I just finished Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig. This is a well written and historically grounded argument about the intellectual property (IP) “wars” being waged between IP distributors, the “Big Media”, and pro public domain advocates. He contends that there should be a limit to the rights afforded IP owners and creators. He also believes that those limits and regulations should be structured in away as to provide an effective incentive to creators in innovators to produce IP, but at the same time they should not afford monopolies to any single distribution industry or technology.

Our current laws do not accomplish this. I was a music performance major in college before switching to computer science. I have worked as a musician, teacher, film projector operator, and computer programmer. In all of my career, all of my money has been made through either the creation or dissemination of intellectual property. It is in my best interest for my IP property to be protected, but it has also been my observation that it seems that the biggest beneficiaries our current IP protections were the distributors. Lessig provides a historical perspective about why the law and market forces have established this system, and how this system once was, and could be again, different.

I have always been an active supporter of open source software, and the creative commons approach to content creation. I have argued for OSS from a technical perspective (security, reliability, vendor neutrality, etc.), and a strictly social-lefty standpoint (collaboration, community, greater good, etc.), but this is the first time I have seen the legal and economic argument laid out this completely and strongly. This is definitely a must read for anyone in the business of intellectual property.