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.
In his previous book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, constitutional scholar and former Industry Standard columnist Lessig offered a wary assessment of both the burgeoning architecture of the Internet and the work of those seeking to control its growth. In this sprawling follow-up, Lessig takes his arguments in Code to the next level. Warning of a digital future that, despite all its promise, could in fact turn out quite darkly, Lessig argues that while most of the world is still pondering a digital revolution, a counterrevolution is already underway. Programmers are closing off Internet innovation through code. And lawmakers, lobbied by entrenched commercial interests, are applying overly broad interpretations of copyright and intellectual property laws. To fully realize the cultural and economic benefits of our technological revolution, Lessig urges the creation of a public "commons" for the Internet, an open system that would allow for quicker exchange of intellectual capital and offer future innovators the ability to freely build upon the innovations of others. Some of Lessig's sweeping proposals are sure to spark a lively debate, but his well-reasoned, clearly written argument is powerful. 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.