Just a quick note today to point readers to Robert Levine‘s wonderful Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back, which is available in the US today. (And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out his blog.) 1I apologize if this seems like a shameless plug. Rob’s a friend, and I helped him with some legal research for the book. But I’m not getting paid to talk it up — I just think it’s a great book.

I previously wrote a more thorough review of Free Ride on this site, but to sum up: the book offers a well-researched look at copyright issues in the digital age over the past decade and a half. The reality is a far cry from the narrative you often hear from copyright’s critics — one of greedy dinosaurs who failed to adapt their business models and instead relied on ever-stronger enforcement.

The difference between that narrative and reality is not a historical accident, as Levine shows. The businesses and industries that benefited the most from weakened copyright protection and devalued digital content facilitated and funded many of the civil and academic proponents of those same ideas.

I think Free Ride is a must-read for creators, policy makers, and copyright wonks. It’s also entertaining, and should interest anyone who’s gotten into debates over file-sharing, digital media, or the future of the content industries.

References   [ + ]

1. I apologize if this seems like a shameless plug. Rob’s a friend, and I helped him with some legal research for the book. But I’m not getting paid to talk it up — I just think it’s a great book.

1 Comment

  1. He was also a guest on the Leonard Lopate broadcast yesterday on WNYC. Good interview, although I think it kind of dragged when Lopate started asking bullet point questions about how different media forms are affected. It became a little like everyone was reading off a list. I would have liked to hear Levine talk more about the role of companies like Google in shaping public/political opinion. Levine also touched on an interesting point that at Ivy League institutions the “free culture” agenda is pushed by older professors while the young students seem to support copyright protection. Overall, the interview was good stuff, I recommend it:

    http://bit.ly/uqStky [wnyc.org]