Rhea Myers

Lessig's Sandbox


This sharing economy is not meant to displace the commercial economy. Its purpose is not to force Madonna to sing for free.

Free Software is not meant to displace the commercial economy, which has benefited greatly from it. But this is not about displacing or working with commerce, it is about Freedom.

_The next challenge is to figure out how this sharing economy interacts with a traditional commercial economy. _

Freedom and commerce are not separate magisteria. This sharing economy interacts with commerce by commercial actors having Freedom and not denying it to individuals.
The Gift Economy, as it used to be known, is a reification of one of the possible products of Freedom. As its proponents argue it is a more efficient method of production. And this more efficient means of production can be applied to culture very successfully as Wikipedia shows. But it is important to not confuse this benefit with its causes and to try to substitute other causes such as money or politics.

Copyleft projects are just part of free culture. We need to defeat DRM, protect and extend Fair Use, ensure that consumer rights are not ignored, defend fair speech, oppose censorship, and ensure that the Internet is not over-regulated. Copyleft has a part to play in all this. Copyleft projects do not need walling off in the mysterious gardens of reputation or sharing. So we need more than CC for Free Culture, but we do not need CC to do less than copyleft.

CC will never become a part of that commercial economy. But it is important, I believe, that we play a role in enabling this crossover. The alternative is a world we’re seeing too much of all ready: large entities that create sandboxes for “sharing,” but then effectively claim ownership over everything built within that sandbox. This is, in my view, not a sharing economy. It is instead simple sharecropping.

And the greatest tool it has is the NC licence, which creates nothing if not an immense sandbox.

It is telling that Lessig regards the creators of a YouTube viral advertisement using NC music without observing the licence then paying the musician when they got caught as a success story. It is a success story for the New Permission Culture, not Free Culture.