For pragmatic activists fighting the good fight against expansive copyright laws, the focus is usually on the here-and-now — how the law prevents us from sharing our works online, how it criminalizes all sorts of everyday activities, how it sanctions monopolies that charge ridiculous prices and stifle competition.
William Patry has written the kind of book on copyright law that we have sorely needed for a long time. Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars (Oxford University Press) is a trenchant yet highly readable political history of copyright and the deceptive language tricks that gives it so much power today.
It’s a pleasure to see Lewis Hyde receive such well-deserved attention in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, in a lengthy profile, “What Is Art For?” by Daniel B. Smith. Hyde has long been a friend of the commons; he even guest-blogged here at Onthecommons.org several years ago. He is a poet, philosopher, translator and essayist who travels in some rarefied literary and artistic circles, yet remains deeply committed to the commons and the values it embodies.
As Hollywood studios and record labels watch a whole new online "sharing economy" arise -- in which ordinary people create and share things online without having to buy "product" -- Big Media is coming to a dismaying realization: the people formerly known as the audience are morphing into a participatory network. And this new social form is beating the hell out of an already-tattered business model.