Can We Remix Remix?


I got my hands on an advance copy of Larry Lessig’s forthcoming book, Remix, today. I was a little surprised to read the following on its copyright page:

Copyright © Lawrence Lessig, 2008
All rights reserved

And then, a little further down:

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrightable materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

That seemed a little incongruous for a book on how not all copying is piracy, how important remixing is to our culture, and how “this war on our kids has got to stop.” It’s an odd bit of what Lessig would call “read-only” language to start a book that celebrates “read-write” culture. I was curious, so I flipped through the book’s front and back matter, and to my surprise, I couldn’t find any mention of a Creative Commons license. Again, odd for a man who sits on its board of directors and whose other four books are under CC licenses.

So, um, Larry, you’re going to put Remix online under a CC license, right? And the replacement of the CC license with a draconian copyright notice was a mistake, right? One that’ll be corrected in subsequent printings, right? Right?

UPDATE 2008-09-28: Larry himself (or an imitator who knows his email address) replies. Sounds like my worries were premature.


My hardcopy of ‘Future of Ideas’ is also all rights reserved; only the web copy is under a CC license.


That’s unsurprising, given that Future of Ideas predates the actual CC licenses by roughly a year.

It does appear, however, that Free Culture doesn’t mention the CC license in the print version; the PDF version is prepended with a page about the license. (I don’t have my print copy here; I’ll check the next time I’m in my office.) That’s a little unfortunate, because people who merely come into possession of a copy might not know about the license, and because some of the dire warnings there, as here, expressly contradict the CC license and implicitly undercut the message of the book. Still, it’s good that there’s a precedent.


Patience, James et al., there’s good news coming on this front.


Ah, I thought I had my timeline straight. (And for some reason I couldn’t find my copy of Free Culture this morning.)

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