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Intellectual Property Law, In Plain Language

Publication Date: 
February 13, 2009
Wichita Eagle - Online
Richard Pachter

Professor Lawrence Lessig's book "Remix" is reviewed in the Wichita Eagle:

Intellectual property is the gift that keeps giving -- for some. Current copyright laws, especially in the United States, tend to favor the incumbents, which is why Disney still owns Mickey Mouse and his posse.

It wasn't always like this. Copyrights, trademarks, patents and other legal mechanisms associated with the ownership of ideas (and not things) once had finite terms. Their purpose was to allow creators or owners (not always the same entity) to materially benefit from the work, not to provide perpetual income.


The entire text of this book is available online at

"Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy" by Lawrence Lessig (Penguin, 327 pages, $25.95)

Lessig's earlier "Free Culture" is still free online, and this new book is promised to be made similarly available. Here, the professor (Stanford Law) echoes similar themes but gets a bit more into the economic implications of loosening the restrictive reins of copyright.

It may be paradoxical, but free versions generally serve as promotional tools for paid iterations of the same work. Monty Python, for example, just posted most of their comedy sketches on YouTube and sales of their DVDs have skyrocketed.

Lessig and Boyle are strong and reasonable advocates. Fortunately they're also engaging wordsmiths, too.