterizing their job, Butterfield 
told me, "In some sense we're trustees or custodians . . . like a land 
trust that buys up wetlands." For obviously, Yahoo! didn't buy Flickr 
as a way to subsidize the sharing economy. Flickr instead was to be 
a model for the hybrid that Yahoo! intends to be. Yahoo! intends to 
profit from this community of photo collaboration. So far, however, 
the company has been modest in its aspirations. Most revenue to 
Flickr comes from Flickr memberships — which give users "unlim- 
ited storage, unlimited uploads, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited sets, 
personal archiving of high-resolution original images, ad-free brows- 
ing and sharing." Some revenue comes from partnerships with sites 


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that offer prints of Flickr photos. But so far the company leaves mil- 
Hons on the table. Butterfield recognizes this: "We have well over a 
billion page views a month now. That's one of the biggest sites on the 
Internet. And if we just went for the maximum amount of graphi- 
cal advertising... we'd make a lot more money." But, as apparently 
Yahoo! also recognizes, "it just wouldn't last for very long." Respect- 
ing the norms it understands its community to carry, Yahoo! thus 
continues to let the community live like a sharing economy, with small 
but increasingly significant efforts to leverage something on top. 


In 2005, three early PayPal employees — Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, 
and Jawed Karim — started building a video-sharing service for the 
Internet. They weren't the first. But they architected the best. Steve 
/it\ Chen told me, "The sort of initial acceleration for our growth came /*\ 

from the technology. We did some things right — namely, choosing 
Flash video as a delivery platform so you didn't have to download 
anything. The video just plays in the browser."^^ By using Flash as 
the video format, they guaranteed that anyone with a (modern) 
Web browser could view the videos. (As Chen told me: "I always 
thought about the grandmother in the Midwest, if she came to a 
video site.") Very quickly the service grew. Indeed, by the sum- 
mer of 2006, YouTube was the world's fastest-growing Web site. 
Nielsen/NetRatings estimated traffic was growing 75 percent per 
week in July 2006. One hundred million clips were viewed daily; 
sixty-five thousand were uploaded every hour. Users spent twenty- 
eight minutes per visit on the site. In the United Kingdom the site 
quickly became the largest online video market.^"* In 2007, YouTube 
was bought by Google — for a reported $1.65 billion. 

So this success came first from great code. But technology was not 


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everything. The balance was, as Chen put it to me, "the com- 
munity . . . the people's relationship, their tie, to user-generated 
content on YouTube." This value came directly from the 
community. YouTube users select the content to be added. They 
make the content that gets added. Some of YouTube's content is 
copyrighted material that the copyright owner didn't upload. 
But if the top hundred videos is any indication, most of the most 
popular of YouTube's content comes from users creating content 
that they then upload to YouTube's site. The site has become a 
bizarre mix of the most bizarre video content. It has launched 
some stars, and some fanatics. (Wikipedia lists more than sixty 
YouTube creators who have become Internet phenomena on the 
basis of their appearance in YouTube videos.)2s No 
site — ever — has more quickly become central to popular culture. 
/it\ So why do people do it? What do they expect to gain from /*\ 

working so hard to make a couple of Stanford dropouts rich? Most, 
following Dan Bricklin's insight, contribute as a by- product to 
getting what they want — a simple, cheap, and effective way to 
spread their video. YouTube, and the other video- sharing sites, 
provides a service that even three years ago seemed unimaginably di- 
fficult: a network location that would deliver anyone's video for free. 
But some do much more than simply consume content. As 
with craigslist, the community of YouTube users helps police the 
YouTube content. Inappropriate content gets fl agged. Content 
violating the rules gets reported. Like neighbors in a well- kept 
community, the users clean up after one another and take pride in 
the place they've helped build. The result is a space that is addict- 
ive as well as amazing. Its biggest draw, founder Chen told me, is 

just the content itself. We see on our top-viewed pages some of this 
content from [professional sites] versus some of this content from 


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196 REMIX 

user generated. They're just married together, sitting side by side 
on all these "top browsed" lists. But some of this stuff was created 
with $500 of editing equipment and a lot of time spent on it ver- 
sus, on the other end of the spectrum, probably millions of dollars 
to create this fifteen-second commercial. 

"The very nature of UGC [user-generated content] video sites, 
as well as their potential for financial success and sustainability, 
relies on the effective leveraging of Internet-based social network- 
ing activities. In other words, the content must be shared in order to 
represent value."^'' 

Type 2: Collaboration Spaces 

/it\ A collaboration space is different from a community space like /*\ 

Flickr or YouTube. Those participating in a collaboration space 
think their work is different. Or more accurately, at least some 
(significant portion) of those on a collaboration space believe they 
are there to build something together. The community is visible. 
It's the focus of the work. And the product of the participation is 
intended to be more valuable than the material they found when 
they came. 

This collaboration can come in many forms. Consider a range 
of examples. 


Declan McCullagh is a journalist. He began his career covering and 
protesting Internet censorship. In 1994, while a student at Carnegie 
Mellon in Pittsburgh, McCullagh began organizing against efforts 


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by CMU to "remove any Usenet newsgroup that had the word 'sex' 
or 'erotica' in the title."^^ That organizing took the form of an e-mail 
maihng hst, Fight Censorship. The maihng Hst had two channels. 
One was an announce list, which McCullagh published to, posting 
information about the fight against censorship. The second was a 
discussion list, on which individuals receiving the e-mail could also 
post comments or replies to what they received. The traffic from 
the second list was often overwhelming. That led most to stay on 
the announce list only. 

Fight Censorship was soon renamed Politech, and its focus 
broadened to include the "growing intersection of law, culture, 
technology, politics, and law."^^ In the terms that I've used, Politech 
is a sharing economy. At least those in discussion space speak out 
and/or listen, constituting a community of common interest and, 
/it\ sometimes, common action. (I criticized [mildly] McCullagh in /*\ 

my first book; the flames I got from McCullagh 's community were 
anything but mild.) The community in this sense is like hundreds 
of thousands that live in discussion spaces everywhere. Yahoo! has 
over 2,083,698 such groups.^' So too does Google. McCullagh's is 
much smaller than those, but for a private (noncommercial) site, it 
is quite impressive: the list started with a couple hundred readers. It 
now boasts more than ten thousand subscribers. 

But McCullagh has transformed this sharing economy into 
a hybrid. For in the time since CMU, he has become a profes- 
sional journalist. His journalism is within the scope of the interests 
of Politech. Neither aggressively nor inappropriately, McCullagh 
uses the community he has built to better his journalism. As he 
explained to me: "Intentionally, I tried to create a community. I 
never really thought much about where it would end up. But I did 


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198 REMIX 

do things like that [from the start]." The reasons are not hard for a 
journalist to identify with. Said McCullagh, 

This is a problem for journalists. .. because people read our arti- 
cles but we don't really have a community to talk to. We just get 
nastygrams from people who hate us, and we get nice notes from 
people who like us. But the process of being able to develop an 
article idea with some community input is very valuable. So you 
can throw out sort of half-baked ideas on a mailing list, and then 
hone those into something that you can get paid to write a few 
days later. 

When he was hired recently by CNET, he and his new employer 
agreed that he would get to keep his community and to feed it in 
/it\ the way its members had come to expect. Nothing confidential /*\ 

would be shared, but the community could be drawn upon to help 
this journalist produce good work. 

And not just good work. Politech members gather for dinners 
in big cities. McCullagh connects with them as he travels. The site 
thus spawned a community — and not just one community. As 
McCullagh told me as we ended our interview, "Oh, I should say: I 
met my wife through the list." 


Slashdot began in September 1997 as a Web site covering technology- 
related news. Its angle, however, was a technology that enabled 
users to both comment upon the articles that got referenced, and 
comment upon the comments. The consequence of the second set 
of comments would be to filter out comments not thought useful. 
That meant the site could self-edit, and hence present to any reader 


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a high-quality pubhc debate about issues important to the technol- 
ogy community. 

Today there are more than a quarter million people collaborat- 
ing in just this way on Slashdot.^" Their work — work they don't 
get paid for, don't even get frequent-flier miles for — produced a site 
worth millions of dollars. In 1999, Slashdot was sold to Andover 
.net, and ads were added to the layout. So readers edit, and readers 
and then profit. 

Collaboration here winnows a potentially endless array of com- 
ments to a relative few that people reading the site would or should 
want to see. The site adds a kind of collaborative editing to a news 
page that is RW to the tradition of RO news. This collaboration 
produces a high-quality RW site. Editing is value. This value is 
produced for free. 

No doubt the industry that has squealed the most (think stuck 
pig) about the Internet is the traditional recording industry. As 
I've described, the Net competed (whether legally or not) with its 
model for profiting from music. It fought hard to limit that compe- 
tition. But not all in the music business have fought the Net. Some 
have tried to build upon its design, to enable collaboration among 
music fans. One great example of this technique is the site (recently 
acquired by CBS) called's objective was to find a way to map user preferences 
for music into an engine that might recommend music more intel- 
ligently. Many have tried this. But does it by a unique mix 
of community and technology. The technology watches what you 
listen to, "scrobbling" (meaning sending the name of the song 
you're listening to) to an engine that then learns more about you 


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200 REMIX 

(and people like you). That engine then enables individuals to be 
linked with others. But not just anonymously. Instead, the technol- 
ogy helps individuals link their own user pages with others, both 
friends and those within their musical "neighborhood." 

As Japanese venture capitalist (and investor) Joi Ito 
described it to me. 

The community originally was, and may still be, revolv- 
ing around the cleaning up of the data. So if you have titles of 
songs that are misspelled, or if you have an artist whose name is 
written differently in Japanese, there's a whole community of peo- 
ple who go in and fix those ambiguities and fix the data. 

The contributions, however, are now much wider than some form 
/it\ of community editing. "There's also a community around each of /*\ 

the bands where people talk There are discussion groups and 

people are contributing information. And by listening to a lot of the 
music, the users are creating profiles." 

Thus, simply by listening to music, members "generate value 
for the community." Listening becomes a kind of advertising. Each 
song you listen to gets tagged as a song you listened to. It advertises 
the song. It cues others to your interest. But this advertising is sim- 
ply conversation. Again, Ito: "What we're currently doing in terms 
of so-called advertising is really part of the conversation." Volun- 
teers converse. The product is a value to the company. 


In an increasingly remote region of cyberspace called Usenet, a 
fanatically committed group of volunteers works to help people 
they've never met with computer problems. These problems might 


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be simple. Some are quite complex. Yet these volunteers spend 
many hours helping these lost cybersouls find digital salvation. In 
the particular space to which I am referring, there are over 2 mil- 
lion contributors a year, with over forty thousand making more 
than thirty-six contributions each per year, and about eight hun- 
dred making contributions just about all the time. 

The striking thing about this story is not that there are people 
helping other people. Nor is it that the people are helping people 
they're never going to meet. It is instead that all this pro bono effort 
is devoted to a very peculiar end: that of making Microsoft's cus- 
tomers happier. For these volunteers live within Microsoft support 
"newsgroups." They're not paid by Microsoft. The vast majority 
are not even recognized by Microsoft. But they all work (and some 
work quite hard) to make Microsoft richer by solving its customers' 
^ problems. ^ 

Microsoft knows this. In one of two buildings devoted to research, 
the chief of Microsoft's Community Technologies Group, Marc 
Smith, leads a team carefully studying the behavior within these 
groups. The company has developed elaborate technologies to mea- 
sure the "health" of these and other virtual communities, asking, 
for example: Is there enough balance to the contributions? and Are 
the contributors constructive or smothering? It is constantly reflect- 
ing upon the husbandry necessary to make these communities work 
better. Researchers study the interaction. They watch the pattern of 
communication. They try to learn what forms of interaction work. 

The problem isn't easy. There are scores of variables to consider. 
But the one variable that remains completely absent is money. Not 
because Microsoft is too poor to pay its help. Or because the commu- 
nity is not creating important value for Microsoft. Money is absent 
because Smith doesn't believe that "cash exchange for community 


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support" helps. "There are numerous social benefits that amply 
incentivize contributions to communities," Smith explains. Money 
isn't one. Indeed, for the reasons we've discussed, money would 
probably hurt. 

This is Microsoft building a hybrid economy. Volunteers living 
within what was once a pure sharing economy — Usenet — devote 
extraordinary time and effort to helping Microsoft users better use 
Microsoft products. Microsoft is not passive about this sharing. It 
cultivates it. It spends real resources to understand how to make it 
work for it, better. But the product is a network-based community 
collaborating to make it easier to use Microsoft products. 

Yahoo! Answers 

Usenet is not the only forum for sharing information. Increasingly 
/it\ companies are building "answer sites" to encourage a wide range /*\ 

of questions that will encourage a rich and diverse community. In 
December 2005 Yahoo! followed the Usenet lead and launched a 
service called Yahoo! Answers. 

The basic idea was simple enough: Millions of volunteers would 
spend their free time answering other people's questions, for free. If mil- 
lions did this long enough, and reliably enough, Yahoo ! would profit 
from it. Yahoo ! 's aim was to become the hub of community-based 
activity on the Web. The hottest answer site would be an important 
part of that hub. As described to me by Yahoo ! founder Jerry Yang, 

We've been at it for about a year and there are 75 million people 
a month participating either asking questions, answering questions, 
and looking up answers. You know, some of it is silly, "Why is 
the sky blue?" Others are very technical questions or very special- 
ized questions around taxes or profession. A lot of people saying, 


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"I can't get my Mac to work. What do I do?" And all of a sudden, 
you have this very natural human interaction of "I have a question 
and somebody out there must have an answer for this." But you 
bring it on the Web and then you have a global community.^^ 

As of April 14, 2008, the site contains 35,411,866 questions and 
35,411,851 answers.^2 

Again, why would anybody want to help Yahoo ! like this ? We've 
seen the answer before. They don't do it to help Yahoo!. Some like 
to show others how smart they are. Some like to help. "Because they 
like to" is explanation enough for why people offer their expertise. 

Yahoo ! adds to these incentives, not with money, but by offering 
a point system to users. Users get one hundred points when they 
open an account. They get two points for every answer given, one 
/it\ point for every vote on an unresolved question, and ten points if /*\ 

their answer is selected as best. To ask a question costs five points. If 
you delete an answer you posted, you lose the two points you got by 
posting it, and you lose ten points if a question or answer is deemed 
to violate the terms of service. ^^ 

But, as with Microsoft, money is not part of the equation. The 
incentives from a gamelike structure are enough; adding money 
would make this seem more like work. For the users, it isn't meant 
to be work. Again, Yang: "I'm not sure we'll just do, 'Hey, you 
know what, if you answer a lot of questions, you'll get paid.' I think 
there is this fine balance between paying people versus people feel- 
ing like there's a noncommercial motive." 


Wikipedia, as I described in the previous chapter, is a sharing econ- 
omy. It has sworn off advertising as a way to raise money. This is no 


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idle resolve: as I've already mentioned, based on the traffic Wikipe- 
dia garners, it could earn over $100 million a year if it added adver- 
tising to its site. Such is the opportunity of top ten Internet portals. 

Wikia, another wiki site, was launched by Wikipedia founder 
Jimmy Wales. Its aim is not to build an encyclopedia. Rather, its 
aim is to be a "platform for developing and hosting community- 
based wikis. Specifically, Wikia enables groups to share informa- 
tion, news, stories, media and opinions that fall outside the scope 

of an encyclopedia Wikia is committed to openness, inviting 

anyone to contribute web content."^'* The site is enjoying the Jimmy 
Wales magic. With eight hundred thousand articles, it is actually 
growing faster than Wikipedia was at a comparable period.^' 

The site is already a treasury of human culture. Fans of televi- 
sion shows detail facts about the shows. The Marvel Database Proj- 
/it\ ect hopes to become "the largest, most reliable, and most up-to-date /*\ 

encyclopedia about everything related to the Marvel/DC universe." 
Football (meaning soccer) fans can build upon the "football wikia" 
for all topics related to football. Foodies can contribute to discus- 
sions of food and recipes. All of this work — or better, this passion 
for these subjects — is offered for free. No one makes money on 

Except, of course, Wikia Inc. For unlike Wikipedia, Wikia does 
run ads. Unobtrusive, sometimes silly, but increasingly valuable for 
the site. Wikia offers its users a free platform to build a community. 
They do the building. That building is a complex process of col- 
laboration. Wikia gets the advertising revenue. 

This fact leads many to wonder how such a site can work. Don't 
the builders of these wikis realize that Wikia could grow rich off 
of their creative work? The answer is yes, they do, but that doesn't 
stop them from contributing. Just as a bowling alley does, Jimmy 


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Wales explains, Wikia provides a context in which people get to 
do what they want. Like a bowling alley, people are happy if they 
get to do something they enjoy. No one begrudges the owner of a 
bowling alley his profit. Wales believes no one will begrudge Wikia 
its profit. 

This is true, at least if certain other conditions remain true. 
There's got to be competition among wiki sites that allows users 
to move as they want. And Wikia supports this competition by 
enabling users to move the content of the wiki elsewhere if they 
begin to find the bowling alley no longer reflects their values. Wales 
imagines a Wiki user reasoning: 

"Look, we accept that you have ads because we know we need the 
infrastructure, but that's not giving you carte blanche to basically 
/itN slap way too much stuff all over the site." And so that tension and /*\ 

the fact that communities are empowered to actually leave — they 
can take all their content and leave if we're not making them 
happy — are really important. 

There's thus a social contract between the commercial and the shar- 
ing. Upon that contract, the value in Wikia gets built. 

Hybrid Hollywood 

Perhaps the most interesting emerging (if slowly) example of collab- 
orative hybrids comes from the least likely of sources: Hollywood. 
Increasingly, Hollywood is including the audience in the process of 
building, spreading, and remaking its product. That practice con- 
stitutes a kind of hybrid. 

The story is not always pretty. Progress has not always been 
smooth. Perhaps the best example of this struggle, producing in 


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the end real understanding, begins with a home-schooled fourteen- 
year-old named Heather Lawver. 

In January 2000 Lawver started an online newspaper called 
The Daily Prophet. This was not a religious paper. It was instead 
an effort to explain and extend the story given to her generation 
by the extraordinary author J. K. Rowling. Every day for months, 
Heather would collect articles written by kids around the world 
about the Harry Potter saga. She would edit them and then publish 
them online. 

As Henry Jenkins, perhaps the world's leading scholar on the 
emerging RW creativity of the Net, notes, "Rowling and Scholastic, 
her publisher, had initially signaled their support for fan writers, 
stressing that storytelling encouraged kids to expand their imagi- 
nations and empowered them to find their voices as writers."^'' 
/it\ In 2003 Rowling welcomed "the huge interest that her fans have /*\ 

in the series and the fact that it has led them to try their hand at 

But the instincts of a brilliant writer are not always the instincts 
of a media company. As Rowling's success migrated from the 
printed page to a major Hollywood media company, Warner, the 
"control" over what was now Warner's "property" shifted from 
a storyteller to a pack of lawyers. As Marc Brandon, the twenty- 
something Net-head Warner eventually brought in to deal with the 
problem they were about to create, explained, "Warner Bros, at the 
time . . .had never dealt with something the scale of a Harry Potter. 
Certainly not online."^^ So the company dealt with the Harry Pot- 
ter questions in the way they had dealt with IP issues on the Inter- 
net. As Jenkins describes: "The studio had a long-standing practice 
of seeking out Web sites whose domain names used copyrighted 


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or trademarked phrases Warner felt it had a legal obligation to 

police sites that emerged around their properties. "^^ 

"Police" in this context means firing off angry letters written 
by entry-level lawyers who always wanted a gun, but instead were 
issued IBM Thinkpads. 

Lawver learned of these threats in December 2000. They trans- 
formed her into an activist. (Why? I asked her. "I think it just kind 
of came from a common sense point of view, and, also ... I grew 
up in a household with three brothers, and they were all Weird Al 
fans. And so I was really familiar with his various battles against 
other artists.")'"' Two months later, she had organized a boycott of 
Harry Potter products. On February 22, 2001, the "Potter Wars" 
began. ''^ 

Lawver was the commander in chief. The teen debated Warner 
/it\ Bros, representatives on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews. "^^ /*\ 

Newspapers around the world started picking up on the fight.**^ 
"We weren't disorganized little kids anymore. We had a public fol- 
lowing and we had a petition with 1500 signatures in a matter of 
two weeks. They finally had to negotiate with us."'''* 

Lawver's campaign of course leveraged the Net. Warner quickly 
became savvy in its strategy of intimidation. It avoided threatening 
Lawver directly; it hoped to avoid her following generally. But, as 
she told Jenkins, 

They attacked a whole bunch of kids in Poland They went 

after the 12 and 15 year olds with the rinky-dink sites. [But] 
they underestimated how interconnected our fandom was. They 
underestimated the fact that we knew those kids in Poland and 
we knew the rinky-dink sites and we cared about them.'*' 


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208 REMIX 

"If someone got threatened by Warner," she explained to me, 
"they could come to us. And it got to the point where Warner Bros. 
was so afraid of me and my partner, Alastair Alexander, that if we 
sent them an e-mail, most of the time the threatening would stop." 
And "the most important" part of the story, "regardless of any legal 
impact it had," was that after this battle, kids from around the world 
were fighting back. They were "fighting their own battles now, 
because they have the confidence to do what they can." 

This was the part of the story that I had heard about. It was the 
part, in my perverse yellow-iournalism sense, I wanted Lawver to tell 
me more about. But to my surprise, and (eventual) delight, Lawver 
was not so interested in trashing Warner. Her real interest was in 
making me understand a different, less-reported part of the story. 

For this was not simply a story of the big bad media company. 
/it\ It was also a story of a company coming to learn something about /*\ 

the digital age. As much as she was rightly proud of the movement 
that she had spearheaded, Lawver was also proud of the way she 
had helped Warner understand the twenty-first century. "We did 
a lot of educating," she told me, "regarding where fans are going to 
take a stand and how much crap we're going to take before we fight 
back." More important, she pushed Warner to understand that fans 
were not a burden. "Warner Bros, [came to] . . . realize that, 'Hey, 
these people are funding our franchise with their pocket money. 
We shouldn't scare the living daylights out of them.' " Fans were, 
she explained to me, "a part of your marketing budget that you 
don't have to pay for." 

Lawver's story was confirmed by Warner Bros. Marc Brandon, 
now a vice president at Warner, was the contact with whom Lawver 
worked. He saw the history much as she did. "There was a 'bet- 
ter safe than sorry' approach" taken at the start, Brandon told me. 


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"Why don't we do as we've always done with our trademarks, and 
pursue as much protection as is humanly possible?" The answer 
to this question was Lawver: she showed them why. And Brandon 
was quick to admit that "some mistakes were made." 

Very quickly, Brandon pushed Warner to "approach this from a 
practical point of view." He said, "There's a legal analysis that hap- 
pens, but that was less of the discussion that occurred when this 
came up. It was more about how we can allow the fans to enjoy 
Warner Bros, properties online while still continu[ing] on with 
our interest as a company and a content creator." 

The studio thus "went through an interesting learning process" 
about "how to interact productively with the fans." The "responses 
from the fan community," Brandon explained, "drove [Warner] to 
reexamine our approach. The process there was not, 'Well, let's sit 
/it\ down and look at the law and figure out what we need to do.' It was /*\ 

really more of a 'how do we deal with this practically?' " 

"Practically" meant deciding which kinds of uses Warner 
needed to control, and which kinds not. And that line was not 
strictly a commercial/noncommercial distinction. Porn and child 
exploitation were obviously out, whether commercial or not. But 
there was more. "Our main concern was taking the properties 
of the company and utilizing them for direct commercial activi- 
ties, such as creating consumer products based on [Harry Pot- 
ter properties] But there are other types of commercial uses 

that . . . we decided we could live with Some of those included 

banner advertising and affiliate programs." 

This was Lawver's understanding of a fair deal as well: 

Well, obviously, the line includes whether or not you're trying to 
make money off of the franchise that someone else owns. That's 


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210 REMIX 

the most important thing, because I do still respect Warner Bros.' 
right to say, "Hey, you can't make money off of something that 
we created and we own the rights to." So, that's one of the biggest 
things we always tell the kids is that you can't start a Harry Potter 
site and start confusing the fans and trying to get them to send 
you money. Making money off of it is an absolute no-no. 

But part of Lawyer's message to Warner was that the fans were 
where the money was. The consequence of (what the lawyers saw 
as) this "piracy" was, paradoxically, more money to the "victim." 
So while "making money off of [Warner]" was "an absolute no-no" 
for the fans, it was not a no-no for Warner. Indeed, it was the argu- 
ment advanced to Warner for why they should just lighten up. 

Warner's Brandon was not eager to frame it in just that way to 
/it\ me. He believed, as Lawver did, that "Warner Bros, has come to a /*\ 

place that is very positive and mutually beneficial for, not only the 
company, but the fan base as well." When I pushed him about the 
benefit that Warner got, however — when I characterized it as more 
profit to the company — he hesitated. 

I think that, as a by-product of that, you certainly get to a benefit 
to both the fan and the company, and I think that that's what's 
important to Warner Bros. It's not solely a commercial interest. 
It's not an approach of, "Well, let's use the fan so that we can make 
sure and make a lot of money." That's not the number one goal of 
the company. 

I let it go. But the hesitation was revealing. What else is Warner 
supposed to do, except "make a lot of money".'' Sure, it must do that in 


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a way that doesn't offend its authors or its audience. But that's to say, 
it should "make a lot of money" over the long run. The unwillingness 
even to acknowledge what at some level must be true reveals either 
a careful marketing sense or a discomfort with the future. Brandon 
had helped build a media hybrid. He hadn't yet come to terms with 
just what that would mean for the company. 

Warner had learned that being less restrictive with its intellec- 
tual property strengthened fans' loyalty to the brand and, hence, 
the return to its artists. Again, if that is true, then of course Warner 
should be less restrictive with its IP. And we all should be happy 
about this because (a) Warner's artists succeed more, and (b) IP 
rights will restrict less. Or more precisely, because (b) IP rights are 
not restricting in ways that limit the freedom of kids without any 
benefit to Warner artists. More freedom is good, especially when 
/it\ less freedom would help no one. /*\ 

People still resist this idea, however, by saying that there's some- 
thing unseemly in Warner "exploiting" kids. But I don't see it that 
way. Warner's "exploitation" consists in giving kids more freedom 
than they otherwise would have, under the rights that the law 
legitimately grants to Warner. Perhaps you have quibbles with 
how broadly the law grants Warner rights. That's a fair argument 
for Congress, but not a fair complaint against Warner. Warner is 
releasing rights given to it. Because of my (perhaps retrograde) 
views about corporations, I hope it is doing so because it helps it 
make money. And because of my (perhaps retrograde) views about 
transparency, I would hope we could praise it for doing what it does 
for the real reason it does it. 

With this freedom (granted to the fan) comes a loss of control 
(by the company). Freedom will inspire a wider exposure of the 


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212 REMIX 

original content. But as Jenkins puts it, "it also threaten[s] the pro- 
ducer's ability to control public response."'"' 

Tapscott and Williams make the point more generally: 

So here's the prosumption [meaning PROfessional + conSUMER] 
dilemma: A company that gives its customers free reign to hack 
risks cannibalizing its business model and losing control of its 
platform. A company that fights its users soils its reputation and 
shuts out a potentially valuable source of innovation.'*^ 

Yet at the same time, media companies, as well as businesses 
more generally, are recognizing that closer ties with the audience are 
the key to profit in the era of the hybrid. As Jenkins writes, "Rather 
than talking about media producers and consumers as occupying 
/it\ separate roles, we might now see them as participants who inter- /*\ 

act with each other according to a new set of rules that none of us 
fully understands."'*^ Artists who get this are building "a more col- 
laborative relationship with their consumers."'*'' And "in the future," 
Jenkins argues, quoting cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken, 
"media producers must accommodate consumer demands to partici- 
pate or they will run the risk of losing the most active and passionate 
consumers to some other media interest that is more tolerant."'" 

Harry Potter, of course, is not the only example of Hollywood 
leaving the twentieth century. Practically every major franchise of 
content is coming to understand the value of the community of fans 
who work (for free) to promote their content. My favorite example 
is the fandom surrounding the series Lost. Lost is currently in its 
fourth season, but it has already become "a model for a new media 
age," as the Los Angeles Times put it.'* The show has encouraged a 
wide range of unregulated fan sites — including the wiki Lostpedia 


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and many more sites on Wikia, as well as twenty other platforms 
whose content can be accessed and shared. These sites help view- 
ers understand and keep up with the show. They give fans a place 
to explore and add to their obsessive understanding of the detail 
of the show. And by being free with the content, Lost producers 
Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse can avoid their "biggest worry": 
"losing viewers who skip one episode and don't return because they 
become intimidated by the revealing flashback they missed or the 
complex plot's twists and turns. "'^ 

Thus, ABC is using a sharing economy to drive interest and eye- 
balls to commercial product. How long this model can be sustained 
no one knows. As Lindelof said: "We're exploring a new frontier 

here So it's best to see what it is first, as opposed to everybody 

walking up to the cash register and saying, 'Pay me, and then we'll 
/it\ do the exploring.' "'^ /*\ 

Type 3: Communities 

I've described community spaces and collaboration spaces, intend- 
ing the word "spaces" to reduce a bit the grandness of these other, 
big words. One might call Dogster a community. In a sense it is. 
But the range of life lived in Dogster is much narrower (one hopes) 
than the range of life in a typical community. 

Yet there are spaces on the Net that aspire to be more than 
community spaces. And some of these spaces do deserve the moni- 
ker "community" without any qualifiers. For old-timers, perhaps 
the first (and maybe the best) such space was a community called 
the Well. But for the generation that knows the Net right now, the 
most interesting examples of hybrid communities are virtual spaces 
like Second Life. 


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214 REMIX 

Second Life 

Think of Second Life as a world that a character you create gets 
to travel to. Once in that world, the character gets to do just 
about anything. The character (or, forgive me, put better, "you") 
can hang out with others. Buy some designer clothes. Create a 
new kind of motorcycle. Buy some land to build a house. Grow 
flowers. Basically anything you can do in real life, you can do in 
Second Life, so long as you'll let the word "virtually" attach to 
much of what you do. You can have a long conversation with 
someone you met in a virtual hot tub. You can explore the 
extraordinary virtual worlds that others have built. You can 
build an extraordinary virtual world that others can explore. 

Of course, there's nothing about virtual worlds that makes 
/it\ people more virtuous. So as well as all these things that we'd be /*\ 

proud to tell our parents about (or happy our kids did), there is 
lots that happens in Second Life that we'd never tell anyone 
about, or that we might wish our kids would never do. Sex is the 
organizing term for this set of stuff. Second Life has lots of 
virtual sex. Some you might have no problem with — consenting 
virtual adults, and all that. Some you might have lots of trouble 
with — consenting virtual adulterers. But some you might won- 
der whether you should have any problem with: Would you be 
happier if your son was experimenting with real space? Would it 
be better if your roaming spouse was meeting someone at a 
bathhouse? Sure, the virtual both creates and satisfies demand. 
Maybe without Second Life, your spouse wouldn't wander at all. 

People doing what they want to do doesn't on its own create a 
sharing economy, any more than the passengers on an Airbus 
310 constitute a sharing economy simply because they all happen 


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dreds of hours doing that. But much of the stuff that members of 
Second Life do is stuff that builds value for Second Life. Linden 
Lab, the creator of Second Life, has built a " 'product' that invites 
and enables customers to collaborate and add value on a massive 
scale."''' The members do this with one another (mainly) for free; 
the product of what they do for free is a much richer, more interest- 
ing virtual world for Linden Lab to sell membership to. 

We can measure the community here by mapping the range of 
public goods (meaning goods which everyone in the community 
gets to share) that community members create. 

First, Second Lifers contribute the good of help. A significant 
percentage of Second Lifers hang about, trying to help newbies as 
they learn the ropes. As the chief Second Lifer (i.e., the Boss), Philip 
Rosedale, described to me, 

^ .... . ., ^ 

Second Life is a daunting environment because, obviously, it's so 

rich with capability. And, so, as a new user to it, you are bound to 

be frightened, confused by, or frustrated in your attempts to do 

pretty much anything that you're trying to do. And, I think what 

has come of that has been quite interesting.'' 

For, he continued: 

Once you have figured out how Second Life really works, what tends 
to happen is you then have a kind of currency that you can freely give, 
which is your advice and explanation of how things work. And, I 
think that that behavior is so prevalent. It's so pleasurable to tell a new 
person what to do, and they get so much from it, as well, and are so 
thankful and then you just have that natural, I don't know ... I think 
there's a natural pleasure that we take as humans in being able to help 


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216 REMIX 

somebody else that, I would say, the general idea of helping each 
other in the environment is a very strong one, and you see, 
nowadays, you see numerous cases of that happening in a way that 
doesn't . . . isn't really, I suppose, economically rational at a tactical 

So does that mean Second Life was constructed to create this kind 
of community? "No," Rosedale said with some resignation. "I 
don't think we've explicitly tried to make things hard in Second 
Life. I think we managed to accidentally do that pretty well." 

Second, Second Lifers contribute the gift of beauty. Like 
people in a well- kept neighborhood. Second Lifers spend 
endless hours making their property beautiful. Not just to make 
it salable, but also to make the neighborhood more attractive. 
/it\ They build new designs; they add painted posters or images; /*\ 

they craft gardens, or parks where people can meet. 

Third, Second Lifers contribute code. According to the 
company, some 15 percent write "scripts" in Second Life, 
meaning the code that builds things or places that others can see. 
A signifi cant portion of those code writers — at least 30 percent 
— make their code free for others to share. 

Fourth, Second Lifers have built institutions that make Second 
Life work better. One member, for example, Zarf Vantongerloo, 
decided Second Life needed a way to authenticate statements or 
promises (as in contracts). Using encryption technology, Zarf built 
a Notary ("Nota Bene" in a land called "Thyris"). When a person 
signs the document, the Nota Bene adds a cryptographic signature 
which verifies both that the signature of the party is genuine and that 
the text on the document hasn't been changed since it was signed. 
The program is open- source, and uses open- source encryption 


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does what it says it does). The code thus adds a bit of confidence into 
the system, one "baby step" to better governance, as Zarf put itJ6 

Finally, Second Lifers struggle through acts of self- governance. 
The city of Neualtenburg (literally, New-Old -Castle) is an example 
of this. Neualtenburg describes itself as a " one- of- a- kind self- gov- 
erned community, whose purpose is to (1) enable group ownership of 
high-quality public and private land; (2) create a themed yet 
expressive community of one-of-a-kind builds; and (3) imple- 
ment democratic forms of self government within Second Life."s7 

The city builds this community through a mix of architecture, 
culture, law, and politics. Unlike most spaces in Second Life, the 
design of Neualtenburg resembles a medieval Bavarian city — 
wandering, organic, nonrectangular. The city is designed to be a 
"nexus for progressive social experimentation . . . including mod- 
/it\ ern art, . . . political organizations . . . and education." And the /*\ 

city was the first "democratic republic" built within Second Life. 
It has a nonprofit land cooperative; it has offered the fi rst " well- 
defi ned investment bonds"; and it has Second Life's fi rst and only 
constitution. In addition, the government offers well-defined and 
binding land deeds and covenants, and a virtual- world legal system. 

These are all the sorts of things that members of any community 
do. They all create a kind of value that more than the creator gets to 
share. And as with any community, the more people contribute, and 
see others contribute, the richer everyone feels. Indeed, for many, 
the richness of the life they know in Second Life exceeds the richness 
of the life they can live in real life. As Sherry Turkle reported from 
one user of a different but related world more than a decade ago, 

I split my mind. I'm getting better at it. I can see myself as being two 
or three or more. And I just turn on one part of my mind and then 


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another when I go from window to window. I'm in some kind of 
argument in one window and trying to come on to a girl in a MUD 
in another, and another window might be running a spreadsheet 

program or some other technical thing for school And then I'll 

get a real-time message [that flashes on the screen as soon as it is 
sent from another system user], and I guess that's RL [real life]. It's 
just one more window . . . and it's not usually my best one.^* 

Second Life is of course not the only virtual place in which peo- 
ple build this sort of community. Many (perhaps most) of the most 
interesting virtual games have this component built in. Japanese 
entrepreneur and venture capitalist (and gamer) Joi Ito describes 
the community in perhaps the Net's most popular game, World of 
Warcraft: "[Tjhe game emphasizes the necessity for a group. As 
/it\ an individual, you realize that the only way that you could create /*\ 

a group is by sharing and by being friendly." This is a lesson espe- 
cially important for kids. 

So a lot of times when young kids start playing World of Warcraft, in 
the beginning they're very greedy. They look at it as a game and they 
don't look at these other people inside of this game as real people. 
They will do something stupid in the middle of a raid, or they'll go 
off and leave the game without saying anything, and do something 
that will cause him to be mean, so . . . they realize that they quickly 
lose their community. Once you lose your community, you're unable 
to then go off and even set foot inside of certain dungeons and things 
like that without the right kind of. . . without a group. 

The game thus "pushes you to help each other It is very difficult 

to play by yourself, and being nice to people and gaining friend- 


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ship is rewarded." The design thickens the community as a way to 
improve the play of the game. 

Around these sharing economies, companies like Second Life 
build business. They thus try to extract profits from the sharing of 
others. And again, in my (what to some seems) Neanderthal view, 
this search for profits is to be praised. Of course, everyone should 
understand just what's happening. Transparency is key. But assum- 
ing this understanding, the success of the company means a greater 
opportunity for community by the members. There may be squab- 
bles about the terms: Should it be cheaper? Should the company 
make more? But the structure of the deal is not a mystery. Linden 
Lab will, if successful, make money by giving its customers just 
what they want: more than just a service, an experience that gives 
at least some of the rewards of any sharing economy. 
/it\ So far, the description of this hybrid has been at the content /*\ 

layer of Second Life. In 2007 Linden Lab took one further step 
down the hybrid path, by "open-sourcing" the client with which 
one interacts with Second Life. The code for that client was placed 
under the Free Software Foundation's General Public License 
(GPL), meaning the source was free for anyone to tinker with, and 
modifications of the source when distributed had to be distributed 
openly as well. 

Rosedale's motivations for this change are mixed. One part is 
the belief in his company, and the belief that it should grow as fast 
as possible. Second Life makes people better; Second Life should 
therefore grow as quickly as possible. 

And, it just seemed that, if your mission as a company is to grow as 
quickly as you can, which very much is our mission, not just from 
the "make money" perspective but actually, I think, primarily from 


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220 REMIX 

the perspective, which I've talked about in our blog quite a bit, we 
broadly believe that this is a force for good. That as people use Sec- 
ond Life it is a statistical improver in one's quality of life. And, if 
that's true, then we should allow it to grow as quickly as people 
want it to, and we should criticize ourselves if there's a moment at 
which we maximize revenue at the cost of growth or maintain some 
degree of control that, if we had given it up, would have caused this 
thing to grow faster. So, we made the decision to open-source. 

Second, the decision was driven by the recognition of how much 
value Linden Lab might leverage from its community: 

And, so, we went ahead and put the pieces in place, but the core belief 
was that there were — we only have about thirty principal developers 
/itN at this point — and the belief was that there would be hundreds if /*\ 

not thousands of people who would be willing to contribute develop- 
ment time and that it would therefore be unprincipled of us not to 
allow those people to do so. So, that's what we're trying to do. And, 
the early results, as you probably know, are quite positive. We're get- 
ting patched submissions now every day that we're folding into the 

code I don't think we've had enough time beyond the release yet 

of the source code to characterize how many additional virtual devel- 
opers we have, but it's already more than a few. 

So in the end, Second Life will have given away the copyright 
to the creativity built in the game, and it will have opened the cli- 
ent and servers to the free sharing of a GPLd software project. In 
short, it will have taken just about all its assets and freed them to 
the community. And from these gifts, it expects to inspire a creativ- 
ity that will make the platform extraordinarily valuable. 


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it's been about seventeen years since the World Wide Web became 
more than a dream of Tim Berners-Lee. As it has seeped into our 
veins, it has changed how we interact. More of us do things for 
other people, even if we do it because it is fun. More businesses find 
ways to do things for us, because doing so is more profitable for 
them. And more are experimenting with ways to build value by 
working with a community — commercial economies leveraging 
sharing economies to produce hybrids. 

What has driven companies to the hybrid experiment? The 
answer is the same as it always has been, within competitive mar- 
kets at least: the recognition of success. Companies see the hybrid 
as a model of success, not as a compromise of profit. Tapscott and 
/^ Williams summarize the lesson for companies building a hybrid ^y 

consistent with the principles of "wikinomics" (openness, peering, 
sharing, and acting globally):'' 

What was the difference [between successful business and not]? 
The losers launched Web sites. The winners launched vibrant 
communities. The losers built walled gardens. The winners built 
public squares. The losers innovated internally. The winners inno- 
vated with their users. The losers jealously guarded their data and 
software interface. The winners shared them with everyone.^" 

Hybrids are also a model for getting others to innovate in ways that 
benefit the company. Tapscott and Williams quote Technorati's 
Tantek Qelik: "It comes down to a question of limited time and, 
frankly, limited creativity. No matter how smart you are, and no 
matter how hard you work, three or four people in a start-up — or 


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222 REMIX 

even small companies with thirty people — can only come up with 
so many great ideas. *i" 

Recognition alone is not enough. Remaining is the hard problem 
of building the community to support the hybrid. So how does 
community get built? 

The answer is: explicitly and upfront. "You have to design with 
the community in mind," Jerry Yang said. "It's very hard to do ... as 
an afterthought. . . . Community has to be part of the product." 

But communities can't simply be called into life. Instead, they 
have emerged through a number of stages. "The first couple 
elements," Yang told me, were when "the users created content 
and the users distributed content." But that alone could not 
sustain a community. "Really critical for a sustainable kind of 
community," Yang said, "is the community themselves as 
/it\ editors — both as to quality and for the community to continue /*\ 

to have its identity." These together meant the community was 
more than a bus stop (a place convenient for people to hang out on 
their way to doing what they wanted to do). Instead, it was a 
place where the members felt a kind of ownership. And that pride 
of ownership meant they took steps to improve what they found. 

The real challenge, however, comes now, as these online 
communities begin to offer more. As Yang put it, "People are 
starting to really put the economic element in. . . . [They are] 
starting to make money from this community, whether it is 
printing calendars or doing albums or whatever." 

How this gets done well is not something even Yang fully sees 
yet. "There's no science in this . . . there's still a lot of art." 

You know, the community will give you a certain latitude for 
facilitating a commercial business, but they ultimately have to 


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feel like they're the ones that are part of the economy and not you. 
So you have to find a way to balance out the value that you as a 
platform for that community are adding versus the ability for the 
community to benefit from that economy. 

"The goal is to make people feel like there are real social benefits 
and economic benefits for them to invest in this platform." And in 
an analogy that we will return to at the end of the book, Yang con- 
tinued: "It's not unlike running a government where you're charg- 
ing for certain basic services. If you overcharge, people feel like 
they're overtaxed, and if you don't charge enough then you don't 
provide enough services. So it's always a balancing act." 

To say that community is important — or in the terms I've been 
suggesting, to say the "sharing economy" is important — is obviously 
/it\ not to say community alone is enough. Nor is it even to say that among /*\ 

all the factors of success, community is the most important thing. As 
perhaps the Net's most famous publisher, Tim O'Reilly, put it. 

You get your initial enthusiasm from people who are your pas- 
sionate, inner core. And you want to build a system that lets them 
become passionate, become connected, have this personal connec- 
tion to you and what you do. But, to get beyond that, you have to 
build a system in which people participate without knowing that 
they participate. That's where the power comes. ''^ 

For, as O'Reilly put it, the most powerful architecture and parti- 
cipation don't rely on volunteerism. 

They don't rely on people explicitly being part of a community 
or knowing who's in the community [T]he Web is like that. 


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224 REMIX 

It's this brilliant architecture where everybody puts up their own 
Web site for their own reasons, links to other people for their own 
reasons, and yet, there is a creation of shared value. 

O'Reilly points to YouTube as an example. YouTube's success, he 
argues (agreeing again with Chen), came not from the rah-rah of 
the community activism. Its success came instead from great code: 
YouTube's success, O'Reilly explained to me, 

wasn't because [people] thought it was cool. It was because YouTube 
figured out better how to make it viral. Viral is about making it serve 
the people's own interest, so that they're participating without think- 
ing that they're participating. Google said, "Upload your video here 
and we'll host it," and YouTube with their Flash player said, "Either 
/itN put this video on your site or we'll host it anyway." So you get to share /*\ 

the video without any of the costs and with no-muss-no-fuss. 

"People aren't thinking," he continued, "that they are donating to 
YouTube. They're actually thinking, 'Wow! I'm getting a free ser- 
vice from YouTube.' " 

O'Reilly's point is a good one. It builds directly on Bricklin's. You 
create value by giving people what they want; you create good by 
designing what you're offering so that people getting what they want 
also give something back to the community. No one builds hybrids 
on community sacrifice. Their value comes from giving members of 
the community what they want in a way that also gives the commu- 
nity something it needs. The old part in this story is that in a compet- 
itive market, success comes from satisfying customers' demands. The 
new part is to recognize a wider range of wants, some me-motivated, 
some thee-motivated, and the way technology can help serve them. 


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hen commercial and sharing economies interact, they pro- 
duce the hybrid. How they sustain a hybrid successfully is a 
harder question. We've not yet seen enough to say anything conclu- 
/it\ sive. We have seen enough to describe a few important lessons. /*\ 

Parallel Economies Are Possible 

The simplest but perhaps most important conclusion is that parallel 
economies are possible. Work successfully licensed in a commercial 
economy can also be freely available in a sharing economy. If this 
weren't true, then there would be no commercial record industry 
at all: despite the war on file sharing, practically every bit of com- 
mercially available music is also available illegally on p2p networks; 
this "sharing" has not been stanched by either the war against it 
waged by the recording industry, or the Supreme Court's declaring 
the practice illegal.^ 

Yet despite this massive sharing, according to the recording 
industry's own statistics, sales of music have declined by 21 percent.^ 


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226 REMIX 

If parallel economies were not possible, that 21 percent would be 100 

Voluntary parallel economies are also possible and often profit- 
able. When labels discovered artists in ccMixter and then signed 
them to record deals or contracts, the work the artist had freely 
licensed continued to be free. Indeed, sometimes the very same 
song was licensed both commercially and noncommercially. This 
helped the commercial. More artists and record companies will do 
the same in the future. 

Tools Help Signal Which Economy 
a Creator Creates For 

/it\ As creators choose between these two economies, the market has /*\ 

developed — free of government intervention — tools to signal which 
economy they intend to be a part of. When they want to be part of 
the commercial economy exclusively, they have associated with the 
traditional representatives. The RIAA, for example, speaks well for 
those artists who want their art distributed according to the rules 
of a commercial market only. 'All Rights Reserved" is the famil- 
iar refrain. "Don't share" is the unfortunately familiar slogan. But 
when artists want to create for the sharing economy, increasingly 
they use signs that mark them as members of this economy. Tools 
such as the Creative Commons "Noncommercial" license enable an 
artist to say "take and share my work freely. Let it become part of 
the sharing economy. But if you want to carry this work over to the 
commercial economy, you must ask me first. Depending upon the 
offer, I may or may not say yes."^ 

This sort of signal encourages others to participate in the shar- 


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ing economy, giving them confidence that their gift won't be used 
for purposes inconsistent with the gift. It thus encourages this sort 
of gift economy — not by behtthng or denigrating the commer- 
cial economy, but simply by recognizing the obvious: that humans 
act for different motives, and the motive to give deserves as much 
respect as the motive to get. 

Crossovers Are Growing 

As the second lesson suggests, nothing bans crossovers. There's 
nothing wrong, for example, with an artist who created something 
she offered the sharing economy for free then taking that creative 
work and selling it to NBC or Warner Bros. Records. Indeed, this 
/it\ happens all the time in the world of CC-licensed work. Because /*\ 

economies can be parallel, many participants have discovered that 
playing in one economy does not disqualify you in the other. 

In 2005, for example, a Los Angeles— based comedy collective 
called Lonely Island was trying — like many such collectives — to 
get discovered. It posted all its material to the Web with a Creative 
Commons license, enabling others to share its work and remix its 
work, so long as they gave credit back to Lonely Island. For example, 
the collective shot a pilot for Fox called Awesometown. Fox rejected 
it, but Lonely Island posted the pilot in full on the Web under a CC 
license. The collective used the license both to encourage the spread 
of its work and, as its members commented in an interview, to "pro- 
tect ourselves and our fans. That's what sold us on it. It lets everyone 
know that they are free to share and remix our stuff, all the rules 
are right there — they don't even need to ask permission."* 

Someone at Saturday Night Live saw the group's work and loved 


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228 REMIX 

it. In the fall of 2005, one member of the collective joined SNL as a 
cast member; the other two joined as writers. Their work continues 
to be available under the CC license. But the licenses also helped 
them cross over to a commercial economy. 

Strong Incentives Will Increasingly Drive 
Commercial Entities to Hybrids 

Their rhetoric notwithstanding, hybrids are in it for the money. 
Commercial entities leveraging sharing economies do so because 
they believe their product or service will be more valuable if lever- 
aged. And sharing economies that bring commerce into the mix do 
so because they believe revenues will increase. The hybrid is a way 
/it\ to produce value. If it doesn't, it shouldn't be a hybrid. /*\ 

The hybrid produces value in part by freely revealing informa- 
tion. By its nature, a hybrid can't control exclusively the knowledge 
or practice of the sharing economy it builds upon. The design thus 
leaves the door open on its research or development. The company 
simply gives this asset away. 

Some are puzzled by the idea that giving something away 
might be a strategy for making more money. Indeed, our intellec- 
tual biases about concepts like property lead us almost naturally to 
believe that the best strategy to produce wealth is to maximize con- 
trol over the assets we have, including (and most important here) 
intellectual property assets. 

If you find yourself attracted to this view, then you should sur- 
vey an increasingly significant field of writing about the opposite 
strategy, used voluntarily by those seeking the same end: wealth. 
As Eric von Hippel describes, "Innovations developed at private 


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cost are often revealed freely, and this behavior makes economic 
sense for participants under commonly encountered conditions."' 
For example, "after the expiration of the Watt patent, an engineer 
named Richard Trevithick developed a new type of high-pressure 
engine in 1812. Instead of patenting his invention, he made his 
design available to all for use without charge.'* The work spread to 
be foundational in the field. Von Hippel's work provides a host of 
modern examples that follow the same strategy. 

These innovators reveal not as an act of charity, but as a strat- 
egy to better returns. "Active efforts to diffuse information about 
their innovations suggest that there are positive, private rewards to 
be obtained from free revealing."' Put differently, intentional "spill- 
overs" of information may often benefit both the public and the pri- 
vate entity making the spillover. 
/it^ Again, to many, this may feel counterintuitive. Economics /*\ 

teaches us that a spillover (meaning a resource that is made available 
to entities that didn't contribute to its production) is an externality 
(albeit, a positive externality). Externalities, the lesson goes, should 
be "internalized." Whether it is positive (think: beautiful music) or 
negative (think: pollution), the person creating the spillover should 
pay for it — whether positively (by cleaning up the pollution), or 
negatively (by collecting some reward for the good produced to the 
public). As von Hippel writes. 

The "private investment model" of innovation assumes that inno- 
vation will be supported by private investment if and as innova- 
tors can make attractive profits from doing so. In this model, any 
tree revealing or uncompensated "spillover" or proprietary knowl- 
edge developed by private investment will reduce the innovator's 
profits. It is therefore assumed that innovators will strive to avoid 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.indd 229 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:55:54 AM 


230 REMIX 

spillovers of innovation-related information. From the perspec- 
tive of this model, then, free revealing is a major surprise: it seems 
to make no sense that innovators would intentionally give away 
information for free that they had invested money to develop.^ 

But in fact, historically, spillovers have produced great value to 
society. William Baumol estimates that "the spillovers of innova- 
tion, both direct and indirect, can be estimated to constitute well 
over half of current GDP — and it can even be argued that this is 
a very conservative figure."^ The Internet is the simplest example: 
the "inventors" of the Internet captured a tiny fraction of its value; 
the spillover has been critical to most economic growth in America 
over the past fifteen years. 

That good is enjoyed not just by the society. Instead, it is also 
^ often (though certainly not always) enjoyed by the person revealing ^^ 

the information. Describing authors of open-source software, for 
example, von Hippel writes, 

[If] they freely reveal, others can debug and improve upon the 
modules they have contributed, to everyone's benefit. They are 
also motivated to have their improvement incorporated into the 
standard version of the open source software that is generally dis- 
tributed by the volunteer open source user organization, because 
it will then be updated and maintained without further effort on 
the innovator's part.^" 

These considerations lead many to conclude, with Baumol, 
that "despite the substantial spillovers (externalities) of innovation, 
expenditure on R&D in the free-market economies may neverthe- 
less be quite efficient."" Put differently, of all the problems we need 


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to solve, eliminating positive externalities should perhaps be quite 
low on our list. 

So when does it make sense to reveal information in order to 
build a hybrid? One factor is the heterogeneity of the customers. 
"Data are still scanty," von Hippel writes, "but high heterogeneity 
[or diversity] of need is a very straightforward explanation for why 
there is so much customization by users: many users have 'custom' 
needs for products and services."^^ Another factor is the feedback 
companies get from this kind of collaborative innovation. Again, 
von Hippel: "the commercial attractiveness of innovations devel- 
oped by users increased along with the strength of those users' lead 
user characteristics."" Encouraging these "lead users" to innovate is 
thus a powerful way to push innovation at the firm." 

While hybrids will increase with the spread of the Net, I am 
/it\ not describing some special rule of economics that lives just in the /*\ 

virtual world. Indeed, to the extent that the hybrid is spreading the 
right to innovate, the dynamic is again following the very old prin- 
ciple I described above: shifting innovation out of the core of the 
corporation where transaction costs permit. 

The hybrid teaches us that this strategy will increase as technologies 
for reducing transaction costs proliferate. And conversely, it would be 
checked by changes that increase the transaction costs of the hybrid. 

Perceptions of Fairness Will in Part Mediate 

the Hybrid Relationship Between Sharing 

and Commercial Economies 

We are not far into the history of these hybrid economies. And 
early enthusiasm will no doubt soon give way to a more measured. 


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232 REMIX 

perhaps skeptical view. Those contributing to the sharing economy 
within a hybrid will increasingly wonder about this world where 
their free work gets exploited by someone else. Should they be 
paid? How long will these hybrids last? 

Some fear it won't last long. At a conference in San Francisco, 
Rich Green, an executive vice president for software at Sun, expressed 
doubt. "It really is a worrisome social artifact," Green said. "I think 
in the long term that this . . . [is] not sustainable. We are looking very 
closely at compensating people for the work that they do."^' 

But as we've seen, simply compensating people is not necessarily 
a solution. The ethic of a sharing economy and that of a commercial 
economy are different. Were the work of these volunteers plainly 
part of the commercial economy, then the answer would be easy: of 
course, they should be paid; and unless they are paid, they will stop 
/it\ the work. And were the work of the volunteers plainly part of the /*\ 

sharing economy, then the answer would be easy as well: you no 
more pay volunteers than you (should) pay for sex. 

If the work of these volunteers is part of a hybrid, however, we 
don't yet have a clear answer to this question. If the hybrid feels 
too commercial, that saps the eagerness of the volunteers to work. 
Brewster Kahle founded the nonprofit Internet Archive after prof- 
iting from many commercial enterprises, as he told me: "If you 
feel like you are working for the man and not getting paid, vis- 
ceral reactions will come up People have no problem being in 

the gift economy. But when it blurs into the for-pay commodity 
economy ... people have a 'jerk reaction.'" A "jerk reaction": the 
feeling that they, the volunteers, are jerks for giving something to 
"the man" for free. No sense could be more poisonous to the hybrid 
economy, yet like it or not, the skepticism is growing. Said Om 
Malik, founder of GigaOmniMedia: 


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I wondered out loud if this culture of participation was seem- 
ingly help[ing] build business on our collective backs. So if we tag, 
bookmark, or share, and help or Technorati or Yahoo 
become better commercial entities, aren't we seemingly commod- 
itizing our most valuable asset — time? We become the outsourced 
workforce, the collective, though it is still unclear what is the pay- 
off. While we may (or may not) gain something from the collec- 
tive efforts, the odds are whatever "the collective efforts" are, they 
are going to boost the economic value of those entities. Will we 
share in their upside.? Not likely!^* 

Anil Dash, a vice president with Six Apart, posed this question 
more directly: "Should Flickr compensate the creators of the most 
popular pictures on its site.''"^^ Tapscott and Williams describe the 
/it\ reply by Caterina Fake, cofounder of Flickr: /*\ 

[T]here are systems of value other than, or in addition to, 
money, that are very important to people: connecting with other 
people, creating an online identity, expressing oneself — and, not 
least, garnering other people's attention. She continued on, saying 
that the Web — indeed the world — would be a much poorer place 
without the collective generosity of its contributors. The culture of 
generosity is the very backbone of the Internet.^^ 

It is hard for many to see how a "culture of generosity" can coexist 
with an ethic of profit. The slogan "You be generous, and I make 
money" seems like a nonstarter. And so, increasingly, we must ask 
how these different norms might be made to coexist. Jeff Jarvis, 
journalist and blogger, suggests companies "pay dividends back to 
[the] crowd" and avoid trying too hard "to control [the gathered] 


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234 REMIX 

wisdom, and limit its use and the sharing of it. "19 Tapscott and 
Wilhams make the same recommendation: "Platforms for parti- 
cipation will only remain viable for as long as all the 
stakeholders are adequately and appropriately compensated for 
their contributions — don't expect a free ride forever."2o 

The key word here is "appropriately." Obviously, there must 
be adequate compensation. But the kind of compensation is the 
puzzle. Once again, the "sharing economy" of two lovers is one 
in which both need to be concerned that the other is "adequately 
and appropriately compensated for [his or her] contribution." But 
writing a fat check as "thanks for last night" is not likely to work. 

Similarly, there's another important ambiguity in this notion 
of a "free ride." For again, if Bricklin is right — if the entity 
succeeds when it is architected to give the user what he wants 
-(^ while contributing something back to either the commercial ^^ 

entity, the sharing economy, or the hybrid — then is the entity 
really getting a "free ride"? Consider two examples: 

• You submit a search query to Google and then click on one of 
the links Google returns. You have given Google something 
of value — the information that you judged one link to be 
the appropriate answer to the query you selected. Google has 
built its company upon such gifts of value. Is Google riding on 
your work for free? Or are you riding on Google for free? 

• You post a video to YouTube and then embed it in your 
blog. You have given YouTube something of value — another 
string of customers further strengthening its market share, 
drawing viewers in through a channel that helps YouTube 


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understand who they are, and hence advertise to them more 
profitably. Is YouTube riding on your work for fi-ee? Or are 
you riding on YouTube? 

The point should be obvious: both the user and the company ben- 
efit fi-om the interaction. And when both benefit, how do we say 
who is riding for free? 

These questions, however, like any questions of perceived jus- 
tice, won't be decided on the basis of logic alone. They will turn 
instead upon practices and understandings. There are lines that 
companies can't cross. Those lines are drawn by the understand- 
ing of those within a community. To their communities, hybrids 
will try to signal their virtue, or the fairness of the exchange they 
offer. Craig Newmark, for example, emphasizes moderation as 
/it\ a key to his hybrid's success. ("People see that we're not out to /*\ 

make lots of money, and people can see that we've given away a 
lot of power over the site through the flagging mechanism and 
how we actually try to listen to people in terms of suggestions and 
then follow through.") Tim O'Reilly makes a similar point, though 
not about moderate profits. He emphasizes moderate efforts at 

There is a social compact [And] people in some sense will 

regard certain people as good guys and so they'll go further for 
them than they would for somebody who they regarded as a hos- 
tile. A really good example of that is... Safari, our online book 
service. We have a very light DRM [for those books, making] it 

hard to spider. But not too hard And we get thousands of e- 

mails from people reporting that to us. You know, "Hey, I found 


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236 REMIX 

your books on a site in Russia." "I found your books on a site in 
Romania." I bet the RIAA didn't get those e-mails. 

Philip Rosedale of Second Life emphasizes a different value: 
transparency. "I'm a tremendous believer in the idea that there's a 
new mode by which businesses can interact which is based on com- 
plete transparency," he explained to me. 

There's a trust-building exercise there that doesn't traditionally 
happen, because companies are inherently private because his- 
torically, competition was the first order of concern of companies. 
Therefore privacy [or secrecy], for the purpose of giving you a leg 
up on your competitors, has always been a kind of a central build- 
ing block of corporate behavior. And, in a world where openness 
/itN and network effects are likely to decide the winner, you now have /*\ 

to break down that perception. You want to build a company 
whose first value is not privacy but, instead, disclosure. 

Some companies go even further. Brewster Kahle describes the 
decision of the search company Alexa. 

[W]e wanted to build a new-generation search engine, which is 
sort of what Alexa and the Internet Archive strove to do in '96. It 
turns out that we were wrong, that the world didn't need a fun- 
damentally different kind of search engine, because the search 
engines were going along okay. But Alexa would collect the 
World Wide Web and make a service based on it. So that it was a 
for-profit company that leveraged the community work of others, 
which was the contents of the Web, to produce a service. 


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But exploiting that material beyond being directly tied to pro- 
ducing that service, we at Alexa did not feel it was right. So Alexa 
donated a copy of what it had collected to a nonprofit and deleted 
its own. So after six months, that was how long it took for Alexa to 
use the material to do the service that people were, in some sense, 
cooperating [with] or allowing Alexa to have built. It donated a 
copy, and it deleted theirs. We think of that as very . . . we thought 
of that as a very important part of the balance of the property 
interest in a commercial company and the public interest that can 
be better served within a nonprofit. 

Every company building a hybrid will face exacdy the same 
challenge: how to frame its work, and the profit it expects, in a way 
that doesn't frighten away the community. "Mutual free riding" 
^ will be the mantra, at least if the value to both sides can be made ^^ 

more clear. 

There are of course famous examples of this mutual free rid- 
ing gone bad. The volunteer-created CD Database — CDDB — 
was one. 

As I've already described, CDDB was an online database that 
contained track information about CDs. That information was 
not included on the CD itself. Instead, it was added by users. The 
inventor of CDDB, Ti Kan, thought "[I]f I typed in all this infor- 
mation about a given CD, why should Joe down the block have to 
type in the same information," as David Marglin, general coun- 
sel of the company that eventually took over CDDB, Gracenote, 
explained to me. So Kan and his collaborator, Steve Scherf, "started 
figuring out a way to collect various other people's collections as 
typed in by them. And then that repository became the CDDB." 


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238 REMIX 

All this typing was done voluntarily. People wanted their 
machines to know what the tracks were; they were happy to share 
with others the information they typed into their machines. And 
Kan and Scherf built the tools to aggregate the results of this vol- 
untary work "with the best intentions in the world. They were not 
trying to make any money off of it. They really wanted to make 
just a social network and get all the network effects." They built a 
commons for others to add to; volunteers demonstrated the "grace 
of the commons" through the contributions they made. 

But, Marglin explained to me, as more and more people began 
to rely upon this database to identify their CDs, Kan and Scherf 
began to realize "very quickly that they had a beast on their hands 
because: one, in order to be any good, the software would have to 
do a lot more reconciling than they first expected ... and two, the 
/it\ amount of server space that they would need in order to take in, not /*\ 

only all the lookups, but... all the submissions, was just going to 
overwhelm them."^^ 

So the founders of CDDB started looking for a way to make 
sure their creation would survive. 

Gracenote would become their savior. With the help of a serial 
entrepreneur, Scott Jones, Tan and Scherf launched the for-profit 
Gracenote, to generate the revenues necessary to support the data- 
base, and to profit from the idea they had brought to life. Grace- 
note started licensing the database to whoever would pay for it. 
And soon many started to wonder why this thing of value, created 
through the work of volunteers, could be so easily sold. Many com- 
plained that Gracenote took "what [was] essentially an open-source 
database and clos[ed] it off."^^ There was an explosion of criticism 
within the online community. 


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Gracenote wasn't prepared for the criticism. Marglin told me that 
there was a lot of "bad mojo in the air from people who didn't under- 
stand the transition from 'here's a couple guys in the garage' to this 'it's 
a world-class service that has to be able to power Apple software.' " 
More transparency would have helped here, as would a clearer way 
for the collaborators to benefit. Again, Marglin: "The compensation 
may not be dollars but maybe credits or attribution for something 
that is of value so that there is a value exchange between the 

It was the shift in rules, against the background of different 
expectations, that produced a fairly strong reaction against Grace- 
note — even though to this day, Gracenote still has "a program 
where if you're a programmer and want to develop a noncommer- 
cial application and don't want to derive any revenue from it, you're 
/it\ free to get and use Gracenote software." /*\ 

Many believe this commercialization of a free project weakens 
the incentive for volunteers to contribute to it. Brewster Kahle, for 
example, holds this view. Gracenote became less after its founders 
made more. The same is true for a parallel database, also initially 
built by users for free, the Internet Movie Database, or IMDb. As 
Brewster explained to me. 

Both [CDDB and IMDb] went off into commercial organiza- 
tions. And there was a feeling of betrayal on the part of those who 
contributed their efforts for free. Because somebody else seemed 
to be taking advantage of them or not offering it back to the 

Now with IMDb, Amazon is thrilled that they are paying 
their own bills based on their advertising and subscription-based 


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240 REMIX 

premium products But did IMDb end up what it could have 

been? I don't think so. 

The conflict here is deeper than the Internet. It will get resolved 
in the hybrid economy only when each economy — the commer- 
cial and the sharing — validates the other. If those within a sharing 
economy hate commerce — if they're disgusted with the idea of any- 
one profiting, anywhere — then the prospects for healthy hybrids 
are not good. Likewise, if those within the commercial economy 
ignore the ethic of sharing — if they treat members of the sharing 
economy like customers, or kids — then the prospects for a healthy 
hybrid are not good either. 

Not surprisingly, copyright is an important tool in mediating 
these expectations. As a fantastic report by the analysts Pike & 
^ Fischer argues, ^^ 

Strict copyright enforcement on user-submitted/generated content 
may also result in a negative shift in attitude in the communities 
that build around all these sites. The widespread appeal of user- 
submitted/generated content, especially within the framework 
of social networking sites, relies strongly upon the freedom of 
expression, which often circumvents copyright law. Any further 
restriction to that expression may result in a reduction of user activ- 
ity — the lifeblood of an advertising revenue— based business model. 
In the end, copyright holders and social networking sites may be 
forced to strike a balance in order to maintain user-interest.^^ 

The norm that would encourage a hybrid economy most is 
the norm of many within the GNU/Linux community: any use, 
including commercial use, is fair. The problem with this norm 


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in the context of culture (as opposed to software) is that cultural 
products are less obviously collaborative. The feeling of individual 
exploitation is therefore much more likely to be real. When Google 
takes the free labor of the GNU/Linux community and leverages 
it into the most successful Internet business in the world, no mem- 
ber of that community could reasonably say, "Google has exploited 
me ! " But if Sony took a song licensed in a similarly free way and 
sold 1 million CDs without giving the creator a dime (again, plainly 
possible under a copyleft license), there's little doubt that someone 
would have a strong claim of exploitation. 

More problematically, free software rests ultimately upon a 
shaky economic foundation. Robert Young, for example, follow- 
ing the GNU Manifesto,24 explains the free- software ethic as a 
version of the Golden Rule: "There's no ideology. There's no 
/it\ complexity. It's do unto others as you would have them do unto /*\ 

you. And if they're doing unto you what you are doing for them, 
they're welcome to use your technology for whatever they want 
to use it for because you're receiving a benefit from them." This 
states a beautiful ethical principle. But it doesn't quite constitute 
an economic motivation. No doubt "you're receiving a benefit 
from them." But you could receive that benefit whether or not 
you contributed your technology back. It might well be the "fair 
thing" to give back because you've taken. I certainly hope my 
kids think this way. The hard part is believing that, over time, 
many will continue to believe that giving back makes sense. 

Or more skeptically still: There are lots of reasons to believe 
that the particular character of free software makes it rational to 
keep the code free — for example, the costs of synchronizing a pri- 
vate version often overwhelm any benefit from keeping the code 
private.^' IBM, for example, was free to take the Apache server and 


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242 REMIX 

build a private label version that would sell, without releasing to 
others any improvement it made in the code. But that benefit would 
have been purchased only by IBM's continuing to update its code 
to reflect changes made in the public version of Apache. At first 
(when the code bases are close), such updating is not too hard. But 
over time (as the code bases diverge), it becomes increasingly costly 
to maintain the private code. Thus the purely rational strategy for 
this kind of creativity is to innovate in the commons, since the cost 
of innovating privately outweighs the benefit. 

But that story hangs upon the physical characteristics of com- 
plex coding projects. Those same characteristics don't exist with, 
say, a song or a novel. Whatever incentive there may be to stay in 
the commons with complex, collaborative goods, that same incen- 
tive doesn't carry over automatically to all creative works. For 
/it\ these works, nothing more than a norm will support keeping the /*\ 

resource open. And whether, or how, that norm survives is not, to 
me at least, clear. 

It is clear to me, however, that we must avoid a kind of 
intellectual imperialism. We must be open to the differences in 
cultural goods — software versus movies; music versus scientific 
articles. The norms that support free production in one are not 
necessarily the norms that support free production in the other. As 
Brian Behlendorf, a cofounder of the Apache project, puts it, 

I don't know if there is one single, social contract amongst cul- 
tural works. I think it's different for DJs and electronic music 
than it is for folk music or even different types of dance music. 
[For example, the] R & B community has appropriated a lot of 
tracks and a lot of song samples yet probably would fight fiercely 
with the RIAA against downloading of their work and such. 


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He points to another important difference as well: 

A lot of software is, by its nature, a team effort with lots of 
iterations over time. A lot of cultural media — songs or plays or 
movies — are, if they have teams, much smaller teams where they 
tend to be the vision of one or two people. And they arrive at a 
finished body of work or mostly finished work and then it's kind 

of put in a time capsule [M]aybe it's this evolutionary nature 

of software, the fact that contributors come and go over time and 
that, sure, you have certain versions that are well known and such, 
but it's not like movies where there's a finished work that makes its 
way to the theater and people pay money to go see it. 

We need to understand these differences to envision the lines 
/it\ communities will draw. /*\ 

"Sharecropping" Is Not Likely to Become 
a Term of Praise 

Although I am uncertain about how these norms will develop 
generally, there are particular conclusions we can draw with con- 
fidence. Here's one: digital sharecropping will not be long for this 
world. Of all the terms that creators from the sharing economy will 
demand, the right to own their creativity will be central. 


In April 2007, an excellent research assistant did a survey of 
every site she could find that invited creators to "remix" or "mash 
up" content provided by the site. There were over twenty-five sites 
in her survey. But as she read through the terms of these many 


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remix contests, a key difference among them became apparent. In 
56 percent of the sites, the artist or remixer owned the rights to his 
remix — not the content he remixed, but the remix. Sixteen per- 
cent of these sites required that the remix be hcensed under some 
form of pubHc hcense (okay, all of those that did require a license 
required that it be a Creative Commons license). But in 28 percent 
of these sites, the artist or remixer got no rights in her work at all. 
She was the creator, but she did not own her creativity. She was, in 
the totally neutral, noninflammatory terminology that I've selected 
here, a sharecropper. 

David Bowie's contests were typical. Bowie's contract required 
that the remixer "grant, sell, transfer, assign and convey ... all pres- 
ent and future rights, title and interest of every kind and nature" 
in the remix. The remixer also waived any moral rights he might 
/it\ "feel" he had in the remix. And the remixer granted to Bowie's label, /*\ 

Sony, "worldwide royalty-free, irrevocable, non-exclusive license" to 
any content added to the Bowie content to make the remix.^'' Thus, 
if you composed a track and uploaded to the Bowie site to remix it 
with something Bowie created, then Bowie was free to take that 
track and sell it, or use it in his own music, without paying you, the 
artist, anything. 

This trend away from artists owning their creations is not new. 
It has long been a part of commercial creativity. In America, for 
example, the "work-for-hire" doctrine strips the creator of any 
rights in a creative work made for a corporation, vesting the copy- 
right instead in that corporation. 

This is an awful trend, fundamentally distorting the copyright 
system by vesting copyrights in entities that effectively live forever. 
(For that reason, the copyright given to humans is life plus seventy, 
but to corporations, a fixed ninety-five years. Unfortunately, unlike 


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humans seventy years after their death, after ninety-five years there 
is still an "artist" eagerly begging Congress for more.) 

Yet whether or not the work-for-hire doctrine flourishes in the 
commercial economy, my sense — and no doubt, my bias — is that 
sharing-economy creators will increasingly demand at a minimum 
that their rights remain theirs. 

We've already seen a similar frustration brew in the context 
of "fan fiction," particularly around the Star Wars franchise. As 
with the Harry Potter story, Lucasfilm learned early on that there 
were millions who wanted to build upon Star Wars, and few who 
thought themselves restricted by the rules of copyright. Like War- 
ner, Lucasfilm recognized that these fans could provide real value 
to the franchise. So under the banner of encouraging this fan cul- 
ture, Lucasfilm offered free Web space to anyone wanting to set up 
/it\ a fan home page. /*\ 

But the fine print in this offer struck many as unfair. The con- 
tract read: 

The creation of derivative works based on or derived from the 
Star Wars Properties, including, but not limited to, products, ser- 
vices, fonts, icons, link buttons, wallpaper, desktop themes, on- 
line postcards and greeting cards and unlicensed merchandise 
(whether sold, bartered or given away) is expressly prohibited. If 
despite these Terms of Service you do create any derivative works 
based on or derived from the Star Wars Properties, such derivative 
works shall be deemed and shall remain the property of Lucasfilm 
Ltd. in perpetuity. 

Translation: "Work hard here. Star Wars fans, to make our fran- 
chise flourish, but don't expect that anything you make is actually 


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246 REMIX 

yours. You, Star Wars fans, are our sharecroppers. Be happy with 
the attention we give you. But don't get too uppity." 

These terms incited something of a riot among the fans. As one 
of their leading spokesmen put it, "The real story is a lot uglier, and 
has much less to do with the encouragement of creativity than its 
discouragement — there's nothing innocent about Lucasfilm's offer 
of web space to fans."^' 

"Nothing innocent," again because all ownership went to 
Lucasfilm. Fans may well agree not to profit from their work; they 
may well think it fair that any commercial opportunity arising 
out oi Star Wars be ultimately within the reach of George Lucas. 
(Remember, this was the good sense expressed by Heather Lawver, 
leader of the Potter Wars.) But that concession does not mean the 
fans believe that their work too should be owned by George Lucas. 
/it\ And so when Lucasfilm pushed to the contrary, these fans pushed /*\ 


Lucasfilm, however, does not seem to be deterred. In 2007, the 
company launched a mash-up site to encourage creators to mash up 
scenes from the Star Wars series with their own music or images 
uploaded to the Lucasfilm server. Who owned the mash-ups? No 
surprise: Lucasfilm. But here's the part that really gets me: As 
with David Bowie's site, if you upload, say, music you have writ- 
ten to be included in a mash-up that you have made, you not only 
lose the rights to the mash-up, you also lose exclusive rights to your 
music. Lucasfilm has a perpetual, and free, right to your content, 
for both commercial and noncommercial purposes. Once again: 

I'm not saying that this virtual sharecropping should be banned. 
Instead, I am asking which types of hybrid are likely to thrive. A 
hybrid that respects the rights of the creator — both the original 


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creator and the remixer — is more likely to survive than one that 
doesn't. That's not because everyone will care about the rights of 
ownership offered by a particular site. They won't. But competition 
is won on the margin. And the ham-handed overreaching of the 
typical Hollywood lawyer is just the sort of blunder most likely to 
spoil the success of an otherwise successful hybrid. 

Think again about what the Lucasfilm site says to the kids it 
invites to remix Lucas's work. No one doubts that Lucas's contri- 
bution to this site is significant. The Star Wars franchise is one of 
the most valuable in history, extraordinarily compelling and cre- 
ative, not just to my generation, but to anyone. No one would think 
that Lucas has any moral obligation to give up ownership to that 
work (at least during the "limited time" period that its copyright 
survives). This creativity is rightfully Lucas's. 
/it\ But when Lucas invites others to remix that creativity, he does /*\ 

it for a reason. A financial reason. He wants to leverage the work 
of thousands of kids to make his original content more compelling. 
And, in turn, to make the franchise more valuable. 

There can be nothing wrong with that objective, at least from 
my perspective. This is precisely the manner of every hybrid. And 
we shouldn't shrink from acknowledging that profit is one objec- 
tive of those within the hybrid mix. 

But though the objective of profit is not a problem, the man- 
ner in which that profit is secured can be. The respect, or lack of 
respect, demonstrated by the terms under which the remix gets 
made says something to the remixer about how his work is valued. 
So again, when Lucas claims all right to profit from a remix, or 
when he claims a perpetual right to profit from stuff mixed with a 
remix, he expresses a view about his creativity versus theirs: about 
which is more important, about which deserves respect. 


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248 REMIX 

To the lawyers who drafted the agreements I'm criticizing 
(for I'm sure George Lucas, who is an important contributor to 
education, had nothing to do with selecting these terms), my con- 
cerns will seem bizarre. They've spent their whole career striking 
deals just like this. The agreements between media companies, 
or media companies and artists, are not love letters. They do not 
express mutual respect. A lawyer's job (at least in a commercial 
economy) is to get everything he can. He is to maximize the value 
for his client. Social justice is not within his ken. 

But these lawyers are the most likely to fail in this new envi- 
ronment. They have developed none of the instincts or sensibili- 
ties necessary to build loyalty and respect with those in the sharing 
economy that their clients depend upon. Like the lawyers work- 
ing for union busters at the start of the twentieth century, they're 
/it\ proud of precisely the behavior that will cause the most harm to /*\ 

their clients. 

Others will teach them — not through lectures or exams, but 
through the success in the market others will have, and that they 
(or more accurately, their clients) won't have. Competitive markets 
will reward right behavior. Too bad for their clients, but lawyers 
know little of competitive markets. (And tenured law professors 
know even less.) 

The Hybrid Can Help Us 
Decriminalize Youth 

As hybrids for culture have developed, the most successful of these 
hybrids have learned that encouraging legal creativity is the key 
to encouraging a healthy and successful business. The struggles 


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companies like YouTube have faced to address both legitimate 
and illegitimate claims by copyright owners have led others to 
plan for these complexities in advance,, for example, explic- 
itly enables users to mark their creative work with the freedoms 
they intend it to carry. Sony's version of YouTube in Japan, eyeVio, 
requires uploaders to verify the freedom to share the content they 
intend to upload. 

As this model becomes the norm, it will change the world 
within which this remix creativity happens. The focus will shift 
to the creativity alone; the conditions under which that creativity 
happens — and the "piracy" of its making — will no longer be inter- 
esting. The hybrid can pave a way toward legal remix creativity. 
The incentive of the market can drive a market reform to make this 
form of expression allowed. 
/it\ I don't think this market incentive alone will be enough. Pol- /*\ 

icy changes will be necessary as well. But one great thing about 
democracy in America is that when the market demonstrates the 
wisdom of a certain freedom, politicians at least sometimes listen. 
As the market of hybrids becomes even more significant, the free- 
doms hybrids will depend upon will become more and more salient 
to policy makers. 


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8/12/08 1:56:02 AM 




^ ■■BrriiiBiBtE" ^ 


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In the twentieth century, RO culture flourished. The twenty-first century 
could make it better. An extraordinary range of diverse culture could be 
accessible, cheaply, anytime and anywhere. Access could be the norm, not 
a privilege. 

Before the twentieth century, RW culture flourished. The twenty- 
first century could make it better too. Digital technologies have democ- 
ratized the ability to create and re-create the culture around us. Our kids 
have just begun to show us how they create as they spread culture. We've 
just begun to see how their understanding grows as the practice of remix 
spreads, and especially as it becomes part of the hybrid. 

Never before has the opportunity for the hybrid been as real. Never 
has the chance for commercial entities supporting sharing economies, or 
for sharing economies to exploit commercial opportunities, been as pow- 
erful. The opportunity of a hybrid economy is the promise of extraordi- 
/itN nary value realized. How is not obvious. Certainly not automatically, or /*\ 

easily. But technology has now given us the chance to tap human effort 
for extraordinary good. Subtle and insightful entrepreneurs could trans- 
form that opportunity into real wealth. 

Thus the future we could have: a better RO culture, a more vibrant 
RW culture, and a flourishing world of hybrids. They stand in stark con- 
trast to the dark trade-offs the current war seems to present. They reject 
the idea that enabling the freedom to create in the RW tradition means 
giving up on any good from RO culture. They reject the notion that Inter- 
net culture must oppose profit, or that profit must destroy Internet culture. 
They are futures of optimism, and an optimism we should all embrace. 

But optimism is not a promise. Or a plan. It is at most a reason to 
plan. It is a motivation for real promises. And in the face of this motiv- 
ation, we need a plan for making these futures real. Real change will be 
necessary if this future is to come about — changes in law, and changes in us. 


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opyright law regulates culture in America. Copyright law must 
be changed. Changed, not abolished. I reject the calls of many 
(of my friends) to effectively end copyright. Neither RW nor RO 
/it\ culture can truly flourish without copyright. But the form and /*\ 

reach of copyright law today are radically out of date. It is time 
Congress launched a serious investigation into how this massive, 
and massively inefficient, system of regulation might be brought 
into the twenty-first century. 

Providing that comprehensive plan is not my purpose in 
this book. Instead, in this chapter, I sketch five shifts in the law that 
would radically improve its relation to RW creativity and, in turn, 
significantly improve the market for hybrids. None of these changes 
would threaten one dime of the existing market for creative work 
so vigorously defended today by the content industry. Together, 
they would go a long way toward making the system make more 
sense of the creative potential of digital technologies. 


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1. Deregulating Amateur Creativity 


The first change is the most obvious: we need to restore a copy- 
right law that leaves "amateur creativity" fi-ee fi-om regulation. Or 
put differently, we need to revive the kind of outrage that Sousa 
felt at the very idea that the law would regulate the equivalent of 
the "young people together singing the songs of the day or the old 
songs." This was our history. This history encouraged a wide range 
of RW creativity. And even if the twentieth century lulled us into 
a couch-potato stupor, there's no justification for permitting that 
stupor to sanction the radical change that the law, in the context 
of digital technologies, has now effected — the regulation, again, of 
amateur culture. 

That regulation could be avoided most simply by exempting 
"noncommercial" uses from the scope of the rights granted by copy- 
right. No doubt that line is hard to draw. But the law has already 
drawn it in many different copyright contexts. Eight sections of the 
Copyright Act explicitly distinguish their applications based upon 
the difference between commercial and noncommercial use.' A 
jurisprudence could develop to help guide the distinction here as well. 

This exemption should at least be made for noncommercial, or 
amateur, remix. Consider, for example, the following table: 










The rows distinguish between professional creativity and amateur. 
The YouTube video of Stephanie Lenz's thirteen-month-old is ama- 

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8/12/08 1:56:03 AM 



teur creativity; DJ Danger Mouse's remix of the Beatles' White and 
Jay-Z's Blac/^ albums is professional creativity. The columns dis- 
tinguish between remix and non-remix, or what I call "copies." 
"Remix" here means transformative work. "Copies" mean efforts not 
to change the original work but simply to make it more accessible. 

With this matrix then, we can now see at least one clear example 
of where culture should be deregulated — amateur remix. There is 
no good reason for copyright law to regulate this creativity. There 
is plenty of reason — both costs and creative — for it to leave that bit 
free. At a minimum. Congress should exempt this class of creative 
work from the requirements of clearing rights to create. 

By contrast, copies of professional work should continue to be 
regulated in the traditional manner. The right to distribute these 
could, in this model, remain within the exclusive control of the 
^ copyright holder. ^ 

Professional remix, and amateur distribution, are more compli- 
cated cases. There should be a broad swath of freedom for profes- 
sionals to remix existing copyrighted work; there's little reason to 
worry much about amateur or noncommercial distribution of cre- 
ative work — at least if the compensation plan described below is 
adopted. These categories could thus also be deregulated partially. 
But neither should be deregulated to the extent that amateur remix 

What about "fair use"? By "deregulating," I don't mean the doc- 
trine of fair use. I mean free use. Fair use is a critically important 
safety valve within copyright law. But it remains, perhaps necessar- 
ily, an extraordinarily complicated balancing act, and a totally inap- 
propriate burden for most amateur creators. My recommendation 
is that Congress exempt an area of creative work from the require- 
ments of fair use or the restriction of copyright. It is not that courts 


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256 REMIX 

find ways to balance the system to fi-ee use. By contrast, fair use 
would remain a critical part of any professional creativity. 

But what happens when a commercial entity wants to use this 
amateur creativity? What happens when YouTube begins to serve 
it? Or NBC wants to broadcast it? 

In these cases, the noncommercial line has been crossed, and the 
artists plainly ought to be paid — at least where payment is feasible. 
If a parent has remixed photos of his kid with a song by Gilberto 
Gil (as I have, many times), then when YouTube makes the amateur 
remix publicly available, some compensation to Gil is appropriate; 
just as, for example, when a community playhouse lets neighbors put 
on a performance consisting of a series of songs sung by neighbors, 
the public performance of those songs triggers a copyright obliga- 
tion (usually covered by a blanket license issued to the community 
/it\ playhouse). There are plenty of models within copyright law for /*\ 

assuring that payment. Collecting societies have long provided pri- 
vate solutions to these complex rights problems. Compulsory licens- 
ing regimes — where the law either specifies a price, or specifies a 
process for determining a price that will govern a particular use of a 
copyrighted work — have done the same.^ The aim in both cases is to 
find a simple and cheap way to secure payment for commercial use. 
The aim as well, I've argued, should be to avoid blocking noncom- 
mercial use in the process of protecting commercial use. 

This is not the balance the law currently strikes. Perversely, 
the law today says the amateur's work is illegal, but it grants You- 
Tube an immunity for indirectly profiting from work an artist has 
remixed. That is just backwards, and legal reform to reverse it is 

Most of those who would resist this kind of proposal wouldn't 
resist it for the money. Hollywood doesn't expect to get rich on 


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your kid's remix. Nor does it have a business model for licensing 
cheap reuse by cash-strapped kids. But it is worried about reputa- 
tion. What if a clip gets misused? What if Nazis spin it on their 
Web site? Won't people wonder why Kate Winslet has endorsed 
the NRA? (Don't worry. She hasn't.) 

This problem comes not, paradoxically, from a lack of control. It 
comes from too much control. Because the law allows the copyright 
owner to veto use, the copyright owner must worry about misuse. 
The solution to that worry is less power. If the owner can't control 
the use, then the misuse is not the owner's responsibility. 

Consider a parallel that makes the point more clearly. As every 
American should know, for almost a century after the Civil War, 
segregation continued to stain our ideal of equality. The Supreme 
Court took an important step toward reversing that fact in 1954, 
/it\ when it ruled state-sponsored segregation unconstitutional. But it /*\ 

wasn't until Congress began to enact meaningful civil rights legis- 
lation in the 1960s that equality made any real progress at all. 

The heart of that new legislation was the Civil Rights Act of 
1964, which, among other things, forbade discrimination in public 
accommodations, including restaurants, bars, and hotels. Among 
the many witnesses called to the congressional hearings in support 
of this federal regulation of "public" accommodations were owners 
of restaurants and hotels in the South.^ 

This fact at first seems puzzling. Why would the target of an 
extensive set of federal mandates be arguing in favor of those man- 
dates? Ideology isn't an explanation: these witnesses were not inte- 
grationists for reasons of principle or justice. Instead, they wanted the 
government to force them to do something for economic reasons. 

As the witnesses explained in principle, they wanted to serve 
African Americans. Segregation artificially constrained 


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258 REMIX 

their market. But if they simply opened their doors voluntarily to 
African Americans, whites would boycott the restaurants. Invit- 
ing blacks in would be seen as pro-black. Pro-black in the South 
was punished. But if the government removed any choice from the 
restaurants, then opening their doors to African Americans would 
be ambiguous. It might be because they were pro-black; it might 
be because they were simply following the law. According to these 
witnesses, that ambiguity would stanch any retaliation. Segregation 
could be ended without them having to pay the price for ending it. 

For reasons analogous to the civil rights debates, copyright law 
gives copyright owners more power than they should want. Put dif- 
ferently, like the Southern restaurant owners, they should want the 
law to remove some of the rights that the law currently gives them. 

Why? Well, think again about Warner and its relationship to 
/it\ its fan culture. Warner has come to see what many now under- /*\ 

stand: that the obsessive attention of fans makes their franchise 
more valuable. The "piracy" that happens when a fan takes a clip 
from a Harry Potter film to post on her Web site is productive. It 
makes Harry Potter more valuable. Warner reaps the benefit of 
that increased value. 

But as Marc Brandon rightly observed, trademark law puts some 
obligations on the trademark owner. Which means that technically, 
Warner needs to worry about which content it authorizes and which 
content it doesn't. Some of those worries are for good purpose: sites 
that commercialize Warner content cannibalize Warner's profit. 
But some of those worries are simply political, like content on a site 
promoting sex education, or opposing abortion. 

Warner must police such uses because not doing so might be 
seen as an endorsement of the particular uses. The fact that it is 


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Warner's right means that it is also Warner's responsibihty. Any 
mother opposing a particular way that Warner's material is used 
would be right to say to Warner, "This is your fault because you're 
perfectly able to say 'no' to this." 

Just as the Southern restaurant owner was free to say no to black 
patrons. That freedom meant responsibility, even when the respon- 
sibility had nothing to do with the ultimate purpose or profit of the 

Were the law to curtail Warner's rights by exempting from 
copyright regulation any noncommercial use of creative work, then 
Warner would not be responsible. When a parent objected to the 
use of Harry Potter on a site that also promoted Republican/Demo- 
cratic ideals, Warner's perfectly fair response would be, "There's 
nothing we could do about that. We don't have the right to regulate 
/it\ noncommercial use. This site is plainly using the content noncom- /*\ 

mercially." Warner's responsibility would thus end where its rights 
ran out. Its obligation to keep its products pure would be limited 
to those contexts in which commerce affected the use of its products. 

That limit would not just remove Warner's responsibility. It 
would also increase Warner's profits — at least for work that in- 
spires a fan community. For with the removal of a legal barrier 
to fan action, more fans will participate in that fan action. And 
the more who devote their efforts toward Warner creative 
products, the better it is for Warner. 

Less control here could mean more profit. Removing the right 
to some of that control would thus be a first, and valuable, change 
that Congress could make toward enabling the RW hybrids to 


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260 REMIX 

2. Clear Title 

When Google announced its plans to digitize — or Google-ize — 18 
million books, the editors at the Wall Street Journal were outraged. 
"There's a happy-go-lucky vibe around Google," the Journal wrote, 
contributing to an "image" that lends a "spin of respectability and 
beneficence to projects such as Google Print." "But," the Journal 
warned, "the mere activity of digitizing and storing millions of 
books . . . raises a serious legal question." Google was ignoring these 
questions, the Journal charged. "Intellectual property was impor- 
tant enough to the Founding Fathers for them to mention it explic- 
itly in the Constitution. We assume that when Google says 'Don't 
Be Evil' this includes 'Thou Shall Not Steal.'""' (Actually, the 
/it\ Constitution doesn't explicitly mention "intellectual property." It /*\ 

speaks of "exclusive rights" to "writings and discoveries" — aka, 
monopolies. To say that means the framers endorsed IP is like 
saying they endorsed "war" because the Constitution mentions 
that as well.) 

In this case, the editors missed a fundamental fact about the 
"property right" that copyright is. Copyright is property. But as cur- 
rently constituted it is the most inefficient property system known 
to man. That inefficiency is the core justification behind Google's 
claim to be allowed to use this content freely. "Fair use," in other 
words, turns upon this "inefficiency." 

Consider a few statistics. Of the 18 million books that Google 
intended to scan, 16 percent are in the public domain and 9 percent 
are in print, and in copyright — meaning 75 percent are out of print 
yet presumably within copyright.' 


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What does it mean to be out of print? The most important prac- 
tical consequence is that it is virtually impossible to identify who 
the owners of copyrights are for works that are out of print. Impos- 
sible precisely because the government has so totally failed to keep 
the property rights for these copyrights clear. There's no registry 
for identifying the owners of copyrighted works. Nor is there even 
a list of which works are copyrighted. For anyone trying to make 
culture accessible in exactly the way Google has, the existing system 
makes it impossible — at least if permission is required for any par- 
ticular use. 

This problem is not limited to Google. Consider the University 
of Houston's Digital Storytelling project. As I described, the major- 
ity of students at the University of Houston are not native English 
speakers. Many are immigrants. Most were raised in homes where 
/it^ English was not the mother tongue. This mix creates an impor- /*\ 

tant language gap: some students speak English significantly better 
than others, meaning any task exclusively in words is a task that 
burdens some more than others. 

To respond to this difference, Houston began a digital storytell- 
ing project. Students were invited to develop short videos that told 
a story about some period in American history. The stories were 
to mix images and sounds from the period, in a way that brought 
the history to life. But as these students discover recordings from 
the Depression, or photographs of the Korean War, what are they 
allowed to do with them? I'm not talking about Disney films, or the 
collected works of America's greatest jazz musicians. I'm talking 
instead about obscure works whose owner could never be found. 

The university's lawyers had a simple answer: they weren't 
happy with this permissionless use, but they would ignore it so 


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262 REMIX 

long as the project didn't let anyone see the work. These kids were 
allowed to create. But what they created could be viewed by no one 
except their teacher. 

Here again, this makes no sense. No one loses because of these 
kids' use. The law should not inhibit it at all. Yet the uncertainty 
that now dominates copyright law makes this, and a thousand 
other projects, uncertain. For no good copyright-related reason. 

Digital technologies make it feasible — for the first time in 
history — to do what Jefferson dreamed of when he founded the 
Library of Congress: "to sustain and preserve a universal collection 
of knowledge and creativity for future generations." The costs of 
digitizing and making accessible every bit of our past are increas- 
ingly trivial. At least, the technical costs are trivial. The legal 
costs, on the other hand, are increasingly prohibitive. Uncertainty 
/it\ destroys the potential of many of these projects. It reserves others /*\ 

to those companies only that can afford to bear this extraordinary 

This reality is ridiculous. The main function of copyright law is 
to protect the commercial life of creativity. Though there are excep- 
tions, in the vast majority of cases, that commercial life is over after 
a very short time.'^ There is no good copyright reason for the law 
to interfere with archives or universities that seek to digitize and 
make available our creative past. And yet the law does. 

This problem could be fixed relatively easily by applying an 
innovation as old as American copyright law. 

For most of the history of copyright in America (186 out of 
almost 220 years, to be precise), copyright was an opt-in system 
of regulation. You got the benefit of copyright protection only 
if you asked for it. If you didn't ask in the appropriate way — if you 
didn't register your work, mark it with a copyright symbol, deposit 


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it with the Library of Congress, and renew the copyright after an 
initial term — your work passed into the pubhc domain. That fact 
didn't bother most who pubhshed creative work in America. For 
much of that history, the majority of pubhshed work was never 
copyrighted. The vast majority of work that was copyrighted didn't 
renew its copyright after an initial term. 

This system was cumbersome, and expensive. Sometimes it 
resulted in an unfair forfeiture of rights. But it had an important 
benefit — both to other creators, and to the spread of creativity 
generally. The system was automatically self-correcting. It auto- 
matically narrowed its protection to works that — from the author's 
perspective — needed it. And it left the rest of the world of pub- 
lished creativity free of copyright regulation. 

This system of opt-in copyright was abolished beginning in 1976. 
/it\ Motivated in part by the desire to conform to international conven- /*\ 

tions, and in part by a desire simply to make the system simpler. Con- 
gress inverted the old system. Copyright was now an opt-out system, 
where the regulation of copyright was automatically extended to all 
creative work upon its creation. No formal acts were required to get 
the benefit of this protection. And the term was now the maximum 
term, automatically. When Congress made this change, it probably 
didn't matter much. Nineteen seventy-six was the climax of the RO 
culture. Those producing this culture benefited from this automatic 
expression of the right for them to control. 

In the RW era, however, this automatic and fundamentally 
ambiguous system of property law unnecessarily burdens creativity. 
And there are obvious, simple ways to change this system to remove 
this burden. The least destructive change, in my view, would cre- 
ate a maintenance obligation for copyright owners after an initial 
term of automatic protection. Under one proposal, fourteen years 


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264 REMIX 

after a work was published, the copyright owner would have to reg- 
ister the work. If she failed to do so, then others could use it either 
freely or with a minimal royalty payment. The system would clar- 
ify rights after fourteen years. The only work that would continue 
to be fully protected would be work that the author took steps to 

This change would thus clear the title to creative work, so the 
market could regulate access to that work more efficiently. In this 
sense, the proposal has parallels in every other body of property law. 
Copyright law is unique in its failure to impose formalities on prop- 
erty owners. In many areas, property law is unforgiving of those 
who fail to shoulder their fair share of the burden in keeping the 
system efficient. That principle should be returned to copyright. If 
it's not worth it for a copyright owner, after fourteen years, to take 
/it\ some minimal step to register her works, then it shouldn't be worth /*\ 

it for the United States government to threaten criminal prosecu- 
tion protecting the same property. 

This change would make the copyright system more effi cient. 
Copyright gives copyright owners a property right — just as real 
property law gives homeowners a property right to the land on 
which their house is built. In theory, this is a good thing. By 
protecting the resource with a property right, the law enables the 
resource to move to its highest-valued user. The market thus 
complements this property system by encouraging trades to make 
sure the right is held by the person or entity that values it most. 

For that system to function, however, the rights have to be clear. 
It must be possible to know who owns what. For that reason, for 
example, owners of land must file a deed describing the metes and 
bounds of their property. Or the owner of a car must file a registra- 


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tion. These systems are designed to make the market function effi- 
ciently. By making claims on the ownership of property clear — or 
put differently, by making title to property clear ("clear title") — 
the system assures that the property can be allocated in a way that 
makes everyone better off. Technology offers an extraordinary 
opportunity for making registration work efficiently. Already com- 
panies such as YouTube are experimenting with technology that 
can automatically identify video or music in the content that's being 
uploaded. We could easily imagine a system whereby, as these tech- 
nologies develop, copyright holders would "register" their work not 
in the old-fashioned way (by filing a form with the copyright office) 
but by uploading the works so that servers could take a signature 
of it, and then add that to the list of creative work monitored for 
infringement. Works that were added into this kind of "registra- 
/it\ tion system" would get the full protection of the law. Works that /*\ 

were not would, after a period of time, rise into the public domain. 

There's lots to question about that theory. But for my purposes 
here, I want to embrace it without qualification. Assuming one 
believes the market perfects a well-functioning property system, 
what has to be true about the property system? Or put differently, 
assuming we want the market to work well, is the copyright system 
designed to enable that? 

As it is currently built, the answer is no. As currently consti- 
tuted, copyright is an extraordinarily inefficient property system. 
Even the Wall Street Journal should see that. Or actually, especially 
the Wall Street Journal should see that. From its perspective, why 
would it be surprising that a government-crafted system of monop- 
oly would be inefficiently run? 


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266 REMIX 

3. Simplify 

The third change follows directly from the second. Congress must 
work to make the law simpler. 

If copyright were a regulation limited to large film studios and 
record companies, then its complexity and inefficiency would be 
unfortunate but not terribly significant. So what if Fox has to hire 
more lawyers to work through complex copyright licensing prob- 
lems ? (For those of us who make lawyers for a living [law profes- 
sors], the need is positively a good thing!) 

But when copyright law purports to regulate everyone with a 
computer — from kids accessing the Internet to grandmothers who 
allow their kids to access the Internet — then there is a special obliga- 
/it\ tion to make sure this regulation is clear. And that obligation is even /*\ 

stronger when, as here, the regulation is a regulation of speech. 

Copyright law fails miserably to live up to this standard. Under 
the current law, if a kid wants to legally make a video to post on You- 
Tube, synchronizing music from his favorite bands with film clips 
from his favorite movies, he has to clear rights. Even if the rights 
holders were likely to clear those rights, it would be extremely dif- 
ficult to track them down. And of course, considering the current 
attitudes of the major rights holders, it is impossible to imagine that 
they would even entertain the idea of authorizing this remix use. 

We thus have a system of technology that invites our kids to be 
creative. Yet a system of law prevents them from creating legally. 
The regulation of this creativity thus fails every important standard 
of efficiency and justice. And Congress should immediately address 
how it could be changed to make it work better. 

One particular area of the law's failure is the doctrine called 


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"fair use." Fair use is designed to limit the scope of copyright's 
regulation. A use that would otherwise be within the monopoly 
right of copyright is permitted by fair use to advance some 
important social end. So if my previous books are any indication, 
there will be many who after reading this book will copy text 
from it in a highly critical review. Such "copying" technically 
triggers the law of copyright. But the doctrine of fair use would 
protect that copying, so long as the scope and purpose of the 
copying were within the ordinary contours of criticism. 

The problem with fair use is not its objective. The problem is 
how it advances its objective. Once again, the doctrine was 
developed imagining it would be administered by lawyers. In a 
world where copyright only (effectively) regulated Fox and Sony 
Records, that might not be a terrible assumption. But again, when 
/it\ copyright law is meant to regulate Sony and your fifteen-year- /*\ 

old, a system that imagines that a gaggle of lawyers will review 
every use is criminally inadequate. If the law is going to regulate 
your kid, it must do so in a way your kid can understand. 

Fair use could do its work better if Congress followed in part 
the practice of European copyright systems. Specifically, Congress 
could specify certain uses that were beyond the scope of copyright 
law. Congress should not follow the Europeans completely, 
however. The flexibility of existing fair-use law does encourage 
development of the law. It should remain so that those who can 
afford the lawyers can push the law to develop in ways that make 
sense of the law. But that system must be married to a clearer 
and simpler system regulating everyone else. 

Conservatives should not resist this point. As one of America's 
leading libertarian scholars has taught us, the question for regulat- 
ors is not what rule perfectly advances the policy objectives. The 


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268 REMIX 

question is whether the return from a complex rule advancing 
some policy objective is worth the price/ In theory, the fancy quali- 
fications and limitations on copyright may well ideally balance 
protection and incentives. The real question should be whether we 
couldn't get very close to that ideal balance with a much much sim- 
pler (read: cheaper) system. 

I*. Decriminalizing the Copy 

The fourth change is perhaps the most geeky but possibly, in the 
end, the most important. Copyright law has got to give up its 
obsession with "the copy." The law should not regulate "copies" or 
"modern reproductions" on their own. It should instead regulate 
/it\ uses — like public distributions of copies of copyrighted work — /*\ 

that connect directly to the economic incentive copyright law was 
intended to foster. 

To most people, the idea that copyright law should regulate 
something other than copies seems absurd. How could you have a 
"copyright" law if it didn't regulate copies} But in fact, for most of 
our history copyright law didn't regulate copies. From 1790 until 
1909, the law regulated different uses that directly linked, or were 
likely to link, to the commercial exploitation of creative work. Thus, 
it regulated "publishing" and "republishing" of books, as well as 
"vending" of books — all activities likely to be commercial.* 

In 1909, the law was changed to refer to "copies."' Yet, as I've 
already described, even that change was not intended to widen the 
real scope of the law. And in any case, as Lyman Ray Patterson has 
argued, that change most likely was an error in drafting.^" None- 
theless, after 1909, the law reached beyond the particular acts that 


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Congress regulated. The law would reach as far as the technology 
for "copying" would reach. 

The effect of this change in technology was to change radically 
the scope of copyright law. In 1909, writes Jessica Litman, 

U.S. copyright law was technical, inconsistent, and difficult to 
understand, but it didn't apply to very many people or very many 
things. If one were an author or publisher of books, maps, charts, 
paintings, sculpture, photographs or sheet music, a playwright 
or producer of plays, or a printer, the copyright law bore on one's 
business. Booksellers, piano-roll and phonograph record publish- 
ers, motion picture producers, musicians, scholars, members of 
Congress, and ordinary consumers could go about their business 
without ever encountering a copyright problem. 
/itN Ninety years later, the U.S. copyright law is even more techni- /*\ 

cal, inconsistent and difficult to understand; more importantly, it 
touches everyone and everything. In the intervening years, copy- 
right has reached out to embrace much of the paraphernalia of mod- 
ern society Technology, heedless of law, has developed modes 

that insert multiple acts of reproduction and transmission — 
potentially actionable events under the copyright statute — into 
commonplace daily transactions. Most of us can no longer spend 
even an hour without colliding with the copyright law.^^ 

If copyright regulates copies, and copying is as common as breath- 
ing, then a law that triggers federal regulation on copying is a law 
that regulates too far. 

Instead, Congress should adopt again its historical practice of 
specifying precisely the kinds of uses of creative work that should 
be regulated by copyright law.^^ The law should be triggered by 


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270 REMIX 

uses that are presumptively, or likely to be, commercial uses in 
competition with the copyright owner's use. The law should leave 
unregulated uses that have nothing to do with the kinds of uses the 
copyright owner needs to control. Copying, in this world, would 
not itself invoke federal regulation. Public performances, or public 
distributions, or commercial distribution, would. 

Why is this important? Under the current law, it is easy to get 
thrown into the briar patch of copyright regulation, and very hard 
to get out. As I've described, if every single use of culture in the 
digital context produces a copy, then every single business that 
purports to use culture in a digital context is potentially subject to 
copyright's regulation. 

In some cases, that's not a problem. It's easy to identify whose 
permission is required, easy to secure that permission from the 
/it\ copyright owners. But in many other cases, the new or innovative /*\ 

use challenges the copyright holder. The use might create competi- 
tion, for example, that the copyright holder doesn't want. And so 
the threat of a copyright-infringement suit against the innovator is 
an effective way to control that innovation. Once that initial copy is 
made, the lawyers have to be called into the research lab. Complex 
and uncertain doctrine is waved around the project. Magic phrases 
are incanted, as if by witch doctors aiming to ward off inevitable 

I know this process well. Though I've never consulted for 
money in this context, I have been privy to many such conversations 
among technologists and venture capitalists, trying to understand 
whether their next great idea will end them up in financial jail 
(i.e., litigation). I've watched as one side makes a pitch that seems to 
everyone 100 percent convincing. And then the other side makes a 
counterpitch that also seems 100 percent convincing. The net result 


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is always a gamble. And because copyright liability is so severe, it is 
often a "bet-the-company" gamble. 

This is an extraordinary waste of economic resources. A busi- 
ness shouldn't need a witch doctor to tell it whether its plan is 
legal — especially a witch doctor who charges $400 to $800 an hour. 
The law instead needs to be clearer. And the complication caused 
by the law being triggered upon the mere creation of a copy is an 
unnecessary tax on the creative process. 

5. Decriminalizing File Sharing 

My final change is the one I will describe the least because, again, 
others have effectively mapped this change." But it is my view that 
/it\ Congress needs to decriminalize file sharing, either by authorizing /*\ 

at least noncommercial file sharing with taxes to cover a reason- 
able royalty to the artists whose work is shared, or by authorizing a 
simple blanket licensing procedure, whereby users could, for a low 
fee, buy the right to freely file-share. The former solution has been 
described in depth by Neil W. Netanel and William Fisher. The 
latter is the proposal of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 

While there are advantages and disadvantages to both types of 
solutions, it is critical that Congress take steps to do one or the other. 
The reason flows from a simple reality check: a decade of fighting 
p2p file sharing has neither stopped illegal sharing nor found a way 
to make sure artists are compensated for unauthorized sharing. In 
short, the strategy of this decade has failed to advance the objectives 
of copyright law — providing compensation to creators for their cre- 
ative work. 

No doubt there are still a thousand ideas about how we could 


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272 REMIX 

regulate the technology of the Internet to kill p2p file sharing. And 
no doubt there are gaggles of lawyers who would love the easy work 
of suing kids and their parents for illegal file sharing. But the ques- 
tion Congress should ask is what strategy is most likely to assure 
compensation to artists, and minimize the criminalization of our 

Decriminalizing file sharing is that strategy. As the work of 
Fisher demonstrates, there are plenty of ways that we might tag 
and trace particular uses of copyrighted material. That provides 
the baseline for compensating artists for the use of their creative 
work. And while I don't believe we need to embrace this system 
permanently just now, I do believe a transition regulation, designed 
to compensate and decriminalize, would significantly reduce the 
collateral damage being caused by the current war. 

All five of these changes would go a long way toward relieving the 
copyright system of unnecessary pressure. They would go a very 
long way toward legalizing most of the uses of creative work on 
the Internet today. And they would not limit in any way the profits 
of the industries that fight so hard to resist these uses. That's the 
ultimate test that copyright law should pose: would these uses 
actually do any harm? The people I spoke with in preparing this 
book made that point again and again. As Don Joyce explained: 

All lawsuits in this field are always couched in economic terms: 
"By ripping this off, by stealing this thing, you have threatened 
the economic viability of the original somehow." They actually 
say that without any proof that that's true at all. I have never seen 
anyone prove that in fact, that some work was diminished in its 


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ability to make money by somebody's sample. In my mind the 
work that's reusing it is not in competition with the original. And 
you haven't removed the original. It's still there. It will always be 
there, as it is, as it was, as the original. And if you sample from it, 
you've made something else. You've probably put samples from ten 
other things into this thing, and that's just one little element, and 
together the parts make up something that has very little bearing 
on that one thing you may have sampled from. I just don't think 
there's an argument there of what the harm is. If there's no harm, 
and it's a lot of fun, I say do it. No one's ever shown me that the 
harm is real. 

That much is perfectly true. Economists argue ferociously about 
whether or to what extent p2p file sharing of complete digital cop- 
/it\ ies of commercially available works might harm the copyright /*\ 

owner. But no one would even speculate about the harm that comes 
from remixing works, much of which is not even commercially 

Of course, that's not to say there's no "harm" here at all. As 
Johan Soderberg put it to me: "I don't think I'm hurting anybody. I 
mean, of course I am hurting [Bush and Blair]. It's something that 
is against George Bush and Tony Blair. So I'm hurting them." But 
is it copyright's job to protect Blair and Bush from criticism.'' Is that 
the reason the framers granted Congress the right to secure exclu- 
sive rights.'' If you even hesitate to answer that question, then let me 
suggest you know very little about the motives of our framers. Giv- 
ing government the power to silence critics through licensing was 
them at their worst (see, e.g., the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798). 
It was not one of the ideals motivating the drafting of our founding 


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he law is just one part of the problem. A bigger part is us. Our 
norms and expectations around the control of culture have been 
set by a century that was radically different from the century we're 
/it\ in. We need to reset these norms to this new century. We need to /*\ 

develop a set of norms to guide us as we experience the RW culture 
and build hybrid economies. We need to develop a set of judgments 
about how to react appropriately to speech that we happen not to 
like. We, as a society, need to develop and deploy these norms. 

Chilling the Control Freal(s 

We know the norms this century needs. We can find them if we 
think again about the freedoms in writing. We were all taught as 
a kid how to write. We measure education by how well writing is 
learned. As I've already noted, this is a profoundly democratic fea- 
ture of our creative culture: we tell everyone they should learn how 
to speak as well as how to listen. 

That core experience brings with it certain expectations — not 


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just about what anyone is free to do, but also about the appropri- 
ate response to what anyone writes. Put simply, that response is 
essentially substantive and laissez-faire. When someone writes a 
stupid opinion, the appropriate reply questions the opinion, not the 
right of someone to write it. And while falsity could invite a legal 
response (defamation), there is (in the American tradition at least) a 
strong presumption against getting the government involved unless 
absolutely necessary. The Constitution limits the power of a pub- 
lic figure to sue for defamation. And someone who responds to an 
error with a lawsuit rightly loses the sympathy of most of us. This 
is the one place where President Andrew Jackson's mother's advice 
remains strong: "Never tell a lie, nor take what is not your own, 
nor sue anybody for slander, assault and battery. Always settle them 
cases yourself."^ At least with respect to the slander part, that's got 
^ to be right. ^ 

As I've already argued, these writing norms are different from 
the norms that govern much of the arts. The willingness to invoke 
the legal system to address misuse with films or music is astonish- 
ing. As Academy Award— winning director Davis Guggenheim 
told me eight years ago, it is also increasing. 

Ten years ago . . . if incidental artwork . . . was recognized by a com- 
mon person, then you would have to clear its copyright. Today, 
things are very different. Now if any piece of artwork is recogniz- 
able by anybody . . . then you have to clear the rights of that and 
pay to use the work. [Ajlmost every piece of artwork, any piece of 
furniture, or sculpture, has to be cleared before you can use it.^ 

We need the norms governing text to govern culture generally. 
This change must start with the companies that now have legal 


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276 REMIX 

control over so much of our culture. They must show leadership. 
Henry Jenkins divides these companies into two sorts: 

[SJtarting with the legal battles over Napster, the media indus- 
tries have increasingly adopted a scorched-earth policy toward 
their consumers, seeking to regulate and criminalize many forms 
of fan participation that once fell below their radar. Let's call 
them the prohibitionists. To date, the prohibitionist stance has 
been dominant within old media companies (film, television, the 
recording industry), though these groups are to varying degrees 

starting to reexamine some of these assumptions At the same 

time, on the fringes, new media companies. .. are experimenting 
with new approaches that see fans as important collaborators in 
the production of content and as grassroots intermediaries helping 
/itN to promote the franchise. We will call them the collaborationists.^ /*\ 

These collaborationists are forcing "media companies to rethink 
old assumptions about what it means to consume media.""* As they 
experiment more with freedom, they will encourage norms that 
support that freedom as well. 

Showing Sharing 

As I've already described, copyright law is automatic. It reaches out 
and controls what you create — whether you intend it or not, and 
whether it benefits you or not. An academic publishing a paper 
wants nothing more than people to copy and read her paper. But 
the law says no copying without permission. A teacher with an 
innovative lesson plan for teaching Civil War history would love 


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nothing more than for others to use his work. The law says others 
can't without clearing the rights up front. The essence of copyright 
law is a simple default: No. For many creators, the essence of the 
creativity is: Of course. 

No one needs to question the motive or necessity of those who 
insist that they must reserve all rights to themselves. Maybe they 
do. Who am I to say different? But while conceding a necessity 
sometimes, we should never concede that sometimes means always. 
That Lucasfilm needs to control all its rights to profit from its 
genius does not mean that a law professor writing an article about 
bankruptcy needs the same protection. Or that NBC needs to con- 
trol the commercial exploitation oiER does not mean NBC should 
have the right to control the exploitation of the presidential debates. 
The copyright model works well in some places. But some places 
/it\ doesn't mean everywhere. /*\ 

Movements like the Creative Commons were born to help people 
see the difference between somewhere and everywhere. Creative 
Commons gives authors free tools — legal tools (copyright licenses) 
and technical tools (metadata and simple marking technology) — to 
mark their creativity with the freedoms they intend it to carry. So 
if you're a teacher, and you want people to share your work, CC 
gives you a tool to signal this to others. Or if you're a photogra- 
pher and don't mind if others collect your work, but don't want 
Time magazine to take your work without your permission, then 
CC would give you a license to signal this. All the licenses express 
the relevant freedoms in three separate layers: one, a "commons 
deed" that expresses the freedoms associated with the content in a 
human readable form; two, the "legal code," that is the actual copy- 
right licenses; and three, metadata surrounding the content that 
expresses the freedoms contained within that copyright license in 


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278 REMIX 

terms computers can understand. These three layers work together 
to make the freedoms associated with the creative work clear. Not 
all freedoms, but some. Not "All Rights Reserved" but "Some 
Rights Reserved." 

In the five years since this project launched, millions of digital 
works have been marked to signal this freedom rather than con- 
trol. Some have used them to help spread their work. Others have 
used them simply to say, "This is the picture of creativity I believe 
in." And as the tools have been used, they have begun to define 
an alternative, privately built copyright system: Almost two-thirds 
of the licenses restrict commercial use but permit noncommer- 
cial use. The vast majority permit free derivatives, though half of 
those require that the derivatives be released freely as well. This is 
a picture of a much more balanced regime, built by volunteers, one 
/it\ license at a time. And it signals something to other artists as well. /*\ 

This signal is very important, for it shows an alternative that 
authors and artists have selected. But more need to show the very 
same sign. Whole fields need to establish a different copyright 
default. Not necessarily by legislative change. Or at least not yet. 
But by the voluntary action of those who believe the default should 
be different. 

Indeed, if you look at the five changes I suggest copyright law 
should make, four of those changes Creative Commons already 
enables through the voluntary action of copyright owners. 

First, every CC license authorizes at least noncommercial dis- 
tribution. That goes a great distance in deregulating amateur 

Second, CC licenses make it simple to identify who a copyright 
owner is. More significantly. Creative Commons is now taking the 


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lead in building an international copyright registry. Both changes 
help clear title to copyrighted works, and thus help a market in 
copyright work better. 

Third, CC licenses are designed to simplify as much as possible 
the copyright system it builds upon. Think of the copyright system 
as the command line interface for computers before Windows or 
the Mac became common. Like Windows, or graphical user inter- 
faces generally, CC tries to make it easier for the ordinary user to 
use the copyright system. Not to do everything, but to do the sorts 
of things ordinary people are likely to need done. 

And finally, as every CC license at least authorizes 
noncommercial copying, we have decriminalized the copy. The 
question is not "Has a copy been made?" The question is, "For 
what purpose has a copy been made?" This goes a great distance 
/it\ in simplifying copyright in contexts of unexpected or unpredicted /*\ 

uses. That simplifi-cation should be Congress's objective as well. 

Though I was one of those who helped start Creative Commons, 
I'm the first to argue that CC is just a step to rational copyright 
reform, not itself an ultimate solution. But its key advantage is that 
it works with creators to build a better copyright system. Unlike 
the standard debate, which sets users against creators, CC is reform 
advanced by authors and artists themselves. We say what control 
we need. And in that conversation, we get to debate just how much 
control is healthy or necessary for a culture. 

More creators need to take part in this conversation. More need 
to ask those who don't why they don't. We all need to work for a 
norm that doesn't condemn copyright, but rather condemns sense- 
lessly deployed copyright. You can be in favor of handguns and 
oppose giving handguns to kids. Likewise here. 


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280 REMIX 

Rediscovering the Limits of Regulation 

The final change is perhaps the most important. It is certainly the 
most general. We as a culture need to rediscover an idea that was 
dominant when Sousa was first learning to conduct: We must rec- 
ognize the limits in regulation. 

We've just left a century in which governmental power across 
the world was greater than at any time in human history. So too were 
people's expectations of government. At some point in the course 
of the century, it became almost natural to imagine that government 
could do anything. At some point, it seemed obvious that the only 
limit to governmental power was governmental incompetence. 

Many in the nineteenth century had a very different view about 
/it\ government. Many believed that government could do little, or /*\ 

maybe nothing, to change how people behaved. As the prominent 
nineteenth-century legal theorist James C. Carter put it, 

[H]uman transactions, especially private transactions, can be 
governed only by the principles of justice; . . . these have an 
absolute existence, and cannot be made by human enactment; . . 
. they are wrapped up with the transactions which they regulate, 
and are discovered by subjecting those transactions to examin- 
ation. [T]he law is consequently a science depending upon the 
observation of facts and not a contrivance to be established by 
legislation, that being a method directly antagonistic to sciences 

If society is to change or improve. Carter believed, it must do so 
by improving the individual. Legislation cannot "originate" that 


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change, Carter believed, though "it may aid it." "Men cannot be 
made better," Carter declared, "by a legal command.'* 

In many ways, my own work could well be characterized as 
an apology for regulation. My first book. Code and Other Laws of 
Cyberspace, argued strongly that while I was as skeptical of our cur- 
rent government as any, it was extraordinarily important that the 
government help ensure that the values of cyberspace were our val- 
ues. My argument was criticized by libertarians, who believed the 
best role for government was no role at all. They argued that cyber- 
space would be best off if government kept its hands off. 

I still believe that there are important strategic ways in which 
government can do good. But the last few years have convinced me 
that we all must be less optimistic about the potential of govern- 
ment to do good. 
/it\ This (obvious) point first cracked into my head as I was read- /*\ 

ing the accounts of America's war in Iraq. Whole libraries have 
been published about the failures in that war.^ In book after book, 
even those sympathetic to the objectives of the war could barely 
find anything good to say about how it was executed. But as I read 
more and more of these books, I was struck most by a question that 
seemed simply not to have been asked before that war was waged: 
What reason was there to think that government power could suc- 
ceed in occupying and remaking Iraqi society? 

I'm not talking about the invasion: that's easy enough. Invasions 
are won with powerful tanks and well-placed bombs. I'm talk- 
ing about everything that would obviously have to be done after 
the invasion — from security, to electric power, to food supplies, to 
education. It was as if those at the very top simply assumed that the 
government could do all these things, without ever asking whether 
that assumption made any sense. 


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282 REMIX 

What made this all the more weird was that the very people 
who were operating upon this vision of regulatory omnipotence 
were the same people who, in a million other contexts, would have 
been most skeptical about the government's ability to do anything. 
We're not talking about FDR here. Or even the socialist member 
of the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders. We're talking about 
people who don't believe the government can run a railroad. But if 
a government can't run a railroad, how is it to run a whole society? 
What possible reason is there to think that we had anything like 
the capacity necessary to do this? 

For though many predicted resistance, the presumption 

behind our government's actions was that force could always 

quell resistance. If the enemy fought back, we'd fight harder. 

And at some point, we'd fight hard enough to overcome the en- 

/it\ emy. All that was needed was a strong will and good character. /*\ 

There's a deep fallacy in this way of thinking. In a democracy, 
more power does not translate into more success. Instead, like a car 
trying to free itself from a snowbank, in a democracy, more power 
is often self-defeating. There is a limit to what a government can 
do that can't simply be overcome by adding power or resources to 
the problem. At some point, adding more regulation decreases the 
effective control over the target. 

This is not a book about Iraq. But I suggest we can apply the 
point about that war to the other wars we are waging. There are 
many such wars that would benefit from such consideration. But 
the one I want to return to is the war we are waging against our 
kids because of the way they use digital technology. 

Again, as I've described, when p2p file sharing took off, the 
response of the government (and those who pushed the govern- 
ment) was that this bad behavior should be regulated away. We 


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assumed that if the government put enough force behind it — 
enough prosecutions, enough suspensions from universities — 
eventually, the bad behavior would stop. 

In fact, the evidence is to the contrary. The government has 
passed law after law. It has threatened extraordinary punishments. 
And private actors like the RIAA have delivered these punishments 
in literally thousands of lawsuits — more than seventeen thousand 
as of 2006. But so far, this effort has been a massive failure. Not 
because it has failed to protect the profits of the record companies. 
No doubt, it has done that to some degree. But the real failure of 
this war is the effect that this massive regulation has had on the 
basic integrity of our kids. Our kids are "pirates." We tell them this. 
They come to believe it. Like any human, they adjust the way they 
think in response to this charge. They come to like life as a "pirate." 
/it\ That way of thinking then bleeds. Like the black marketeers in /*\ 

Soviet Russia, our kids increasingly adjust their behavior to answer 
a simple question: How can I escape the law? 

This concern is not just speculation. There is important legal 
and sociological evidence to support the concern that overcriminal- 
ization in this one (and central) area of our kids' lives could have 
negative effects in other areas of their lives, and on attitudes toward 
the law generally. To the extent that kids view the laws regulating 
culture as senseless or, worse, corrupt, that makes them less likely 
to obey those laws. To the extent that they see these senseless laws 
as indicative of the legal system generally, they may be less likely 
to obey those laws generally. Developing the habit of mind, especially 
in youth, of avoiding laws because they are seen to be wrong, or 
silly, or simply unjust, develops a practice of thinking that could 
bleed beyond the original source. Of course, no one would claim 
that laws against piracy increase the incidence of rape or murder. 


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284 REMIX 

But there is evidence that if the laws regulating culture are per- 
ceived to be morally unjust, that erodes the conditions within a cul- 
ture for supporting the law more generally.^ 

But I'm not driven to this concern because of compelling 
T-statistics in a multiple regression. The source of my concern is 
the literally hundreds of people under thirty who have spoken to 
me passionately about this issue. Just as I was completing this man- 
uscript, for example, one teenager sent me an essay he had writ- 
ten about "piracy." As his essay, titled "Who Passes Up the Free 
Lunch," explained: 

You can get any song you want, any type of music, from any era, 
and it's all FREE! What could be better? All of music's history is 
at your disposal for one low monthly price: $0! . . . 
/itN I download songs all the time for these exact reasons. It's /*\ 

quick, easy and best of all, free! The other side of it is the artists 
that lose the revenue that they would have got if all those people 
had bought the CD's. Obviously not everyone would have bought 
the CD, but this creates a moral dilemma between supporting the 
artists and just taking the free lunch. The RIAA says this is ille- 
gal, the artists say it's stealing their money, and most of educated 
society says it's just plain wrong, but here's the problem: I com- 
pletely agree with both sides. 

"Pirating" music, as the RIAA calls it, is something I do when- 
ever I want some new music. All I do is type in the name of the 
artist or song, and click download, and voila, it appears and starts 
playing. It's so easy it's like stealing candy from a baby. However, 
now I'm at a point where I kind of take it for granted, and I don't 
even think about what I would do if one day it were suddenly not 
available. In a time when there are so many options to amass a 


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music collection, I take the way that is most convenient for me and 
most damaging to the artists. Much has been said in the justice 
system, in the media and online about the legality of these peer to 
peer networks, but the reality is that millions of people do it and 
only a few are ever stopped. I shamefully admit that, despite my 
sympathy for the artists and others who lose money from the file- 
sharing, I consciously take part in it and I have no plans to stop in 
the near future. 

Some people can justify stealing music because they do not 
realize the consequences; that is not the case for me because I am 
fully aware of them. I live in New York City, a place with liberal 
political views and that has been the home to many famous musi- 
cians over the years. My school. Trinity, is a place full of people 
with enough money to buy their own CD's, and there is also a 
/itN club that is trying to encourage people to trade CD's. However, /*\ 

despite many people's support of the philosophy of this group, in 
this digital age, it is simply infinitely easier to share music online. 
I even have a guitar teacher who writes songs for a living, and 
who depends on the money that people steal when they download 
songs from the internet. I am even so self-consciously guilty about 
this that I hide the program on my computer so she can't see it 
when she comes. I tell her that I get my songs from my friends 
because I know that even if she wouldn't tell me directly, she 
would be very disappointed in me. Each of these three groups that 
I am a part of. New Yorkers, Trinitarians, and guitar players, has 
a moral opposition to "pirating" music, yet somehow, as a member 
of educated society, I am able to shun this opposition in favor of a 
"free lunch." 

So why is it that I, as well as millions of other people, go 
on stealing music from artists every day.'' For some, it may be 


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286 REMIX 

disrespect for copyright laws, or simply an issue of money that one 
uses to justify "pirating" music. Others may not know the conse- 
quences for the artists, or choose to disregard those consequences. 
However, there is still another, more hedonistic reason, which I 
too can identify with, why people still download music from the 
internet. In a way, it is a product of our take-what-you-can capital- 
istic society, but at the same time our justice system has said that 
it is illegal 

The singer "Weird Al" Yankovic also deals with the issue of 
morality in one of his songs, creatively titled, "Don't Download 
This Song." He uses his playful lyrics to convince people to buy 
CD's, but at the same time, he doesn't exactly side with the art- 
ists or the RIAA either. He talks about the "guilt" and "shame" 
that will stay with you after you download the music, but later he 
/itN talks about the RIAA like it's an evil empire prosecuting children /*\ 

and grandmas willy-nilly. Also, he mentions another part that has 
been at the back of my mind: Why do the artists need the money 
more than me because they're already super-rich.? His perspec- 
tive as an artist is very interesting, because one would think that 
he would only be supportive of artists and the RIAA. Instead, he 
refuses to redeem the morality of either side, only adding to the 
murkiness of this issue. 

Ok, so there you have it: while I have a moral opposition to 
"pirating" music, the proposition of free music makes this opposi- 
tion purely philosophical. All I have left to do is hope that "Weird 
Al" was wrong when in "Don't Download This Song," he calmly 
describes the only possible progression for a "music pirate": "You'll 
start out stealing songs, then you're robbing liquor stores, and sell- 
ing crack, and running over school kids with your car." Oh, and 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.indd 286 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:14AM 



also that I never get good enough at guitar to have my music "sto- 
len" on LimeWire.' 

I've never met the author of this essay. But I meet his kind all the 
time. They are my students. They populate the Stanford campus. 
And their attitude reveals a cost tied to the war we now wage. 

No politician has explained how the benefits we seek in this war 
against piracy could ever justify that cost. No politician supporting 
this war has ever considered the alternatives to this war, and the 
costs. We have a practiced blindness when it comes to waging "war." 
We don't think about costs. We think instead about the morality of 
our cause. But as history has taught us again and again, morality in 
motive does not guarantee morality in result. Good intentions are 
a first step. Responsibility requires considering, and reconsidering, 
^ every step after that. ^^ 

We as a people need to remember: government power is limited. 
It is not limited because the government has limited funds. Or lim- 
ited bullets. It is limited because it operates against a background 
of basic morality. That morality insists upon proportionality. The 
parent who beats his child with a two-by-four because the child 
didn't clean his room is not wrong to insist his child clean his room. 
He is wrong because however right the motive, means are always 
subject to measure. A parent, an army, a government: they all must 
be certain that their devotion to truth does not blind them to the 
consequences of their actions. There's only so much a government 
can do. Where we find that limit, we must then find other means to 
the legitimate end. 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.indd 287 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:15 AM 


^ ^ 


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he economic theory behind copyright justifies it as a tool to 
deal with what economists call the "problem of positive exter- 
nalities."' An "externality" is an effect that your behavior has on 
/it\ someone else. If you play your music very loudly and wake your /*\ 

neighbors, your music is producing an externality (noise). If you 
renovate your house and add a line of beautiful oak trees, your 
renovation produces an externality (beauty). Beauty is a positive 
externality — people generally like to receive it. Noise is a negative 
externality — people (especially at 3 a.m.) don't like to receive it. 

Copyright law deals with the positive externality produced by 
the nature of creative work. Creative work is a "public good" — 
meaning that (1) once it is shared, anyone can consume it without 
reducing the amount anyone else has; and (2) it is hard to restrict 
anyone from consuming it once it is available to all. If you paint a 
beautiful mural on your garage door, my viewing it doesn't reduce 
your opportunity to view it. And without building a wall around 
your garage (not a very practical design, for a garage at least), it's 
very hard to block who gets to see your mural. 


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290 REMIX 

Jefferson put the same idea more lyrically in a letter he wrote in 

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of 
exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, 
which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to 
himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession 
of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its pecu- 
liar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other 
possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives 
instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper 
at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely 
spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual 
instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have 
/itN been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made /*\ 

them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density 
at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our 
physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.^ 

Jefferson was talking about ideas here. Copyright regulates ex- 
pression. But his observations about the nature of ideas are increas- 
ingly true of expression. If I post this book on the Internet, then your 
taking a copy doesn't remove my having a copy too ("no one pos- 
sesses the less, because every other possess the whole"). And my 
making a copy available for you to have makes it relatively difficult 
to prevent others from having a copy as well ("like the air in which 
we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confine- 
ment or exclusive appropriation"). "Relatively difficult," not impos- 
sible: the whole history of Digital Rights Management technology 
has been the aim to remake Jefferson's nature — to make it so digital 


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objects are like physical objects (your taking one copy means one less 
for me; your getting access means I don't have access).^ But in the 
state of Internet nature, Internet expression is like Jefferson's ideas. 

I said that economists justify copyright as a way to deal with the 
"problem of positive externalities." But why, you might rightly won- 
der, are "positive externalities" a problem ? Why isn't it a positive good 
that expression "should freely spread from one to another over the 
globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improve- 
ment of his condition"? Why isn't it "peculiarly and benevolently" 
the Internet's "nature," to be encouraged rather than restricted ? 

The answer, for the economist at least, is that while free is no 
doubt good, if everything were free, there would be too little incen- 
tive to produce. And if there's not enough monetary incentive to 
produce, the economist fears, then not enough stuff is produced. 
/it\ In this book I've sketched a bunch of obvious replies to this fear: /*\ 

there are tons of incentives beyond money. Look at the sharing econ- 
omy. Look at 100 million blogs, only 13 percent of which run ads.'' 
Look at Wikipedia or Free Software. Look at academics or scien- 
tists. We have plenty of examples of creative expression produced on 
a model different from the one that Britney Spears employs. 

But I've also made the other side to that argument clear: the 
sharing economy notwithstanding, there's lots that won't be cre- 
ated without an effective copyright regime too. I love terrible 
Hollywood blockbusters. If anyone could copy in high quality a 
Hollywood film the moment it was released, no one could afford 
to make $100 million blockbusters. So give me this example at least. 
And if there's one example, then it's plausible that there are more. 
Movies. Maybe music. Maybe some kinds of books — dictionaries, 
maybe novels by John Grisham. We should of course be skeptical 
about how broadly this regulation needs to reach. (Supreme Court 


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292 REMIX 

justice Stephen Breyer got tenure at Harvard with a piece that 
expressed deep skepticism about how broadly this claimed need 
reaches.)' But I'm convinced that it reaches into some places at least. 
For those cases, without solving the problem of positive externali- 
ties, we wouldn't have that kind of creative work. 

So to get Hollywood films, some kinds of blockbuster movies, 
maybe Justin Timberlake— like music, and maybe a few types of books, 
we run a copyright system. That system is a form of regulation. Like 
most regulation, after a while, it becomes big and expensive. Federal 
courts and federal prosecutors spend a lot of money enforcing the law 
copyright is. Companies invest millions in technologies for protecting 
copyrighted material. Universities run sting operations on their own 
students to punish or expel those who fail to follow copyright's rule. 
We build this massively complex system of federal regulation — a 
/it\ regulation that purports to reach everyone who uses a computer — to /*\ 

solve this "problem" of positive externalities. 

Good for us. Our government is working hard to "solve" this 
"problem." But what about negative externalities? What does our 
government do about those? Think, for example, about mercury 
spewed as pollution in the exhaust from coal-fired power plants. 
Or think about the carbon spewed from these coal-fired power 
plants. These too are externalities. Millions are exposed to danger- 
ous levels of mercury because of this pollution. The planet teeters on 
a catastrophic climate tipping point because of this carbon. What- 
ever harm there might be in not having yet another Star Tre\, the 
harms from these negative externalities are unquestionable and real. 
They cause real deaths. They will cause extraordinary dislocation 
and economic harm. So given its keen interest in regulating to pro- 
tect against uncompensated positive externalities, what precisely has 
our government done about undoubtedly harmful negative exter- 


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nalities? In the past ten years, in a time when Congress has passed 
at least twenty-four copyright bills, 6 and federal prosecutors and 
federal civil courts have been used to wage "war" on "piracy" so 
as to solve the problem of positive externalities, what exactly has 
the government been doing about these negative externalities ? 

The answer is, not much. Though President Bush successfully 
deflected Al Gore's charge in 2000 that we faced a carbon crisis by 
promising to tax carbon when elected, within two weeks of his swear- 
ing in, he reversed himself, and indicated he didn't think global warm- 
ing was a problem.7 And though the Clean Air Act plainly regulates 
pollutants like mercury in power plants, in 2003, the Bush adminis- 
tration changed the regulations to "allow polluters to avoid actually 
having to reduce mercury ."s Thus, with these real and tangible harms 
caused by negative externalities, the government has done worse than 
/it\ nothing. At the same time, it has devoted precious resources to fight- /*\ 

ing a problem that many don't even believe is a problem at all. 

So what gives ? 

It's been a decade since I got myself into the fight against 
copyright extremism. Throughout this book, I have argued that 
this decade's work has convinced me that this war is causing great 
harm to our society. Not only from losses in innovation. Not only 
from the stifling of certain kinds of creativity. Not only because it 
unjustifiably limits constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. But also, 
and most importantly, because it is corrupting a whole generation 
of our kids. We wage war against our children, and our children 
will become the enemy. They will become the criminals we 
name them to be. And because there is no good evidence to sug- 
gest that we will win this war, that's all the reason in the world to 
stop these hostilities — especially when there are alternatives that 
advance the purported governmental interest without rendering a 
generation criminal. 


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294 REMIX 

But there is insult to add to this injury. For the point is not just 
that our government is waging a hopeless war. It is that our govern- 
ment does little to fight real harm, while it wastes resources fight- 
ing "problems" that are not even clear harms. 

And why does it do this ? 

The lesson a decade's work has taught me is that the reason has 
nothing to do with stupidity. It has nothing to do with ignorance. 
The simple reason we wage a hopeless war against our kids is that 
they have less money to give to political campaigns than Holly- 
wood does. The simple reason we do nothing while our kids are 
poisoned with mercury, or the environment is sent over the falls 
with carbon, is that our kids and our environment have less money 
to give to campaigns than the utilities and oil companies do. Our 
government is fundamentally irrational for a fundamentally ratio- 
/it\ nal reason: policy follows not sense, but dollars. /*\ 

Until that problem is solved, a whole host of problems will go 
unsolved. Global warming, pollution, a skewed tax system, farm 
subsidies: our government is irrational because it is, in an impor- 
tant way, corrupt. And until that corruption is solved, we should 
expect little good from this government. 

This book is not about that corruption generally. All I have aimed 
for here is to get you to take one small step. Whatever you think about 
global warming, the environment, tax gifts to favored corporations, 
subsidies that benefit only corporate farmers, at least think this: there 
is no justification for the copyright war that we now wage against our 
kids. Demand that the war stop now. And once it is over, let's get on to 
the hard problem of crafting a copyright system that nurtures the full 
range of creativity and collaboration that the Internet enables: one that 
builds upon the economic and creative opportunity of hybrids and 
remix creativity; one that decriminalizes the offense of being a teen. 


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his book is the culmination of a long effort to make an obvious point 
clear. Much of that effort came in the form of lectures I've given 
about this subject since publishing Free Culture (2004). There have been 
^jbs more than two hundred such lectures. Each time, the argument advanced /^ 

and changed, sometimes slightly, sometimes significantly. This book rep- 
resents an end to that evolution, if only because I have shifted the focus of 
my work elsewhere. 

Throughout this period, I have felt as if I was mediating between two 
powerful views — one expressed in the work of the late Lyman Ray Pat- 
terson; the other, expressed in the passion of the late Jack Valenti. 

Patterson was a law professor at the University of Georgia. He was 
one of the first copyright scholars to look at the law of copyright and the 
reality of modern society and conclude something was profoundly out 
of order. Valenti was the president of the Motion Picture Association of 
America. He too looked at the law of copyright and the reality of mod- 
ern society, and concluded something was profoundly out of order. For 
Patterson, the something out of order was the law. For Valenti, it was 
the society — or at least the youth of our society. Both worked until their 
dying days to correct the wrong that each had identified. 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.indd 295 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:17 AM 



I met Patterson just once. I debated Jack Valenti publicly four times. 
And though the views of these two men could not have been more differ- 
ent, in the end I realized that the peculiar focus of this book, and of my 
work these past four years, was largely due to the powerful influence of 
both men. Were they still alive, I would have asked before I mixed them 
together in a single dedication. But as each devoted much of his life to 
teaching (even if in very different ways), I trust they both would have 
allowed the lesson that this particular remix might teach. 

I am grateful to the many whose ideas and arguments I've used in 
this book and who have fundamentally shaped my thinking. I had a 
very different conception of the story this book tells, for example, until 
Tim O'Reilly shifted my view fundamentally. Likewise, though in dif- 
fering degrees, with the other interviewees who appear throughout the 
book: Brian Behlendorf, Marc Brandon, Candice Breitz, Stewart 
^jbs Butterfi eld, Steve Chen, Gregg Gillis, Mark Hosier, Joi Ito, Mimi Ito, /^ 

Don Joyce, Brew-ster Kahle, Heather Lawver, Declan McCullagh, 
Dave Marglin, Craig Newmark, Silvia Ochoa, Philip Rosedale, Mark 
Shuttle-worth, Johan Soderberg, Victor Stone, Jimmy Wales, Jerry 
Yang, and Robert Young. I have learned a great deal from all of them, 
and I hope I have fairly evinced some of that understanding here. 

Three other interviewees spent a great deal of time teaching me ma- 
terial I didn't get to use here. Danah Boyd generously shared her rich 
and extraordinarily interesting learning about youth and creativity. In 
the end, I came to believe that that research should fi rst be presented by 
her. Count me among those to acknowledge it as profoundly important 
to an understanding of this next generation. Benjamin Mako Hill and 
Erik Moller spent a great deal of time outlining a rich and sophisticated 
understanding of "free culture." But that work complemented and cor- 
rected much of what I said in Free Culture, and it would have diverted the 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.indd 296 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:18AM 



story too much here. Suffice it to say there is much more to be said, and I 
am hopeful I get a chance to say some of it. 

I am also extraordinarily grateful to an amazing group of students 
who helped correct my errors and show me parts in the argument that 
I had missed or needed to read. They include Shireen Barday, Kevin 
Donovan, Paul Gowder, Jonathan Lubin, Erika Myers, and Michael 
Weinberg. Much of the work of coordinating these students was done by 
another insanely efficient and insightful "chief" research assistant, Tracy 
Rubin. And Christina Gagnier did a superhuman job in not only provid- 
ing essential research, but pulling together that material to check every- 
thing I've said in this book. This is the second book that Christina helped 
make possible, and I am very thankful to her for that. 

In addition to the three interviews that don't appear here, there is a 
massive empirical project that didn't teach enough to include. The search 
^jbs company Alexa contributed generously to that project by providing a list- /^ 

ing of the top one hundred thousand sites on the Web. A massive team 
of volunteers from the Creative Commons community helped interpret 
the substance of those sites to determine the kind of interaction each 
encouraged. In the end, however, the results were too ambiguous to be 
meaningful for this book. I hope to complete the work for an essay I will 
publish later. But I am especially grateful to the many who helped coor- 
dinate this massive interpretive project, including Dr. Emre Bayamlioglu, 
Bodo Balazs, Lu Fang, Lital Leichtag, J. C. De Martin, Dragoslava 
Pefeva, Jon Phillips, Song Shi, Anas Tawileh, Hung V. Tran, John Hen- 
drik Weitzmann, and Fumi Yamazaki. 

There is also a long list of friends and Internet friends who provided 
advice and essential information. They include Pablo Francisco Arrieta, 
Sean Ferry, Andy Moravcsik, and Cory Ondrejka. Dan Kahan helped me 
think through the effects of bad law on norms. BigChampagne (www. 


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298 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS provided comprehensive data about peer-to-peer 
file-sharing practices. I am grateful they did so in the spirit of the "shar- 
ing economy," as the budget for a book like this could not have afforded 
much more. 

I started writing this book at The American Academy in Berlin. I 
am very thankful to that bit of paradise on earth, and for its executive 
director, Gary Smith, who convinced me to pursue it. I am also grateful 
to Stanford Law School, and Dean Larry Kramer, for endless support to 
help me finish it. 

And, as anyone who has worked with me these past few years knows, 
I couldn't have begun to do this and many other things without the 
extraordinary gift of an absolutely perfect assistant. Elaine Adolfo is not 
only wildly more efficient than anyone in the world; she also practices a 
decency and patience that is practically unknown to this world. There's 
^jbs no way I could thank her adequately for her help. /^ 

Finally, to my family: Free Culture was published just as our first child 
was born. I began this book just after our second was born. As anyone 
who has had this particular blessing knows, nothing could compare to 
that joy, even if too much competes with it. Endless thanks and forever 
love to Bettina, who has built that particular joy with me, despite the bur- 
dens this work placed right in the middle. 


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Throughout this text there are references to hnks on the World Wide Web. As anyone 
who has tried to use the Web knows, these hnks can be highly unstable. I have tried to 
remedy this instabiUty by redirecting readers to the original source through the Web site 
associated with this book. For each link below, you can go to and locate 
the original source. If the original link remains alive, you will be redirected to that link. If 
-^H^ the original link has disappeared, you will be redirected to an appropriate reference for the ^j^ 



1. George Lakotf and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By {Chicago: University of Chi- 
cago Press, 1980), 156-57. 

2. Ronald Allen Harmelin v. Michigan, 501 U.S. 957 (1991). 

3. Amy Harmon, "Black Hawk Download: Moving Beyond Music, Pirates Use New Tools 
to Turn the Net into an Illicit Video Club," A^.?w Yor\ Times, January 17, 2002. 

4. MetrO'Goldwyn^Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster Ltd., 545 U.S. 913 (2005). 


1. All quotes from Candice Breitz taken from an in-person interview conducted August 6, 

2. E-mail to Candice Breitz, May 31, 2006. 

3. All quotes from Gregg Gillis taken from an interview conducted June 21, 2007, by 

4. All quotes from SilviaO taken from an interview conducted February 8, 2007, by 


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300 NOTES 

Chapter 1. Cultures of Our Past 

1. "They Ask Protection," Washington Post, June 6, 1906, 4. 

2.E. Fulton Brylawski and Abe Goldman, Legislative History of the 1909 Copyright Act 
(South Hackensack, N. J.: Fred B. Rothman, 1976), 24. 

3. Eric von ¥[ippc\. Democratizing Innovation (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005). 

4. Brylawski and Goldman, Legislative History, 24. 

5. Sousa, "The Menace of Mechanical Music," 280. 

6. Ibid., 280-81 (emphasis added). 

7. See Tarla Rai Peterson, "Jefferson's Yeoman Farmer as Frontier Hero: A Self Defeating 
Mythic Structure " Agriculture and Human Values? (1990): 9— 19; Jefferson to James Mad- 
ison, October 28, 1785, Merrill D. Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: Writings (New York: 
Library of America, 1984), 842; Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life (New 
York: HarperCollins, 1994), 432; Lawrence S. Kaplan, Thomas Jefferson: Westward the 
Course of Empire (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1999), 27. 

8. As Harvard professor Yochai Benkler describes it: 

Music in the nineteenth century was largely a relational good. It was something people 
did in the physical presence of each other: in the folk way through hearing, repeating, 
and improvising; in the middle-class way of buying sheet music and playing for guests 
or attending public performances; or in the upper-class way of hiring musicians. Capital 
was widely distributed among musicians in the form of instruments, or geographically 
dispersed in the hands of performance hall (and drawing room) owners. Market-based 
-Hh^ production depended on performance through presence. It provided opportunities for {sh- 

artists to live and perform locally, or to reach stardom in cultural centers, but without 
displacing the local performers. 

Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 
2006), 50-51. 

9. Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York: New 
York University Press, 2006). 

Cultural production occurred mostly on the grassroots level; creative skills and artis- 
tic traditions were passed down mother to daughter, father to son. Stories and songs 
circulated broadly, well beyond their points of origin, with little or no expectation 
of economic compensation; many of the best ballads or folktales come to us today 
with no clear marks of individual authorship. While new commercialized forms of 
entertainment — the minstrel shows, the circuses, the showboats — emerged in the mid- 
to-late nineteenth century, these professional entertainments competed with thriving 
local traditions of barn dances, church sings, quilting bees, and campfire stories. There 
was no pure boundary between the emergent commercial culture and the residual folk 
culture: the commercial culture raided folk culture and folk culture raided commercial 
culture. (Jenkins, Convergence Culture, 135.) 

But the twentieth century, Jenkins argues, changed this: 

The story of American arts in the twentieth century might be told in terms of the 
displacement of folk culture by mass media. Initially, the emerging entertainment 


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NOTES 301 

industry made its peace with folk practices, seeing the availabihty of grassroots sing- 
ers and musicians as a potential talent pool, incorporating community sing-a-longs 
into hhn exhibition practices, and broadcasting amateur-hour talent competitions. 
The new industrialized arts required huge investments and thus demanded a mass 
audience. The commercial entertainment industry set standards of technical perfec- 
tion and professional accomplishment few grassroots performers could match. The 
commercial industries developed powerful infrastructures that ensured that their mes- 
sages reached everyone in America who wasn't living under a rock. Increasingly, the 
commercial culture generated the stories, images, and sounds that mattered most to the 
public. (Ibid.) 

10. Wikipedia contributors, "Player Piano," Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, available at 
link #1 (last visited July 30, 2007). 

1 1 . Ibid., available at link #2 (last visited July 30, 2007). 

12. Pekka Gronow, "The Record Industry: The Growth of a Mass Medium" Popular Music 
3 (1983): 54-55, available at link #3. 

13. Leonard DeGraff, "Confronting the Mass Market: Thomas Edison and the Entertain- 
ment Phonograph " Business and Econotnic History 24 (1995): 88, available at link #4. 

14. Gronow, "The Record Industry," 62, available at link #5. 

15. Ibid., 62, available at link #6. 

16. Ibid., 63, available at link #7. 

17. Philip E. Meza, Coming Attractions? Hollywood, High Tech, and the Future of Entertain- 

^-^ ment (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2007), 51. ^^ 

^ 18. Ibid., 50-51. "^ 

19. Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), 3—7. 

20. U.S. Census Bureau, "NAICS 5111 — Newspaper, Periodical, Book and Directory Pub- 
lishers," Industry Statistics Sampler, available at link #8 (last visited August 20, 2007). 

21. U.S. Census Bureau, "NAICS 515120 — ^Television Broadcasting," Industry Statistics 
Sampler, available at link #9 (last visited August 20, 2007). 

22. U.S. Census Bureau, "NAICS 512 — Motion Picture and Sound Recording Industries," 
Industry Statistics Sampler, available at link #10 (last visited August 20, 2007). 

23. "Economies," Motion Picture Association of America, available at link #11 (last visited 
January 24, 2008). 

24. Brylawski and Goidmany Legislative History, 25. 

25. Currier was skeptical of unlimited patent rights. See Zolte/^ Corp. v. United States, 464 
F.3d 1335, 1337 (2006) (Newman, J., dissenting), available at link #12 (last visited July 30, 
2007). He was reluctant to expand copyrights. 

Chapter 3. RO, Extended 

1. Until 1972, federal law didn't regulate the copying of recordings. See Capitol Records Inc. 
V. Naxos of America, 4 N.Y.3d 540, 544 (2005). 

2. See Lawrence Lessig, Code 2.0 (New York: Basic Books, 2006), 5—6. 

3. Bruce Lehman, Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure: The 
Report of the Wording Group on Intellectual Property Rights (Darby: Diane Publishing, 


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302 NOTES 

4. See Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, Pub. L. No. 105-298, 112 Stat. 2827 
(1998) (extending the term of existing copyrights). 

5. See, e.g.. No Electronic Theft Act of 1997, Pub. L. No. 105-147, HI Stat. 2678 ("NET 
Act"), amending 17 U.S.C. §506(a). 

6. See Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Pub. L. No. 10-5-304, 112 Stat. 2860 (1998). 

7. See UMG Recordings Inc. v. Inc., 92 F. Supp. 2d 349 (S.D.N.Y. 2000); ASrM 
Records Inc. v. Napster Inc., 239 F.3d 1004 (9th Cir. 2001). 

8. See, for example, Lessig, Free Culture, chap. 3. 

9. RI AA Watcher, "RI AA Watch," RI AA Watch, available at link #13 ; Nate Mook, "RIAA 
Sues 261, Including 12-Year-Old Girl," BetaNews, September 9, 2003, available at link 
#14; Nate Mook, "RIAA Sues Deceased Grandmother," BetaNews, February 4, 2005, 
available at link #15. 

10. See Susan Butler, "Sixth Wave of RIAA Pre-Litigation Letters Sent to Colleges," Hol- 
lytvood Reporter, July 19, 2007, available at link #16. 

11. Number of Lawsuits in the United States Courts Concerning Copyright, 2000—2006. 


Court of Appeals 

District Courts 




















Not Available 


^ 2000 Not Available 2,056 ^ 

The Federal Judiciary, "Federal Judicial Caseload 
Statistics," U.S. Courts, available at link #17 (last 
visited July 30, 2007). Table C-2. "U.S. District 
Courts — Civil Cases Commenced, by Basis of Juris- 
diction and Nature of Suit," 2000-2006. Table B-7. 
"U.S. Courts of Appeals — Nature of Suit or Offense 
in Cases Arising from the U.S. District Courts, by 
Circuit," 2000-2006. 

12. International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, IFPI:07 Digital Music Report 
(London: IFPI, 2007), 18. 

13. The last great panic surrounded the emergence of cassette-tape technology. See the dis- 
cussion in Office of Technology Assessment, Copyright and Home Copying: Technology 
CAa/Zd'Hi^d'jrMd-LflM' (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989), 145-47, 
available at link #18. 

14. Meza, Coming Attractions?, 87-88. 

15. Ibid. But obviously the claims are contested. See Martin Peitz and Patrick Waelbroeck, 
"The Effect of Internet Piracy on CD Sales: Cross-Section Evidence," CESifo Wording 
Paper Series 1122 (January 2004), concluding that Internet piracy accounts for just 22.5 
percent of the drop in CD sales. See also Felix Oberholzer and Koleman Strumpf, "The 
Effect of File-Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis," University of North 
Carolina (2004) (no statistically significant connection between downloading and drop 


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NOTES 303 

in sales}. Compare Stan J. Liebowitz, "Economists' Topsy-Turvy View o^Viracy" Refiew 
of Economic Research on Copyright Issues 2 (2005): 5—17; Stan J. Liebowitz, "Economists 
Examine File-Sharing and Music Sales," Industrial Organization and the Digital Economy 
(Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005); Stan J. Liebowitz, "Testing File-Sharing's Impact 
on Music Album Sales in CiXacs" Management Science, forthcoming. 

16. "The Recording Industry 2006 Piracy Report: Protecting Creativity in Music," Interna- 
tional Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), available at link #19 (last visited 
January 18, 2008). For a fantastic study of the relationship between artists' income and 
digital technologies see Martin Kretschmer, "Artists' Earning and Copyright: A Review 
of British and German Music Industry Data in the Context of Digital Technologies," 
First Monday 10 (2005), available at link #20. 

17. Amy Matthew, "The Creative Revolution: Consumers, Artists Lead the Way into New 
Entertainment World," Pueblo Chieftain, April 29, 2007; "Apple to Give iTunes Users 
Credit for Full Albums," InvesTrend, March 29, 2007. 

18. Less elegant was the idea of a coin box in the home. I remember as a kid staying in a 
boarding house in England in the 1970s that had a coin box to operate hot water. A hot 
bath is one thing, but television is a necessity. The inconvenience of this system must have 
been staggering. Still, the idea was tested in Palm Springs, California, in the early 1950s, 
again by Paramount. This system, called telemeter, used scrambled television signals sent 
over telephone lines. When customers deposited the correct amount of change in the coin 
box, the telemeter descrambled the signal. The system debuted in 1953, showing a USC— 
Notre Dame football game (presaging the popular college sports packages now available 

^-^ on satellite TV services) for $1.00 and a first-run Paramount movie. Forever Female, for ^^ 

^^ an additional Si. 35. (Meza, Coming Attractions?, 83.) ^^ 

19. In Napster Inc. Copyright Litigation, 191 F. Supp. 2d 1087 (N.D. Cal. 2002). 

20. In January 2008 the last of the major labels, Sony BMG, dropped the requirement that its 
music be sold with DRM. Peter Sayer, "Sony BMG to Sell DRM-Free Music Downloads 
Through Stores," InfoWorld, January 7, 2008, available at link #21. 

21. Lessig, Code 2.0. 

Chapter^.RW, Revived 

1. Grand Upright Music Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc., 780 F. Supp. 182 (S.D.N.Y. 1991). 

2. All quotes from Don Joyce taken from an interview conducted March 20, 2007, by 

3. David BoWkt, Brand Name Bullies (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2005), 69. 

4. J. D. Lasica, Dar/^net: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation (Hoboken, N.J.: 
Wiley, 2005), 72-73. 

5. Heidi Anderson, "Plugged In," Smart Computing {November 2000): 90—92. 

6. Benkler, Wealth ofNetivor^s, TCI. 

7. Mark Lawson, "Berners-Lee on the Read/Write Web," BBC News, August 9, 2005, avail- 
able at link #22 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

8. Niall Kennedy, "Technorati Two Years Later," Niall Kennedy's Weblog, November 
26, 2004, available at link #23; David Sifry, "Technorati," Sifry's Alerts, November 27, 
2002, available at link #24; David Sifry, "Over 100,000 Blogs Served," Sifry's Alerts, 
March 5, 2003, available at link #25; David Sifry, "One Million Weblogs Tracked," Sifry's 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.indd 303 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:21AM 


304 NOTES 

Alerts, September 27, 2003, available at link #26; David Sifry, "State of the Blogosphere," 
Sifry's Alerts, October 10, 2004, available at link #27; "About Us," Technorati, available at 
link #28 (last visited July 30, 2007). 
9. David Sifry, "The State of the Live Web," Sifry's Alerts, April 5, 2007, available at link 
#29 (last visited July 23, 2007); David Sifry, "State of the Blogosphere, October 2006," 
Technorati, available at link #30 (last visited July 23, 2007). 

10. Benkler, Wealth of Networks, 217. 

11. Thomas Vander Wal, "Off the Top: Folksonomy Entries,", October 3, 
2004, available at hnk #31. 

12. Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, Wi\ino7nics: How Mass Collaboration Changes 
Everything (New York: Portfolio, 2006), 41. 

13. Ibid., 52. 

14. Ibid., 144-45. 

15. Ibid., 42. 

16. "Blogging Basics," Technorati, available at link #32 (last visited July 23, 2007). 

17. David Sifry, "The State of the Live Web, April 2007," Sifry's Alerts, available at link #33 
(last visited August 16, 2007). 

18. Charlene h.'\ySocial Technographics (Cambridge, Mass.: Forrester, 2007), 2. 

19. Benkler, Wealth of Networks, 225-33. 

20. The blog Corporate Influence in the Media tries to document examples of advertisers 
pressuring publishers and broadcasters. See Anup Shah, Corporate Influence in the 
Media, available at link #34 (last visited August 16, 2007). In 2006 the Center for Media 

^-^ and Democracy released a report detailing a large number of instances in which news ^^ 

^?K organizations broadcast "video news releases" as news without revealing to their audi- ^^ 

ences that the video was provided by a public relations firm. See Diane Farsetta and 

Daniel Price, "Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed," Center for Media and 

Democracy, April 6, 2006, available at link #35. 

21. Lawrence Lessig, "The People Own Ideas," Technology Review (June 2005): 46—48. 

22. "To the Point; Trends & Innovations," Investor's Business Daily, September 26, 2006. 
23. Ibid. 

24. Gail Koch, " '800-Pound Gorilla' Still Rules for Most," Star Press (Muncie, Ind.), Septem- 
ber 28, 2005. 

25. Xinhua News Agency, "Census Bureau: Americans to Spend More Time on Media Next 
Year," December 15, 2006. 

26. U.S. Fed News, "American Time Use Survey — 2006 Results," U.S. Fed News, June 28, 

27. This is not to say that before the Internet, there was nothing like this RW-media culture. 
Indeed, for almost a half century, beginning with the Star Trel^ series, there has been 
a rich "fan fiction" culture, in which fans take popular culture and remix it. Rebecca 
Tushnet, "Legal Fictions: Copyright, Fan Fiction, and a New Common Law," Loyola 
of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Journal 17 (1997): 655, citing Henry Jenkins and John 
Tulloch, eds., 'At Other Times, LiJ^e Females': Gender and Star Trek Fan Fiction, in Sci- 
ence Fiction Audiences: Watching Dt. Who and Star Trek (London: Routledge, 1995), 196. 
Some trace the history of fan fiction back even earlier, to "metanovels" written in response 
to classic works of fiction such as Pride and Prejudice (Sharon Cumberland, "Private Uses 
of Cyberspace: Women, Desire and Fan Culture," in Rethinking Media Change: The Aes- 
thetics of Transition, ed. David Thorburn and Henry Jenkins (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT 


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NOTES 305 

Press, 2003), 261. An Internet commentator known as Super Cat argues that the first fan 
fiction was John Lydgate's The Siege of Thebes, a continuation of The Canterbury Tales 
circa 1421: Super Cat, "A (Very) Brief History of Fanfic," Fanfic Symposium, available 
at link #36 (last visited August 11, 2007). Many believe that the contemporary online fan 
fiction community is predominantly composed of women, and the genre addresses topics 
traditionally marginalized in the commercial media, including "the status of women in 
society, women's ability to express desire, [and] the blurring of stereotyped gender lines" 
(Cumberland, "Private Uses," 265). In addition to traditional textual fan fiction, cyber- 
space has spawned an active culture of fan filmmaking. See Henry Jenkins, "Quentin 
Tarantino's Star Wars ? Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture," 
in Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition, ed. David Thorburn and Henry 
Jenkins (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003), 281—84 (offering a case study oiStar Wars 
fan fiction, which began in textual form with the first official film, and developed into 
digital film distributed on independent creators' Web sites). There is a comprehensive 
study of fan fiction in chapters 5—8 of Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers: Television Fans 
and Participatory Culture (New York: Routledge, 1992). 

28. All quotes from Mark Hosier taken from an interview conducted May 1, 2007, by 

29. All quotes from Johan Soderberg taken from an interview conducted February 15, 2007, 
by telephone. 

30. Telephone interview with Don Joyce, March 20, 2007. 

31. "Misperceptions, the Media, and the Iraq War," Program on International Policy Atti- 

^-^ tudes and Knowledge Networks, available at link #37 (last visited January 18, 2008). ^^ 

^?K 32. Charles Krauthammer, "A Vacation Bush Deserves," Washington Post, August 10, 2001. ^^ 

?)?>. All quotes from Victor Stone taken from an interview conducted February 15, 2007, by 

34. All quotes from Mimi Ito taken from an interview conducted January 24, 2007, by tele- 
phone. For more, see Mimi Ito, "Japanese Media Mixes and Amateur Cultural Exchange," 
in Digital Generations, ed. David Buckingham and Rebekah Willett (Mahwah, N.J.: 
Lawrence Erlbaum, 2006), 49—66. 

35. ]cn\i\'i\s. Convergence Culture, 128. 

36. Ibid., 182. 

37. Ibid., 177. 

38. Ibid., 182. 

Chapter 5. Cultures Compared 

1. An argument "in favor" is certainly not an argument anyone should consider conclusive. 
Free speech values should still weigh in the balance, driving regulation away from restric- 
tive measures when alternative, nonrestrictive alternatives exist. 

2. Andrew Odlyzko, "Content Is Not King," First Monday 6 (2001), available at link #38. 

3. Stewart Baker, "Exclusionary Rules," Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2004. 

4. Andrew Keen, The Cult of the Amateur (New York: Doubleday, 2007), 64. 

5. Ibid., 27. 

6. Ibid., 131. 

7. Ibid., 15. 


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306 NOTES 

8. I've enumerated some errors on my blog. See Lawrence Lessig, "Keen's 'The Cult of the 
Amateur': BRILLIANT! " Lessig Blog, available at link #39. 

9. Keen, The Cult of the Amateur, 27. 

10. New York Institute for the Humanities and NYU Humanities Council, "The Comedies 
of Fair U$e," Internet Archive, available at link #40 (last visited July 30, 2007); Joy Gar- 
nett, "Full Program Audio on," Comedies of Fair U$e, available at link #41 
(last visited July 30, 2007). 

1 1 . Steven Johnson, Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually 
Maying Us Smarter (New York: Riverhead, 2005). 

12. Jenkins, Convergence Culture, 103—4. 

13. A real problem for readers of his last novel. The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870). Dick- 
ens died before he completed the story, even though serial chapters were already being 
printed. Joel J. Brattin, "Dickens and Serial Publication," PBS, available at link #42 (last 
visited August 16, 2007). 

14. Christopher Lydon, "Ecstasy of Influence — Interview with Jonathan Lethem, Siva Vaid- 
hyanathan, Mark Hosier, and Mike Doughty," Open Source with Christopher Lydon, 
February 2, 2007, available at link #43. 

15. Ithiel de Sola Pool, Technologies Without Boundaries: On Telecommunications in a Global 
Age (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990), 121. 

16. The standard of intermediate First Amendment review permits speech regulation only 
"[1] if it advances important governmental interests unrelated to the suppression of free 
speech and [2] does not burden substantially more speech than necessary to further those 

^ interests." Turner Broad. Sys. v. FCC, 520 U.S. 180, 189 (1997); see also United States v. ^^ 

^ O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 377 (1968); Ward v. Roc\ Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781, 791 (1989) ^ 

(applying intermediate scrutiny to time, place, and manner regulation of speech in the 
public forum); San Francisco Arts & Athletics Inc. v. U.S. Olympic Comm., 483 U.S. 522, 
537 (1987) (applying O'Sr/e-tt review to a law protecting the word "Olympic" under trade- 
mark law). 

17. Work from 1923 on is potentially subject to copyright. Whether in fact a particular work 
is copyrighted depends upon whether the work satisfied certain formalities. 

18. Jessica Litman, "The Exclusive Right to Read," Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law 
/o«rafl/ 13 (1994): 29, 34-35. 

19. R. Anthony Reese, "Innocent Infringement in U.S. Copyright Law: A History," Colum- 
bia Journal of Law & the Arts iQ (2007): 133, 136. 

20. V. Clapp, Copyright — A Librarian's View, Prepared for the National Advisory Commission 
on Libraries (Washington D.C.: Copyright Committee, Association of Research Librar- 
ies, 1968). 

21. This important though obscure story about the unintended expansion of the scope of 
copyright is told best by L. Ray Patterson, "Free Speech, Copyright, and Fair Use," Van- 
derbiltLaw Review 40 (1987): 40-43. 

22. Paul Goldstein, Copyright's Highway: From Gutenberg to the Celestial Ju/^ebox (Stanford, 
Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2003). 

23. Office of Technology Assessment, Copyright and Home Copying: Technology Challenges 
the Law (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1989), 145—47, available at 

24. Wikipedia contributors, "Jazz," Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, available at link #45 
(last visited July 30, 2007). 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.lndd 306 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:23 AM 


NOTES 307 

25. Wikipedia contributors, "Louis Armstrong," Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, avail- 
able at link #46 {last visited July 30, 2007}. 

26. Fairly relaxed, not completely. There is an important tension in jazz created by the way 
the derivative right functions. Because jazz is in essence improvisation, it must build 
upon some other work. But because copyright law treats this other work as expression, 
rather than as an idea, the improvisation requires permission from the underlying copy- 
right owner. In practice, jazz musicians almost never seek that permission, instead rely- 
ing upon the mechanical license to secure permission to record the underlying work. 
That license, however, doesn't cover derivatives. For a penetrating analysis of these ques- 
tions, see Anonymous, "Jazz Has Got Copyright Law & That Ain't Good," Harvard Law 
Review 118 (2005), 1940. 

27. Bridgeport Music Inc. v. Dimension Films, 383 F.3d 390 (6th Cir. 2004}. 

28. William W. Vyshcv, Promises to Keep (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2004). 

29. Peter Lauria, "File-$haring," A/"^ff Yor^Post, June 25, 2007. 

30. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Gro\ster Ltd., 545 U.S. 913 (2005). 

31. Mitch Bainwol and Cary Sherman, "Explaining the Crackdown on Student Download- 
ing," Inside Higher Ed, March 15, 2007, available at link #47. 

32. 1 also stand by my view that the harms caused by p2p file sharing are overstated by the 
industry. Mark Cooper has now added to this debate. As he has argued effectively, much 
of the loss in sales comes from people buying one or two tracks from an album. LPs forced 
those tracks to be bundled before; digital technology now permits them to be separate. It 
makes no sense to count that "loss" as a harm to society, since it simply represents people 
^-^ choosing to buy what they want. See Mark Coo^icr, Digital Downloading of Music (Wash- ^^ 

^?K ington, D.C.: Consumer Federation of America, 2007). ^^ 

33. Bainwol and Sherman, "Explaining the Crackdown." 

Chapter 6. Two Economies: Commercial and Sliaring 

1. Yochai Benkler, "Sharing Nicely: On Shareable Goods and the Emergence of Sharing as 
Modality of Economic Production," Yfl/i^Lflff/oMrafl/ 114 (2004): 273-358. 

2. Ronald E. Yates, "Internet-Related Manager Tops List of Hottest Jobs; Position Is So 
New and in Such Demand That Candidates' Lack of Degrees or Advanced Age Are 
Not Seen as Deterrents," Sun-Sentinel, February 5, 1996. Robert D. Atkinson and Dan- 
iel K. Correa, "The Digital Economy — Internet Domain Names," The 2007 State New 
Economy Index (2007): 40, available at link #48. 

3. U.S. Census Bureau, "E-Stats-Measuring the Electronic Economy," available at link #49. 

4. Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, 464 U.S. 417 (1984}. 

5. See Julie Niederhoff, "Video Rental Developments and the Supply Chain: Netflix, 
Inc.," Washington University, St. Louis (2002); Michael K. Mills and Jon Silver, "Analys- 
ing the Effect of Digital Technology on Channel Strategy, Power and Disintermediation 
in the Home Video Market: The Demise of the Video Store? " Video Technology magazine 
(February 2005}; IRS, "Retail Industry ATG — Chapter 3: Examination Techniques for 
Specific Industries (Video/DVD Rental Business}," Small Business and Self-Employed 
One-Stop Resource, August 2005, available at link #50; "Videotape Rental — Background 
and Development," All Business, available at link #51; "Videotape Rental — Current 
Conditions," All Business, available at link #52. 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.indd 307 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:23 AM 


308 NOTES 

6. Hoover's Inc., "Blockbuster, Inc.,", available at link #53 {last visited August 

7. Wikipedia contributors, "Blockbuster, Inc." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, avail- 
able at link #54 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

8. Keith Regan, "Netflix Taking Over Wal-Mart's Online DVD Rental Business," E- 
Commerce TimeSy May 19, 2005, available at link #55 (last visited July 5, 2007); see also 
Phillip Torrone, "Netflix, Open Up or Die . . . " En gadget, July 19, 2004, available at link 

9. Hoover's Inc., ",", available at link #57 (last visited July 31, 
2007). These numbers reflect sales only. According to reports, Amazon's net deficit is still 
high— $2 billion as of 2005. 

10. Ibid., available at link #58 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

11. Wikipedia contributors, "Larry Page," Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, available at 
hnk #59 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

12. Verne Kopytoff, "Google Shares Top $400: Search Engine No. 3 in Market Cap Among 
Firms in Bay Area," San Francisco Chronicle, November 18, 2005; Yahoo! Finance, 
"GOOG: Key Statistics for Google Inc," Capital IQ, available at link #60 (last visited July 

13. Keen, The Cult of the Amateur, 135. 

14. The point was made long before by Nicholas Negroponte. "A best-seller in 1990, Nicho- 
las Negroponte's Being Digital drew a sharp contrast between 'passive old media' and 
'interactive new media,' predicting the collapse of broadcast networks in favor of an era 

^-^ of narrowcasting and niche media on demand: 'What will happen to broadcast television ^^ 

^?K over the next five years is so phenomenal that it's difficult to comprehend.' " Jenkins, Con- ^^ 

vergence Culture, 5. 

15. Chris Anderson, The Long Tail (New York: Hyperion, 2006), 23. 

16. Alan Cohen, "The Great Race; No Startup Has Cashed In on the DVD's Rapid Growth 
More Than Netflix. Now Blockbuster and Wal-Mart Want In. Can It Outrun Its Big 
Rivals?," Fortune Small Business, December 2002— January 2003. "Media Center," Netf- 
lix, available at link #61 (last visited April 1, 2008). 

17. See Erik Brynjolfsson, Yu Jeffrey Hu, and Duncan Simester, "Goodbye Pareto Principle, 
Hello Long Tail: The Effect of Search Costs on the Concentration of Product Sales," MIT 
Center for Digital Business Working Paper (2007); Paul L. Caron, "The Long Tail of 
Legal Scholarship," Yale Law Journal 116 Pocket Part 38 (2006); Anita Elberse and Felix 
Oberholzer-Gee, "Superstars and Underdogs: An Examination of the Long Tail Phenom- 
enon in Video Sales," Harvard Business School No. 07-015 Working Paper Series; Indiana 
Resource Sharing Task Force, "Wagging the Long Tail: Sharing More of Less; Recom- 
mendations for Enhancing Resource Sharing in Indiana," White Paper (2007); Anindya 
Ghose and Bin Gu, "Search Costs, Demand Structure and Long Tail in Electronic Mar- 
kets: Theory and Evidence," NET Institute Working Paper No. 06-19 (2006); Teruyasu 
Murakami, "The Long Tail and the Lofty Head of Video Content: The Possibilities of 
'Convergent Broadcasting,'" Nomura Research Institute, NRI Papers No. 113 (2007). 

18. Lee Gomes, "It May Be a Long Time Before the Long Tail Is Wagging the Web," Wall 
Street Journal, July 26, 2006. 

19. All quotes from Robert Young taken from an interview conducted April 26, 2007, by 


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NOTES 309 

20. Free as in free speech is different. Robert Young has been a strong supporter of Creative 

21. I am grateful to Tim O'Reilly for getting me to see the importance of this point. 

22. Dan Bricklin, "The Cornucopia of the Commons: How to Get Volunteer Labor," Dan 
Bricklin's Web site, August 7, 2000, available at link #62. 

23. Linked from Bricklin, "Cornucopia of the Commons." 

24. Dan Bricklin, "Cornucopia of the Commons," available at link #63. 

25. See "Google Defies US Over Search Data," BBC News, January 20, 2006, available at 
link #64; Maryclaire Dale, "Judge Throws Out Internet Blocking Law: Ruling States 
Parents Must Protect Children Through Less Restrictive Means," MSNBC, March 22, 
2007, available at link #65. Google prevailed in its effort to restrict the government's 
search. See Gonzales v. Google, 234 F.R.D. 674 (N.D. Cal. 2006). 

26. Phillip Torrone, "Netfiix, Open Up or Die . . . ," available at link #66. 

27. Netflix, Netfiix Prize, available at link #67 (last visited July 2, 2007). 

28. Tapscott and Williams, Wif^inomics, 183. 

29. See Tim O'Reilly, "What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next 
Generation of Software," O'Reilly, September 30, 2005, available at link #68. As Mary 
Madden summarizes the idea, it is "utilizing collective intelligence, providing network- 
enabled interactive services, giving users control over their own data." Mary Madden and 
Susannah Fox, Riding the Waves of Web 2.0 (Washington, D.C.: Pew Internet Project, 
2006), 1. 

30. Ronald H. Coase, "The Nature of the ¥um" Economica 4 (1937): 386-405. 

^ 31. Benkler, The Wealth of Networks, 59-60. ^^ 

^?K 32. Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas (New York: Random House, 2001) 35—36. ^^ 

33. Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator's Dilemma (Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business 
School Press, 1997), 228. 

34. Benkler, "Sharing Nicely," 282. 

35. This is the phenomenon of "crowding out" described extensively by Professor Benkler in 
The Wealth of Networks. As he summarizes this work, "Across many different settings, 
researchers have found substantial evidence that under some circumstances, adding 
money for an activity previously undertaken without price compensation reduces, rather 
than increases, the level of activity" (94). 

36. See Michael Walzer, Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality (New York: 
Basic Books, 1984). 

37. Lewis Hyde, The Gift — Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (New York: Vintage 
Books, 2004), 3. 

38. Ibid., 56. 

39. Ibid., 45-46. 

40. Ibid., 82. 

41. Benkler, "Sharing Nicely," 327. 
42. Ibid. 

43. Ibid., 324; see also at 323, describing the work ot Bruno Frey. 

44. Increasingly the concern among record company executives is with social sharing. See 
Jason Pontin, "A Social-Networking Service with a Velvet Rope," New Yor^ Times, July 


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310 NOTES 

45. See Eric A. von Hippel and Karim Lakhani, "How Open Source Software Works: 'Free' 
User-to-User Assistance," Research Policy 32 (2003): 923-43. 

Kollock (1999) discusses four possible motivations to contribute public goods online. 
Given that his focus is incentives to put online something that has already been created, 
his list does not include any direct benefit from developing the thing itself — either the 
use value or the joy of creating the work product. His list of motives to contribute does 
include the beneficial effect of enhancements to one's reputation. A second potential 
motivator he sees is expectations of reciprocity. Both specific and generalized reciproc- 
ity can reward providing something of value to another. When information providers 
do not know each other, as is often the case for participants in open source software 
projects, the kind of reciprocity that is relevant is called "generalized" exchange (Ekeh, 
1974). . . . The third motivator posited by Kollock is that the act of contributing can 
have a positive effect on contributors' sense of "efficacy" — a sense that they have some 
effect on the environment (Bandura, 1995). Fourth and finally, he notes that contribu- 
tors may be motivated by their attachment or commitment to a particular open source 
project or group. In other words, the good of the group enters into the utility equation of 
the individual contributor. (Ibid., 927.) 

46. Or so the terms of service for Skype say. See "Skype End User License Agreement — Article 
4 Utilization of Your Computer," Skype, available at link #69 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

47. Daniel H. Pink, "The Book Stops Here," Wired, March 2005, available at link #70. 

^^ 48. All quotes from Jimmy Wales taken from an in-person interview conducted May 4, 2007. ^^ 

^^y 49. Seth Anthony, "Contribution Patterns Among Active Wikipedians: Finding and Keep- ^^ 

ing Content Creators," Wikimania Proceedings SAl (2006), as summarized at link #71 

(last visited August 20, 2007). 

50. Aaron Swartz, "Who Writes Wikipedia," available at link #72 (last visited August 20, 

51. "Meetings/February 7, 2005," Wikimedia Foundation, available at link ^13> (last visited 
July 31, 2007). 

52. Tapscott and Williams, Wi\inomics, 72. 
53. Ibid. 

54. Noam Cohen, "The Latest on Virginia Tech, from Wikipedia," A^ifw Yor\ Times, April 

55. Ibid. 

56. Robert Young and Wendy Goldman Rohm, Under the Radar: How Red Hat Changed the 
Software Business — and Tool^ Microsoft by Surprise (Scottsdale, Ariz.: Coriolis Group 
Books, 1999), 110. 

57. Netcraft, "Reports — What Is the Market Share of the Different Servers? " Netcraft — Web 
Server Survey, available at link #74 (last visited July 31, 2007): follow monthly "Index" link 
for November 1996— present; follow monthly "ALL" link for August 1995— October 1996. 

58. Steven Weber, The Success of Open Source (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 
2004), 234. 

59. Scott E. Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, 
Schools, and Societies (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2007). 

60. Wikipedia contributors, "Project Gutenberg," Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, avail- 
able at link #75 (last visited October 10, 2007). 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.lndd 310 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:25 AM 


NOTES 311 

61. Ibid., available at link #76 (last visited October 10, 2007). 

62. "Beginning Proofreaders' Frequently Asked Questions," Distributed Proofreaders, avail- 
able at link #77 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

63. Wikpedia contributors, "SETI@home," Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, available at 
link #78 (last visited August 20, 2007). See also Benkler, "Sharing Nicely," 275. 

64. Wikpedia contributors, "Einstein@Home," Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, available 
at link #79 (last visited August 20, 2007). 

65. "About the Internet Archive," Internet Archive, available at link #80 (last visited July 31, 

66. All quotes from Brewster Kahle taken from an interview conducted January 24, 2007, by 

67. NASA Ames, "Welcome to the Clickworkers Study," Clickworkers, available at link #81 
(last visited July 31, 2007). 

68. B. Kanefsky, N. G. Barlow, and V. C. Gulick, "Can Distributed Volunteers Accomplish 
Massive Data Analysis Tasks," Thirty-second Annual Lunar and Planetary Science 
Conference 1272 (2001), available at link #82. 

69. Ibid., available at link #83. 

70. Ibid., available at link #84. 

71. Benkler, The Wealth of Networks, 69. 

72. "Let Data Speak to Data," Nature 438 (2005), available at link #85 (last visited July 31, 
2007), cited in Tapscott and Williams, Wi^inotnics, 159. 

73. Ibid., available at link #86 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

^^ 74. Michael W. Vannier and Ronald M. Summers, "Sharing Images," Radiology 228 (2003), ^^ 

^ available at link #87. ^ 

75. U.S. National Virtual Observatory, available at link #88 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

76. "About the Open Directory Project," Open Directory Project, available at link #89 (last 
visited July 11,2007). 

77. "About Open Source Food," Open Source Food, available at link #90 (last visited July 11, 

78. Benkler, The Wealth of Networks, 121. 

79. Bricklin, "The Cornucopia of the Commons," available at link #91. 

80. von Yix^'^^^X, Democratizing Innovation, 60—61. 

81. Steven Weber, The Success of Open Source (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 
2004), 153. 

82. von ¥[ippc\. Democratizing Innovation , 60—61. 

83. Weber, The Success of Open Source, 155. 

84. von Hippel and Lakhani, "How Open Source Software Works," 927. 

85. Weber, The Success of Open Source, 224. 

86. Benkler, The Wealth of Networks, 16-18. 

87. Ibid., 2. 

88. Ibid., 3. 

Chapter?. Hybrid Economies 

1. I don't mean to suggest that there weren't hybrids before the Internet. Think of dog 
shows, open-mike nights at bars, or country fairs. All of these have a dynamic similar to 


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312 NOTES 

the one I identity on the Internet. The only difference is the significance of these hybrids. 
The Internet will enable a much wider range of hybridization, with a much greater eco- 
nomic and social value. I am grateful to Oliver Baker for reminding me of this point. 

2. Benkler, The Wealth of Networks, 55. 

3. "GNU Free Documentation License," Free Software Foundation, available at link #92 
(last visited August 20, 2007). 

4. All quotes from Brian Behlendorf taken from an interview conducted May 11, 2007, by 

5. Red Hat employed 50 percent of Linux's core team. Telephone interview with Robert 
Young, April 26, 2007. 

6. Red Hat and VA Linux gave stock options to Torvalds. Wikipedia contributors, "Linus 
Torvalds," Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, available at link #93 (Last visited July 
31, 2007); Gary Rivlin, "Leader of the Free World," Wired, November 2003, available at 

7. All quotes from Mark Shuttleworth taken from an interview conducted March 19, 2007, 
by telephone. 

8. Ted Rheingold, "Don't Outsource Your Sales," Dogster & Catster company Blogster, 
available at link #95 (last visited April 1, 2008). 

9. All quotes from Internet venture capitalist Joichi Ito taken from an interview conducted 
January 23, 2007, by telephone. 

10. "New Cyberspace Classified Ad Technologies to Impact Newspaper Revenues in 3 
Years" PR Netfsw ire, November 21, 1996. 
^-^ 11. "Newspaper Advertising Being Challenged by the 'Net," E-Commerce Law Report 11 ^^ 

^ (1999), 24. "^ 

12. Wikipedia contributors, "craigslist," Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, available at link 
#96 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

13. Ibid., available at link #97 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

14. All quotes from Craig Newmark taken from an interview conducted January 22, 2007, 
by telephone. 

15. Tapscott and Williams, Wi^inomics, 190. craigslist charges for job ads. 
16. Ibid. 

17. Ibid. 

18. Nick C. Sortal and Ian Katz, "Volunteers Use Internet to Offer Homes to Katrina Vic- 
tims," South Florida Sun-Sentinel, September 1, 2005. 

19. Kathleen Sullivan, "Hurricane Katrina; Lodging Offers Being Posted on Craigslist; 
Across Continent, People Opening Homes to Survivors," San Francisco Chronicle, Sep- 
tember 4, 2005. 

20. Tapscott and Williams, Wi^inomics, 187. 

21. "Flickr Founder: Creativity Is Human Nature,", January 17, 2007, available 
at link #98; Dan Fost, "Welcoming Startups into Yahoo's Fold; Web Portal Works to 
Integrate the Companies It Has Acquired," San Francisco Chronicle, December 24, 2006, 
available at link #99. 

22. All quotes from Stewart Butterfield taken from an interview conducted May 1, 2007, by 

23. All quotes from Steve Chen taken from an interview conducted January 29, 2007, by 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.indd 312 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:26 AM 


NOTES 313 

24. Wikipedia contributors, "YouTube," Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, available at 
link #100 (last visited July 31, 2007); Pete Cashmore, "YouTube Is World's Fastest Grow- 
ing Website," A/i2i'A(7^/^ — Social Networking News, July 22, 2006, available at link #101. 

25. Wikipedia contributors, "List of YouTube Celebrities," Wikipedia: The Free Encyclope- 
dia, available at link #102 (last visited April 1, 2008). 

26. Tim Deal, User-Generated Video on the Web: A Taxonomy and Market Outloo\ (Silver 
Spring, Md.: Pike & Fischer, 2007), 4. 

27. All quotes from Declan McCullagh taken from an interview conducted April 4, 2007, by 

28. Declan McCullagh, "About Declan McCullagh 's Politech," Politech: Politics & Technol- 
ogy, available at link #103 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

29. "Yahoo! Groups," Yahoo! , available at link #104 (last visited January 18, 2008). 

30. Tapscott and Williams, Wif^inomics, 259. 

31. All quotes from Jerry Yang taken from an interview conducted January 24, 2007, by 

32. "Yahoo! Answers," Yahoo! , available at link #105 (last visited April 14, 2008). 

33. "Points and Levels," Yahoo! Answers Point System, available at link #106 (last visited 
August 20, 2007). 

34. "Bessemer Venture Partners Funds Jimmy Wales' Startup Wikia,", available 
at link #107 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

35. Michael Arrington, "Wikia Gaming Launches with 250,000 Articles," TechCrunch, 
available at link #108 (last visited January 18, 2008). 

^-^ 36. Jenkins, Convergence Culture, 185. ^^ 

^ 37. Ibid. ■^ 

38. All quotes from Marc Brandon taken from an interview conducted February 13, 2007, by 

39. Jenkins, Convergence Culture, 185. 

40. All quotes from Heather Lawver taken from an interview conducted February 1, 2007, 
by telephone. 

41. Telephone interview with Heather Lawver, February 1, 2007. 

42. Jenkins, Convergence Culture, 187. 

43. Elizabeth Weise, "'Potter' Fans Put Hex of a Boycott on Warner Bros.," USA Today, 
February 22, 2001; Janine A. Zeitlin, "Potter Fan Masters Her Domain," Washington 
T/m^.-, July 19,2001. 

44. Jenkins, Convergence Culture, 187. 

45. Ibid., 186. 

46. Ibid., 58. 

47. Tapscott and Williams, WiJ^inomics, 135—36. 

48. Jenkins, Convergence Culture, 3. 

49. Ibid., 96. 

50. Ibid., 133. 

51. Maria Alena Fernandez, "ABC's Loi/ Is Easy to Find, and Not Just on a TV Screen," Lo^' 
Angeles Times, January 3, 2006. 

52. Ibid. 
53. Ibid. 
54. Tapscott and Williams, Wil^inomics, 127. 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.lndd 313 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:26 AM 


314 NOTES 

55. All quotes from Philip Rosedale taken from an interview conducted February 8, 2007, by 

56. Wagner James Au, "Laying Down the Law: The Notary Public of Thyris, New World 
Notes," New World Notes, available at link #109 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

57. "State of Play III — Social Revolutions," State of Play Architecture Submissions, available 
at link #110 (last visited August 20, 2007). 

58. Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet (New York: Simon & 
Schuster, 1995), 13. 

59. Tapscott and Williams, Wi\inomics, 30. 

60. Ibid., 39. 

61. Ibid., 45. 

62. All quotes from Tim O'Reilly taken from an interview conducted January 24, 2007, by 

Chapter 8. Economy Lessons 

l.See Ed Treleven, "Cracking Down of Music Theft; Recording Industry Gets Very 
Aggressive," Wisconsin State Journal, February 4, 2007. ("Big Champagne found that in 
August 2003, when the RIAA began bringing lawsuits against file-sharers, the average 
number of global peer-to-peer users online at one time was about 3.8 million. Though 
there were peaks and valleys, that number steadily increased to nearly 10 million in 
March 2006. The number dipped slightly but remained steady at around 9 million 
-^H^ through October, the last month for which Big Champagne has data.") ^^ 

2. "2006 10-Year Music Consumer Trends Chart," RIAA, available at link #111 (last visited 
July 31, 2007). 

3. Lydia Pallas Loren, "Building a Reliable Semicommons of Creative Works, Enforcement 
of Creative Commons Licenses and Limited Abandonment of Copyright," George Mason 
Laiv Review 14 (2007), available at hnk #112. 

4. Mia Garlick, "Lonely Island," Creative Commons, available at link #1 13. 

5. von iriippcl, Democratizing Innofation, 91. 

6. Ibid., 78-79. 

7. Ibid., S6. 

Routine and intentional free revealing among profit-seeking firms was first described 
by Allen (1983). He noticed the phenomenon, which he called collective invention, in 
historical records from the nineteenth-century English iron industry. In that indus- 
try, ore was processed into iron by means of large furnaces heated to very high tem- 
peratures. Two attributes of the furnaces used had been steadily improved during the 
period 1850—1875: chimney height had been increased and the temperature of the 
combustion air pumped into the furnace during operation had been raised. These two 
technical changes significantly and progressively improved the energy efficiency of 
iron production — a very important matter for producers. Allen noted the surprising 
fact that employees of competing firms publicly revealed information on their furnace 
design improvements and related performance data in meetings of professional societies 
and in published material. (Ibid., 78.) 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.indd 314 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:27 AM 


NOTES 315 

8. Ibid., 80. 

9. William J. Baumol, The Free-MarJ^et Innovation Machine: Analyzing the Growth Miracle 
of Capitalism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2002), 134—35. See also Mark 
Lemley and Brett Frischmann, "Spillovers," Columbia Law Review 100 (2006). 

10. von Yii'p'pfA, Democratizing Innovation, 87. 

11. Baurcioiy The Free-Market Innovation Machine, 120. 

12. von ¥[ippe\. Democratizing Innovation, 42. 

13. Ibid., 23. 

14. Ibid., 22. 

15. Paul Krill, "Sun: Pay Open-Source Developers," /w/bM/'or/c/, May 7, 2007, available at link 

16. Tapscottand Williams, Wi\inomics, 206—7. 

17. Ibid., 205. 

18. Ibid., 206. 

19. Ibid., 209. 

20. Ibid., 210. 

21. All quotes from David MargHn taken from an interview conducted June 12, 2007, by 

22. Robert Lemos, "Companies Fight over CD Listings, Leaving the Public Behind," CNET, May 24, 2001, available at link #115. 

23. Tim Deal, User-Generated Video on the Web: A Taxonomy and Market Outloo\ (Silver 
Spring, Md.: Pike & Fischer, 2007), 11. 

^K 24. See Richard Stallman, "The GNU Manifesto," GNU Project, available at link #116 (last ^^ 

^?K visited August 20, 2007). ("I consider that the golden rule requires that if I like a program ^^ 

I must share it with other people who like it.") 

25. See Lessig, The Future of Ideas, 70. 

26. "Official Rules for, David Bowie Remix,", available 
at link #117 (last visited July 31, 2007). 

27. Elizabeth Durack, "fans.starwars.con," Echo Station, available at link #118 (last visited 
July 31, 2007). 

Chapter 9. Reforming Law 

1. See 17 U.S.C. §§108, 112, 403, 512, 1201, 1203, 1204, 1309. 

2. See, e.g., 17 U.S.C. §115 (establishing a compulsory license tor making and distributing 

3. Lawrence Lessig, "The Regulation of Social Meaning," University of Chicago haw Review 
62 (1995), 943-1045. 

4. "Googling Copyrights," Wall Street Journal, October 3, 2005. 

5. See Brian Lavoie, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, and Lorcan Dempsey, "Anatomy of Aggre- 
gate Collections: The Example of Google Print for Libraries," D-L/'^ Magazine, Septem- 
ber 2005, available at link #119. 

6. See the data in Paul J. Heald, "Property Rights and the Efficient Exploitation ot Copyrighted 
Works: An Empirical Analysis of Public Domain and Copyrighted Fiction Best Sellers" 
(January 9, 2007), UGA Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-003, available at link #120. 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.lndd 315 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:27 AM 


316 NOTES 

7. Richard Epstein, Simple Rules for a Complex World {Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univer- 
sity Press, 1995). 

8. R. Anthony Reese, "Innocent Infringement in U.S. Copyright Law: A History," Colum- 
bia Journal of Law & the Arts iQ (2007), 133-84. 

9. As Patterson explains, before 1909, the law included the word "copies," but in a section 
defining the scope of the rights, the law made clear that the exclusive right to "copies" did 
not apply to a "book." Instead, the right was intended to protect works, such as statues, 
that could only be "copied." L. Ray Patterson, "Free Speech, Copyright, and Fair Use," 
Vanderbilt Law Review A{) (XmyAO-A'i. 

10. Ibid. 

11. Jessica Litman, "The Exclusive Right to Read," Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Jour- 
nal U (199^): 29, 3^-35. 

12. There are of course important limits on Congress's power if it is to live up to the obliga- 
tions of international law. I don't address those limits here. The simplest way to avoid 
inconsistency yet permit significant reform would be to limit the reach of any reform 
to U.S. law alone. More ambitiously, the United States could take the lead in reforming 
international law to make it conform better to creative interests. Christopher Sprigman, 
"Reform(aliz)ing Copyright," Stanford Law Review 57 (2004): 485. 

13. See William W. Fisher, Promises to Keep (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 
2004); Neil Weinstock Netanel, "Impose a Non-commercial Use Levy to Allow Free P2P 
File-sharing," Harvard Journal of Law and Technology 17 (2003): 1; "A Better Way For- 
ward: Voluntary Collective Licensing of Music File Sharing," Electronic Frontier Foun- 

^-^ dation, available at link #121 (last visited January 18, 2008). ^^ 

Chapter 10. Reforming Us 

I.David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: 
Oxford University Press, 1989), 765. 

2. Lessig, The Future of Ideas, 4. 

3. Jenkins, Convergence Culture, 134. 

4. Ibid., 18. 

5. James C. Carter, The Provinces of the Written and the Unwritten Law (New York: Banks & 
Brothers, 1889), 4. 

6. James C. Carter, Law: Its Origin, Growth, and Function (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 
1907), 323. 

7. My favorites are Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Oaeda and the Road to 9/11 
(New York: Knopf, 2006) and Bob Woodward, State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III (New 
York: Simon & Schuster, 2006). 

8. The simplest claim to support here is that if kids view laws regulating culture as unjust, 
they are less likely to obey those laws. As Professor Geraldine Moohr argues, "a criminal 
law that is not supported by community consensus will be less effective and can even be 
counterproductive. Members of the community will not condemn those who violate such 
laws. This state of affairs can eventually weaken respect for the law. Witnessing punish- 
ment for conduct not viewed as immoral may cause people to view the law as less than 
legitimate and not morally credible. For this reason, courts have been generally cautious 
when deciding whether conduct in which citizens routinely engage is a crime." Geral- 


80706 i-xxiv 001-328 r4nk.lndd 316 -(®+ 8/12/08 1:56:28 AM 


NOTES 317 

dine S. Moohr, "The Crime of Copyright Infringement: An Inquiry Based on Morality, 
Harm, and Criminal Theory," Boston University Law Review 83 (2003): 731, citing Paul 
H. Robinson and John M. DavXc^, Justice, Liability and Blame (Boulder, Colo.: Westview 
Press, 1995). As Moohr concludes, "criminalizing copyright infringement may pro- 
duce the opposite of its intended goal." Similar conclusions have been reached studying 
other "youth crimes," such as illegal use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. See Claudia 
Amonini and Robert J. Donavan, "The Relationship Between Youth's Moral and Legal 
Perceptions of Alcohol, Tobacco and Marijuana and Use of These Substances," Health 
Education Research (2005): 276. 

The harder claim to sustain is that any effect localized around culture crimes might 
bleed to other areas of the law. Scott Menard and David Huizinga have advanced an 
important understanding about the interaction between conventional attitudes and 
delinquent behavior in adolescence, suggesting that changes in attitudes can lead to a 
small increase in delinquent behavior, which in turn will have a reinforcing effect on 
attitudes. See Scott Menard and David Hulzing, "Changes in Conventional Attitudes: 
and Delinquent Behavior in Adolescence," Youth and Society 26 (1994): 23. But the most 
important, and foundational work supporting this hypothesis is Tom Tyler's Why Peo- 
ple Obey the Law (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1990), 161. Much great 
work has been built upon Tyler's foundation. But the core insight Tyler advanced in this 
debate — that the "values that lead people to comply voluntarily with legal rules" . . . "form 
the basis for the effective functioning of legal authorities" — underlies the concern that 
local skepticism (or even disgust) with criminal enforcement of laws regulating behav- 
^-^ ior perceived to be harmless might generalize beyond that locality. Tyler's particular ^^ 

^?K concern was procedural legitimacy. The in terrorem tactics of the RI A A and MPA A cer- ^^ 

tainly weaken any perceived procedural legitimacy to the enforcement of these culture 

The strongest support for the idea that perceived injustice in one law can spill over 
to others comes from the extraordinary work of Professor Janice Nadler. In her essay 
"Flouting the Law," Texas Law Review 83 (2005): 1399, she provides experimental evi- 
dent to support the hypothesis that willingness to disobey can extend far beyond a par- 
ticular unjust law. 

The most obvious or appealing parallel — to youth in the Soviet Union — is a harder 
claim to sustain. Paradoxically, even though youth in the Soviet Union were referred to 
as the "bewildered generation" — bewildered by the hypocrisy and double standards of 
the late Soviet Union especially — "the Soviet Union was unique in its attempt to con- 
trol and shape the development of its youth into 'proper Communist citizens' " (James O. 
Finckenauer, Russian Youth [New Brunswick; N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1995], 80). 
See also June Louin-Tapp, "The Geography of Legal Socialization," Droit Et Societe 19 
(1991): 331, 349 ("Soviet youth perceive USSR law and its applications to be more fair 
than American youth perceive US law and its applications"). Thus, w^hile there's lit- 
tle doubt that juvenile crime was rising by the end of the Soviet Union, it is difficult to 
compare Soviet attitudes with American attitudes. Both may suffer the same negative 
effect (laws seen to be unjust), but only one had an extensive propaganda effort to counter 
the consequences of that effect (the Soviet Union). See also Walter D. Connor, "Juve- 
nile Delinquency in the \3SSK" American Sociological Review 35 (1970): 283 (concluding 
delinquency not "protest"). See also Emanuela Carbonara, Francesco Parisi, and Georg 


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318 NOTES 

von Wangenheim, "Unjust Laws and Illegal Normas," Minnesota Legal Studies Research 
Paper No. 08—03 (January 2008) {modeling effect of social opposition to unjust laws on 
effects of legal intervention). 
9. Anonymous, "Who Passes Up the Free Lunch" {unpublished, 2007) {on file with 


1. See Carl J. Dahlman, "The Problem of Externality," Journal of Law and Economics 22 
(1979): 141. 

2. Thomas Jefferson letter to Isaac Mcpherson, August 13, 1813, reprinted in H. A. Wash- 
ington, ed.. Writings of Thomas Jeffeison 1790—1826, vol. 6 (Washington, D. C: Taylor & 
Maury, 1854), 180—81; quoted in Graham v. John Deere Company of Kansas, 383 U. S. 1, 

3. See Mark Stefik, ed., "Epilogue: Choices and Dreams," Internet Dreams: Archetypes, 
Myths, and Metaphors (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996), 391. 

4. Rick E. Bruner, "Blogging Is Booming," iMedia Connection, April 5, 2004, available at 
link #122 (last visited January 18, 2008). 

5. Stephen Breyer, "The Uneasy Case for Copyright: A Study of Copyright in Books, Pho- 
tocopies, and Computer Programs," /farz/artf Law Review 84 (1970): 281. 

6. See Lessig, Code Version 2.0, 409n8. 

7. Al Gore, The Assault on Reason (New York: Penguin Press, 2007), 194. 

^ 8. Ibid., 195. ^ 


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Academy Awards, 45—46 

access, 43-49, 67, 106, 255, 261, 291 

advertising, 2,48-49 


classified, 187 

Dogster and, 187 

Wikia and, 204-5 

Wikipedia and, 161-62, 203-4 
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), 148 
Alexa, 236-37 
Alexander, Alastair, 208 
Allman, Eric, 163-64 
amateur creativity, 33, 90, 103 

deregulation of, 254—59 

in music, 24-29, 32-33 
Amazon, 48-49, 125-26, 129-30, 141, 
142, 239-40 

Litde Brother and, 132, 136 
Amazon Web Services (AWS), 126, 138 
Anderson, Chris, 129, 199 

anime music videos (AJMVs), 77-78, 79, 8 
AOL, 153-54 

Apache, 164-65, 183, 241-42 
Apple, 88, 142,165 

iPod,41,46,47, 88 

iTunes, 12, 13,41-42, 134 
Armstrong, Edwin Howard, 30 
Armstrong, Louis, 104 

astronomy, 170—71 
Atmo, 73 
AudioMulch, 12 
Awesometown, 2T1 

Bainwol, Mitch, 114 

Baker, Stewart, 89 

Barish, Stephanie, 80 

Barlow, John Perry, 67 

barter economies, 180 

Baumol, William, 230 

Beam-it, 135 

Beatles, 74, 75, 255 

Becker, Don, 180 

Behlendorf, Brian, 164, 183, 242-43 

Benkler, Yochai, 50, 58, 59, 62, 118, 

140, 146, 169, 172, 176, 178 
Berners-Lee, Tim, 58, 221 
Bezos,Jeff, 125, 129, 136 
Biancolo, Jim, 126 
BigChampagne Online Media 

Measurement, 110 
BIND, 164 

Blair, Tony, 73-74, 273, 249 

Blockbuster, 123-24, 129, 142 
blogs, 57, 58-62, 63-65, 103, 139, 291 

value of, 92-93 
books, 42, 99-100, 268, 269, 291, 292 

access to, 43—44 


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books (cont.) 

Amazon and, see Amazon 

Google and, 260—61 

Long Tail principle and, 129—30 

Lulu and, 130-31 

Project Gutenberg and, 166—67, 175 

rereadings of, 94—95 

Safari and, 235—36 
Bowie, David, 244 

Brandon, Marc, 206, 208-9, 210-1 1, 258 
Breitz, Candice, 6—11, 17, ?>6n 
Breyer, Justice Stephen, 292 
Bricklin,Dan, 132-34, 136, 155, 173, 195, 

Buckingham, David, 78 
Buckmaster, Jim, 188 
Bush, George, 72-74, 273, 293 
Butterfield, Stewart, 191-94 

Caldera, 181 
Canonical Ltd., 184 
Canter & Siegel, 57-58 

Carter, James, 280-81 

Carter, Jimmy, xiv 

cassette tapes, 30, 37, 102 

Catster, 187 

ccMixter, 16-17,97,226 

CD Database (CDDB), 133-34, 237-39 

CDs, 30, 37, 99, 1 10, 284, 285, 286 

gelik,Tantek, 221-22 

cell phones, 68 

Census, U.S. Bureau of, 68 

Chen, Steve, 194, 195-96, 224 

Cho, Seung-Hui, 161 

Christensen, Clayton M., 143 

civil rights, 257-58 

CNET, 198 

Coase, Ronald, 139-40 

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace 

collaboration, 196-213,276 
collage, 70-71, 76 
collecting societies, 256 
Comedies of Fair U$e conference, 91 
Commerce, U.S. Department of, 39 
commercial economies, 116, 118, 119—43, 

176, 177 

crossovers and, 227—28 
hybrid economies and, 177—78, 225, 
228— il; see also hybrid economies 
on Internet, 119,121-43 
Little Brother and, 132-37, 143 
Long Tail principle in, 42, 128-32, 143 
parallel economies and, 225—26 
sharing economies and, 145—51, 177—78, 

success in, 141—43 
tools signaling, 226 
commercial vs. noncommercial use, 55, 254 
communities, 184-85, 213-20, 221, 222-24 
remixes and, 77—80 
Young on, 180 
community spaces, 186—96 
competition, 49, 56, 89-90, 270 
CompUSA, 180 

Congress, xviii, xxii, 33, 101, 102, 103, 
109, 110, 253, 255, 259, 263, 266-69, 
civil rights and, 257 
Constitution, U.S., 260, 275 
"Content Is Not King" (Odlyzko), 89 
Convergence Culture (Jenkins), 28 
copies, 98-102, 255, 276-77, 290-91 
decriminalization of, 268—71, 279 
copyright law, 96, 97, 244-45, 276-77, 
Baker on, 89 
clear title in, 260—65 
commercial vs. noncommercial use and, 

competition and, 90, 270 
decriminalizing copies and, 268—71, 279 
decriminalizing file sharing and, 

decriminalizing youth and, 248—49, 

de minimis exception to, 104 
deregulating amateur creativity and, 

destructive and self-defeating 

aspects of, 109-14 
externalities and, 289, 291, 292-93 
fair use and, 91, 99, 100, 103, 123, 


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history of, 100-101, 103, 262-63, 268-69 

hybrid economies and, 248—49 

importance of limits in, 31—33, 56 

licenses and, see licenses 

as opt-in system, 262—63 

as opt-out system, 263 

proper function of, 85 

property law and, 264—65 

reforming, 253-73, 278, 279 

registration and, 262—65 

RO culture and, 97-100, 105 

RW culture and, 97, 100-105, 108 

simplification of, 266—68 

Sousa and, 23—27, 31—33 

work for hire and, 244 
copyright wars, xv— xxii, 34, 39—40, 

collateral damage in, 17—18 
Corley, Eric, 2 
"Cornucopia of the Commons, The" 

(Bricklin), 132-34, 173 
corruption, 283, 293, 294 
craigslist, 187-91, 195 
Creative Commons (CC), 15-17, 172, 192, 

creativity, 18, 19 

amateur, ji^c' amateur creativity 

cultures of, see culture{s) 

LongTailand, 130, 131 

original, 91-92, 93, 95 
Cult of the Amateur, The (Keen), 90—91 
cultural literacy, 81, 107 
cultural references, 74—75 
culture(s), 18 

access to, 43-49, 67, 106, 255, 261, 291 

diversity of, 42 

found, 75 

RO, see RO culture 

RW,if£-RW culture 

Sousa's view of, 24-29, 32-33, 35, 36, 50 

standards in, 96—97 
Currier, Frank Dunklee, 32 
Cuse, Carlton, 213 

Daily Prophet, 206 
Daley, Elizabeth, 80 
Danger Mouse, 255 

Dash, Anil, 233 

Dean, Howard, 62 

defamation, 275,59,60,233 

democracy, 27, 67, 142, 249, 282 

democratization, 25, 52-53, 54-55, 90, 

De Sola Pool, Ithiel, 96 
Dickens, Charles, 94-95 
Diebold, 62 
Digital Rights Management (DRM), 41, 

42, 47-48, 67, 98, 99, 235, 290-91 
Digital Sky Project, 170-71 
Digital Storytelling project, 80-81, 261-62 
digital technologies, 38-43, 69, 83, 84, 

and access to media, 46—49 

advertising and, 48 
Disney,55, 102, 122 
distributed computing, 167—68 
Distributed Proofreaders, 167 
diversity, 185, 186,231,252 
Dogster, 186-87,213 
doujinshi, 79, 80 
Doyle, Michael, 11-12 
Duffy, Kevin Thomas, 53-54 
DVDs, 2, 30, 37, 38, 94, 124, 129, 144-45 
DVRs, 44 

economies, 116, 117-18,225-49 

commercial, ^(?c? commercial economies 

crossovers in, 227—28 

hybrid, jrc? hybrid economies 

parallel, 225-26 

sharing, see sharing economies 

spillovers and, 229—31 

tools to signal types of, 226—27 

value in, 88-90 
education, 85-86, 274 

legal, 86 

remixes and, 80—82 
Einstein@Home, 167-68 
election of 2004, 62-63 
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 

Ellis, Jim, 57 


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eMusic, 12,42 

Everything Bad Is Good for You (Johnson), 

Ewing, Marc, 181,182 
externalities, 289, 291, 292-93 
eyeVio, 249 

fair use, 91, 99, 100, 103, 123, 255-56, 

Fake, Caterina, 191-92, 233 
fan cultures, 205-13, 245-48, 258-59, 276 
Fight Censorship, 197 
file sharing, j"(?(? peer-to-peer file sharing 
films, ^c?(? movies 
Fisher, William, 109, 271, 272 
Flickr, 191-94,233 
found culture, 75 
fourstones, 95 
Fox, 71, 227 
Franks, Charles, 167 
"free" content, 47-48 
Free Culture (Lessig), xvi— xvii, 80, 89, 113 
Future of Ideas, The (Lessig), xvi 

Gansky, Lisa, 192 
Geilhufe, David, 191 
Ghosh, Rishab, 173 
Gift, The (Hyde), 147-48, 149 
gifts, 147-48 
GigaOmniMedia, 232 
Gil, Gilberto, 66-67, 256 
Gillis, Gregg, 11-15 
Girl Talk, 11-13, 17, 18, 69-70, 104 
global warming, 292, 293, 294 
GNU, 162, 163, 182, 184, 240-41 
Goddard Space Flight Center, 180 
Godwin, Mike, 156 
Goethe Institute, 92 
Gomes, Lee, 130 

Google, 127-28, 141, 142, 190, 197, 224, 

books digitized by, 260—61 

Little Brother and, 132, 136-37 

mash-ups, 138 

YouTube acquired by, 194 
Google Application Programming 
Interfaces (APIs), 128, 137, 138 

Gore, Al, 293 
Gracenote, 134, 237-39 
Green, Rich, 232 
Grokster, xxi, 110 
Guggenheim, Davis, 275 

"Hard Working George" (Sadler), 72—73 

Harry Potter, 206-12, 245, 246, 258-59 

Hart, Michael, 166, 167 

Hastings, Reed, 124 

Hollywood, 205-13, 291, 292, 294; 

see also movies 
Hosier, Mark, 70, 71, 75, 76, 81, 107 
Hurley, Chad, 194 
Hurricane Katrina, 189-91 
Hutchinson, Thomas, 147 
hybrid economies, 34, 35, 1 16, 1 18, 1 19, 
177-224, 225, 252, 253, 274, 294 

collaboration spaces and, 196—213 

communities and, 213—20 

community spaces and, 186—96 

decriminalizing youth and, 248—49 

fairness in, 231—43 

free software, 163-66, 172, 173-75, 

incentives for commercial entities to 
become, 228—31 

Internet, 116 

sharecropping in, 243—48 
Hyde, Lewis, 147-48, 149 

IBM, 241-42 
ideas, 290 

innovation, 25, 221, 228-29 
LEGO-ized, 137-41, 143 
spillovers and, 229—31 
Innovator's Dilemma, The (Christensen), 

integrity, 87, 92 

International Federation of the 
Phonographic Industry, 39 
Internet, 30, 34, 40, 58, 68, 69, 102-3, 116, 
commercial economies and, 119, 121—43 
hybrid economies and, 116, 177, 178; 

see also hybrid economies 
Keen on, 90-91 


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LEGO-ized innovation and, 137-41, 143 
Litde Brother and, 132-37, 143 
sharing economies and, 119, 155—72 

Internet Archive, 168, 175, 232, 236 

Internet Movie Database (IMDb), 239-40 

"invisible hand," 49—50 

iPod,41,46,47, 88 

Iraq, 281-82 

Ito,Joi, 200, 218-19 

Ito,Mimi, 78,79, 80 

iTunes, 41-42, 134 
GirlTalkand, 12, 13 

Jackson, Andrew, 275 

Jackson, Michael, 5 

Jarvis, Jeff, 233-34 

Jay-Z, 255 

Jefferson, Thomas, 27, 106, 131-32, 262, 

Jenkins, Henry, 28, 78, 81, 94, 206-7, 212, 276 
Jobs, Steve, 40 
Johnson, Mark, xiv 
Johnson, Steven, 93—94 
Jones, Scott, 238 
Joyce, Don, 54, 70, 71, 272-73 
Jupiter Research, 110 
juries, 87 

Kahle, Brewster, 58, 168, 232, 236-37, 239 

Kan, Ti, 237-38 

Karim, Jawed, 194 

Kasem, Casey, 13, 75 

Keen, Andrew, 90-91, 127 

Kelly, Kevin, 59 

Kerry, John, 72 

Kind, Jonathan, 149 

Kodak, 192 

Kollock, Peter, 174 

Lakoff, George, xiv, xv 
Lasica, J. D., 55 
Lastim, 199-200 
Lawver, Heather, 206-10, 246 
LEGO-ized innovadon, 137-41, 143 
Lennon,John,5,6, 8,9-11 
Lenz, Stephanie, 1—5, 254—55 
Lethem, Jonathan, 96 

Li, Charlene, 61—62 
Library of Congress, 106, 262—63 
licenses, 99, 100, 103, 109, 110-11, 183,256, 

Creative Commons, 15—17, 172, 192, 

Wikipedia and, 157, 161 
Lindelof, Damon, 213 
Linden Lab, 215, 219, 220 
links, 60, 61, 127 
Linux, 2, 162, 163, 180-84, 240-41 

Red Hat, 130, 181-85 
Litman, Jessica, 269 
Little Brother, 132-37, 143 
Lonely Island, 227 
Long Tail, The (Anderson), 129 
Long Tail principle (LTP), 42, 128-32, 143 
Los Angeles Times, 212 
Lost, 212-13 
Lott, Trent, 62 
Lucas, George, 246, 247-48 
Lucasfilm, 245-46, 247, 277 
Lulu, 130-31 

McCracken, Grant, 212 
McCullagh,Declan, 196-98 
Mcintosh, Jonathan, 71-72 
Madonna, 6, 8 
Malik, Cm, 232-33 
Marglin, David, 237, 238, 239 

competitive, 49, 56, 89-90 

complementary, 56 

free, 139-40, 142 
Marley, Bob, 5, 9 
Marley, Rita, 9 

Mars Mapping Project, 168-70 
Mashin'ofthe Christ, The (Negativland), 

mash-ups, j(?if remixes 
Matrix, The, 71-72 

fan participation in, 205-13, 245-48, 
258-59, 276 

prohibitionists and collaborationists 
in, 276 

in RW culture, 68-83 


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Meza, Philip, 30 

MGM V. Gro\ster, xxi, 110 

Microsoft, 142, 164-65, 181 

Usenet and, 200-202 
Mohsenin, Kamran, 192 
morality, 287 
Motion Picture Association of 

America, xvii 
movies, 30-31, 37, 42, 68, 85, 91, 242, 243, 

access to, 43—44 

collaborative hybrids and, 205—13 

complexity in, 94 

home, 55, 69, 88 

IMDb and, 239-40 

Netflix and, see Netflix 

quoting with, 54, 55, 39, 134-35 
music, 42, 68, 69, 85, 242, 243, 269, 291, 292 

amateur, 24-29, 32-33 

ccMixter and, 16-17, 97, 226 

CDDB and, 133-34,237-39 

on CDs, 30, 37, 99, 110, 284, 285, 286 

complexity and value of, 95—96 

declining sales of, 40, 225—26 

file sharing and, see peer-to-peer 
file sharing 

iTunes and, see iTunes 

jazz, 103-4 and, 199-200 and, 39, 134-35 

quoting in, 54, 55 

on records, 23-25, 26, 29-30, 37, 38, 269 

remixes of, see remixes 

sampling in, 53-54, 104, 273 

Sousa's views on, 23-29, 31-33, 132, 254 

turn-of-the-century technologies and, 

see also recording industry 
music videos, 68 

anime, 77-78, 79, 80 

Napster, xvii, 39, 41, 133, 276 

NASA, 168-70 

National Science Foundation (NSF), 

Nature, 170 

Negativland, 13, 54, 70, 71, 75-76, 107 

Netanel, Neil, 271 

Netflix, 122-24, 129, 132, 137-38, 

142, 193 
network effects, 153—54 
Newmark, Craig, 187, 188, 189, 191, 235 
newspapers, 62 
New Yor\ Times, 161 
New yor\ Unix, 179 
Nielsen Media Research, 68 
Night Ripper, 11, 12 
Nupedia, 156 

Odlyzko, Andrew, 89 

Ofoto, 192 

Ono,Yoko,9-10, 11 

Open Directory Project, 171 

Open Source Food, 171—72 

O'Reilly, Tim, 139, 223-24, 235-36 

outsourcing, 140, 233 

Page, Larry, 127 
Page,Scott, 165-66, 174 
Patterson, Lyman Ray, 268 
PayPal, 140, 194 

peer-to-peer (p2p) file sharing, 18, 109, 
1 10-14, 150, 225, 282-83, 284-87 

decriminalizing, 271—72 

MGM V. Grol{ster, xxi, 110 

Napster, xvii, 39, 41, 133, 276 
PeopleFinder Project, 191 
Perl, 164 

Pike & Fisher, 240 

piracy, xv— xvi, xvii, xviii, 2, 38, 40, 41, 

Sousa and, 23, 24 
player pianos, 24, 29, 269 
Poketnon, 78 
Politech, 197-98 
pollution, 292, 293, 294 
Posner, Richard, 65—66, 67 
Prince, 1—5 
privacy, 49, 136-37 
Project Gutenberg, 166—67, 175 
property law, 264—65 


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prostitution, 146, 150 
public domain, 263 

quoting, 51-56, 69, 82,107 

Rademacher, Paul, 138 

radio, xxi— xxii, 30, 68 

Raymond, Eric, 173 

reading, 68-69, 87 

"Read My Lips" (Soderberg), 73-74 

recording industry, 29, 41, 199, 225-26, 276 

declining sales and, 40, 225—26 

file sharing and, see peer-to-peer 
file sharing 
Recording Industry Association of 

America (RIAA), 39, 1 14, 226, 242, 
records, phonograph, 23—25, 26, 29—30, 

Reddit, 59 

RedHatLinux, 130, 181-85 
Reese, Tony, 101 
registration, 262—65 
regulation, xx— xxi, 292 

limits of, 280-87 
Rhapsody, 42 

remixes (mash-ups), 14-15, 56, 68-83, 103, 

communities and, 77—80 

education and, 80—82 

Girl Talk and, 11-13, 17, 18, 69-70, 104 

goods created by, 76—82 

sharecropping and, 243—48 

SilviaO and, 16-17,95 

text-based, 82 
Rhapsody, 129 
Richie, Lionel, 74 
Rivera, Geraldo, 72 
Rohm, Wendy Goldman, 163—64 
RO (Read/Only) culture, 28-31, 34-35, 

copyright law and, 97-100, 105 

in the digital age, 106 

economic value and, 88 

importance and value of, 105—6 

RW culture compared with, 84—114 

values and, 84-88 

Robertson, Michael, 134-35 
Rosedaie, Philip, 215-16, 219-20, 236 
Rosen, Jeff, 136 
Rowling, J. K., 206 
RW (Read/Write) culture, 28-29, 33, 
34-35, 50, 51-83, 116, 252, 253, 274 

copyright law and, 97, 100-105, 108 

economic value promoted by, 88—90 

importance and value ot, 106—8 

media in, 68-83 

RO culture compared with, 84—114 

text in, 57-68, 69 

value of works created in, 90—97 

values and, 85-88 

Sadler, Sim, 72—73 
Safari Books Online, 235—36 
sampling, 53-54, 104,273 
San Francisco Chronicle, 190 
Sanger, Larry, 156, 157 
Saturday Night Life, 227—28 
Scherf, Steve, 237-28 
Scholastic, 206 
Second Life, 213, 214-20, 236 
Sefton-Green, Julia, 78 
segregation, 257—58 
SETI, 167 
Sendmail, 163-64 
sharecropping, 243—48 
sharing economies, 116, 118—19, 143—76, 
177, 223 

commercial economies and, 145—51, 

crossovers and, 227—28 

hybrid economies and, 177—78, 225; 
see also hybrid economies 

on Internet, 119, 155-72 

motivations for participation in, 151—54, 

parallel economies and, 225—26 

thick, 152,154 

thin, 152-54 

tools signaling, 226—27 
Sherman, Gary, 1 14 
Shuttleworth, Mark, 184-85 
SilviaO, 15-17,95 
Sims, Charles, 91-92, 93, 95 


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Six Apart, 233 
Skype, 153 
slander, 275 
Slashdot, 198-99 
Smith, Adam, 49-50 
Smith, Marc, 201-2 
Soderberg, Johan, 70, 73, 75, 273 
software, 221 

free and open-source, 163—66, 172, 

173-75, 179-85, 219, 220, 240-43, 291 
Sony, xxi, 2,10, 40, 102, 241, 244, 249 
Sousa, John Philip, 23-29, 31-33, 35, 36, 

Southwestern Bell, 181-82 
spam, 58 

Spears, Britney, 95—96 
spillovers, 229—31 

Stallman, Richard, 157, 163, 179, 182, 183 
Star Wars, 245-46, 247 
Sterling, Thomas, 180 
stock markets, 152-53, 154 
Stone, Victor, 75, 97 
Success of Open Source, The (Weber), 

Sun Microsystems, 181, 232 
Sunstein, Cass, 126 
Supreme Court, U.S., 102, 110, 123, 225, 

MGMv. Grokster, xxi, 110 
segregation and, 257 
Swartz, Aaron, 158 

tags, 59-60, 61 

Tapscott, Don, 60, 138, 159, 212, 221, 


analog, limitations of, 37—38, 48 

digital, see digital technologies 
television, 30, 42, 68, 88,276 

access to, 43—46 

complexity of shows on, 94 

election of 2004 and, 62-63 

in hotels, 46-47 
text, see writing 
Torvalds, Linus, 163, 183 
TouchGraph, 126 

transaction costs, 139—40 
Trevithick, Richard, 229 
Truscott, Tom, 57 
Turkic, Sherry, 217-18 
2600, 2 

Ubuntu Linux, 184-85 

Under the Radar (Young and Rohm}, 

Universal Music Group, 2—5, 102, 122 
University of Houston, 80-81, 261-62 
Usenet, 57-58, 200-202 
U.S. National Virtual Observatory, 171 
U2,13, 75 

Valenti, Jack, xvii— xviii 

values, 84-88 

Vander Wal, Thomas, 59 

Vantongerloo, Zarf, 216—17 

VCRs and videocassettes, xxi, 2, 30, il^ 38, 

45, 102, 122-23 
Viacom, 2 
video(s),42,69, 103 

access to, 44 

home, 55, 69, 88 

YouTube ^nd,see YouTube 
videos, music, 68 

anime, 77-78, 79, 80 
Virginia Tech massacre, 160, 161 
VisiCalc, 132 

Voice Over IP (VOIP), 153, 154 
Von Hippel, Eric, 25, 141,173, 

Wales, Jimmy, 156-62, 204-5 

Wall, Larry, 164 

Wall Street Journal, 129-30,260,265 

Wal-Mart, 124 

Walzer, Michael, 147 

war, xiii— XV, 287 

Warner Bros., 206-12, 245, 258-59 

Wayback Machine, 58 

Wealth of Nations, The (Smith), 49-50 

Wealth of Networks, The (Benkler), 50 

Web2.0, 139, 140 

Weber, Steven, 174-75 

Well, the, 213 


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White Cube, 5-6, 8,9-11 

"Who Passes Up the Free Lunch," 

Wikia, 203-5, 213 
wikinomics, 221 

Wikjnomics (Tapscott and Williams), 138 
Wikipedia, 90, 155-62, 175-76, 185, 186, 

wikis, 156 
Wilco, 150 
Wilhams, Anthony, 60, 138, 159, 212, 221, 

Wilhams, Evan, 134 
Wired, 59, 129, 156, 164 
World of Warcraft, 218-19 
World Wide Web, 58, 221 
see also Internet 

writing, 52-53, 54, 57-68, 69, 86-87, 93, 
106, 107-8, 274-75 
quoting in, 51-53, 54, 55, 69, 82, 107 

Xerox, 102 

Yahoo!,142, 190, 197,233 

Answers, 202—3 

Flickr acquired by, 193, 194 
Yankovic, Weird Al, 207, 286 
Yang, Jerry, 202-3, 222-23 
Young, Robert, 130-31, 163-64, 179-82, 

YouTube, 194-96, 224, 234-35, 249, 256, 

Academy Awards on, 45—46 

Lenz video on, 1—5, 254—55 



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