August 8, 2006  ·  Lessig


So I’m back on the grid, after a (never long enough) break with my family. Nothing is as cool as my kid. And though returning is tough, this news was great to return to:

You’ll recall my over-the-top (but completely accurate) praise for Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks. That was published by Yale University Press, which allowed Yochai to release the book under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license (you must give attribution, you can make only noncommercial uses of the work, and any derivative must be under the same license).

Today, Jack Balkin wrote to say that Yale has now permitted him to release his book, Cultural Software, under the same CC license. Balkin’s book (published in 1998) resolves a plainly more academic debate. But it uses metaphors from computer science to develop a theory of how cultures evolve. Balkin is a friend, and long before a friend, mentor for me. Nothing could make me happier than to see his great book within the CC family.

  • anonymous

    Can you explain something I don’t understand about the Creative Commons license? You say the Benkler book’s license allows non-commercial derivatives but “any derivative must be under the same license”.

    Doesn’t Fair Use allow certain derivative uses anyway? Does this CC only apply to what Fair Use doesn’t apply to? Or has the government pretty much stripped any possible Fair Use out that the CC is needed to make derivatives.


  • Lessig

    Right. CC licensed don’t modify “fair use.” They explicity indicate that, and are intended to supplement “fair use.” So to the extent fair use permits a derivative, the “No derivatives” limit doesn’t limit it.

  • anonymous

    Thanks for the explanation.

  • Michael Locker MD

    Good perspective.

    Michael Locker MD

  • mole

    rumor has it that another highly influential book still in progress about the future of the internet will be released by YUP under a CC license as well….

  • Matt Lee


    I find it disheartening the number of -NC- items I see popping up around the place. Do you not think that BY-SA is, in reality too much for the people they’re trying to presumbly stop from profiteering from a work, yet liberal enough to allow people to make commercial usage from it, for example, someone adding it to a ‘value bundle’ of other works which can be sold for small amounts of money, or displayed on a website that makes pocket change from advertising.


  • Dr. Stewart (academic turned French Property web designer)

    Dear Lessig

    Reading your praise of The Wealth of Networks, you describe it as covering “law, economics, and a bit of social theory”. Some years ago a read a book on economics (more like The Wealth of Nations) which also covered all three topics. Although it approached them from a very different angle than the book noted above, it is in my opinion just as important and FAR more readable. Unfortunately, it is written by a Peruvian Economics professor and has never become widely read. However, I would like to recommend it to you and your readers.

    Title: The Other Path
    Author: Hernando de Soto
    Main subject: Why the third world economies remain third word economies, and what must be done to change them.