Lawrence Lessig

Sorry, Mark Helprin, We Don’t Write “Free Ware”

Fred Benenson, May 21st, 2009

Digital Barbarism,And we’d like to not think of ourselves as blockheads, either. If you came across Mark Helprin’s bizarre Op-Ed from a couple of weeks ago, you might have caught the legendary novelist playing the guilt-by-association-game by arguing that we’re “antagonistic to the authorial right.” In fact its the “authorial right” that makes CC work — without it, authors wouldn’t have the ability to choose which rights to reserve and which rights to give away using CC licenses.

Lawrence Lessig, CC’s founder penned a lengthy review of Helprin‘s recent book “Digital Barbarism” (buying a copy through Amazon will donate the referral fee to our organization). Of particular interest is Lessig’s analysis of how Helprin misconceives what we do:

Helprin’s errors are not limited to the stuff he should have learned from books. He even messes up his Internet research. The organization that I helped found, Creative Commons, is named by Helprin as the leading anti-copyright organization. Here is how he explains to his readers what Creative Commons is:

Creative Commons is the self-congratulatory name of a self-congratulatory movement. Somewhat like kibbutz on the internet, the idea is to write programs–”free ware”–and distribute them without charge. While presumably striking a blow at corporate giants like Microsoft, this demonstrates the generosity and selflessness of the programmer, musician, writer, or scholar who donates his work to the common weal. And it becomes in turn a premise that is promiscuously extended to those works the authors of which do not want to give them away, of whom the presumption, becomes that they are not generous. Therefore, they are selfish. Therefore, they should be brought around, one way or another, to the ideal–for the public good and to save their souls. (51)

The reader of Digital Barbarism might then be surprised to read (as is stated directly on the Creative Commons site): “Creative Commons licenses should not be used for software.” She might be puzzled as well to read an op-ed by Helprin in the Wall Street Journal, where he explains that Creative Commons is “richly financed by … Microsoft….” Those silly people at Microsoft, “richly financ[ing]” a movement aimed at “striking a blow at … Microsoft.”

Lessig calls his review “insanely long” but in this blogger’s opinion, its also “insanely great”, so be sure to pass it along to anyone who tries to raise any of Helprin’s demented arguments.

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Bloomsbury Academic to Release “Science, Ethics and Innovation” Series for Free Under CC Licenses

Cameron Parkins, May 13th, 2009

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Bloomsbury Academic, the recently-launched academic publishing imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, just announced their first series publication, Science, Ethics and Innovation. The series will be edited by Nobel Laureate Sir John Sulston and professor John Harris.

The series will be released online as free, CC-licensed downloads with hard copies available for sale. More from The Guardian:

The series will be the first from Bloomsbury’s new venture, Bloomsbury Academic, launched late last year as part of the publisher’s post-Harry Potter reinvention. Using Creative Commons licences, the intention is for titles in the imprint to be available for free online for non-commercial use, with revenue to be generated from the hard copies that will be printed via print-on-demand and short-run printing technologies.

In related news, Bloomsbury Academic’s digital publication of Lawrence Lessig’s Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy has now been downloaded for free in over 105 countries, while hard copies have also been selling well.

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Lessig’s REMIX Released Under CC License; Remix Contest Launched By Bloomsbury Academic

Cameron Parkins, May 1st, 2009

remix_cover_lLawrence Lessig‘s latest book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy is getting the CC treatment from Bloomsbury Academic (CC coverage here and here). Starting today, the entire book is available for free download under a CC BY-NC license from Bloomsbury Academic’s website.

We are incredibly excited that a text devoted to the art and value of remixing is being released under a license that allows free and open sharing and reuse – it turns out we aren’t the only ones. To celebrate the launch, Bloomsburry is holding a contest titled Remix the Remixer:

To celebrate the Creative Commons release of Lawrence Lessig’s latest book, Remix, Bloomsbury Academic are hosting a competition you have the chance to win an original remixed item created by Cory Doctorow on the 1st of May (with a video of the event), £200 (about 300 USD) worth of Bloomsbury books and a copy of Remix signed by Lessig himself.

The competition is called Remix the Remixer. Just remix any of Lawrence Lessig’s existing work and create something that is new, unique and creative.

Here’s how it works: Find any video, interview, or written work of Lessig’s, mash it up with another piece of Lessig’s work and create something new. It can be a video (3 min max), photo (nothing offensive, please) or text.

Be sure to upload your remixes between now (May 1) and May 31 to be considered for the prize drawings.

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Harvard panel (12/12/08) video now online

Allison Domicone, April 30th, 2009

Photo by dsearls under CC BY-SA

Photo by dsearls under CC BY-SA

As many of you may remember, last December CC paired up with Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society to host a panel discussion entitled, “The Commons: Celebrating accomplishments, discerning futures.” Panelists included James Boyle, The Public Domain; Lawrence Lessig, Remix; Joi Ito, Free Souls; and Molly S. Van Houweling, Creative Commons’ first Executive Director. Jonathan Zittrain, of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, moderated.

A video of the panel discussion is now available at Internet Archive for you to watch and download.

We hope you’ll enjoy the video, which offers an intimate glimpse into CC’s history through the eyes of the people who were there from the beginning. Larry, Molly, Jamie and Joi each recall some wonderful stories and anecdotes from the early days of CC, and offer up new perspectives on where the organization should be headed. It’s a great video that speaks to the importance and relevance of CC as an organization and a leader in the move toward a more participatory culture.

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“RiP: A Remix Manifesto” Released, Online Remixing Through Kaltura

Cameron Parkins, March 23rd, 2009

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RiP: A Remix Manifesto, a community-driven documentary that focuses on copyright and remix culture (covered earlier here and here) is just beginning to creep out into theaters, having its U.S. premier last week at SXSW. While the film largely focuses on the story of Greg Gillis (Girl Talk) it includes interviews with a wide variety of figures, including both Lawrence Lessig and Cory Doctorow.

Perhaps most interesting is that the filmmakers have teamed up with open source video platform Kaltura (early coverage here) enabling anyone with a computer to remix the film only at opersourcecinema.org. All the footage of the film is released under a CC BY-NC license.

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Live from the NYPL & Wired Present: Lawrence Lessig, Shepard Fairey, and Steven Johnson

Eric Steuer, February 19th, 2009

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New Yorkers – next Thursday, February 26, Wired and Live from the NYPL will bring together Lawrence Lessig, Shepard Fairey, and Steven Johnson for a discussion about Lessig’s new book, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. The conversation will take place at 7:00pm at the Celeste Bartos Forum at the New York Public Library (5th Avenue and 42nd Street). Tickets are $25 for general admission and $15 for library donors, seniors, and students. This is Lessig’s final planned public discussion of remix and copyright issues, before he he heads to Harvard to direct the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics. Lessig, Fairey, and Johnson will be on hand after the talk to sign their respective books and posters.

LIVE from the NYPL and WIRED Magazine kick off the Spring 2009 season with a spirited discussion of the emerging remix culture. Our guides through this new world—who will take us from Jefferson’s Bible to André the Giant to Wikipedia—will be Lawrence Lessig, author of Remix, founder of Creative Commons, and one of the leading legal scholars on intellectual property issues in the Internet age; acclaimed street artist Shepard Fairey, whose iconic Obama “HOPE” poster was recently acquired by the National Portrait Gallery; and cultural historian Steven Johnson, whose new book, The Invention of Air, argues that remix culture has deep roots in the Enlightenment and among the American founding fathers.

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Indaba Music on Colbert Report Tonight

Fred Benenson, February 2nd, 2009


Following up Lawrence Lessig’s remix-tastic appearance on the Colbert Report earlier in January, Indaba Music‘s Dan Zaccagnino will be chatting with Stephen tonight about Indaba’s remix and online collaboration community. If you’re looking to create your own Colbert remix or just listen to some more, head over to the page on Indaba Music that is hosting CC licensed audio samples from the show.

The Colbert Report airs on Comedy Central at 11:30pm / 10:30c but will be available tomorrow to watch online.

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Colbert Invites Discourages More Remixing

Fred Benenson, January 23rd, 2009

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After discovering the dozens of unauthorized and possibly infringing remix videos that resulted from his adamant calls not to remix his interview with CC founder, Lawrence Lessig, Stephen Colbert is mad. He’s so mad he featured a new segment and music video challenging fans not to remix his show any more. He reiterated this demand in a staccato a capella, so that fans could clearly understand what he was saying and not sample his words. If someone were to remix his show or audio book, they certainly shouldn’t upload it to the special section of Colbert Nation soliciting uploads, either.

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Lessig/Colbert remixes on ccMixter

Mike Linksvayer, January 12th, 2009

CC founder Lawrence Lessig appeared on the Colbert Report last Thursday talking about his latest book, REMIX. The segment was great, and hilarious, as is typical for Colbert — and double plus fun for copyright geeks and activists, as Colbert challenged the audience to not remix the interview “with some great dance beat, and then it starts showing up in clubs across America.”

Lessig pointed out on air that because he didn’t waive his joint copyrights to the segment, he and Colbert are joint owners, and either can exploit the work freely. In this case Lessig has published the interview under CC BY, allowing anyone to remix or even commercially exploit the work for free.

The interview “accapella” is up on ccMixter, where it is rapidly being remixed with great dance beats (see “samples used in:” on the right).

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Lawrence Lessig on Colbert Report Tonight

Fred Benenson, January 8th, 2009

Creative Commons’ founder, Lawrence Lessig has been recently talking about his new book, REMIX but tonight he’ll be appearing as the special guest on The Colbert Report, airing on Comedy Central at 11:30pm / 10:30c.

More information available on Colbert Nation, and streaming video of show should be available tomorrow, so keep an eye on our twitter and identi.ca accounts for links.

UPDATE: Here’s the streaming video of Larry’s appearance last night.

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