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The Future of Ideas

The Future of Ideas: the fate of the commons in a connected world (2001) is a book by Lawrence Lessig, a professor of law at Stanford Law School[?], who is well known as a critic of the extension of the copyright protection term in US.

While copyright is a necessary to protect right of authors, he warns the too long and too tight protections, as have become in these years, hamper creations of new ideas derivered from existing works and discusses the recent movements that promote longer and tighter protection of intellectual property in three layers: code layer, content layer and physical layer.

The code layer is that which is controlled by computer programs. One instance is Internet censorship in China by sorting out geographical IP addresses. The content layer is notoriously illustrated by Napster, a file sharing service. Lessig criticized the reaction of music companies and Hollywood. The physical layer is the one that actually conveys information from one point to another, and can be either wired or wireless. He discusses particularly the regulation of the spectrum in the USA.

In the end, he advocates the importance of existing works becoming public domains in short period.

The Future of Ideas is a continuation of his previous book Code and Other laws of Cyberspace, which is about how computer programs can restrict freedom of ideas in cyberspace.

See idea, property and copyright protection for detailed discussion about the background of this book.

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