The future od ideas

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THE FUTURE OF IDEAS

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License (US/v3.0). Noncommercial uses are thus permitted without any further permission from the copyright owner. Permissions beyond the scope of this license are administered by Random House. Information on how to request permission may be found at: http://www.randomhouse.com/about/ permissions.htmlThe book maybe downloaded in electronic form (freely) at: http://the-future-of-ideas.com
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the future of ideas
T H E FAT E O F T H E C O M M O N S IN A CONNECTED WORLD

/// Lawrence Lessig

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R A N D O M N e w H O U S E Y o r k

Copyright © 2001 Lawrence Lessig All rights reserved underInternational and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Random House and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc. library of congress cataloging-in-publication data Lessig, Lawrence. The future of ideas : the fate of the commons in a connected world / LawrenceLessig. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 0-375-50578-4 1. Intellectual property. 2. Copyright and electronic data processing. 3. Internet—Law and legislation. 4. Information society. I. Title. K1401 .L47 2001 346.04'8'0285—dc21 2001031968 Random House website address: www.atrandom.com Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper 2 4 6 8 9 7 5 3

First Edition Book design by Jo AnneMetsch

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n 1 9 9 9 , in a book entitled The Control Revolution, journalist and legal scholar Andrew Shapiro described two futures that the Internet might take.1 The first was the familiar story of increased individual freedom, as the network gave us greater control over ourlives, and over the institutions, including government, that regulate our lives. The second was a less familiar warning—of the rebirth of technologies of control, as institutions “disintermediated” by the Internet learned how to alter the network to reestablish their control. Shapiro saw good and bad in both futures. Too much dis-intermediation, he warned, would interfere with collective governance;some balance was needed. But likewise, efforts to rearchitect the Net to reenable control threatened to undermine its potential for individual freedom and growth. Shapiro did not predict which future would be ours. Indeed, his argument was that bits of each future were possible, and that we must choose a balance between them. His account was subtle, but optimistic. If there was a bias to thestruggle, he, like most of us then, believed the bias would favor freedom. This book picks up where Shapiro left off. Its message is neither subtle nor optimistic. In the chapters that follow, I argue that we are far enough along to see the future we have chosen. In that future, the counterrevolution prevails. The forces that the original Internet threatened to transform are well on their way totransforming the Internet. Through changes in the architecture that defined the original network, as well as changes in the legal environment within which that network lives, the future that promised

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great freedom and innovation will not be ours. The future that threatened the reemergence of almost perfect control will. I don’t mean the control of George Orwell’s 1984. Thestruggle that I describe here is not between free speech and censorship, or between democracy and totalitarianism. The freedom that is my focus here is the creativity and innovation that marked the early Internet. This is the freedom that fueled the greatest technological revolution that our culture has seen since the Industrial Revolution. This is the freedom that promised a world of creativity...
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