Synopses & Reviews
The Internet revolution has come. Some say it has gone. In The Future of Ideas
, Lawrence Lessig explains how the revolution has produced a counterrevolution of potentially devastating power and effect. Creativity once flourished because the Net protected a commons on which widest range of innovators could experiment. But now, manipulating the law for their own purposes, corporations have established themselves as virtual gatekeepers of the Net while Congress, in the pockets of media magnates, has rewritten copyright and patent laws to stifle creativity and progress.
Lessig weaves the history of technology and its relevant laws to make a lucid and accessible case to protect the sanctity of intellectual freedom. He shows how the door to a future of ideas is being shut just as technology is creating extraordinary possibilities that have implications for all of us. Vital, eloquent, judicious and forthright, The Future of Ideas is a call to arms that we can ill afford to ignore.
"Dazzlingly inventive...It deserves to change the way we think about the electronic frontier." Los Angeles Times Book Review
"A manifesto that shakes you up, making you aware of how much is lost when a culture turns ideas into intellectual property." The New York Times Book Review
"A breath of fresh air in a crowded field...This book is a public service." The New York Times
"Lessig is one of the brightest minds grappling with the consequences of the digital world today, as deft and original with technical intricacies as he is with broad legal theory....The Future of Ideas succeeds marvelously." The Nation
"If we fail to deal appropriately and immediately with the intellectual, legal, cultural and economic issues associated with rapid technological change, Lessig asserts, we risk not only squandering the promise of the digital future, but reverting to 'a dark age' of increased corporate and government control. Although some readers may find parts of the book rather dense, Lessig has authored another landmark book for the digital age." Publishers Weekly
"Lessig's masterly account warns us about the threats to the diversity and
openness of information on the Internet and to innovation itself. This book is
a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of information
technology and its impact."
Mitch Kapor, cofounder, Electronic Frontier Foundation
"This book is the Silent Spring of ideas. Lawrence Lessig is telling a prophetic story of how the media-corporate complex is fencing off American culture in the name of intellectual property. His indictment is clear and shocking: our cultural patrimony is being stolen. Lessig is sounding the alarm." Michael Wolff
"The very best books give you new tools to think with and, as a result, change the way you see things you'd previously taken for granted. Like Larry Lessig's last book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, The Future of Ideas addresses the ways law and technology are nibbling away at our fundamental values and assumptions. Anyone who cares about the kind of world we leave to our grandchildren needs to read this book." Tim O'Reilly
"Larry Lessig knows something rare and vital: human creativity, like its species of origin, arises from the processes of nature. Like the rest of nature, all ideas are part of a seamless whole, a commons. If, in our greed, we chop the ecosystem of Mind into unconnected pieces, we will despoil it just as we are destroying the rest of our environment. Trying to own thought exclusively is as dangerous, selfish, and shortsighted as trying to own oxygen. We might enrich ourselves but asphyxiate our descendents. Read this book. Believe it. The future will be grateful." John Perry Barlow
"The public interest or 'the commons,' as Lawrence Lessig refers to it in this important book, has become an antique notion. The reigning assumption is that a free marketplace will protect the public and keep the Internet free and open. But as Lessig shows with eloquence and vivid clarity, an open Internet is menaced by commercial forces that are just doing what comes naturally advancing their own business interests. So they use their control of the Internet's plumbing, or software code, or content, or the patent laws, to impede competition. This is neither another tome by a would-be guru, nor an ideological screed. As a thinker, Larry Lessig is as unpredictable as the weather. He is a modern-day Paul Revere. He doesn't shout, but his cool logic and clear prose produce a roar that should alarm every citizen, for he demonstrates the price citizens are paying in lost freedom of choice, lost innovation, lost competition." Ken Auletta
The Future of Ideas is the most important work yet written about the grave threat posed to innovation and creativity in America and throughout the world. Lawrence Lessig documents the rapid and largely undebated expansion of government-granted monopolies over broad swatches of the knowledge our society relies on, and compares this with the role common access to knowledge has always played in America's vibrant culture and economy. He has written a Rosetta stone to what is a highly technical, legalistic debate that explains this trend in words the rest of us can understand. This is a debate that finds today's largest global publishing and technology corporations on one side and Thomas Jefferson, the United States Constitution, and the rest of us on the other. If you are only going to read one thought-provoking book this year, this is the one to read." Bob Young, cofounder and chairman of Red Hat, Inc., and the Center for the Public Domain
Explores the meaning of intellectual property in the new high-tech digital age, addressing the legal, social, and economic factors at work and provides a thought-provoking argument that those qualities that have made the Internet a dynamic force for creativity, freedom, and innovation could destroy
Includes bibliographical references (p. -333) and index.
About the Author
Lawrence Lessig is a professor of law at the Stanford Law School. Previously Berkman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School from 1997 to 2000 and professor at the University of Chicago Law School from 1991 to 1997, he is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Trinity College, Cambridge, and Yale Law School. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. He is a monthly columnist for The Industry Standard,
a board member of the Red Hat Center for Open Source, and the author of Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace
From the Hardcover edition.